The Stanislaus County Insider
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As you pass the Modesto airport, and exit Mitchell Ave onto Tenaya, it’s as if you left the comfort of the USA, and entered a third world country. The road in is covered in graffiti, the buildings, structures, and some vehicles.
Our first stop was a house on a narrow road, there was no posted road sign. The message spray painted across the entire front of the house was familiar. XIV Norte 14. A well known gang sign. XIV represents the number 14, and Norte representing the Norteno’s. Norteno’s meaning Northern California gang members. A chain link fence that was suppose to block entry onto the property, was broken down. Garbage was scattered around the property, and an old abandoned car sat rusting in front.
Modesto's Airport District, a Sobering Reality.
A block up, on S Conejo Drive. We found another vacant house. With the same familiar theme, spray painted across the front. It caught my eye, along with a for sale sign near by. As we got out of the car, a man appeared seemingly out of no where. “Are you interested in buying this property”, he asked. (Mike spoke to Stancoinsider on the condition that we not use his last name.) Mike owns several properties in the airport district and wonder’s why he didn’t sell in 2005 when he had the chance. “This is the worst place to live”, he said. This place is bad, really bad. Drugs, gangs, they're everywhere. They will steal anything, and I mean anything.”
"Would you like a tour", he asked. "Follow me". I followed him to the side of the building. I noticed that on a side door there was a small real estate lock box attached to the door knob. “Don’t pay any attention”, he said. We went around to the back of the home and through a broken down fence covered in graffiti, to the back door, except that the back door was gone. “Come on in”, Mike said. I walked through the doorway, and immediately noticed the overwhelming smell of animal urine, combined with what I can only describe as what extremely dirty clothes might smell like. I looked back still wondering what could have happened to the back door. The walls were filthy with huge holes. Many walls had zippered holes throughout. “They took all the wiring”, Mike said. ’That’s why there’s so many holes, they just ripped it out of the walls. That’s not all, they took everything, including the kitchen sink.” Just a filthy heavily damaged counter with a large hole where the sink and faucet’s used to be, was left behind.
When you say “they“, who exactly are you referring to, the former tenants? I asked. “No, the people who live around here. They will steal anything, and I mean anything.” Each room we entered was worse than the other, huge holes in the wall, the carpet was gone, windows broken out, missing light fixtures, bathtub faucet’s, all gone. If there were things like a refrigerator, stove or any other semblance of a modern convenience it was long gone. “I’m scared to rent out my properties, I would prefer to lose money than to rent them out, I’ve had to pull a gun on a guy who broke into my house nearby. He got into the laundry room, and he didn’t speak English, I had to hold a gun on him until the police arrived. The guy wouldn’t come out, he wouldn’t come out, so the cops had to send the dog in, it was a mess, there was blood everywhere”.
We exited the house out the back door, and to the left is another small building that looked to be a guest house. The front door was off the hinges, leaning up against a wall. The electrical box was simply a shell. The meter and all attached wiring was gone. The inside was filthy, and it’s sink’s and faucets, along with electrical outlets, and lighting fixtures had all been stolen. In a small back room of the guest house, a dirty blanket and pillow lie on the floor next to a half empty bottle of Thunderbird. “Someone is staying here”, Mike said.
An abandoned weigh station on Tenaya.