A recent guest commentary by City Clerk Arne Simonsen told a success story of tenacious citizen pursuit, combined with efficient city staff code enforcement, in resolving a neighboring squatter situation. The outcome appropriately underscored the determining role that involved, proactive citizens can have by partnering with city manpower.
The triumph brought to mind a strategy I'd like to share on my Neighborhood Watch group in getting rid of a nuisance renter. By acting in concert, and severally threatening the out-of-county landlord with small claims action, we got the desired action -- eviction.
For years, and to the neighborhood's exhausting chagrin, a renter had garnered every garden variety of police call -- 53 registered in all -- ranging from investigations of shootings and theft, to fights, raucous late-night parties, pot smoking, junked cars, abandoned shopping carts and, well, you name it.
We took two actions. Firstly, when there was unlawfulness, we called each other to jointly report so that the police had further impetus to investigate because of repeated calls.
Secondly, we each wrote the landlord advising him that if remedial actions were not taken we would individually sue in small claims court for the maximum $7,500 allowed per litigant party. Amazingly, or perhaps not so amazingly, the heretofore passive landlord evicted the tenants. Funny, how money, or the loss of it, talks.
The persuasive leverage
Less to say, the bar must meet a sufficient degree of egregiously disruptive behavior. Objecting aesthetically, to say the purple paint a neighbor used on his siding, would not suffice as substantial legal grounds. In our case, we were confident that 53 police calls more than met the qualifying standard of suffering.
The redeeming news is that thugs and miscreants are usually cowards and pick on the seemingly helpless, vulnerable and lone, straying sheep.
If good citizens, though, band together in Neighborhood Watch, or in legal actions, they empower themselves. We needn't suffer in isolation and resign ourselves and our neighborhoods to languish as victims to bad elements. Good neighbors, we have remedies.
Walter Ruehlig is a resident of Antioch.