There’s a dumpster. And no, it’s not on fire. At least not yet.

Our elderly neighbors – both suffering from Alzheimer’s – disappeared towards the middle of last year, leaving vacant the house they had lived in since it was built in the 60s. While we saw them less and less each year – mostly her stepping onto her porch to feed the neighborhood cats – having the house suddenly empty was odd.

Odder still when we realized earlier this year that we were living somewhat on an island within our own neighborhood. The owner to our left was rarely home, disappearing for weeks at a time. The renters across the street moved. And the Airbnb next door had been unoccupied (much to everyone’s delight) for at least a year.

Did we smell? Were we giving off some funky vibe? The dog was still willing to hang out with us, but that wasn’t saying much.

Then a for-sale sign magically appeared two weeks ago, followed by the dumpster this week. Something is definitely afoot.

Of course this wasn’t the first dumpster in our neck of the woods. Somehow our area has avoided the large price spikes that would constitute tearing houses down and overbuilding on the lot. Even the few houses that have caught fire have been rebuilt. So a dumpster showing up usually means a renovation.

However, we knew the house had been sitting empty for going on a year. Without any power. And in a neighborhood with two creeks, we could only imagine the squirrels, raccoons, and other creatures that might have taken up residence. Plus the owners hadn’t really been able to maintain the property very well the last few years they were there.

Was this going to be the first teardown? And good God, what would they build in its place?

Like the nosy queens we are (James working from home has made him quite the Gladys Kravitz), James popped onto the realtor’s site to check the price. Definitely below market price. Uh oh! Here we go. Then I hopped onto the appraisal district site, and we were able to breathe a sigh of relief. While below market value, the listing was around three times the lot value.


I’m not sure that either one of us is ready to see the neighborhood change appearances to an extreme. We have such a mix of houses, from true mid-century moderns built in the mid-50s when the neighborhood formed, to more standard fare constructed in the 60s. Definitely nothing cookie cutter. I’m not sure what we would do if the first McMansion graced our street.

We are realistic, though, and know at some point that will happen. As we were walking a lot during the pandemic, one house stood out to me as the prime candidate. And I know, I’m an architect. We should think about preserving the fabric of the neighborhood. However, when said fabric is starting to slide down towards the creek behind it, one day, a small shove will be needed.

And a dumpster. A very large dumpster.