A Different Kind of Neighborhood Watch on E. 7th Street

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A Kensington reader passed on a note left by a nosy neighbor/concerned citizen (which is it, do you think?). It reads: “As I pass through my neighborhood, I find it necessary to remind my neighbors of their responsibility to keep our home values high by not only taking care of the inside of their homes but also of their front areas. I have taken the liberty of grading each home and front areas. This letter is just a reminder and not intended to injure or insult anyone. I am sure we all want to maintain our property at the highest of standards and therby [sic] insuring that our property values remain high. This is a preliminary rating another [sic] will follow at a later date.” Luckily, there are many A’s. Our flummoxed reader writes, “I’m all for working to make our block look as beautiful as it can be, but really this is creepy! Don’t you think? Have you heard from others who have received similar letters?” We haven’t. Have you?

0 Comment

  • Wow! This person has way too much time on her/his hands.

  • daveinbedstuy

    If this wacko has given them mostly “A” and “B” grades as we see then what’s the problem??? And what does “E” stand for???

  • nutz.

    I can still read the addresses, by the way. You might want to set your blur radius a little higher.

  • Interesting that the person felt compelled to issue the report at all since even by the submitter’s standards, all but a couple are doing a bang up job. I love the threat at the end, this is a premliminary rating …

  • OMG this person is a NUTJOB! What a judgmental, arrogant wacko. And yes, almost all the grades are A’s, if this was a class it would be all rocket scientists and brain surgeons. Obviously NOT grading on a curve. I give this jerk an F at being a decent human being. I would freak out if I got something like this.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Quite interestingly I just noticed that on my block, two more of the long-time residents just had their facades painted (admittedly the less attractive method for restoring a brownstone faced) and now most of them are done EXCEPT MINE!!!

    I expect to be getting a similar report card in the near future. It’ll be a “Walk of Shame” on the way home everyday!!!!

  • Its definitely awkward and the guy who is grading people must have a lot of free time.

    But I can’t help but think that this would work on most people. Many homeowners may not even realize their upkeep is slacking and this is certainly a reminder. And for those that are getting A+, that must be a nice pat on the back for a job well done.

  • it would be a lot less creepy without the eye at the top.

  • More like Big Brother is Watching You. Orwell missed it- we don’t need government to be Big Brother- we have neighbors. By all means let’s thank the puffed-up self-important neighbor for telling us like it is.

  • I think this is brilliant!

    I wish someone would do it for MY block.

  • LOL! How pathetic. Someone needs to get a hobby…

  • daveinbedstuy

    Let’s see how many people agree with Fort Greene Place. I see a business opportunity here. We get members to sign up and pay a fee to form a Co-op of anonymous “block raters” You have to spend 2 hours and 45 minutes a month as an unpaid co-op rater. You will benefit by having your own block anonymously rated. Lawyers and other professionals who make too much money to spend on such an effort will benefit as well.

  • I wish people spent more time openly talking about improvements and upkeep of their homes. It would deter greatly from vandalism, crime and vagrancy. People are too caught up in their day-to-day jobs and hobbies. They forget that their home is a symbol of their relationship with their neighbors.

    For those you you who think this type of letter is creepy, I can see your point. Here you are, just now realizing that other people notice you, notice your conduct and your appearance. You do have a passive effect on everyone.

  • I wonder if he/she offers a “white glove test” as extra credit…

  • I’d rather not trust neighborhood improvement to some self-appointed taste nazi. Who died and left him/her the arbiter of property values?

  • This is a great idea. My block has several properties that are horrible on the outside. Come on people your properties are worth up to 2 million dollars, though I would like to award properties for the ugliest front doors. Lots of those even on recently renovated properties. Make me almost want to live in a gated community with rules because all these nitwit contractors/developers have absolutly no taste. It makes me puke.

  • daveinbedstuy

    lurker invokes Godwin’s Law

  • LOL…well played, DIBS!

  • “As I pass through my neighborhood, I find it necessary to remind myself that there is a busybody douchebag living on my block. I have taken the liberty of affixing a drawing of a giant screw and baseball to the front door of his house. The drawing is just a reminder that we’re watching him and is not intended to tell said douchebag which meds he’s taking that need to be adjusted. This is a preliminary evaluation, another will follow after the rest of the neighbors have had time to mock him in our everyday conversations.”

  • You people need to move the Celebration, FL

  • dittoburg

    I just rather be able to shoot people who drop litter or don’t clean up after Fido.

  • This would make me do whatever it takes to get a lower grade as an “f off” to the jackass who made the report card.

    If I wanted a home owner’s association, I’d move to the suburbs.

  • I’m just not getting the logic behind this. Uneven upkeep of houses in longtime solidly working and middle class neighborhoods like Kensington happens not because people who have the money for proper upkeep are lazy. It’s most often because the homeowners who are older can’t afford to repair a facade or even pick up the garbage out front if physically that’s hard for them. This guy just needs to accept the reality of the current makeup of the neighborhood and be patient. Look at the wording about property values as being the main reason for these ratings. This is someone very much in a hurry to see the entire block become more affluent younger homeowners. (Maybe he’s selling soon?) It’ll happen when it happens, bit by bit. But you can’t force an elderly retired person living on a pension to take out a mortgage in this climate to fix their facade. Nice way to humiliate those people and make them feel unwelcome in their longtime home.

  • If we’re going to have oppressive zoning laws, we might as well have requirements regarding law maintenance.

    Considering how people (like in Carroll Gardens) freak out at the mere notion of a 5-story walk-up apartment building, this seems like a more common issue.

    I mean come on, this city is all about telling property owners what they can and can’t do with their land. Might as well have it do something productive, rather than just keep the newcomers out.

  • ohhhh nooooo!!!!! (in Mr. Bill’s voice). I thought you had to mention Hitler! I used it in the non-liturgical sense of house nazi or food nazi.

  • Jimmy Legs

    ouch, who’s got the E-level house with the A-level yard?

  • Is there a Babeland in this area? Someone needs to pay a visit.

  • daveinbedstuy

    From wikipedia…

    Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies)[1] is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states:[2][3]

    “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”

    Godwin’s Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the reductio ad Hitlerum form.

    The rule does not make any statement whether any particular reference or comparison to Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that one arising is increasingly probable. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued[4] that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact. Although in one of its early forms Godwin’s Law referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions,[5] the law is now applied to any threaded online discussion: electronic mailing lists, message boards, chat rooms, and more recently blog comment threads and wiki talk pages.

  • daveinbedstuy

    11233…we don’t need a Babeland in Bed Stuy… we got the real thing over here!!!

    maybe those PS people should visit a beer hall more often or the Pathmark so Flatbushwacker can pick them up!!!

    I truly apologize for the multiple cross threaded discussion!!!

  • Wouldn’t it have been more productive if the letter writer had gotten neighbors together to talk about this? An insulting rating system and mildly threatening tone isn’t going to inspire his neighbors to do anything but be annoyed. He’s got his own criteria and who’s to say the the same as everyone else’s? Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, Lurker’s impression doesn’t seem far off the mark.

    I love beautiful neighborhoods as much as the next person but how much do we want to allow neighbors to get into our personal business and how many more rules and regulations do we need to legislate to control every little thing?

  • dittoburg

    Isn’t The Twat going to comment on this? You know, property values going down, thus end of civilization as we know it, and some homoerotic comment about putting something up a bottomcap.

  • daveinbedstuy

    bxgrl that’s a very sane and rational argument but this is just too “off-the-wall” for such a rational response

  • I think this person is totally out of line. Who appointed him the style police? If my house was on his block, I’d get a D minus. My limestone is a mess of peeling paint, and is arguably the shame of the block. I would love to get the facade done, but I don’t have the money.

    Lessee…..get the facade done…..or pay the mortgage…..facade…mortgage….hmmmm. Guess what gets paid. I’m sure many people would like to do lots of things with their houses, but just can’t. Who needs some self appointed arbiter of taste to remind them that they aren’t as wealthy as their neighbors, or at the very least, they don’t have the same priorities as their neighbors? If my house offends you, you are more than welcome to pay for the upgrades.

    Trash and basic cleanup have nothing to do with money, but still, who needs some busybody grading you? Creepy indeed.

  • daveinbedstuy

    Did John Crow recently move to this block?

  • Anecdotal like a mofo.

  • bxgrl,

    I think the point is that too many people believe that upkeep of their home – specifically the exterior of their home, IS their personal business. In fact, its a public affair that has an effect on the people who walk by every day as well as those who visit your ‘hood. There is a limit on what you can lay claim to as ‘personal’ and expect people to respect those boundaries. I don’t advocate for laws or regulations, I advocate for a better awareness of the impact of the sensory environment, and what your responsibility is to help your neighbors maintain it.

  • DIBS,

    John Crow, the former governor of the Bank of Canada? I’m not sure I get the reference.

    to All:

    We don’t know what the grades mean, nor do we have any idea of the criteria. He could very easily weigh most heavily on trash, weeding and other annoying-but-expected house upkeep. And A could well stand for Awful, since the person included a grade of E (Excellent?) That would seem to make more sense if there was motivation top write this letter in the first place.

  • I live on East 7th, but I didn’t get this letter. Then again I live in a big co-op. Brownstoner, without revealing addresses, can you clue us in to which blocks this person reviewed?

  • daveinbedstuy

    John Crow was the one doing all the complaining about Union Hall.

    I think the scale is A is the best since there are – signs as well.

    However, when I was in school there was no E, only A,B,C,D and F. A report card, like a stock recommendation, is useless unless there is an explanation of the grading system.

    Now I’m spending too much time on the rationalization of this idiot’s endeavor bxgrl!!!!!!

  • Read Montrose Morris’s response. I’m all for advocating better awareness but in many of these neighborhoods money is an issue. still and all this is NYC- privacy is an issue and so is respect for boundaries. The visual comfort of the people who walk down the street really isn’t a homeowner’s responsibility although in an ideal world it would be great for every houses on every street to be a work of art.

    People form block associations and try to work together- and that’s really great. But you need to reread the letter- it goes far beyond neighbors working together – this is one person appointing him (or her)self the guardian of the streets.

    It is in everyone’s best interests to keep up their homes and most people realize that. But traditionalmod and MM are right- there are other issues. I understand the point of someone who invests a million or 2 into their home and wanting to keep property values high- on the other hand, that’s a personal choice they made for themselves and really not the responsibility of their neighbors to protect that investment.

    DIBS- sorry. I just hate when I use a rational argument. So unlike me :-)

  • The thing that is most distasteful here (besides the creepy eye picture) is that the guy seems fixated on “Property values” –

    honestly this is one reason why we are in this financial mess right now, a retarded fixation on ‘property values’ if your not selling ultimately who the f^ck cares about “property values”

    The legitimate issue is “we all LIVE here and as a good neighbor it is appropriate to maintain the block”

  • dittoburg

    DOW what on earth does that comment mean? You’re not kidding anyone.

  • East New York

    Although most of the homeowners on my block (including me) do a good job of keeping their properties clean and proper, this would start a divisive campaign to figure out who was behind the note and even more animosity and personal grudge-holding than is normally present. The letter is basically an anonymous threat to the “non-A” owners. Not good. Better to employ some actual guts and confront your neighbor directly. You know, like a human being.

  • This douche bag is obviously either a recent buyer or a current seller on that block (most likely the latter). Good use of online resources can narrow down the list to a very small number of names very quickly. I won’t name names, given the general (and I think wise) policy of this site, but anyone who is interested can figure it out for themselves.

  • Oh, I should add that this douche bag obviously graded his or her own property to increase deniability.

  • daveinbedstuy

    I agree with ENY…”this would start a divisive campaign to figure out who was behind the note and even more animosity and personal grudge-holding than is normally present”

    But I bet all those people on that block know exactly who sent it!!!!

  • infinitejester

    lechacal, good thinking.

    There is obviously an ulterior motive here, what a sinister letter to receive if you live on that block.

  • East New York

    You’re probably right, Dave.

  • I see in a blanket party in the nosy neighbor’s future.

  • teehee, I think the letter sender is unintentially hilarious. I imagine a few nutjobs on my block doing the same exact thig…except they’d call the DOS to hand out tickets too.

  • Dear Neighbors,

    As some of you may know (I haven’t actually talked to any of you, but you know how you people are with your gossip) I am selling my house after 3 years in kensington, hopefully for a massive profit. I would appreciate it if you could please not only clean up after yourselves, but perhaps (in the next week or two) paint your houses to match the palette of the houses in the prospect park historical district?

    Also, I noticed a few more things that may affect my ability to profit off the neighborhood:

    some of your hubcaps are missing; this is unseemly and won’t be tolerated

    It seems some of you have the circular florescent lights in your apartments/houses. Please replace them with compact florescent bulbs with 1920′s style fixtures

    don’t be so lax with your child’s hygiene, especially on sundays. I have seen more than one child with a runny nose lately

    statues of the virgin mary really have no place in a front yard

    lastly, some of you look a little tired. Perhaps a facial/massage is in order.

    A neighborhood without a tapas/wine bar may be fine for some people, but not for me, so I appreciate your assistance with these matters.

  • I’m personally offended by white vinyl window frames instead of the much more tasteful black and I would greatly appreciate it if those of you with tenants would write into the lease that they may only use white curtains for the front of the house. Also- only 3.5 adults per floor per house, and when outside, I expect you all to dress in color coordinated, designer clothing.

    I am also sending around a list of acceptable dog breeds (with pre-chosen colors)I believe appropriate to the neighborhood and a notice of zero tolerance policy for non-purebred feral cats. Feral Abyssinians can add so much to the look of a block.

    I have mixed several shades of green paint and will make cans available to all. Please touch up the brown edges of the leaves on your trees to keep them looking fresh. I paid big bucks for this property and I expect all of you to knuckle down and help me keep my investment up.

  • daveinbedstuy

    A whole block can be ruined in just a few minutes with the passing of that guy who throws out the plastic Kohl’s bag with the flyers in it.

  • Not to mention one bad outfit of polyester

  • Havemeyer

    Were I a property owner who was rated thus, after receiving my rating, I would immediately paint my house an attractive shade of turquoise and orange and invest heavily in garden gnomes, flamingos and possibly blinking lights.

    I’d also consider some nice cyclone fencing with razor wire at the top and a rottweiler. Seriously, geez.

  • I think this block should put on an over-the-top display of white trashiness until he either sells his house or pulls the listing. I’m talking pink flamingos, bathtub Marys, cars with no tires up on blocks and laundry drying in the front yard.

  • Don’t forget the plastic flowers in hanging baskets. Red faux geraniums please. Artfully scatter old beer cans from the collection on the wall in the pine-panelled den.

  • daveinbedstuy

    lechecal…i’ve always loved those planters made up of a tire rim as the base and the tire turned inside out with the nicely scalloped edges

  • Havemeyer

    Oooh, laundry lines. Good point. Must do my part to protect the environment!!

  • dittoburg

    Dave you’re right, those things just scream “sophistication”

  • Havemeyer

    Dave, do you prefer the white paint on those or the silver? And can you recommend a local artisan? We have a porch that cries out for some sophistication.

    Also, again, recycling!

  • Don’t forget the corrugated metal awnings over the ground floor entrances, and the painted rocks lining the front yards.

    A plug-in faux stone water feature can also lend that touch of class to any front yard.

    And how can we forget strings of year round Christmas lights?

  • daveinbedstuy

    Silver Heather, come on now.

    You could do an ethnic thing too though with three of them…

    Italian or mexican…red/white/green
    Irish…orange/white/green
    American…red/white/blue
    German…black/orange/yellow

    You can also paint the balusters of your stoop railing in these colors as well.

    You get the picture

  • No tasteful building is complete without several naked cement cherubs. Angels may be a little more elegant but you want to avoid tipping over into bathos so don’t purchase those holding puppies or weeping over children.

    Get the black house numbers on the gold plastic background. You can glue them anywhere but make sure to let the corners curl up slightly for that classic 3 dimensional look.

  • dittoburg

    To be picky, if its got balusters its a balustrade.

  • Thanks for the decorating ideas everyone! I am off to the 99 cent store near me.

  • Does no one see this as an “art” project? That may be Eye on 7th St.’s intention.

  • “DOW what on earth does that comment [@12:55pm] mean? You’re not kidding anyone.”

    Evidence of an imploding market.

  • Well hmmfph….dittoburg. Who made you the stoop nazi? No no. Don’t look to dave for help. He invoked Godwin in the food coop. But I score twice in one thread, ha ha! I’m looking for my storm troopers. Where are they? Oh- in the 99 cent store…

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