Category Archives: Essays

Features and essays

East Sacramento Preservation—Year End Photo Gallery and Annual Report

East Sacramento Preservation wishes all our members and friends a Happy New Year. After more than two years working to help the neighborhood oppose McKinley Village, 2015 was a time to return to our roots. Below is a brief summary of what we’ve been up to this year and some plans for next year.

Our popular Speaker Series hosted three outstanding presenters with unique talents and deep historical understanding of Sacramento.

Paula Peper–Historian and author of several books about our beautiful park neighborhoods and trees

Bill Burg–State Historian, author and Sacramento trolley history expert

Wes Green–design genius and owner of Twigs Floral Design

When ESP’s Judy McClaver started to volunteer at McKinley Pond three years ago she never imagined that she would become an award winning neighborhood icon. Her efforts have forced the city to address the issues at the pond. ESP supports her and the cadre of pond volunteers’ incredible dedication and hard work. She serves on the city pond committee and worked daily to clean and preserve the pond. (City Parks denied her use of the boat, so her garbage patrol and island work are curtailed.) However, park maintenance has stepped up and is now keeping trash cans empty on regular basis and the City reportedly has hired a pond maintenance company starting Jan 2016. We’ve set aside a portion of funds to donate to the rehab effort, once the city is able to create a workable plan. (At the end of this article is Judy’s “pondlife” list. Amazing what we have in the city!)

This year’s National Night Out was a packed bonanza. SWAT, canine, car patrol, bike patrol, fire, politicals—they all came, as did the neighborhood. It was a party.

Essays, provocative and informative, tackled East Sac issues with humor and insight. Our most popular essays were Airbnb, Pond Update, Exact Spot, Insist on TreesNo Permit, Illegal Building Draws East Sac Neighbors’ Ire.

ESP has joined multiple neighborhood associations in the effort to preserve Sacramento’s tree canopy. We are cosigners on numerous comments and letters to the city and support the healthy preservation of our canopy. We also promoted the retention of snag habitats, whenever it is safe to do so.

When the city sends us information, we share it. From parking, palm pruning, to events and meetings, we send it your way. When neighbors ask for help with city issues, we step up.

ESP supported the Ethics and Transparency movement led by the League of Women Voters and Eye on Sacramento. We stand firm with Eye on Sacramento and know there is much more to be done. However, we offer kudos to both groups for their work.

ESP featured Nextdoor in an article on the web site. The fun of this was that we drove to San Francisco and visited the start up. What a great group of innovators.

For more than seven years East Sacramento Preservation has been the pour and clean up team at Pops in the Park at East Portal. In 2016 we’re helping out at East Portal and Bertha Henschel Parks. If you’d like to pour with the team, send us an email!

Supporting SCUSD and school events is a pleasure. We post and spread the word about fundraisers, events and surveys.

Locals send us information about community events, farmers’ market, volunteer days, health and safety, river danger issues and individual efforts. We post all that come our way.

Traffic is an on-going concern in East Sacramento and our flag program on 33th and H is in its third year. Although flag theft makes the effort a little tricky, we know this is a great safety benefit to the community. ESP also distributes the Drive Like Your Kids Live Here Signs.

33rd and H Streets

33rd and H Streets






East Sacramento Preservation, Inc. is proud to support the designation of the Maple Avenue/38th Street Historical District that has been presented to the City of Sacramento’s Preservation Director. We should hear soon how the city will act on the application. These two blocks of 38th Street between J Street and Folsom Boulevard are a showcase of early 20th Century residential structures and the history of their occupants is long and important to the development of Sacramento. Many of the original occupants were captains of industry that have left a legacy of contributions to the city.

We are hopeful that this first historical district in East Sacramento will lead to other deserving portions and individual structures in the neighborhood being similarly designated. This is essential so that these resources are not lost to the speculative fever that is currently resulting in the wanton destruction of the residential fabric and character that helps make this community special.

News for 2016

An ESP High School Scholarship is under discussion. Our student board member, Emiliano Gómez, will be leading the study.

In the coming year we will work to improve the web site set up and delivery system. We love all feedback, positive and negative, and have read all your comments.

Our popular speaker series will continue with new and exciting speakers.

Please consider year-end donations to ESP. We’re an East Sacramento charity that works in your neighborhood. We spend money in no other place. All donations or membership will go to our established programs and is 100% tax deductible. All ESP community workers, writers, project organizers, forum and speaker series participants are non-paid volunteers.

Judy’s Pondlife List


Black-crowned night herons

Wood ducks


Canada geese

Greater White fronted geese

Cackling geese





Barn owls


Bush tits

Robins and other common Sacramento birds

Miscellaneous migrating birds

All the domestic ducks and geese were relocated by Judy to help preserve the pond and protect wildlife’s health.


Turtles—99% are red-eared sliders











And, of course, the ubiquitous, squirrel (most are Fox Squirrels with a few Grays)

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Airbnb—The Real East Sacramento Story

Unknownby Pat Lynch

There’s a lot of talk in East Sac about Airbnb (Air Bed and Breakfast), the website for renting temporary lodging. A friend got recently and weirdly involved in this. Joan’s a schoolteacher, divorced, the kids have fluttered from the nest, and she pays the mortgage on a three-bedroom, two bath house. So she went to Airbnb and listed a room and bath. “People stay a few days, get a reasonable rate, and I get the income bump,” she said. “This is win-win.” I should mention that Joan is an optimist, open to adventure, and very hospitable. She’d be a great landlady. And there’s always that mortgage.

Her first renter was a man. Her sister asked Joan if she’d feel comfortable with an unknown man in the house. Joan said, sure, added that he’d sounded nice on the phone. “You’re welcome to use the kitchen,” she had told him. She was too hurried in the mornings to make breakfast for this total stranger, but imagined him quietly brewing coffee and munching a muffin. The man picked up his key, then, strangely, disappeared. Two days later Joan came home from work to find boxes and bins piled all over her living room. He had returned with most of his possessions. He was moving to a not-yet-vacant new apartment, he said. She told him he could not leave his lifetime of stuff in her living room. She made him move it all to the garage.

That night she was awakened at 1:30 a.m. by noisy banging from his room. “What could he have been doing?” she said. “Building something? Hammering? At 1:30 a.m.?” But she let it go.

My own sister, Joan’s sister and I got together with Joan two mornings later. Relieved that she hadn’t been serial-killed in the night, we asked about her new tenant.

“He set off the smoke alarm,” she said. “When I went in there was this strange, sweet smell. I wonder if he’d been vaping.” So she told him—no smoking, no vaping, no setting off the alarm. She forced a grin as she talked. “People have their ways,” she said. Her refrigerator was now filled to bursting with his foodstuffs, most notably chicken nuggets, which he sizzled and consumed repeatedly, and with apparent relish. Joan, a vegetarian, did not complain to him about the chronic chicken nugget smell because, after all, she had granted kitchen privileges.

She returned to us the next day. She tried to smile but her eyes weren’t in it. “He’s okay, I guess,” she said. Then she broke. “He takes an hour at least in the shower. A really long time. And when he leaves, the bathroom smells like bleach. Afterward the whole hall reeks of it. It literally reeks. Bleach.”

I asked Joan if her tenant entered the bathroom with a large plastic jug of laundry bleach, or if he went in with purchased tubes. She didn’t know. She only knew that the potent chemical sting filled the hall. My assessment was: if he went in with a big jug he was a murderer bleaching the DNA blood evidence from his instruments, probably knives. If there was no jug, he was using a bleach cream as part of his hygiene routine. (Don’t ask).

Joan is capable of appreciating the odd encounters life serves up, even while she struggles with them. She laughed gamely when we pointed out that her tenant had brought her a unique new blend of olfactory experiences at once: vape, chicken nuggets and bleach. He was an innocent, a nomad, lumbering in with all his worldly encumbrances and habits, making camp in her spare room, carrying on as was his custom.

He finally left, not on time, of course, but never mind. Joan scoured her kitchen, aired out the rental room and bath.

This got us all thinking: to whom might we like to rent? My perfect tenant would be a high-minded, timid female who keeps to her room, constantly wears Ipod earphones that deliver thundering classical music so she won’t hear the shrieking and cackling that so often rattles these walls. She edits poems about existential anguish for an obscure literary publication and takes sedatives. Yes, she may have kitchen privileges to brew her little cups of tea. When she leaves I’ll say, How lovely to have met you, and she will murmur the same, and will make a future booking. The perfect tenant. Win-win.

“Good luck with that,” Joan said.

Airbnb started in San Francisco in the 2008 election year when roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbis couldn’t afford their flat rent. They got three air mattresses, placed them on the living-room floor, and advertised. They also served partisan, election year cereal breakfasts–Obama O’s or Captain Mc Cain’s, and thus launched their now world-wide business.

You don’t have to make special cereals if you do Airbnb these days. The coffee and muffin is enough, and you don’t even have to do that.

Meanwhile the City is studying Airbnb’s tax and regulatory potential. It needs the dough to help the struggling NBA build an arena.

Joan came over. “You won’t believe what he did.”

“I thought your new tenant was a woman.”

“No. The old one. Him.” He had arranged to have her mail held up. He was expecting a check and wanted it delivered to her address, even though he would no longer be there. So he put a hold on her mail until the check arrived. When the check came to the Post Office, it, and all of Joan’s detained mail, was delivered to Joan at once. He explained what he had done when she called to tell him his check had arrived at her house.

Who would do such a thing? And how?

Joan’s tenant is who. And how is a mystery. How does one stop someone else’s mail? Her innocent, nerd nomad was a tad craftier than we had thought.

Joan’s okay now. She’s rented again and gotten good tenants. But the experience with him got her off to a daunting start. Really, don’t you think she should get a plaque or something for getting back in the biz?

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