The new Modesto City Council, headed by Mayor Sue Zwahlen, has a lot of work to do. Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the public has been growing less respectful of the law and of other citizens.
Ever since I departed from the Modesto City Council in 2003, I’ve noticed a continuous decline in the quality of life within the community. From my narrow viewpoint, determining how fast problems are growing throughout the city versus within my neighborhood is difficult to gauge. Perhaps readers will weigh in with their own observations at the end of this article.
Modesto has struggled with gangs and fall-out from their presence since the 1980’s. Gangs have been involved in sales of illicit drugs, graffiti, vandalism, theft, and violent crimes such as shootings and beatings.
Depending on how concentrated the effort of the police, gang activity waxes and wanes. Presently, there appears to be an upward surge of gang-related crime.
On February 27, NBC National News highlighted Modesto as a center for Mexican Drug Cartel activity, along with Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego. On February 26, seized 80 guns and $140,000 in cash Modesto Police raided several undisclosed locations based on tips about local crime. The violent gangs are not what a community wants to be known for if it expects to prosper.
The Modesto Bee seems to be reporting more shootings than last year.
In recent months, graffiti appears more frequently on public walls and private property. Automobile break-ins are more common, with flashing signs on Briggsmore and Sisk Roads warning motorists to lock cars and remove valuables.
Teenage and Child Troublemakers
Even if one leaves a car outside overnight with nothing in it, the owner may find it the next morning spray painted, egged, or with a new scratch from a key dragged across the vehicle.
In my neighborhood, we have many children who should be in school. Instead, they are riding bicycles up and down the streets, menacing pedestrians and littering. Where are their parents?
Some children ride unlicensed dirt bikes up and down the street, on sidewalks and across lawns.
Speeding vehicles, squealing tires and loud mufflers have become commonplace, especially after dark. Morse Avenue, between Kansas and Blue Gum, has numerous skid marks on the pavement, evidence of nighttime sideshows, where stunt driving has become a dangerous pastime.
For every tire squealing speeder, a slow moving vehicle with the radio’s base turned all the way up vibrates through the neighborhood between 10pm and 4am. Good luck getting an entire night’s sleep without interruption.
Despite the county’s “Focus on Prevention” program and the work of countless volunteers, is the number of homeless people dropping? Are funds to improve their lot being effectively spent to optimize benefit? Is homelessness becoming more widespread throughout the community? Panhandling is a growing industry at drive-through restaurants and gas stations.
Out of Control Celebrations
The Fourth of July and New Year Holidays have become ordeals for many citizens and their pets. Illegal fireworks explode for days before, during, and after the holidays, breaking the peace and fraying the nerves of residents.
Late night parties have become common in the city’s neighborhoods since the beginning of the Covid pandemic as revelers were displaced from bars and nightclubs. The disrespect shown for neighbors is stunning.
The new mayor and city council have a low bar to clear in improving the quality of life in the community. Life has become so unpleasant in my neighborhood that any improvement would be welcome.
As I get older, am I becoming more sensitive? After my home was burglarized a few years ago, I started thinking that Modesto is no longer a good place to live. I hope our new mayor and council can change my mind.