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There are some changes afoot in my immediate neighborhood that have me thinking quite a lot about these questions. In a densely-built city like Providence, probably a majority of homes are close enough together that, looking out our windows, many of us probably see more of our neighbors' yards than our own. So lots of us look out at views that are "borrowed".

In my case, I can look out my bedroom or bathroom windows at a yard that's well-kept and well-planted, and is a pleasure to see, especially in the summer. On the other side of my house, I look out the window over the kitchen sink and see absolute coddamn crap where, until recently, there was a lawn and a vegetable garden. Now there's a four-space asphalt parking lot with seven cars parked there regularly, disorderly, and lately in the mud. This was designed and installed by a prominent family of Mt. Hope entrepreneurs, who have left the mess behind and gone on to other projects of similar quality in the neighborhood.

The guys who bought the house once the parking "improvement" was made live in Boston, and, as far as I can tell, don't seem to mind what it looks like. The contiguous yard up Doyle is a Bilodeau

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I look out one side of my house and see a parking lot, I look out the other side and see, well, ah, a parking lot. At least on the one side if I don't look down at the parking lot I can see the skyline and other Federal Hill rooftops, that is actually a nice view.

I think people should be neighborly in keeping up their properties, but I'm leering of government intervention. As long as people aren't storing leaking containers of PCBs. Idealy people will take pride in their properties, and I think others taking pride are a way to shame the ones who aren't.

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Again, this may all be too specific to my block to be of general interest, I dunno. It's possible I'm not asking the right questions. It's also possible that I'm a big poopyhead. :rofl: But it seems to me that a lack of pride or concern on the part of absentee owners has a huge impact on how entire neighborhoods are perceived and experienced, and a lot of problems start there.
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Somebody was disapponted with Pvd in an archboston forum...


Joined: 25 May 2006

Posts: 1112

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 10:56 am Post subject: Reply with quote

I was in providence yesterday morning/afternoon. I am sorry to say, I was unimpressed. The downtown seemed unexciting, and not too pedestrian friendly. It was rather cold. By Brown University was nice, but could have been a ot nicer for an Ivy league school/location. There were a few nice houses, but one block away was an extremely run down area that looked like it was from the industrial revolution. There were vacant wharehouse buildings in fields with missing windowns and graffitti, and lots of sketchy places down by the ferry/watefront under the new highway bridges that are being constructed. basically, the whole city kind of disappointed me. The new westin is almost done, but what are all of the people who live in it going to do during the day? Go to the mall? I think if the area around the river that runs through the section between downtown and the Brown university area was expanded outwward, providence would be very nice. Unfortunately, you have to drive through areas that make the trip almost not worth it just to get into the city. I see potential, but a lot of problems there. Ate lunch at Katabar or some lebanese sounding name like that by Brown, pretty neat area, and stopped by the Roger williams statue park, which was scratched by profanities."

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Hi mark0ne. I agree that it's all about the relationships that we have with our neighbors -- that's the very basis of a community.

I got interested in the "Gentrification" thread that was resurrected yesterday, and somewhere around page 7 or 8 it kind of derails into a good discussion about how who tends to clean up messes, and why. It gets into the issue of neighborhood/home pride, who has it, who doesn't, and what fosters it, what detracts. Some especially good thoughts, I felt, from HartfordTycoon.

What I'm trying to understand better is -- Who's "entitled" to make decisions that affect things like a neglected back yard? In the case of the no-man's land between the two yards next to and behind mine, those decisions belong to, in both cases, people who live in Boston and aren't known for being especially responsive even to the needs of their own tenants. (Examples: On one floor of the house next to me, the tenants had to wait a week for the landlords to send a locksmith, when the apartment's back door seized up in locked mode. In another apartment, new tenants moved in and found the gas line was simply not functional. It took a month to get it fixed. For the first couple of days the new tenant showered at my house, and then I introduced them to their upstairs neighbors, who let them shower there. I'd always wondered why the previous owners had left the apartment vacant for more than a year.)

The only is excuse for situations like these is inattention on the part of entrepreneurs. It's also reflected in the yards and the exteriors of the buildings, which practically screech We Pass Our Savings on To YOU! (While mine, of course, shakes your hand and says "Hi there! I'm in the first decade of a 99-year restoration project! Have a nice day!)

Speaking critically of what people are doing with their "private space" is tricky. People are quite aware that some neighborhoods are gloomy and others pleasant. But they generally simply assume that elegant streets cause a feeling of satisfaction and that poor streets are depressing, and let it go at that. [OMG I did not just post a Guy Debord quote :rofl:]

No question, control over private property is legally in the hands of its owners -- followed by the mortgage lender, the city, the state, and ultimately, the IRS. Renting an apartment gives the tenant certain legal rights and restrictions, but few enough that many tenants can only really expect a minimal level of maintenance. A lot of investors -- especially many in formerly marginalized neighborhoods, who came in and found bargains during the late buying frenzy -- are simply doing what investors do, trying to invest as little as possible in order to get maximum gain. They have a right to do that.

But at some point, their relationship to the neighborhood becomes purely parasitic. Out of sight, out of mind, they take from the neighborhood and give back the bare minimum that they're required to, and often that's given grudgingly. I agree that what's attractive is highly subjective, and that's one of the reasons I've been mulling these situations over. I have to wonder if the guys who own these buildings would be satisfied to live in them themselves as they are. Who knows? Maybe they'd like it just fine. We'll probably never find out, though.

Where do you stop trying to control the backyards of your neighbors? Where control becomes cooperation. I've got utterly wacky ideas like: everybody in the neighborhood "owns" it together, though not in a legal sense. We all own or rent our separate private spaces, we all share the common and public spaces, and ideally, we all share at least some interest in the semi-private spaces like side- and back yards, because we live tightly together and borrow each others views by default.

The neighbor on the other side of my house -- the one with the nice yard -- has a tucked-in corner on the side of her house where she stores a bunch of junk -- an upside down metal couch, a couple of old lawn mowers and a seeder, some plastic pots, bags of mulch, and so on. It's her most out-of sight area, but it's just a few feet from my first-floor windows. It ain't pretty (in fact it looks like hell all winter usually), but it's not something that shows neglect -- except for the couch, most of the stuff is a pile in motion once spring comes and she starts working on her gardens again. And being able to look out at those in the warm months more than compensates. She lives there, and though we've had our ups and downs over seven years, she's a good neighbor struggling with her own 99-year plan. That's actually the case with everybody on my block except the absentee owners.

But it's coming together. We'll get the necessary permissions, of course -- tenants in the respective buildings are getting them. I spent a little time on Sunday and filled a contractor bag with a lot of the worst debris, and as soon as the weather's nice again we'll all get out there and do a lot more. (Part of me really wants to be a bad boy and clean everything up without permission -- that mildly demonic part of me would just love to see somebody object!)

I do believe that the noise you're putting up with is a related, if tangential, issue. Are those dogs being left outdoors 24/7 by any chance? Because that's just not right, right there, and I can't even get to objective on that. As far as the screaming kids goes, that may just work itself out. The parents may have been trying to...well, you know... :whistling:

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holy post!

interesting discussion though.

As I was walking down Smith St the other night, I couldn't help but wonder who was responsible for cleaning the trash along side a house, but between their fence and the street.

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