“Are you with that show, ‘Hoarders’?” a passing motorist asked a visitor at a Rosedale home, referring to the popular A&E series that documents the lives of people with an obsessive compulsive disorder that leads to excessively collecting objects.
It’s easy to see how someone could make that incorrect assumption. The property at 243-14 132 Road is littered with seemingly worthless items including broken furniture, buckets, pieces of wood, old cosmetics, tools and more.
“They use a U-Haul all the time, and they dump the stuff right on the lawn, and in the middle of the street, and then, I guess, they return the truck,” said neighbor H. Gardner, who asked that her first name not be published because she is embarrassed by the conditions next door. “With the U-Haul and all this garbage, that means they have to drag it up, past my driveway, so I had to get a rake and clean the debris because I need to pull my car out and I’m not sure if there’s nails and stuff.”
The property is an eyesore that neighbors say they are tired of looking at, especially when all the other homes on the street are rubbish-free with finely manicured lawns. They claim the property has always looked that way, ever since homeowner Elaine Ranger moved in about 10 years ago.
When the Chronicle first reported on the house back in April, Ranger and her daughter, who would not give her name, said they were in the process of spring cleaning and maintained that most of the items on the property were useful and the rest was just awaiting pickup by the Department of Sanitation.
Last Thursday, another woman who also claimed to be Ranger’s daughter but would not give her name, said the clutter was scattered about because she had recently emptied a storage unit and needed time to photograph the items as evidence in a pending lawsuit.
“I am not saying it’s excusable, but that’s the reason why it’s here,” she said. But she later noted, “I collect stuff. Things come in and out.”
Ranger’s daughter portrayed her complaining neighbors as nosy troublemakers trying to get her family to move away. “They call and complain about everything under the sun,” she said, adding, “Over the years, the animosity has gotten worse.”
Gardner says Ranger’s daughter can be seen at all hours of the day and night, roaming the neighborhood with a shopping cart and picking through people’s garbage.
“One time they had about 12 shopping carts lined up in the driveway,” Gardner said. “It’s some kind of hoarding sickness or something. ... Her mother sometimes looks like she makes an attempt to clear it up and the daughter will bring it back and hide it all along the side of the house and under the bushes and everywhere, and it brings rodents.”
The daughter claims her trash picking is the result of an “internal conflict” within the household that has led to some of her belongings being thrown away and she was just seeking to reclaim them.
“A sanitation officer came here this morning and as soon as he got to the house, he threw his hands up,” Daphne Chan-A-Sue, who lives across the street said last Thursday. “They don’t know what to say to her.”
And the junk isn’t the only problem.
As an older adult, Chan-A-Sue said she fears for her safety, after repeatedly seeing Ranger’s dogs roaming the streets. And for that reason, she also doesn’t allow her grandchildren to play outside.
Ranger faces eight alleged Environmental Control Board violations for construction work without a permit and quality-of-life infractions with fines totaling $6,900, and two Department of Buildings construction violations, just as she had in April, when the Chronicle first reported the story.
The city Department of Health issued a violation to Ranger in 2011 for improper storage of items and harborage conditions conducive to rats, a spokesman for the agency said back in April. The DOH and the Department of Sanitation did not respond to emails requesting information about any new violations.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with the city, but they are not enforcing the law,” Gardner said. “We are all citizens, and I am asking that they enforce the law. There’s a problem here that they need to look at.”