Lately, vacation rentals have become a hot topic out here in the Joshua Tree area. With annual numbers of visitors doubling to three million, thousands of Airbnbs and HipCamps and VRBOs, a great many of them owned by out of town folks, have sprung up. Long term rentals are hard to find and even harder to afford. Hipsters are seemingly everywhere and locals like us have given up trying to go out to a local restaurant or nightclub during season. Traffic gets bad now, and lines form for a mile or two to get into Joshua Tree National Park, blocking access in and out of the homes of residents who live in that prime neighborhood, so much so that the park will be building a new entry point inside the park a ways instead of at its border.
Many, it seems, of those renting these vacation rentals don't seem to know how to behave. They decide they're "in the middle of nowhere" so they blast their music and party all night, ruining the quiet that locals moved here to enjoy. They're often irresponsible with garbage, and they appear to believe that somehow they're having a "pioneer" experience. Roughing it, if you will, by staying in a $395 a night "cabin" that's got every amenity known to mankind. They celebrate their hardy spirits by building large (illegal) fires to roast s'mores in a ritual of desert passage.
But unless they burn down our place, you're not going to hear me complain about them much. Why? Simple - our regular, local neighbors are so much worse.
Now, I'm not saying that all the people in the hi-desert (it's not the "high desert" despite the LA crowd's insistence on correcting the spelling) are awful neighbors. That's absolutely not true. In fact, not even all of our immediate neighbors are awful. But those who are, work hard to make up for those who aren't.
Our welcome to the neighborhood more than 21 years ago, was the smashing of our mailbox. Twice. Then there was the time I was driving to my magazine's office in Twentynine Palms and under the hood of my truck something was rattling so much that I stopped off at the auto mechanics shop to see if they could figure out why it was making so much noise. They did - it was caused by a large screwdriver left in the engine compartment when someone was trying to steal my battery. Evidently, the thieves had been startled by something and had to leave quickly. At least I got a screwdriver out of the deal.
Then, someone unscrewed the liner from my tailgate, and when my wife's car was parked outside one night, someone went through it as well. A wandering neighbor's dog (some neighbors who don't want to walk their dogs just let them roam the neighborhood at will) attacked our cat, and of course, we got the bill. Luckily, she didn't lose her eye.
But all that was done without us being able to point at someone and know where the fault lay. That was about to change.
When we bought our home here in 2000, it was on a two-thirds of an acre parcel of desert. The parcels to the west and east of us were undeveloped and we bought those to ensure nobody built right next to us. As a result, we have two acres. Another half-acre parcel of undeveloped land is directly east of us, and we've tried to buy it for years, with no luck. This has left it a place for our neighbors to the east (see above photos) to dump trash, chopped up Joshua tree limbs, a tire, and more. It has rotting wooden spools (used for utility wiring) with nails poking out, and plenty of broken glass.
Our neighbors to the east (northeast, really) have on their premises, an old rusting AMC Gremlin, a broken down travel trailer (the logo on its side says "Free S---it" and while I'm pretty sure it once said "Free Spirit," I think of it more as Free Shit, since the trailer is stuffed with garbage. Back behind the house are a couple of rotting fifth-wheels where various people in their family have lived off and on over the years. They're obviously not connected with the septic system, so one wonders where any human waste may go (though that question was partially answered recently - I'll get to that in a minute). In addition, there's a junked storage shed, some non-functioning project cars and pieces, and a shack where, at least up until very recently, the owner's middle-aged-yet-still-in-7th-grade son whom I call "Mike the Moron," has been working on cars (again, no readily apparent means of properly recovering and storing oil or other automotive fluids).
Our neighbors to the north, while not actively troublesome, have some disturbing habits. They had a dog or two for years, and so there is a steadily decaying mound of dog shit piled in the far corner of their property bordering ours. On hot days, the stench and ammonia reeks from that area, possibly made worse by the disposal of human waste from a small trailer where someone was living for a time (and may still be there). Obviously, again, the trailer is not hooked up to the septic system, and having watched its resident emerge to dump a big container of an unidentified liquid at the far edge of their property, one may reasonably deduce that it wasn't just dishwater being dumped so far from the trailer.
This morning, on a walk, I came across a new site of their dumping, again, on our side of their fence. This time, it looks like possible motor oil. These neighbors, while not in our face, are a public health hazard.
Our neighbor to the west, an elderly grandmother, has had her property filled with garbage the entire time we've lived here. It blows into our yard, along with chunks of her roofing, as her roof deteriorates to the point of no return. About 10 years ago, her family bought the roofing materials to fix the roof and piled it next to her house. It's still sitting there.
The woman, and some of her family, have been fine. Her neo-Nazi skinhead tweaking grandson, however, has not. He was only an occasional presence "helping out" at his grandma's place once in a while (like trimming her oleanders and other bushes with a friend and throwing all the yard waste on our property while laughing when my wife told them not to do so).
Not too long ago, his car, an older BMW, appeared parked in the yard and I ran into him while outside on our property. He explained that he was living with his grandmother now, because he had lost his license from a DUI and couldn't drive. He'd been in trouble with the law before, we knew - grandmother's tell you things - but up until he moved in, we had only occasionally enjoyed the pleasure of his company.
At first, it looked like him being there might be a good thing. He began cleaning up the property. Where all the garbage went is anyone's guess. But it wasn't on their property anymore. Then, things began to get a bit surreal.
The trailer that had been stuffed with garbage was his next project. He cut it up in a bit of a frenzy, the kind you get when you're tweaking on methamphetamines. He worked for 12 to 16 hours at a time, butting up the trailer and burying parts of it and other garbage, in their backyard. He made things out of debris in a form of amateur earthworks.
Okay, that's odd, but it didn't impact us. Yet.
One evening, he got into an argument with the elderly man who lived on the other side of his grandma's place. The man had a sweet old dog who got out a couple of times. For some reason, this infuriated our skinhead neighbor, and I heard him yelling threats at the man that he would kill his dog - and him. I didn't know it then, but that evening's argument wound up with him attacking the elderly man and injuring him. No, the sheriff's deputies didn't do anything about it when they arrived.
Things devolved in our neighborhood. The home across the street to the south, built by Walt and Jenny, both of whom had passed away, had been a rental for years. This led to the place being trashed repeatedly, with incidences of domestic violence and the police intervening. I was relaxing one evening around 10:30 p.m. when someone started knocking loudly on our front door. It was our neighbor from across the street, barefoot in t-shirt and shorts, red-faced and crying. She begged me to call the police and said her boyfriend was fighting with her and she was afraid. I called the sheriff's department and asked if she'd like to come inside to wait for them. She declined and went back across the street. I never saw her after the police visit that night, but her boyfriend could be heard inside the house screaming obscenities and smashing through the walls.
Finally, the people who had bought Walt and Jenny's home for an investment, had their son Manny move in. The house was in pre-foreclosure by then, and Manny was going to live there until the foreclosure went through, or they could turn things around.
Manny turned out to be a good neighbor in most aspects. He was considerate, and his lone fault was wanting to raise animals when he didn't really have the resources to care for them properly. He had two Doberman Pinschers that were fine (with people), but were obviously not farm animals. The only "negative" incident I had directly with them was when one got loose at night and seeing me outside getting something out of the car, came charging through the darkness to leap on me. It knocked me down since I had no warning of its enthusiastic arrival. It had absolutely no intention of hurting me, it was just happy to see me and was hoping for a treat.
But when Manny moved from just raising chickens to bringing in one lone heifer, a pair of goats, and some micro-pigs, the troubles began. He lacked the funds to properly divide his property with fencing that would keep the animals where they ought to be. His cow, which I named Bessie, would moo loudly and incessantly, beginning around 5 a.m. She was hungry, thirsty, lonely, and afraid of the dogs, and that gave her plenty to talk about.
This aggravated his next door neighbors to the south of him, and they would come out at 5 a.m. and blast an air horn in response to Bessie's complaining. Early mornings became cacophonous, but that wasn't the worst part.
One afternoon, the goats began getting out of their tiny pen. It's what goats do. You really can't expect goats to be content with a 10 foot by 10 foot (or smaller) pen. I noticed one was out when one of the Dobermans had latched onto its hindquarters with its teeth and was violently trying to throw the goat down to kill it. Luckily, Manny intervened, but later on, I had to intervene when the dog tried the same maneuvers on Bessie.
In the meantime, Manny and our tweaking neo-Nazi skinhead neighbor were also not getting along. One evening, I was treated to him sitting in his grandma's backyard screaming about killing his neighbors, and the "goddamned niggers and faggots" and a host of other racist and bigoted hateful comments. He went on one of his tweaking binges and, during a 24-hour period, he completely stripped his car down to the frame, leaving it sitting on some wood blocks in the front yard.
I did my best to avoid him to just keep the peace, since it was apparent the cops weren't going to protect us if we were attacked like our neighbor was. One day, he showed up in shorts with a half-case of cheap beer, obviously pretty wasted, and he asked me if I wanted one. I was actually trying to get some work done, so I told him I had my own beer, thanks, but I appreciated the offer. Another time, I found him laying under a creosote bush on our property, but we managed to avoid conflict.
Unfortunately, his grandmother had no such luck, though things worked out seemingly for the best. From what we learned, he threatened to kill his grandma with a knife one day, and she managed to call the sheriff's department. This time, they did something about it, and he hasn't been around much since. We were elated when someone showed up and trailered the remains of his car away, but they just moved it to the backyard.
Meanwhile, on the east side of our property, Mike the Moron, also a former criminal who had done time in jail (grandmas do talk), decided it would be fun if, for no readily apparent reason, he could make a gate at the back of their property (bordering onto ours), and instead of driving onto their property from the actual road that bordered it, he could tear across our property with his truck instead. I was furious as I surveyed the damage, and called the sheriff's department. They came out, a lot of yelling ensued (I'm not sure why folks who trash your stuff always think they're the victims, but they do), and the cops basically told him not to do it again and couldn't figure out why I cared whether he drove all over our property - after all, it's just desert.
For quite a while, Mike the Moron, behaved himself. We had made a complaint about the trash and living conditions to county code enforcement, and other neighbors did as well. They were forced to build a fence to (somewhat) screen their property from us, and we were relieved we weren't forced to build one ourselves (though they may have built it on our property - when we get the funds for a formal survey of our land, we'll find out). It seemed that his girlfriend moved into his fifth wheel with him and they raised a pack of rat dogs who lived under the trailer and occasionally got out and ran about. We'd wave if they walked the dogs on the street, and seeing that Mike had an improvised flag pole and liked pirate flags, I gave him half a dozen from my pirate band's stash. Things went well. Up until recently.
I didn't really mind him working on cars at his shop. He wasn't just working on his own cars, but was running a repair shop of sorts on their property. I figured it was productive and I even toyed with the idea of paying him to work on my Ranger. He had obtained one of the retro-looking muscle cars that is a Dodge or Chevy (I just don't care enough to know), and he loves speeding around in it. I don't think it's a good idea to power slide around the corner and burn out down our little residential street, but that's what he does anyway.
We'd have nice talks with his grandma when we'd go for walks. Then one day, while out for my early morning walk with our kitty this summer, I spied something. When I went to check it out, I found a white five gallon bucket that had been used as a toilet, with diarrhea and human turds in it, that had been tossed over their fence onto our property, along with a couple of shop rags that had been used for toilet paper. I cleaned it up, but was outraged that we now had to clean up their human waste.
My wonderful and diplomatic wife went over to their house and spoke with Mike the Moron's sister, who was also upset by the news. She said it had to be her brother and she vowed to take care of it, after inspecting the offending turd bucket. Later, she returned and told us that it hadn't been Mike, and they didn't know who had done it, but their security camera footage showed an arm throwing the bucket over their fence onto our property.
Now, maybe I'm cynical, but I don't really think they have security cameras on their rotting fifth wheels out there, but even if they do, I have a hard time believing someone they don't know, came onto their fenced and gated property, took a couple of dumps in a five gallon bucket that was sitting around, wiped their ass with Mike's shop rags, and threw the whole thing over their fence onto our property, and nobody noticed. I'm not saying it couldn't have happened, but.....
We figured things would be calm for a while, and other than Mike's incredibly poor taste in pop music, which ranges from blasting "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" at full volume, to a loud, distorted recording of "Sink the Bismarck," he would play from his cobbled together man cave/auto repair shack, and his treating our street like a drag strip, it was.
Until today, that is.
Over the past few days, we were treated to the sounds of a chainsaw coming from their property. Mike had cut a large hole in one of the fifth wheels and had seemingly trashed a lot of stuff on their property. He spray painted "The Hole" on the side of the fifth wheel near his new hole. Walking on our property, I found garbage and car parts and debris thrown all over our land. I started chucking it back over their fence.
I've had enough.
It appears that Mike the Moron wasn't home when I was doing that, but his sister probably was, and alerted him, as he came racing home in his muscle car, slowing as he passed our house. I flipped him off. I realized, I'm done. I'm not trying to make nice or get along now. If his grandma needs to be sued or fined by the county, that's the way it's going to be. For over two decades I've tried to get along with our neighbors. I've never tried to drive on their property, let alone do donuts on it. I've never thrown garbage on their properties, let alone taken a shit on them. I've never threatened anyone, nor assaulted them, nor wanted to. We've always cleaned up trash, kept an eye out for our neighbors, and tried to be good and decent neighbors.
That's worked well with a few of our neighbors, but our others have ripped all over the desert with their off-road vehicles, tried repeatedly to tear across our land - even when it's fenced and we obviously don't want people tearing across it (a nearby piece of land was turned into an off-road obstacle course with a small bulldozer making pits and leaps and jumps - all on private land that didn't belong to those using it). County code enforcement doesn't seem to do anything other than require that people put up a fence so we can see less of the garbage and waste than we did before.
We've had neighbors who've been great, and neighbors who wreaked havoc by accident (I'm thinking of our neighbors who nearly burned down our home and several others when their giant trampoline was blown up into the power lines during a windstorm), and I really appreciate those who try to get along.
But we've had two decades of neighbors who steal, trash, damage our property, and needlessly cause trouble, from physically assaulting people to turd-tossing. It's an ongoing issue. And if you look around, we're not alone. There are plenty of locals who think it's their right to ride their off-road vehicles wherever they want, however they want. There are plenty who have loud, drunken parties, who drive wasted and recklessly, and who act in a manner befitting 7th graders who never quite got out of puberty.
It's the locals who have threatened me and my business over the years, who have stolen from me, and who have tried to trash my reputation. It's locals who still badmouth me if I don't do what they want - Dan Collins up in Pioneertown is a fine recent example. He didn't like that I visited The Wildland Conservancy's new trailhead parking lot and come to the conclusion that the conservancy had been evil corrupt people who had lied to their neighbors and were up to some nefarious plot. Instead of disagreeing, he attacked me personally and professionally.
So, complain about the Airbnbs. I get it. I want to see them well-regulated, legally compliant, mostly locally-owned and operated, and being responsibly run with heavy fines levied when they're not. I want affordable housing for locals, and plenty of it. I want a decent future for our home. But after more than two decades dealing with our own, I really can't complain too loudly about vacation rentals. Not after dealing with our own locals.
September 18, 2021 Update: Last night, our neighbor to the northeast worked with blaring lights in or around his homemade workshop until around midnight. This morning, a used oil filter and some other trash had been thrown over the fence onto our property. I pick up the little stuff, and throw the stuff that obviously came from their property back over the fence. I have filed a complaint with San Bernardino County Code Enforcement and according to their website, which has been modified since last I used it, they are supposed to address my complaint within a week. I will update with any results. My wife is asking for me to write a letter to the mother who owns the home, and her daughter who owns the lot to the north, as it is their son/brother who is the source of the problems. I will do so, to document things in case there needs to be a lawsuit filed.
Also, some smarmy commenters on social media have decided to blame me for moving into a "desert ghetto" and expecting it to not be a ghetto. When we moved into our home over 21 years ago, the property to the northeast on Indio Avenue had some garbage, but nothing like today. We had no problems with the owners there, but then the new owners moved in and problems began.
The property to the west of us had the grandmother living there sans neo-Nazi skinhead tweaker, and while the backyard was trashy, it was delightful hearing the grandchildren visiting (they love our cat), and we have never wished anything but the best for her. We just don't particularly enjoy racist, homophobic, violent tweaker neo-Nazi skinheads who attack their neighbors. Go figure. I'm sure that's my fault somehow.
The property across the street from us was owned by the people who built the home in the mid-1980s, and it was very well kept up as they were proud of their desert home. The property next door to them was, and still is, owned by the same women, who have been, and remain, delightful and proud homeowners. Down the street, we have a great neighbor who plies us with trout he's caught in fishing derbies. They're working class parents who have been nothing but wonderful.
Our favorite neighbors down the street worked for the county and for CalTrans. Their whole family was wonderful and they were forced out of the neighborhood and lost their home thanks to the unwillingness of Bank of America's home loan division to work with them during a time of personal and financial crisis. The woman had Parkinson's, which had been getting progressively worse, and they decided to build a pool and spa so she could relax with the kids at home if they couldn't travel as much. Not long after taking out the loan for the project, the financial crisis hit and CalTrans cut back and the county closed their local office. The couple re-negotiated their loan and were making their payments faithfully, but BofA decided that instead of helping them keep their home, they would stop accepting payments and foreclose. If you ever want to know one cause of homelessness, look no further than the mortgage companies.
My point is that this was hardly some desert ghetto when we moved here. It was working class, with its problems, but it's insulting to say that it was a ghetto and we just are complaining because we came here to gentrify it. We have not. We just live here. We have a mortgage and I work and we get by. We didn't show up and build a $750,000 home. We bought an existing home from the people who built it. As if somehow, that's morally bankrupt or a crime, to own a modest home to live in and to want your life and neighborhood to not be shitty.
September 18, 2021, 11:15 a.m. Update: My wife delivered a note to Dorothy, the owner of the property where we've had trouble with her son throwing garbage over the fence (the latest in a string of problems we've had with him). He just pulled up in his muscle car and sat idling outside our home on the street. When I went out to talk to him, he informed me that he knows we filed a complaint with San Bernardino County Code Enforcement and he's now going to be our "neighbor from hell." As if tossing a bucket of human turds and diarrhea wasn't enough, or something.
I'm now going to work to get whomever that was in Code Enforcement fired, and will be filing a police report.
It turns out that Mike the Moron's actual name is David E. Wheeler, and he's the one who was outside our home to intimidate us and threaten us. His mother, who owns the home where his shop is located is Dorothy Stoddard, and his sister is Theralyn L. Wheeler. I've tracked down David's employer, but I honestly just want him to clean up his mess and to stop causing us trouble. Of course, that's all I've wanted ever since he drove all over our property for no readily apparent reason, tearing it up.
Photos/Video from David Wheeler's attempt at intimidation today, 11:15 a.m., Saturday, September 18,2021:
After noticing David Wheeler sitting outside our home, I went to approach his car. He began telling me that we had called code enforcement on him and he knew it because he has a friend who works for the county and told him. I thought he must have been talking about someone else complaining, because I had only filed our new complaint the day before this, so I was trying to explain to him that for years, we had not called code enforcement on him or his mother, and I was going to add - up until yesterday, when you decided to throw garbage over onto our property. He informed me that now he was going to be our "neighbor from hell" because of it. As he pulled away, I realized that someone at San Bernardino County Land Use Services must have immediately informed him of our new code enforcement complaint.
Social media photos of David E. Wheeler:
Update: Monday, September 20, 2021
Instead of cleaning up their property or shielding the incredible light pollution from their improvised shed lighting, David and possibly his family members, has trespassed onto our property, driving stakes into the ground about two feet onto our property from their fence line, tying yellow caution tape along it - and to a utility box.
This is obvious evidence of destructive trespass, as it's not on their property. We have documented it and will present this to the sheriff's department this week when we make a formal report with them, and will provide it to the county Land Use Services department as well, for additional code enforcement actions and a possible lawsuit. It would appear their goal is to somehow prevent us from seeing over their fence into the morass of garbage on the other side, probably facilitated by their friend at the county who illegally informed them of our new code enforcement complaint providing them with photos we submitted with the complaint.
But that is irrelevant to our complaint, as there is plenty of garbage we can see rising OVER the fence line, which includes uninhabitable fifth wheels, a trailer stuffed with garbage, a broken down car, etc., as well as the garbage that was tossed over the fence recently (post-bucket of human feces period), which included a used wax toilet ring, presumably from one of the fifth wheels (which were used for human habitation but were not apparently connected with the septic system nor were they ever serviced that we have seen in the nearly 20 years they have had the property), a car hose, electrical parts, glass, yard waste, and other debris.
David Wheeler's threat to be our "neighbor from hell" despite not actually living at the premises, will obviously just result in more costs and problems for his mother and sister - and himself, as well as his friend at the county Land Use Services department who illegally provided him with information. It is unfortunate that in between the several felonies he has apparently been convicted of, including physical abuse of his spouse, he can't figure out how to be a decent human being and a neighbor who has respect for others (and himself and his family).
Update, Friday, September 24, 2021: Code Enforcement called earlier in the week to discuss our complaint, and the possibility that someone in the county tipped David Wheeler off about our complaint. The individual from Hesperia tried to tell me that nobody there would have told him and nobody there knew either of us, which is believable, they being in Hesperia. But he acknowledged that someone from the Joshua Tree office could know him, which is much more likely. He wanted to leave it there, but I demanded they investigate and he agreed. That was on Tuesday, September 21, and I have heard nothing further.
Today, I have contacted the Sheriff's Department to file a complaint over the threat and trespass, mostly to get it formally on record. I'm not sure what will result from this, but I feel that Wheeler has exercised enough poor judgment in the past to warrant being cautious. I hate having to deal with neighbors this way, but after 21 years of trying to be accommodating and working things out informally only to have more problems appear, perhaps it is time to follow Code Enforcement's suggestion to give him a little "deputy time," something that made the clerk on the phone chuckle.
A deputy came out to see the improvised barrier that Wheeler built on our property, and to provide information as to what we can do regarding the ongoing harassment, threats, and garbage. As it turns out, the recommendation was to get a restraining order and to buy a security camera, because the deputy says that without evidence like video of Wheeler doing something, nothing can be done. It's obvious that someone from that property erected the barrier, but the deputy wasn't interested in going to discuss it with them. They do have a lot on their plates lately, so I can imagine this would not be top priority, but a visit with Wheeler would have gone a long way toward lessening his threat against us.
Update, Friday, October 1, 2021: David Wheeler has been speeding by our house several times per day up until Wednesday, September 29, when he appears to be much more agitated. On Wednesday, he pulled up in front of our house and revved his car, then burned out on the shoulder of the road at 3:45 p.m. He later raced by twice blasting his horn (he has a special 18-wheeler-sounding horn on his car), for a total of four times he sped by that day. The horn was unusual, and may have been because the turkey vultures were trying to roost in our trees and the neighbors directly across the street from us, and he might have wanted to scare them and make them take off.
Wednesday night, David Wheeler unveiled his latest creation on their property - an enormously bright light on a pole, pointing at our house. It was obscenely bright so I filed a Code Enforcement complaint about it. I'm sure he'll love that.
The last day of September was pretty quiet. David appears to be driving on other streets to get to his mom's and sister's property. He's still working on things over there, and there appears to be some kind of security camera mounted high up over his informal auto shop, but he's not speeding by our house after Wednesday's burning out and tearing around. The light went on for a time, but not for long. A California Highway Patrol car drove by their house twice that afternoon, but didn't stop.
October began with David missing his usual 6:15-6:30 a.m. speeding by our house. But on my morning walk on our property, I found two syringes and a double-spoon set - obvious drug paraphernalia - that looked like it might have been tossed out of a car window onto our land. I gathered it together and had a sheriff's deputy come by to pick it up. It was right at the area where David's car has been burning out in front of our house and then pulling onto the street. None of it looked used, and I can't say one way or another if David did it or not, but it definitely appeared to have been tossed from the street, as there were no distinguishable footprints and the syringes and spoons were scattered like they were thrown.
We now are waiting for one last piece of hardware to install our security camera system. We still have yet to hear from Code Enforcement, though they did drive by our house today. Knowing Theralyn and David, they're probably trying to file a complaint through Code Enforcement against us, only we won't know it until we get a letter because we don't have a friend at the county to illegally inform us when our neighbors file complaints. Next week will be the week of following up with Code Enforcement on their investigation into his friend at the county, as well as with Supervisor Dawn Rowe's office, and Land Use Services.
If things continue, I'll write a piece for the local press or San Bernardino Sun to discuss how normal citizens who do their best to be good neighbors wind up in a no-man's land with little help from the authorities who are paid with their taxes to help. Objectively, they're all probably doing what they think they can, but the potential for escalation and real trouble exists, and it's hard to say if anyone's doing everything they can to de-escalate things and to correct the problems. They didn't have to deal with the garbage they threw onto our property. They didn't have to deal with the barricade they illegally erected on our property. They didn't confront him on his threat. There is a time period given for complying with Code Enforcement actions, so maybe something will happen. But for now, it looks like there may be an uneasy truce, with absolutely nothing resolved formally. Don't get me wrong - I very much appreciated the deputies who came out, and they did what they felt they could, but it doesn't seem like the law is on the side of the people being threatened until the person threatening them really does something terrible, and then the law steps in. We'd rather avoid getting to that point.
We may still get a restraining order, though I'm not sure how it will concretely help us. The good thing I have found, is that sheriff response time here appears to be fairly quick, so if anything serious were to happen, it's likely we would have help on its way soon.
And, tonight, the first night of October, the light is out over there, and we can enjoy the desert's night skies without a spotlight pointed at our house.