To the editor:

My husband and I recently visited Baker City and were in awe of the natural beauty surrounding it. Its views of snow-covered mountains, its river flowing through town and your friendly residents made it feel like a perfect place to live. We love to walk and enjoy historic homes, so we spent much time walking and driving the streets of your town.

However, once we started exploring the neighborhoods, the awe we'd felt turned to shock as we saw street after street with yards of trash, old furniture and wrecked cars. It was unbelievable to us! Why would the leaders of Baker City let their town, surrounded by such beauty, deteriorate into one with such blight? Aren't there laws on the books that prevent piles of debris in yards, abandoned cars, litter and other neighborhood nuisances? Should homeowners be forced to live next to people who trash their homes and yards and, ultimately, devalue entire neighborhoods?

My husband and I have traveled to several continents and stayed in many cities, large and small. Few locations can boast the natural beauty of Baker City's location. Conversely, few cities we've visited can match the amount of refuse we saw in the yards and neighborhoods of your city.

We live in San Jose, Calif., a city recently voted as one of the 10 cleanest metropolitan cities in the U.S. It has earned that reputation, in part, because of its enforcement of rules regarding neighborhood blight and the responsibility of residents to adhere to them and respect their own properties as well as their neighbors'.

We both own successful companies and are always looking for a place to retire some day. The ideal setting of Baker City and its considerable amenities could be a destination for many new residents. But after looking at Baker City's many unkempt neighborhoods, it would not be an investment we would even consider. If a town cannot protect the value of its people's most important asset their homes it is not a place that we could consider moving to, telling our friends about or even visiting again.

Marylee Norick

San Jose, Calif.