Some stories are timeless. In the case of this column, those are the stories that continue to pop up in people’s Google searches as they seek advice on issues like what can be done about the incessant barking of a neighbor’s dog or what to do with an old satellite dish.
I’ve received inquiries about stories I wrote months or even years before, like an email from a reader recently regarding a 2014 column about parking cars on lawns.
La Loma neighborhood resident Judith Levi-Wood had read the story because one of her neighbors, she said, parks cars and a boat in the front yard of their home.
Every incorporated city in Stanislaus County has some kind of ordinance against parking on the lawn, landscaping or earth in the yard. Some laws prohibit it because it is unsightly and can affect property values, but in Modesto it’s a matter of environmental impact.
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Homes must have approved off-street parking for vehicles, boats, campers and the like so that oil doesn’t leak into the earth, polluting the city’s storm-drain systems.
Vehicles must be on those approved surfaces, except in one case that Levi-Wood informed me was absent from my original column.
The law was enacted in 1955, so it does not apply to homes built before then, said Chris Kemper, Modesto’s Neighborhood Preservation Unit supervisor.
“If the law didn’t exist at the time, you can’t force it on a property,” he said. “You can’t go retroactive on a law and cite someone for that.”
While there are many older neighborhoods in Modesto with homes built before 1955, most have been updated to include driveways or other parking surfaces, Kemper said. The homeowner is required to add a space in the event of expansion, reconstruction or a change in property use.
The few homes that remain usually don’t pose much of a problem, Kemper said. He usually gets one or two calls a year on houses that are exempt from the lawn-parking law, which can sometimes be solved by simply talking to the property owner.
While I am updating past stories, here’s another: Last year I wrote about some of Oakdale’s roughest roads, the worst being North Second Avenue in front of the police station and the City Council chambers.
Road conditions are ranked by a Pavement Condition Index on a 100-point scale, 100 being the best. That area of North Second scored a zero.
But two blocks from it, between E and C streets, it is being repaired, along with four blocks of C Street between Sixth and Johnson avenues.
The primary intent of the project is to replace aging sewer and water lines and install storm drains to improve surface runoff, but the roads will be resurfaced as a result, said City Manager Bryan Whitemyer.
“It is great that we are able to do those roadways, but it pales in comparison to what needs to be done,” he said. “The city has over 82 miles of roadway, and these two projects (constitute) about a half a mile.”