In years past, my role with the planning committee of the Piper Street Block Party was to fundraise. I have always been very happy to do so. For twelve years our community looked forward to the 4th of July on Piper Street. Ari and Dawnelise were determined that year after year it would get better and better. The food, the music, the fun stuff for the children; it was all so incredible. And they couldn’t have done it without the cooperation and help of their nearest neighbors, especially the families that lived in the apartment building directly across the street. Without them, there would be a giant piece of the party missing. They also couldn’t do it without the help and donations of our attending community. Year after year, you stepped up. This time around I’ve set up a fundraiser for a different reason and I’m hoping you will step up again. Sadly, there won’t be a block party in 2019. Ari has more to say.
I moved to Piper Street 14 years ago. The guy across, Big Al, was born in that house. He rode a Harley motorcycle and took care of the neighborhood with birthright ownership. They brought the heavy metal band that played the first block party and every year they made space in their driveway for the food table. He and his wife needed the extra cash for retirement, so two years ago they sold and moved to Sacramento. Now his house sits empty.
Then there was the guy next store, Jim Love. He used to talk to me from his yard. Michael Traverso used to deliver gin to him like the old days. Every year he brought a watermelon and a 12 pack of beer to the party. He grew old and passed away. His house is now a second home.
The lady on the corner stole my cat, but took really good care of it. She passed and the house sits empty.
On our block there is one original family living full time year round besides my family, except for the multi-unit apartment building across the street.
That apartment building is home to all the original Mexican families that lived on our block before we arrived. One woman has been there 23 years. I was told a few days ago that the building was sold and everyone was handed eviction notices. They have 90 days. These were the folks who helped build the unity of our block party, made the tacos you all loved, and kept the feeling of community alive. The Piper Street unity and connection helped inspire the creation of Dia de Los Muertos on the plaza. We thought that if we can achieve this feeling on Piper Street, we might be able to bring this spirit of togetherness to the greater community.
I’m really at a loss at what it means to live in this town. The city needs to find ways to purchase older apartment buildings or some way to protect what’s left in our neighborhoods.
So now I’m asking the community who enjoyed the community spirit, music, food, and gathering at the 4th of July Block party for the last 12 years to give a little money to help these families with moving expenses. The block party is officially retired because of these losses so I ask that in its memory, you help the families who gave so much to us.
I’m also asking that you join me this Monday, February 4th at 6pm at City Hall so we can voice our concerns to the city council and get an affordable housing plan together by the end of 2019. There is no more time left for this city to be held unaccountable. If affordable housing is the number one issue then let’s treat it that way.