We're lucky with the neighbors on our cul de sac who all seem to enjoy keeping their homes and yards looking nice. We've had little turnover in the 26 years we've been here and we like it that way. Two young families have moved in during the last 15 years and the first thing they did was pull out the old junipers that were planted during the 1970s drought and put in nice lawns.
On the mile of streets leading to my immediate neighborhood from Livorna Road there are at least two houses where the owners have let the front grass die. And this was pre-drought. A couple of houses have cars in front covered with canvas. And one person has a perpetual home improvement project going on. We're these people don't live on our street.
Of course neighbors can present more problems than dead plants in the front yards. Like barking dogs, bratty kids, noise, nosiness and general unpleasantness. Even if you move into an ideal situation, neighbor-wise, this could change at any time because people do move. Then! you're at the mercy of the "neighbor gods." And what can you do if the new people don't adjust to the good-neighbor standards on your street? Well, you can talk to them about the problem, which, best case, would solve it. If this fails, you can write to Ann Landers. Or you can call the police if they are breaking any laws.
Also there is now an online solution called RottenNeighbors.com. It is a Web site where people highlight their bad neighbors; it's intended to humiliate them so they will become good neighbors although I'm not so sure that would work. I mean if they don't mind the area in front of their house being used as a junkyard, why would it bother them to have it broadcast on the Web? They might even consider it an honor.
But if you think your neighbors are bad, check out this Web site - it might help you put your neighbors into perspective. If you still think they qualify as rotten neighbors, post 'em. Just reading some of the write-ups made me feel grateful for my neighbors. Here are some complaints:
* Hunt Road Hillbillies (Batavia, Ill.): One day, they had tied a sofa to the back of a pickup and were dragging it down the street at high speeds with a bunch of kids on the sofa.
* Worst neighbors ever (Albuquerque, N.M.): Always having a party always loud and have vehicles parked everywhere all the time. Just a bunch of drunks.
* Annoying flasher neighbor (Sharon Hill, Penn.): Mows and trims lawn almost daily, and walks around naked in his backyard, but only when there are women around.
* Husband stealer - BEWARE!!! (Campobello, S.C.): Deena has a history of stealing husbands. ... Her first husband she stole from his wife and cheated on him with the neighbor who she stole from his wife.
Once at the Web site, you can give an address or ZIP code and get a map or satellite photo of any neighborhood, with a little red house marking bad neighbors, including sex offenders. And, yes, there are some red houses in the Danville area. If someone has noted an especially good neighbor, the residence is marked with a little green house. Foreclosures are designated with yellow houses. The site also has forums to trade tips on dealing with barking dogs and other annoyances.
Being neighbors is a special relationship. You want to both be friendly and accessible but allow people their privacy. Just by your proximity you have a lot in common. And you cooperate in keeping your neighborhood safe by being alert as to what is going on around you. I'm lucky to have neighbors nice enough to keep an eye on our house when we go on vacation, not to mention watering the patio plants, gathering the mail and feeding the cat. Maybe I should go on the Web site and give them a friendly green house.
-Dolores Fox Ciardelli can be e-mailed at editor@DanvilleWeekly.com.