Day: January 7, 2008

Tonight’s BCS Title Game

I’m an LSU fan. I’m not half the LSU fan as my Louisiana-bred wife Jennifer is, but I’m slowly coming along.
That said, I haven’t given LSU’s football team a lot of hype on this site during their title run.
I’ll be home watching the game tonight with Jennifer … and we’ll both be wearing purple and gold. (Side note: I have no Ohio State love, despit the fact I was born in Ohio).

My prediction:
LSU 31
Ohio State 24

Sunday column: Onus is on local landlords for change

This Tuesday, my wife and I will be the proud new parents of an adopted puppy from Carolina Animal Rescue and Adoption … you may know them as CARA.
The adoption process was surprisingly rigorous — from providing three personal references to producing vet records showing that our current dog was in tip-top shape, CARA did everything but check our credit history before deeming us “fit” to be puppy parents.
I’m not complaining. In fact, it’s wonderful that they go to such lengths to make sure they’re putting dogs in good homes.
If only some local landlords were as particular about the people renting their property. Parts of Sanford would be a much better place to live.
Because, you see, poorly managed rental properties are a big reason so many neighborhoods are crumbling in Sanford. I bring up this topic today for two reasons.
First, it was a much-talked-about topic of debate during the campaigns for this past year’s Sanford City Council election. I recall at-large candidate Lora Wright being adamant about the plight of rental properties in some of Sanford’s historic neighborhoods, and I applauded her promise to go after these properties if elected. I also recently had a conversation with newly elected District 2 councilman Charles Taylor, who also has concerns about this after talking to homeowners in his district.
The other reason I bring this up took place just this week.
I live on a street that’s peppered with rent homes among houses that have been owned since the 1930s. I’m not knocking renters, mind you … I’ve lived in rented properties for 12 of the 13 years of my life since high school, having recently bought my first house in October.
But one property on my street rents out five very small “efficiency” apartments behind a business/home, and my street became the setting for a scene of cop cars, twirling lights and onlookers when police arrested an alleged thief this week.
I didn’t know the man, but chances are if I did, he’d be gone in a few months and somebody else I don’t know would be living there. Much like apartments, that’s what happens with rental properties.
What’s scary is not only do I know very little about the people living on my street, but I get the feeling the people renting out these places know very little about them as well.
As somebody who plans on starting a family and living multiple years on this street, I want to feel comfortable that my neighbors are honest people. I’m not saying the people who are renting these places aren’t, but really … how can I know?
When neighborhoods unite and homeowners go before their elected officials to express concerns about the people renting homes in their communities, they’re not doing it because they’re racists or elitists or because they have a grudge against renters.
They’re doing it because:
n These rent homes are a revolving door of families … some good and some not-so-good. It’s hard to follow who’s coming and who’s going.
n A good number of these rent homes aren’t being well kept, and the tall grass and lack of improvements to the aging homes are doing all they can to drive down the property values of their neighbors. It’s no secret that people who own the home they live in are more likely to improve on it than people who are simply renting.
n Neighborhoods attract families because families want a place where they feel safe and live around people who, like them, want their community to be a part of their life.
This all came to me because of that one arrest this week. I know the alleged thief could just as easily have been my neighbor who owns the house next to me.
But then again, I actually know my neighbor. I can make a pretty safe bet he wouldn’t rob me blind if I left for the weekend. I can’t say that about this guy.
So what do we do?
I’m not sure I have an answer. Neighborhoods can come together and demand stricter code enforcement on all homes to start with. I think if neighborhoods made an effort to contact the people who own these properties to share their concerns, it would be a good first step. If that can’t happen, they can at least get to know the people who are renting and make an effort to get them involved in community projects.
I only know that there are many of you who share my concerns. Poorly managed rental properties are a big reason for plight in several of our neighborhoods.
It’s time something was done about it.

Olan Mills


If you’re a child of the 70s, there’s a good chance you were in an Olan Mills family portrait.
I know I was. I believe our backdrop was the farm with a creek and a small bridge. Other backdrops included the library shelves, the autumn road and the beige wall.
Another blogger captured some of the greatness that is Olan Mills on his site, complete with captions.