Thursday, November 29, 2007

rotten neighbor

Rotten neighbors, beware
Ouch! Web site pops out gripes in nameless way
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By Lisa Ryckman
Rocky Mountain News
updated 7:10 a.m. ET Nov. 10, 2007
It's no picnic living on a certain block of Humboldt Street in Denver. Just ask anonymous."If it's not the parties on the front porch late at night or the screaming drunken domestic disputes also on the front porch also late at night, it would have to be the regular visits from the police that makes these people completely obnoxious to live next to," says a posting on the new Web site

Here's the stuff that real estate agents probably wouldn't know and might not tell you anyway: how the dogs across the street poop in everybody else's yard, whether those 15 kids all live in that one house and what about the four cars on blocks in that guy's driveway?

"I think it rocks," said Carolyn Sandberg, a broker associate with Metro Brokers, when she heard about the site. "I'm going to tell buyers to look at this. Then they can do their own research and can't blame you later."

A home buyer tool, too

Just plug in an address, a zip code or a city, then click on the little red houses that pop up to see what people are saying about a neighborhood, a neighbor - or you.

The Web site, created by San Diego resident and unhappy neighbor Brant Walker, allows people to take nameless swipes and touts itself as a research tool for home buyers.

Under "What We Believe," the site says, "If a bad neighbor exists, this information should be made freely and easily available to everyone," and "The more bad neighbors you add, the better the service."

Read all about it: Man throws television through the living room window! Neighbor parks boat on street year-round! Twenty-somethings party 2 4/7!

"Any nice day during the year, you can count on living next to a bar complete with loud music, drunken bullies that act like 12-year-olds and a steady flow of people and cars," one local posting says. "Sure to continue bringing down property values all around them!"

Speaking of property values - don't you hurt your own by dumping on the neighbors? Absolutely, said Susan Mathews, a broker with Perry & Co.

"Everything changes all the time. Their neighbors could be someone else tomorrow," she said. "I don't think this would be the smartest way to judge where to buy a house."

If there's a lesson here besides "buyer beware," it's how easy it is to be blunt with no names attached.

It's not all bad stuff

"Kids are allowed to roam neighborhood unsupervised, stealing and causing trouble, then call clueless adults on cell phone when they get in trouble. Witless adults then threaten to kill, stab or attack people," an Elkhart Street resident wrote.

"RV is parked in the street all year long. Revs motorcycles and blares music all the time," a posting says about a neighbor in Aurora. The site allows viewers to zero in on satellite maps to see detail - right down to the RV parked on the street.

But despite the Web site's name, some people have nothing but good things to say about the place they live.

"I grew up here and my parents will be moving soon. I'm kind of sad. It was a great place to grow up," someone wrote about their home on Bryant Street near West Scott Place.

Recent East Coast transplants gush over Willow Creek, "Simply the Best Neighborhood on the planet!"

And an Aurora resident writes, "All our neighbors are like family, really close, and always welcoming new neighbors. They always check with us prior to a large event, and we can't say enough good things about this area! We are truly blessed."

November 27, 2007 - Posting complaints about your neighbors is just one part of what's known as on-line shaming. In June, ABC7 told you about people who embarrass their friends and enemies on the web in our special segment "Cyber Smearing." Now, a cybersmearing site that attacks "rotten neighbors," is at 41 million users and counting.

Litter . Drugs. Inconsiderate neighbors. Now people are logging on to air out their dirty neighborhood laundry. The website is called

Some local complaints get downright nasty. One on the city's Northwest Side claims that neighbors are dealers, junkies and --- we can't print the last descriptive. The complaint alleges people yelling obscenities, fighting and leaving used needles in the alley. This neighbor did not post the complaint but says it's true.

"I have been here 5 years and it affects me because I have little ones," said Angelina Barreia, neighbor.

The website was created by a San Diego web designer over the summer. He had rotten neighbors of his own.

"Some real estate agents don't want it, they don't like it, think it will hurt their business. People looking to buy homes love it. Some people looking to sell homes think it will bring their values down," said Brant Walker,

The Chicago Association of realtors discourages homeowners from using the site - even though exact addresses are usually not listed, users can zoom all the way down to specific blocks and homes, with Google satellite map imagery.

"If you complain about your street or your condo building -- and you complain publically about it -- you are going to create concern from potential buyers, which, in turn, can effect the value not only of your neighbor's unit but your unit as well," said Michael Golden, Chicago Association of Realtors.

Real estate agents say neighbors should try to talk to each other face to face - or mediate problems with a condo or neighborhood association. You can also call your alderman or police about serious issues instead of telling the world on line.

"To me it seems almost caddy - like 'I am telling on you,'" said Gerilyn Gordan.

These college students in Lincoln Park don't think posting problems will have any effect. One of their neighbors is on it for allegedly playing loud music until 4 a.m.

"They are not going to stop because someone blogged about them," said Kateland Vandiver.

What sounds like scoop could be false.

"We all know there are at least three sides to every story and basically you are getting just one side," said Golden.

Grant Dietmeier, for example, disputes a posting about excessive noise on his block.

"I think its a great place to live. Very safe, very quiet, wonderful neighborhood," said Dietmeier.

Walker said video and pictures will be added to his site in a few weeks. As far as legal liability goes for smearing online- only the person posting false information can be sued and, in most cases, laws don't hold websites accountable


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