L.A. versus the Lake?

*DISCLAIMER*

The following article will be peppered with profanity.

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I am pretty disgusted so I am just going to dive right on in and get to the matter at hand. For the second time in as many years the Los Angeles Times has published what is, in this writer’s opinion, a hit piece on my hometown/county. Lake County, CA may have a few warts, but what place doesn’t? The article in question was meant to cover the damage and devestation of the Clayton Fire on our communities. Instead, the “reporter” brought up things that had no bearing whatsoever on the topic other than to make our county look like a complete shithole.

A community recently deccimated by an intentionally set fire, and this asshole comes up here from big, bad L.A. and takes a county already knocked down to its knees and kicks dirt right in our face before spitting on us, likely with an evil shark’s grin all the while. Why? Some of the things in this article were just downright irrelevant and, to be honest, mean as hell. A further point of grievance is the many facts the reporter, Joseph Serna, got wrong and that were apparently not even checked at all before the story was published.

Few roads lead to Lake County. The drive there from any of them is lovely.

Wrapped around scenic Clear Lake are rolling amber hills divided by vineyards and stands of oak and other trees. But once the hills recede, you find empty parking lots and vacant storefronts along the lake’s southeastern edge.

There are actually not that many “empty parking lots and vacant store fronts” on the southern side of the lake. There are a few, but with the economy of the past sixteen years that is true of any town, big or small, that you might find yourself travelling through. More can actually be found elsewhere around the lake, but that would have required the “journalist” to actually take a look around as he drove through. That was only the first paragraph of this shit heap article, let’s continue:

Serna goes on to write about the devestation wrought by last year’s fires as well as the numbers for the Clayton Fire. He writes of the suspected arsonist, Damin Pashilk, who lived in Clearlake and allegedly set several fires around town. Fine, great, pertinent facts and details, wonderful. But then, this:

…Police patrols aren’t seen much here, and Clearlake didn’t hire a code enforcement officer until recently. High fences hide marijuana growing operations, according to locals……

According to 2015 US Census data, 24% of Lake County residents live in poverty, making it one of the poorest counties in the state. In Clearlake, the rate is 34%. The national average is just under 15%.

More than a fifth of the town’s residents are disabled, and less than 8% of its residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher — markedly worse than county and national averages of 16% and 30%, respectively.

First of all, police patrols are seen all over town on a daily basis. The City of Clearlake, according to the U.S Census Bureau, is 10.6 square miles and has a population that fluctuates around 15,000 people. On the city website (yes, Joseph Serna, we have one of those) you can find information about the local police department (specifically, patrol) as well as the code enforcement department.

The Clearlake Police Department has 21 sworn officers and 8 full time support staff. Patrols within the city limits are broken into four sections, divided among 12 patrol officers and 1 reserve police officer who are overseen by four sargeants.

Clearlake Patrol Beat Map

Patrol Beat #4 actually extends into the Lower Lake area, according to the above map provided by the City of Clearlake website.

Secondly, while the City of Clearlake did have a period of time without any active code enforcement officer, we have three now and have had at least one on duty since 2013. Maybe that qualifies as “recently” to some, but to this writer it does not.

But, by all means, let’s go on shall we?

Speaking of the suspected arsonist’s neighborhood, the reporter continues:

Pashilk lived in a home at the end of a bumpy dirt road lined with willow trees behind the Clearlake police department. A trailer with an expired registration and a pile of chopped wood layered with cobwebs gathered dust in the front yard.

The neighborhood’s streets are narrow and walled in by mobile homes, broken-down vehicles and piles of junk. The smell of kicked-up dust and algae from the lake thickens the hot summer air.

OK, fine, Pashilk lived in a crappy neighborhood. As though no other place has crappy neighborhoods? Certainly Los Angeles does not have a shit neighborhood or 10 right?

We also do have a lot of dirt roads around here, being a rural community that is not unexpected, but apparently it is just another sign of the low income, uneducated residents that call this shithole home if you are to take Mr. Serna’s point of view.

Now that we are into the meat of this joke of an article, the errors are numerous and obvious to anyone who lives here or has spent any amount of time here and paid attention to street signs and buildings. Here we go:

Next to the police station is a check cashing business and farther down the street is city hall — a plain building that used to be a grocery store…

…Motels offer discount rates for rooms with pristine views of the water. On Lakeshore Drive, the town’s main drag, there’s a Safeway and Rite-Aid, but no big box stores, chain coffee shops.

There are wineries in Lake County, and fishing and boating does draw visitors.

Next to the police station, or rather pretty much in the same building as the police station IS City Hall, not “farther down the street” with a check cashing business sandwiched between. Also, what does it matter if the building was a grocery store over twenty years ago?

The Safeway and Rite Aid are actually on Olympic Dr., which would be the city’s other “main drag” I suppose. We have no chain coffee shops, only independently owned and operated ones, although at the other end of the plaza from Safeway we have a Grocery Outlet and a Dollar Tree. On Lakeshore Dr you can find several restaurants, two parks, numerous businesses including a Best Western hotel and a IGA store, as well as the health clinic and two pharmacies.

Obviously this asshole did not even bother to drive through town and pay attention to street names…it takes about ten minutes to drive through town and observe all that I just listed, which shows the effort the writer put into his crap hit piece.

Of the homes destroyed in the last two years, Birk estimated only about 10% are currently in the process of being rebuilt. Middletown, Kelseyville and Hidden Valley were all hit hard by the Jerusalem, Rocky and Valley fires in 2015.

Actually, Kelseyville was left untouched by the fires, both this year and last. It was Middletown, Hidden Valley and Cobb communities that were left without homes last year, but, you know, that would involve actually doing the smallest bit of research. I highly doubt that this reporter took everything Richard Birk from Habitat for Humanity said and used it correctly.

This is not exactly surprising. This is not the first time that this publication based nearly 500 miles away has decided to come up here and pass judgement on our county. In August of 2014 another article was published by the L.A. Times describing Lake County has a decaying, run down resort area plagued by drug wars and poverty. Here is the first paragraph from that piece of crap:

Transients hole up in the old cottage resorts where vacationing families once came to fish and swim. Rotted docks and pier pilings litter the lake’s shoreline.

Much of this city, in fact, and others nearby in Lake County, looks as if it was plucked from Appalachia — with weeds and unpaved streets, stray dogs and backyard marijuana crops.

What does this publication have against Lake County that every piece written about us is laced with passive aggressive insults and peppered with judgement? Does Los Angeles not have drug problems, homeless problems, bad neighborhoods, etc?

Let’s talk about a few of the things that Lake County has that L.A. doesn’t, shall we? Some of the best wine comes from Lake County, and yes, even the best weed comes out of here as well. We also have the cleanest air in California, something L.A. will never be able to boast. Our lake is the oldest and largest natural lake in the state, at that algae that bothers everyone so bad is prehistoric!

It is one thing for locals to bitch about small town problems, but for the media to come up in the wake of a tragedy and kick dirt in our eyes is just disgusting.

In pretty Lake County, an arson fire lays out some ugly realities | L.A. Times

IN A DECAYING RESORT AREA, A POT WAR ERUPTS | L.A. Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 thoughts on “L.A. versus the Lake?

    1. Thank you, I read the L.A. Times piece and just got so angry to see my hometown depicted so unfavorably by someone who did not even bother to take the time to get the smallest facts correct. It is stuff like this that is the reason why the media has zero credibility.

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  1. Raven I certainly don’t blame you for being upset with the shoddy reporting in this hit piece! Honestly, I USED to feel the same way, but as I have gotten older, and grown to love my home county more and more, (I have lived here most of my 65 years) I realized that these articles are actually doing me a big favor! Anything that will discourage an influx of nasty city folks to our county, is a blessing I think.Everywhere I go in this state, “progress” has turned the place into somewhere that I certainly don’t want to be. Sure, we could use some stuff that is not here currently, but that very lack, along with those dirt streets and poor neighborhoods are a couple of things that help keep a mass influx of critical city dwellers away. Whatever helps that along, I am good with. Thanks for your great response to the article though, I completely enjoyed it!

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    1. I absolutely do not disagree with you there, I definitely would rather those types stay out of our idyllic, if slightly blemished, rural home. However, our county does rely heavily on tourist dollars and while it is not something I typically enjoy every summer, those tourists bring in a lot of our revenue here in the summer time. We are a tourist county, and articles like this could do one of two things in my opinion. 1) they could turn people off from vacationing here at all 2) they could attract and entirely different kind of tourist.

      I hope we never get a Starbucks on this side of the lake, personally…I like Yia Yia’s just fine myself.

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  2. At least we don’t have the Hookers, Pimps, Smog, and various other Unknown Horrors and Diseases. Crimes, Drugs, you want it, go to LA. That awful stuff they breath there must go to their heads.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article, Raven and it closely mirrors what I sent into the LA Times editorial staff the night before last. I encourage you to send them a piece as well.

    “Up in Lake County, we’re starting to think the LA Times has a bone to pick with us. The recent article detailing Lake County’s economic struggles while recovering from four major wildfires seemed to be largely lifted from a similar article from last year titled something along the lines of “In a dying resort area, a pot war erupts.” It certainly rubs salt in our wounds.

    To be honest, though, these articles are unrepresentative of the county at best and lazy reporting at worst. Before getting two paragraphs into the article, I knew the poor journalist assigned to this piece took a cursory drive through Clearlake (our most economically-challenged city) and called his tour complete. Had he ventured outside the city limits, he would have found a much more layered, complex story which we would expect out of a fine publication like the LA Times.

    Had Mr. Serna continued to explore Lake County, he would have been awed by our incredible natural history, beauty and resources. He would have been impressed by our rich geology which includes the largest geothermal field in the world providing 60% of the energy demand from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. He would have also admired the oldest natural lake in North America and perhaps been lucky enough to recreate on the third best bass fishing lake in the country. Had he stayed a few more days, he could have toured Northern California’s finest agricultural growing region with some of California’s most unique high elevation wines and the highest quality pears in the entire nation. Had Mr. Serna stayed a while longer, he may have experienced just a little taste of the incredible generosity of our tight-knit community in the wake of these disasters. He would have met people from all walks of life and economic circumstances; retired Bay Area professionals, ranchers, scientists, parents, teachers, community activists. A drive through Middletown would have given him all he needed to know about the optimism and entrepreneurial spirit which make Lake County a such wonderful place to live.

    But Mr. Serna did none of that. He chose to focus instead, on a list of facts and figures which we have all known for years and largely copied the tone of an earlier LA Times article. Our advice to the LA Times is before you send another reporter up to do a story on our county, plan on them spending a bit more time to absorb more than the obligatory “Lakeshore Drive’ tour in Clearlake.”

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    1. I also wrote a letter to the editor of the publication today and included links to each of my recent articles on the subject…I have no idea if they will even follow the links, let alone read what I have written, but I hope they do. They could seriously hurt our tourist business with slam pieces that like.

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