Get off the phone! We might have a drone!

In the early months of the real estate mobbing, a time when the harassers made grandiose statements intended to befuddle and bewitch, claims about winged flying machines were made during the nighttime harassment the mobbers quickly applied in an effort to make my home unlivable:

We might have a drone, one of the mobbers suggested.

Get off the phone! cried another, in mock amazement.

This was before every Tom, Dick and Harry got one for Christmas the year before last, before the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) promulgated regulations on registering unmanned aircraft of a certain weight and class (Unmanned Aircraft Systems, https://www.faa.gov/uas/), and before cases like one in the courtroom of Seattle Municipal Court Judge Willie Gregory, in which the operator of an out-of-control drone that knocked out a woman at Seattle’s Gay Pride Parade was sentenced to 30 days’ jail time. This was before drones became reality in the American mind, before Tattoo’s excited cries of “The plane!” approaching Fantasy Island (an American television series, 1977-1984, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantasy_Island) morphed into the calls of exercised home owners about “A drone!” at the bedroom window.

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On the mob and the decision of Mayor Murray to dismantle the Seattle neighborhood council system

A couple months back, someone sent me a link to SEIU 775 president David Rolf’s opinion piece in the Seattle Times, “Seattle’s neighborhood councils have raised selfishness to an art form” (July 25, 2016, http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/seattle-neighborhood-councils-selfishness-raised-to-an-art-form/). Preoccupied as I was much of the summer with the sad process of evicting a deadbeat roommate, I didn’t get around to it earlier. But that’s just as well since I would have missed including a link to The Stranger‘s acerbic headline on Mayor Murray’s attempts to deal with Seattle’s housing affordability crisis: “Seattle’s Neighborhood Councils Are Exclusionary, Self-Interested ‘Cartels,’ and the City Wants to Cut Ties with Them.”

In his attempt to hold back the growing “economic apartheid” that exists in Seattle, Mayor Murray issued an executive order defunding the neighborhood “cartels,” and should be issuing further legislation on the matter to city council chambers, well, just about now. (The Stranger, http://www.thestranger.com/news/2016/08/03/24422135/seattles-neighborhood-councils-are-exclusionary-self-interested-cartels-and-the-city-wants-to-cut-ties-with-them.)

David Rolf’s op-ed piece begins with a single statement that acknowledges the position of those who rent in neighborhoods like my own:

We should not use taxpayer money to support Seattle neighborhood councils that have an agenda excluding renters, people of color, the young, the poor and those who need social services from their neighborhoods.

Rolf’s comments that neighborhood councils consistently argue against new development do not address neighborhoods like mine in which watch and council members welcome the razing of existing single family houses in favor of new single family residences that can be sold at the million dollar mark, or for razing smaller, older properties to allow speculators on either side to “build out” before they flip the homes they own.

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There’s no one-armed man in the mob, but there might just be a one-eyed one

The real estate mobbers, those criminal spectulators or those who hired them, who have been trying to forcibly evict me from my legal home and convince my landlords to sell have shown increased caution as of late. This since a formerly vacant house on the other side of the south mobbing house was sold at a King County Sheriff’s auction a few weeks back.

The house was purchased by a guy who rehabilitates and flips houses—a house flipper, yes—but the feeling I get from him, an affable man of European origin who has been friendly to me, is that he is an ethical businessman who doesn’t shy away from taking part in the work from which he seeks to make a living. He and those working with him seem a breath of fresh air in this unfriendly enclave overrun by a dysfunctional neighborhood watch and influenced by an elderly and scheming builder who hails from a more conservative state as well as from a time when “clearing by smearing” was likely how you ran the residents off a property to “acquire” it. At least, given what I’ve heard this builder said about there being “ways to get [me] out,” that’s what I’m given to believe.

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The natural alliance between tenant clearing and hacking (part 1)

I’m in the kitchen preparing a late dinner and walk over to the sink. “Move on,” a masculine voice whispers from the other side of the window pane. The voice doesn’t register and I figure it’s either the guy whose red SUV has been in evidence nearly every day these last weeks, or another guy I’d just seen awkwardly walking away from the mobbing house, his head covered with the hood of a jacket, to a truck that seemed familiar to me. I consider whether I have the plate number of that truck and remember that the owner of that mobbing house has driven one like it in the past. I finish dinner and sit down to begin this post. “Hey! Idiot!” The masculine voice is dim though I hear it right next to me. It’s probably a projection timed to hit me as I sat down to work. Usually it’s “Village Idiot,” an insult that I had concluded fits in well with the narrative that mobbing seems to be. At least, it’s been a famliar part of their incantations for more than sixteen months since I first heard the neighborhood watch co-captain telling a few young adult women in the street that I was “the village idiot” before being aware that I was been “mobbed,” much less coming to understand its meaning. This insult has been but one in their oft-repeated refrain,  this song with which they seek to disgorge me, the renter, from my home. The tone of voice changes depending on how the insults are transported to me, but it’s probably not the first time the voices of these men have been transmitted to me from a nearby home. They’re probably the same ones I’ve heard in my bedroom, observing how I look as I sleep, how much of my body is revealed when I cast off the sheets in the summertime heat, and where I keep my hands. It’s nothing new. Not anymore.

This is the backdrop against which my life has been lived for the last sixteen months, but it’s often more intense than that, at least, they want it to be. Harassers seem to need a lot of attention.

For now though, I focus on my thoughts and the whispers quiet. For the moment, I focus on this writing, these words.

Back in the days of blockbusting, developers got residents to scurry on with whispers and rumble machines. As I’ve learned firsthand, ventilation and water systems transport and even amplify sound. As builders with a ground-up understanding of building systems, developers’ intimate knowledge of architecture, materials and fabrication allowed them to make structures unlivable. The super could shut down water and heat; the rumble machine could shake occupants into submission. These appropriations, even subversions, of building utilities and services remain the way to, in the idiom of my mobbers, “get you out.” My own mobbers keep window fans poised in locations above my own windows and the sound drifts down to me, they’ve likely stationed speakers on the opposite sides of the fences we share and activate them when I’m within range in my bedroom, outside in the garden, or in the bathroom. They’ve bounced sound of my windows, they’ve used my air cleaners as propulsion systems for harassment, they’ve taken advantage of the concrete slab that connects our houses. Sounds they don’t have, like the rumble of a blockbusting rumble machine, or the gunshots I joked that it would take to evict me, even these sounds they can manufacture and project to me.

But while mobbing uses the old-school and the low-tech, it’s decidedly high tech. This, I would wager, is a natural outgrowth of the development and real estate industries being very forward-thinking when it comes to investigating new ways to make money. Real estate was very quick on the uptake with digital cameras and 360 degree environments to entice customers who want to feel what a house looks like before they see it. Developers and builders have been quick to adopt drone technologies to survey properties, especially those on steep lots as in my own neighborhood, and perhaps to survey their occupants as well. Where profit margins are concerned, the bleeding edge is worth the risk.

There’s no lack of risk with hacking. But for developers and real estate speculators, hacking of all forms is a great way to offload risk. For speculators who sometimes walk fine lines between legal profit and criminal racketeering, mobbing can be a way to achieve the goal of turning over properties for speculation while remaining shielded, even practically indemnified, that is, if the victim swallows the mobber’s line.

To learn why real estate speculators are mad for mobbing, read The natural alliance between tenant clearing and hacking (part 2), to be published in the next day or two.

What is mobbing?

Early on my mobbing, those harassing me called themselves mobbers and claimed that they were mobbing me and would mob me at least until I left my home. “We’re the mob!” they would shout into my house.

I began looking online for references to “mobbing.” It took a long time until I found the United Nations article about “Forced Evictions” that listed “real estate mobbing” as one of the means of forced eviction. During that same period of time, I also found an Amnesty International reference to it as a Human Rights violation. And I learned about the recognition given to “mobbing” of all kinds as a problem in Europe. In Spain, in particular, there has been a great problem with real estate mobbing in Madrid.

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