San Jose versus Baker City

April 18, 2008 12:00 am

To the editor:

I want to respond to Marylee Norick's (of San Jose) April 8 letter critical of Baker City's trashy, cluttered neighborhoods.

Because I was born in San Jose and lived in that area for 49 years, until 1990, I consider myself informed on the trashy and cluttered conditions in the San Jose neighborhoods. And while living there, I witnessed San Jose, along with other local towns, becoming the Silicon Valley with its world-class high-tech corporations, fabulously rich owners and managers, and smog and congestion.

Actually, the Noricks' "shock of discovery" of the blighted Baker City neighborhoods seems inaccurate. The high quality and style of homes and cleanliness in several Baker City neighborhoods easily compare with similar neighborhoods in Silicon Valley.

In the late 1960s I bought a typical, three-bedroom tract home in Sunnyvale, a Silicon Valley town close to San Jose, for $25,800 and sold it a couple years later. Recently, a relative of mine estimated this same house might sell for a million dollars today. Based on this market study, my conclusion is that very few Baker homeowners could afford to purchase homes in Silicon Valley and probably couldn't afford to hire any of the army of gardeners, maintenance people, house cleaners, pool cleaners, nannies, dog walkers and other workers employed by Silicon Valley homeowners to keep their homes and neighborhoods in super shape.

Another reason for Silicon Valley's clean and tidy front yards and streets is that if you were to leave your lawnmowers, picnic tables, garden pots, swingsets, toys, small utility trailers, bicycles and other stuff out overnight, I can almost guarantee that they would be gone by morning, stolen by cruising thieves.

I had a homeowner friend in San Jose who told me that whenever he got behind on his lawn or pruning, several of his neighbors would come over and talk to him. They let him know he was to maintain the standards or they were going to help him out.

We shouldn't run the Noricks "out of Dodge" for their comments. There may be some truth in their criticism, and we should respect their candor.

Bill Cox

Baker City