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Another View: Tougher ordinances needed on yards and dogs

By: Roger S. Peterson
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Rocklin will have at least two new City Council members this year. One of their goals should be to preserve the real estate value of residential property. Poorly kept foreclosed and rented houses hurt our home values. Parts of Rocklin look like North Highlands and Rio Linda. I bought a house in Rocklin, not Rio Linda.

Banks and real estate firms are not policing vacant houses. People who rent their houses should be more careful about renters. Every neighborhood has at least one eyesore house. For years, a nearby house has shuffled boats and trailers from street to driveway and back to the street. Another has industrial storage on the side visible from the street, and an old rusted truck parked on the other side. A house on my street has a junk car parked behind a dilapidated fence, with other junk on the other side of the house, all visible from the street.

I bought a house in Rocklin, not Rio Linda.

Why can’t dog owners control their animals? Constantly barking dogs are a nuisance. No one wants to buy a house next to such noise. How often do you have to walk around dog feces left by dog owners? A dog owner’s rights end with my ears and the bottom of my shoes.

How many of you have seriously discussed moving? But you can’t until offending residents or dog owners start respecting those around them. 

Yet, the city seems unable to correct these situations. Why? Weak ordinances. We homeowners can do something. Start a Neighborhood Watch program. Get the City Council to help us protect what we own.

I have talked to six city council candidates about these common sense Good Neighbor Ordinances;

1. Banks and realty agents listing foreclosed homes must establish a weekly lawn and yard maintenance program. (Elk Grove has such an ordinance).

2. Disposal Dumpsters must be removed after 14 days. One property on Midas had a Dumpster in the front yard for a year and the city had no ordinance to force removal.

3. Cars may not be parked in backyards, lawns or off-driveway setbacks.

4. RVs and boats must be kept behind setbacks and may not be moved back and forth between street and driveway to avoid the 72-hour rule.

5. Except for oil changes, cars and trucks may not be maintained or repaired on public streets or residential driveways. Repairs are restricted to the inside of garages.

6. Dog owners must keep dogs on a leash no longer than 4 feet to maintain control when passing sidewalk pedestrians. Owners must pull the leash to the collar and move their dogs off the sidewalk to avoid contact with pedestrians. Pedestrians pay for sidewalks; dogs do not. (Los Angeles has similar laws.)

7. Dog owners must clean up after their dogs on all sidewalks and parks. Many cities have such laws; Rocklin does not.

8. Owners of single-family homes must obtain from their renters a signed acknowledgement of all codes pertaining to property maintenance, noise abatement, pets and parking before such renters may occupy the house, and a copy of such acknowledgement must be sent to code enforcement officials. The problem is existing renters, so such an ordinance should affect current tenants. Rocklin police should be required to call a property owner if his or her tenants’ behavior has prompted a visit by Code Enforcement or the police.

Only two City Council candidates are sympathetic to these proposals: Greg Janda and Dan DeFoe. They have my vote. Candidate George Magnuson and outgoing Peter Hill have not been supporters. But look at the signs on both Rawhide and Clover Valley warning residents to pick up after their dogs. Interesting. Magnuson lives on Rawhide and Hill lives off Clover Valley.

What about the rest of us?

Get organized. Contact me (peterson@sacramentowriters.com) and join the Rocklin Good Neighbors Alliance.