Neighbors: Historic, rundown home will attract more transients

Apr 14, 2016 1:32 AM by Cecile Juliette

One of the last Gothic Revival homes left standing in Chico is about to get a new home, much to the dismay of the home's soon-to-be new neighbors. Corrine Giboney has two young children, and has been renting her home on Humboldt Avenue next to Highway 99 for three years. "Our property line is right here," says Giboney, gesturing to an invisible line that separates her house from an empty, dirt lot. She says the lot used to be filled with tall weeds and thorny bushes, which was a haven for illegal activity. She says, "They were hiding in the bushes, behind the bushes. They were dealing drugs behind the bushes," referring to transients who she says used to frequent the vacant property, just yards from Chico Creek and the Highway 99 underpass. "We're trying to raise families here. Needles and syringes, they (her children) were finding stuff like that in the front yard, every day."

Giboney says it took nearly three years, and finally, with the help of neighbors, and with the property owner's consent, they finally cleared away all the grass, brush, and bushes from the lot. She says since December, transients have not been back to the property.

Giboney says she was shocked to learn that an abandoned home in the south campus area that's been a haven for illegal activity was being moved next door. She says, "Then all of the sudden we hear that they're moving a house here. We're like wait, a house? And I see that it's not just a house, it's a house that's completely rundown."

The home is special. It's one of the last remaining gothic revival homes left in the city of Chico. According to Chico senior planner Bob Summerville, the home near the corner of 5th and Ivy Streets was built in the 1880s. It was rented for many years by an elderly man, who passed away inside the home. Since then, it has remained empty. The windows are shattered, the porch has crumbled, and trash litters the yard. The white paint has mostly peeled away, and the wood is severely chipped and damaged. Despite that, the home has historic value. Says Sommerville, "It's also listed on the city's historic resources inventory and on the national register...It's just gone down on the road of a rental, which in the students' area can mean it's demise."

That means little to Gibroney and her neighbors, who worry that the property will either sit empty, or attract transients during the construction period.

She says she's met with the home's soon-to-be owners, and they did little to make her feel better, telling her there is 'no timeline' for when the work will be completed. Gibroney also says she doesn't think they understand the persistent problems they had with transients who refused to leave. "All of us neighbors seem to think that they don't quite understand what they're getting themselves into, says Giboney. She worries that the home will just be left to rot. She says, her biggest fear is "Just that it's going to get moved here, and nothing is going to get done with it. It's just going to sit like it has, and we'll have the same problems that the college students are having over there at 5th and Ivy."


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