Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Neighborhood Watch Thrives in Land Park

Neighborhood Watch Thrives in Land Park
By Dave O’Toole from the LPCA Fall Newsletter

If you’re wondering why you’re seeing more bright orange
street signs and window stickers warning “We’re Watching
You” around the neighborhood, the reason is that many
neighbors have decided to assert control of their block’s
safety by setting up neighborhood watch groups. A rash
of bogus door-to-door solicitations, brazen home burglaries,
and other crimes have prompted many neighbors to
organize their block by posting signs, setting up phone and
e-mail trees, and meeting occasionally to discuss and respond
to recent crime events.

One neighborhood watch pioneer is Marty Way resident
and founder of Uptown Liz, Ramona Russell, who got her
neighborhood watch started when her block experienced
an unusual uptick in crime including an incident in which she
was approached in her own driveway by individuals who
appeared to be under the influence. Russell recalls, “feeling
like a ‘sitting duck’ in my own neighborhood — where I lived,
worked and ran every day.” Russell also set up a phone and
e-mail contact list and sent out e-mails whenever a crime or
suspicious activity occurred. “This constant communication
has kept the group active and involved,” she said.

Newly empowered neighbors began actively reporting suspicious
activity through the police non-emergency line [(916)
264-5471] which led to a rapid, overwhelming response
when two young men were spotted attempting to break
into a house. When police were asked about the force of
their response, Russell reports, “they said there were notations
on our neighborhood of the past problems we have

Russell is just one of several neighbors who’ve started or restarted
a neighborhood watch program this year. To get one
going on your block, contact Dave O’Toole at davotoole@ or call 346-9045. He’ll provide all of the informationand materials needed, like signs, stickers, and a Vic’s Ice
Cream certificate (for meeting refreshments). A few hours of
your time will have a lasting impact on your block.

In addition to starting neighborhood watch, here are a number
of additional ways neighbors can get engaged in making
Land Park a safer community:
• Learn about recent crime events, suggest solutions,
and discuss issues with public safety professionals(e.g., Sacramento Police Department, Paladin Security)
by attending a Public Safety Committee meeting.
The committee meets on the second Tuesday of every
month at 7 p.m. at the Eskaton Monroe facility (3225
Freeport Boulevard).
• Join the LPCA Public Safety Listserv to share crime
and safety tips and learn what’s happening crime-wise
in the neighborhood. Email to
• And of course, always report crimes in progress (911
or 732-0100 from your cell phone), report crimes after
they’ve occurred (264-5471 or
fileonline) and immediately alert the police to ANY
suspicious activity (264-5471). If you see something,
say something.

Residents are encouraged to attend the LPCA Board Meetings 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Eskaton Monroe Lodge located at 3225 Freeport Boulevard. In addition, the LPCA hosts quarterly Membership Meetings to address important neighborhood issues.

The Land Park Safety Listserv is an email “conversation area” where you can share information about crime and safety-related issues with neighbors who want to talk about the same. Email to request to be added to the list. You must be a LPCA member to join.
The guidelines for the LPCA Public Safety Listserv can be found here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Remodeling? Where Should You Start?

Remodeling your home can be a great way to spruce up your house and your attitude! A remodeling project can be as simple as changing your color scheme or as complex and a complete home makeover. The choice is yours.

Whether you want to update, modernize or go retro, whether your project is small or large, whether you hire a contractor or do it yourself, remodeling can be a fun and exciting way to add a little excitement.

Remodeling is not without its complexities and risks. You will do well to think through every project on a step-by-step basis and analyze the costs before you begin. Then think about what could possibly go wrong and how you can plan to avoid these problems. Remodeling can be either a joy or a nightmare. But if you think it through, plan it carefully, and hire the right people, your remodeling project can be sheer joy!

Land Park Before
Land Park After

Where to start

There are several places to begin to think about and plan a remodeling project. The first way to begin is to think about what you would like to change or what you need to change about your house. Make a list of the things you need to do. Then make a list of the things you want to do. This will help you prioritize the projects. A second way to begin is to consider what renovations or remodeling would increase the value of your house. You can get ideas by viewing new homes, recent remodels, or talking with builders, architects and home decorators. A third way to start is to bring in a home remodeling professional to make recommendations and give advice and cost estimates. A fourth way to begin to think about remodeling is to be aware of the sources of frustration with your house.

The top five reasons given by people who remodel their homes are:
1. Add space or reallocate space
2. Upgrade or modernize
3. Improve energy efficiency
4. Make the home more functional for aging persons, growing families, or for persons with disabilities.
5. Increase the resale value of the home

Remodeling to add or to reallocate space can mean knocking out a wall, building a wall, adding a room, extending a room, or adding a second floor. Trends change in the way space is allocated. Homes built in the 1950s have very large "living rooms" whereas today new homes frequently have very small living rooms, large family rooms and kitchens, or only a great room. If your family is growing, you may need additional bedrooms or a play room or another bathroom. If you find your temper flaring while you wait for a turn in the bathroom, this might be the place to start.

There can be several complexities with additions or expansions, such as the ability of the foundation or the wall supports to bear the additional weight, whether local building and zoning codes allow the kind of change you want to make. Sometimes what appears to be a simple change actually ends up involving more extensive work. There are also risks that your investment will not pay off, or that you won't like the changes, or that your life circumstances will change in ways that require further remodeling, or that you will encounter problems with the contractor or with liability or financing.

Remodeling to upgrade or modernize can take a variety of directions. First, you might want to lighten or brighten the house by adding windows, glass doors or skylights. New houses tend to have more windows and higher ceilings. These are good upgrades to make. The will generally increase the value of your house if done well. You may want to replace appliances with new colors or features. Upgrading kitchens and bathrooms usually brings a good return on the investment. A general clean-up and de-clutter renovation is an excellent investment. While you consider "modernizing" don't forget that everything old is new again.

Renovations that improve energy efficiency tend to pay off both in the short run and in the long run. Some of these improvements are relatively affordable, such as changing windows, adding insulation, or adding heat reflecting linings to the roof. For the most part, these upgrades are not very risky, unless you hire a bad contractor.

Renovations aimed at increasing the value of your home can also make life more comfortable immediately. The best advice in this case is to focus on things that clearly make the house more desirable. Lightening and brightening should pay off, as should de-cluttering and attending to landscaping. It is always possible that you will make changes or improvements now that will come to be considered liabilities later, so be sure you want to live with the changes you make. Unless you plan to sell your house immediately, you might want to concentrate on the kind of remodeling that will make you happier or more comfortable.

Renovations are messy in the short run, but making the changes you want in a home or the changes your lifestyle demands, can be fun and energizing. If you have the itch to renovate, think it through, prioritize your needs and wants, calculate the cost, find a reliable contractor or remodeling expert, and make it happen. Remodeling can make an old home look and feel refreshed.