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Houses Where Nobody Lives

Many things puzzle me about Ukiah and someday I’ll write a 25,000 word column listing them. For today, let’s limit ourselves to asking why so many houses stand empty around town.

Not far from my house is a block with seven houses on it, and until fairly recently six of them had been standing empty for years. Now two are still unoccupied and one of them, a cute little gem of a Victorian, hasn’t had a resident in nearly a decade. Over on Maple Avenue there’s a house falling apart from ongoing neglect, and if you know Maple Avenue the real estate ain’t cheap.

Near the Methodist Church is a house I’ve been walking and driving past for many years. What seems like a long time ago there was a family with all the usual muss and clutter and other signs of life any house generates. It had a sad black ’58 Chevy Delray in the carport that I quietly, mildly lusted for.

One day the Chevy disappeared and so did everything else. The odd thing is that all these many years later the house continues to be well cared for. The lawn is mowed regularly, the curtains stay drawn but it’s as empty as county offices at 4 o’clock on a Friday.

There are others sprinkled around town; one at Pine & Walnut was bought by a team of house flippers who bulldozed it and now it’s a vacant lot.

Now I don’t know what a house on Ukiah’s west side is worth in today’s real estate market, but I have a pretty good idea what a house on Ukiah’s west side is worth when it stands empty: Nothing. Or worse.

Because even an empty house soaks up taxes, requires maintenance, a property management team, along with the ongoing guilt over why you’re letting a good house sit vacant when there are people wanting nothing more than a roof over their heads. And a bathroom, if it’s not a big inconvenience. Maybe a kitchen with a stove and fridge? You get the idea.

An empty house is rather an embarrassment, and an expensive one. There seem to be two options: Sell it and make some new homeowner happy, or else move into it yourself, even it means you have to live in Ukiah. There are worse options. All of Lake County for instance.

I was thinking of putting these questions to the Daily Journal’s resident real estate expert, but Dick Selzer might take the idea, use it for his own column and I’d have to come up with something else.

Inside the walls of the Ukiah Daily Journal the competition is fierce.

Traffic report

Traveling on State Street offers stark contrasts these days. Some intersections have only blinking stop lights, while the corner of South State and Gobbi Streets has 29 lights and 17 lanes monitoring and regulating the traffic. You sail through some intersections as if upon clear, calm blue waters on a warm sunny day, but waiting to go through another means you’ll miss lunch.

Guess which.

It might be a fun experiment to keep stop signs on State Street for a month and tally up the stats. Better traffic flow or worse? More accidents or fewer? Happier motorists or dramatic spike in road rage incidents?

Literary news

If you write lousy rhyming semi-poetic poems like I do you eventually realize words like Rough, Cough, Through and Though don’t rhyme, but Bologna and Pony do.

Also, the letter ‘W’ starts with a ‘D’ but the letter ‘Y’ starts with a ‘W.’

Humans and other beasts

Within a few seconds every human heart on the planet beats.

Also and mostly unrelated, do you think you’ve ever twice bought milk that came from the same cow? Eggs from the same chicken? Does a package of dismembered chicken parts, like drumsticks, thighs, breasts, come from the same unlucky fowl?

When you think about it, and I try hard not to, doesn’t it seem weird or primitive or at least hypocritical to keep animals in cages all their lives, then kill and eat them, especially since we all love animals? And with that, we hurry along to the next topic.

Back home

I purchased a 32 oz box of “organic” vegetable broth at Safeway the other day. The first three ingredients listed are Water, Salt and Sugar.

Other domestic news:

1) I am personally acquainted with parents right here in Ukiah who believe their children will be smarter and better adjusted because they played with wooden toys.

2) If you are constantly having to explain and defend your kid’s behavior eventually you’ll have to hire a lawyer to do it for you

3) Whatever happened to all the shrieking hysteria about kids playing video games and how they were all going to grow up to be sociopaths because Grand Theft Auto told them to? That was a dozen years ago.

File that scary prediction with similar stories about murder hornets, killer bees, ice caps melting by 2010, Trump refusing to leave the White House and the Cleveland Browns playing in Super Bowl (insert Roman Numerals here).

Tom Hine notes that with Democrats in charge, why Just Like That! the writings of George Orwell are no longer required reading, and in fact ‘Animal Farm’ is strictly forbidden. Repeat: You must not read ‘Animal Farm’ or ‘1984’ or anything other than Barack Obama’s third great important book about his heroic self. TWK is reading a classic collection of Donald Duck comics, 1955-64.


  1. Wayne Souza February 21, 2021

    Excuse me. Why would you insult all of lake county? That is rude and uncalled for.

  2. Nanette Gauthier-Kilker February 21, 2021

    (The flipped home that was then taken down was on the corner of Grove and Pine.)

    • khkh February 22, 2021

      Do you know what happened there? I saw the Stop Work notice, but never heard what issue caused the house to be totally demolished.

  3. khkh February 22, 2021

    I can’t figure out which block has had 6 houses on the westside sitting empty. I walk that neighborhood daily. Obviously the Ford house is empty (& finally for sale) but that block only has 4 homes so it doesn’t fit the block criteria.

    The house by the Methodist church is definitely intriguing. I’ve gone so far as to google the owner. The property taxes are very low and affordable. But paying for a maintenance company ever month adds up. I assume the owner pays city utilities as well as the lawn looks nice year around. Weird.

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