Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Wrath of Grex

Some troubling policies of the city have recently come to light. I have crafted a Letter to the Editor based on fact and filled with inflammatory rhetoric and wild accusations. I hope it gets someone’s attention. Others out there who own old homes may have experienced similar things in your city. I would be curious to hear from any of you who live in cities with similar polices.

The policy I speak of in the letter is directed at older neighborhoods that have many turn of the century homes. Even I will admit that these neighborhoods are in need of revitalization but I don’t think bulldozing them is the answer. It bothers me even more because all of these old houses are built from 100% old-growth redwood. All studs, floors, walls, sub floors, roofs are old-growth redwood. That is all they had here 100 years ago.

Even with poor maintenance, these houses can last hundreds of years because redwood resists rot and wood boring insect infestation. My own house shows almost no evidence of rot or insect damage after 110 years. And that includes 80+ years of neglect while it was a rental unit. The house sits on all its original posts and beams and is level and straight. What will replace these homes when they are bulldozed are poorly constructed, mulit-unit chicken coops made of vinyl and composite materials that have a life span of maybe 80 years, even if they are well cared for. This is the very definition of waste.

Dear Editor

I recently found out that it is a policy of the City of Eureka to encourage the demolition of single-family homes in favor of low-income housing (Municipal Code 155.053). In addition, although it may or may not be a policy, we know of the program of sending early release prisoners to Eureka to be housed in low-income housing. Everyone remembers last year when some teenagers were stabbed in Cooper Gulch by some of these prisoners.

This sounds like a recipe for creating slums in Eureka. Is my neighborhood Eureka’s next planned slum? Are businesses going to want to relocate to a city that encourages the building of slums? How can it benefit a city to encourage the transformation of neighborhoods of single-family homes in to neighborhoods of low-income housing filled with early released prisoners? Why would a city want to do this to itself?

Even more troubling is the fact that almost none of Eureka’s paid city staff at City Hall – the people that actually run the city - lives in the city of Eureka. So now I’m thinking this is a grand conspiracy to keep society’s less desirable citizens in Eureka and keep them out of the cities the Eureka City Staff lives in. The alternative is that this is happening because of colossal mismanagement of the city's housing. Perhaps we should just give up now and rename the city Enron, CA.

Whatever the reasons for these policies I can’t see how this can benefit the city in the long run. I encourage all citizens to attend City Hall meetings or tune in Tuesday’s at 6:30 PM on cable channel 10 to better educate yourself about what exactly is going on in your city.


Jocelyn said...

I have been told that the best thing you can do for the enviornment is to 1.not own a car (which incidentally I never have) and 2.Restore an existing home rather than tear down and build new. An incredible amount of energy and resources are needed to build a new home in replacement of an existing one. Now of course, there are cases where houses are beyond repair and usually those are frame houses but I didn't know that about the old growth redwood- learn something new every blog!

Good for you for speaking up.

Kristin said...

Good letter, Grex. That is a troubling situation in your town.

Jeff the Beast said...

You've gotta love that the people who run your city don't live in your city. These aren't elected officials are they? Sounds crazy if they are.

Great letter! My mother and others where I grew up (Alameda, CA) had to fight like mad to get the city to quit knocking down ancient victorians and other houses that, now, command tons of dollars. City government is always short-sighted, I'd get my booty down to a city council meeting as well if I were you. Your letter, while good, will not be likely to put any pressure on your elected officials.

Knock 'em dead...

merideth said...

hahahah! that is a great letter grex...clearly meant to beat the bushes...i hope you it gets the attention it desserves

Greg said...

I'm glad you all liked it. Most, it not all cities these days are not "run" by elected officials. There is a paid city staff that runs the day to day operations of the city. This is usually lead by the City manager. The mayor and council direct the city staff to look in to areas that need attention and rely on the staff to make recommendations. The staff can make whatever recommendations it sees fit. The staff essentially makes policy and the mayor and council approve or disapprove it.