Back in the day Oakdale used to be a small city where everyone knew each other’s names and crime was only something that occurred in Modesto. Times have changed and neighbors never talk and crime is on the doorstep. It is time for the good old days of Oakdale to return and to adopt a good neighbor policy for your neighborhood. Being on bad terms with your neighbor can make your life frustrating, day after day. But taking the time to establish good terms with your neighbors has numerous benefits. The community will be friendlier, the neighborhood safer, and the area a nicer and more comfortable place to live. Here are a few simple ideas that can help establish a policy that might work for you and your neighbors.
The first step to get to know your neighbors is a simple introduction. Whether you’re new in the neighborhood or new residents have just moved in on your block, introduce yourself. Say hello, offer a welcoming gift (the classic homemade pie never fails) and share or ask about the local area: “Where’s the best place for a steak?” or “The garbage truck comes by on Tuesdays and Fridays, usually around 10 in the morning, but sometimes he sneaks in at 8.” You will be amazed how far a simple introduction will take you.
Get to know your neighbors — what they do for a living, what their schedules might be like, and so on. Sometimes, you can remedy problems before they even start; for example, if they work nights, quiet mornings will be important for them. If they have young children, quiet evenings will be very important to them. Similarly, give them information that’ll help them be more considerate of your lifestyle. If you do a lot of yard work, or if your teenage son plays the drums, let them know in advance and mention that if it’s getting too loud, they shouldn’t hesitate to let you know. Open communication can solve simple problems before they become bigger headaches.
It is very surprising how much heartache can be caused by man’s best friend. Pets should be considered part of your family and therefore they should always be brought up when they are an issue. Keep your dog on a leash if it has a habit of running rampant on your neighbors’ lawns, especially if they have a cat or a dog of their own, and make sure to clean up after your pet. If you have a particularly noisy dog, this may also become a source of contention for your neighbor. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine how upset you’d be if you or perhaps your newborn was awakened from a much-needed nap by the barking of a nearby dog. If you have problems controlling your dog’s barking or whining, consider seeking advice from your local veterinarian or the City of Oakdale Animal Control.
Parking etiquette is very important and citizens need to realize that the curb in front of their house does not belong to them and anyone can park there. When you park your vehicle, be sure not to block anyone’s driveway. Don’t park so close that it make them have to pull out of a very tight spot. Don’t rev the engine of your car or motorcycle early in the morning or late at night. Park in front of your home, not theirs. Avoid slamming your doors or shining your headlights into your neighbor's windows late at night. When you enter your vehicle late at night or early in the morning be considerate of your neighbor’s peace and try not to talk loudly.
If you’re planning a party, be sure to give your neighbors plenty of warning, letting them know when it’s going to start and how long you expect it to go on. Leave them a telephone number to contact if they need to ask you to turn it down. If you get on well with your neighbors, why not invite them too? When it comes to the party itself, stick to your agreed arrangements and ask your guests to be considerate when leaving. If you are not invited to the party and you feel it is getting out of hand, try to talk to them prior to calling the police. If your neighbor has contacted you about your party and it is still loud do not be surprised if the police arrive and shut your party down for you. If you have alcohol at your party be sure everyone drinking has a designated driver because no one wants a DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
No one wants to live next door to the neighbor who lets their lawn and garden get out of control. Weed your garden regularly, because the presence of weeds in your yard is not only unsightly but can also spread to your neighbor’s yard. Mow your lawn regularly and keep your flowers, trees and bushes trimmed appropriately. Put equipment away as soon as you’re finished with it. Ask if your neighbor has chemical sensitivities, small children or pets before applying pesticides. If you are unable to keep up on your landscaping yourself and a neighbor offers to do it for you don’t be offended, your neighbor is only trying to make the neighborhood look nice.
Communicate with your neighbor. Above all, touch base with your neighbors regularly and keep them in the loop. Remember the golden rule and if anything you are planning to do may affect them, minimize it and let them know in advance. Keep the channels of communication open by reminding them that if you’re doing anything, which disturbs them, they should feel comfortable approaching you about it. Communication is key in having a safe neighborhood. Even if you’re not in a “neighborhood watch” community, keep your eye on anyone you don’t know acting suspiciously around your neighbor’s property. When in doubt, call the police so they can quickly curtail any criminal activity. Working together with your neighbors is the first step of keeping your neighborhood safe.
The citizens of Oakdale can bring back the good old days and getting to know your neighbors will make things easier. In closing be nice to your new neighbors — when someone new is moving next to you, welcome them. They will be thankful to you for a smile, a helping hand and that “welcome to the neighborhood” pie.
Cop Corner is a monthly column provided by officers of the Oakdale Police Department, offering a variety of information and safety tips.