Concerning Community Improvement v. Modesto, U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill stated that: “Plaintiffs do live in poor conditions, including failing septic tanks. The county and the city have put unincorporated islands in a difficult situation. ... It is further undisputed that most of Rouse-Colorado and Hatch-Midway (neighborhoods) are in need of new or upgraded sewer systems.”41 Residents believe that linking the sewer system should be the top priority for Stanislaus County.42
6. Garbage Collection Illegal dumping of large items in unincorporated areas has been a highly publicized problem. But the problem is rooted in the services provided/absent and the cost of those services. In Fresno County, residents and officials say that “people who illegally dump their trash typically can't or won't pay for garbage service,” that the difficulty of disposing of bulky items contributes to the problem, and that in the past two years “the rates in some of the unincorporated areas have nearly doubled.”43 In Stanislaus County, unincorporated community residents are considering paying a fee to have a biannual bulk trash pick up – although certain types of bulk trash will still need to be dumped at a special site.44 On a different scale, in South Modesto (island or fringe) , Stanislaus County, residents and the Neighborhood Watch Group collect garbage – tires, broken furniture, etc. – to help instill a sense of pride and community in their neighborhood.45 Although the problem is larger than the physical landscape, residents see the clean-up as a “first step toward eliminating the crime plaguing (the) neighborhood,” but that residents “must do it ‘on (their) own.’”46
7. Crime (See also: Street Lighting and Roads) Neighborhood Watch groups, like that mentioned in the previous section on Garbage are not uncommon throughout the state. But the South Modesto Neighborhood Watch patrols along with the sheriff’s department, as there are too few deputies overall in the county, leaving even fewer for the unincorporated areas.47 Fearing an increase in the number and violence of the crime in South Modesto, residents hesitantly join the Neighborhood Watch, despite their fears of retribution from gangs and other criminals.48 In terms of domestic violence crimes, Fresno County had “5,641 (calls to the domestic violence hotline) in the city of Fresno…and 927 in the unincorporated areas of the county,”49 – showing another form that violence takes in some unincorporated communities.
8. Fire In unincorporated areas of Fresno County, fire stations are located “farther apart from one another, (than in the cities) increasing response times” and increasing the cost of home insurance due to reduced fire coverage.50 Parallel circumstances are found in Stanislaus’ unincorporated areas of rural land on the fringes of the county boundaries. Residents “can't expect timely responses to fires” and “most