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.
Perhaps, Bruce is reporting a narrow and older perspective.
The pandemic, gangs, homelessness are all national issues, not confined to Modesto.
From my perspective, setting aside COVID-19 and national problems, the quality of life in Modesto is improving. I have lived here for 78 years.
Downtown is improving; Modesto restaurants are at an all time high; Gallo Center was wonderful; neighborhoods are much better than anywhere else in the country/world; we even have more equity in diversity and respect for “Black Lives Matter”. Do we need improvement–YES. Are we improving–YES.
The real issue is whether we can get back to improvement after COVID-19.
Getting Trump out of the Presidency is a good step on the national stage.
Richard Anderson says
I always appreciate your V.C. entries, thanks.
I am encouraged by Chris Ricci’s interest in Modesto fostering uplifting video shorts about Modesto, for social media and public access.
In a letter he sent to Joe Lopez, the City Manager, Chris noted that one of the strongest Modesto City social media presences is the MPD Face Book, which has 75,000 likes.
Chris is supportive of our City starting to generate positive video and social media pieces showcasing the huge number of really good programs of Modesto: as a City of Great and Safe neighborhoods; a city with so many very positive things going on.
I love to make positive video pieces; several people I know are starting to work with Chris on generating pieces about the good that is happening daily in our town. It is so good for Chris to have joined our Council.