Nextdoor: interesting news source, seems to be working for some people

24 Nov

Nextdoor, described as the “private social network for neighborhoods,” is an interesting news source. Since I joined a few weeks ago, I’ve seen a lot of interesting stuff that hasn’t shown up in the newspaper.

First there was the “bnb” conversation – “Airbnb” is a website through which you can rent your home out like a hotel. One woman brought up her concerns for her mid-Chico neighborhood, but was quickly struck down by other “neighbors” who turned out to be renting their own homes through Airbnb.  In the course of that quick but “snarky” conversation, I noticed, people seem to have forgotten past conversations about making it illegal to rent out second units in certain neighborhoods, a “disorderly events” ordinance, and most recently, the “social host” ordinance, which allows Chico PD and Fire Dept to assign “response” charges to the owner of a property at which an out-of-control  party took place. Those conversations got downright nasty at times – all stemming from neighbor complaints about rentals.

It is actually illegal to rent a second unit in the neighborhood directly surrounding the college without owner occupation of the property – the city made that ordinance a few years back. Not long after the “bnb” conversation, a woman complained on Nextdoor that the second unit next to her was being “rented illegally,” but she couldn’t get any response from city code enforcement. 

Here’s what’s creepy – within a couple of days, another neighbor posted a response to that woman, saying three code enforcement officers had been over to check out her rental, and found everything was perfectly legal. She gave her name and contact information, encouraging the plaintiff to contact her with future concerns. 

The second unit owner was very nice about it, I think the first woman was way out of line.  This is what Nextdoor has been criticized for – the Big Brother thing. Some neighbor groups have actually been accused of racial profiling and harassment. 

What also caught my attention about that post was – three code enforcement officers? City code enforcement?  Responding to a complaint about a rental? But we have a homeless camp at the median between Park Avenue and Cypress/Pine Streets that goes unattended for weeks. When they finally clear it out, the bums just move farther down the creek bank, you can see the piles of garbage as you motor over the bridge. 

Well, here’s an interesting post from Nextdoor, just posted yesterday, by a man named Ron from the “North  Chapman neighborhood”:

Today, over 300 pounds of trash and metal were removed from a former transient camp right in the middle of our residential neighborhood. The camp was on a vine-covered vacant lot and was first noticed about three months ago. With the help of many neighbors, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, and the Butte County Code Enforcement Division, the transient residents were encouraged to move on. When the camp was cleared numerous bicycle parts were recovered, confirming our suspicion that the site was being used to ‘recycle’ stolen bicycles.

This is posted to encourage others with unwelcome transients camping/squatting in their neighborhood to use the resources available and fight back. I am not unsympathetic to the homeless issue here in Chico; however, a residential neighborhood with children and families is not a suitable destination for those who steal, exchange stolen property, and use illegal drugs.

Thank you to all the North Chapman Neighbors who supported our effort.

Looking at the map provided by Nextdoor, I see the area is in the county, technically, but right in the middle of urban Chico. It’s a part of town the city of Chico has tried to ignore for years, manufacturing a phony story about neighbors who don’t want to be annexed, but never being able to provide any written proof of that assertion. The police seem to think they can’t cross the creek to enforce the law. And it takes the sheriff three months to do anything but “encourage”.

I’ve been on Nextdoor for almost a month, and this is the first I’ve heard of this situation. I don’t know if Ron’s group is working offline, what he’s been through trying to get law enforcement to pay attention to this matter. But, I know there’s homeless camps in the park right alongside my neighborhood, and despite a short-lived high-profile fling at One-Mile, the cops aren’t doing anything about it.

We do see them roust bums at the CARD center once in a while – CARD board member Tom Lando has made requests of the city to pay special attention to the CARD center. That center is used for community classes, children’s and other programs, and people are finding human land mines and garbage piled up around the buildings.  They complain of passed out drunks on the lawn and portico, even sprawled out on benches. Nobody seems to rent that building for private affairs like weddings anymore – in years past, you’d see it decked out almost every good weather  weekend.  The CARD board now has most meetings at their new headquarters at California Park. This is the reason behind the new rose garden – it will have a fence and locking gate, and only be available for paid events, in an attempt to keep bums, as well as the general public, off the CARD property. Because Chico PD  could not enforce the vagrancy laws, despite salaries averaging $100,000 with 88% of their benefits paid by the taxpayer.

Chico PD monitors Nextdoor, and it seems they are responding to certain complaints, even those made casually in conversation. I also find it a good news source – even if there isn’t much chatter in my neighborhood. A lot of my immediate neighbors have joined, but I haven’t seen crimes mentioned. There’s a gal who will watch your pets for $15/day. There’s a lady looking for a plumber, another woman selling a ceiling light. I wasn’t surprised when I saw the woman bitching about her neighbor’s rental – that is to be expected on a site like this. The Airbnb conversation got kind of rude, and I recognized a guy who has come to this blog in past under an alias and tried to bully me. I  felt he was bullying the woman, and she ended up “closing” the conversation. If it were me, I’d have charged right back at him, but the lady was polite and felt the conversation had run it’s course.

I haven’t seen any of these stories on the tv or print media, but I’m guessing there’s at least one reporter lurking in the shadows. You have to give personal information to sign up – I was asked for my social security number or a credit card to verify my address. I refused and was allowed to request a post card be sent to my house with a secret code number. This supposedly proves I’m really a “neighbor.” Unfortunately they mis-addressed it.  The way they sent it, there are five neighbors who could claim my identity if my mailman hadn’t figured it out. So much for security, but at least I didn’t have to compromise my SSN or my credit card. 

We’ll see when the local media finally picks up on this. I notice the Ch 12/24 news shamelessly cherry-picks the daily newspaper, using the same whole phrases from the newspaper stories. 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to “Nextdoor: interesting news source, seems to be working for some people”

  1. pzh November 24, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Just wanted to give some clarification to my understanding of how the Nextdoor site works. I may be wrong, but just wanted to help where I could.
    1. You can only see conversations within your neighborhood, unless the person that started that conversation allows for it to be viewed by all or some of the neighbors.
    2. Chico PD cannot view all conversations. They can address all neighborhoods and view comments left on a thread they started. Or they can be contacted privately. But, they are not able to view all threads willy nilly.

    Thanks!

    • Juanita Sumner November 24, 2015 at 10:25 am #

      Thanks for that clarification, I have not been able to figure out everything about this site. I wondered if I was being held out of some of the conversations. That seems weird. I asked to be added to a nearby neighborhood group, but haven’t gotten a response.

    • Juanita Sumner November 25, 2015 at 7:08 am #

      I checked into my request to join my own neighborhood – the site confirms that I asked to be added to a group five days ago, and I’m still waiting for the “moderator” (whoever that is) to respond.

      So, am I being held out or something? Why would this take so long? Meanwhile, my neighbors are having conversations – possibly with city staff or Chico PD – and I am excluded?

      how can you be excluded from your own neighborhood?

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