March 31, 2012

Is there a Grow House in your ‘hood?

120330-31st-growhouseRecently, there was a rather notable marijuana bust in San Mateo that netted 530 plants, due to a tip from a “concerned citizen.”  Every one of us probably has some kind of self-appointed concerned citizen living in our neighborhoods, and it’s thanks to people like them that we can discover there’s a pot house in an otherwise quiet, suburban subdivision.

Like this one.  Someone recently updated the Redfin record despite it not changing hands in nine years.


Check out the neighborhood, courtesy of Zillow.  This does not look like the meth district.  And the house isn’t just on the West side of El Camino, it’s on the West side of Alameda.  And on the Peninsula, West means more prestige, more appeal, and more Real.  If any part of San Mateo is going to aspire to Real Bay Areahood, this is a good place to start looking.


The local San Mateo Patch has some helpful hints on how you too can be a concerned citizen and rat your neighbors out for running a grow house.  Here’s how to tell what they’re up to:

Manheimer and Alcantara encourage the help of citizens in locating neighborhood grow sites. Each suggested some indicators that there might be an operation in your neighborhood.

"You’d hear whirring noises," says Alcantara, "because they need to have filtration inside the house. They need to get the oxygen out, and the carbon dioxide in for the plants, so they have filtration systems set up.

120330-31st-minivanYes, definitely call 911 at the first sign of a ceiling fan.  Those fiendish fixtures are a gateway appliance to high-energy lamps.  Here are some more tips from the San Mateo police:

  • Infrequent visits by individuals who stay for a couple hours and then leave.

Because everyone knows that suburban get-togethers last all the livelong day.

  • Lights in the house appear to be regulated, and on timers. Sometimes, rooms inside seem perpetually lit.

120330-31st-remodelI wonder who it was who suggested putting lights on timers (see Home Safety).

  • Initial construction and the noise that comes from that work.

Because nothing says grow house like noise from contractors.

  • A "skunky" marijuana odor, and other odors, such as those from mothballs, air fresheners or chlorine, which are used in an attempt to mask the marijuana smell.

120330-31st-cleanerIn fact, call 911 if you smell anything other than the approved chocolate chip cookie dough used during Open Houses.

  • Unusual garbage strewn across lawn. Items used for growing marijuana, such as wiring, PVC piping and nutrient containers, may be discarded and left around the house.

So that’s why we’re seeing so many nominations for the Burbed Good Housekeeping Tag of Approval.

  • Windows covered in dark plastic or newspaper.

Better have them check out the goth teen across the street for the blackout curtains, too.

  • 120330-31st-fenceExtra security, such as guard dogs, fences, or cars loitering for long periods of time.

Remember the words of Robert Frost: Bad neighbors make good fences.

Let us know about any questionable signs your neighbor is running something nefarious, or any interesting things you see when touring Open Houses.  This is an Open Thread, so open up.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:04 am

10 Responses to “Is there a Grow House in your ‘hood?”

  1. Tracy Tea House Says:

    The neighbor behind my new house coughs a lot.

  2. Scott Says:

    How about visitors that look like Shaggy from Scooby Doo hanging around the neigbor house?

  3. waiting_for_the_fall Says:

    The 50 year old 1 bdrm/1 bath house down the street finally sold for 275k. It was originally listed at 429k a year ago.
    Now there are construction guys swarming all over it, which means it’s a budding pot house!

    I better call 911.

  4. sprezzatura Says:

    That house is not RBA, it’s only 2 blocks from a large strip mall.

    REAL RBA is not polluted by commerce (e.g.: Hillsborough).

  5. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    Zimmerman doesn’t deserve a trial –

    – he deserves a medal.

    They’re going to find that he was indeed defending himself.

    OK so this neighborhood isn’t as upscale as thought, due to being near a mall, but I’m sure grow houses and all kinds of things are going on even in very upscale areas because everyone’s losing their job, house, dog, etc.

    You know, like the dog that was shot by a couple running around Redding with a shotgun. The dog was the friend and defender of a couple of young homeless kids. Now the young homeless couple are missing, and their campsite’s been ransacked. But nothing’s being said because the couple with the shotgun are black, and the young couple killed in cold blood are white. Nothing to see here…. move along … move along …

    Anyway, these houses get passed down to kids who earn a lot less than their parents did, jobs are lost, divorces happen, and in the name of “keeping up appearances”, I’m sure there’s a fair amount of pot-growing, prostitution, maybe even some real-life versions of Breaking Bad. I think grow houses are kinda cute – there can be much worse things going on.

  6. Jb Says:

    I would take a discreet grow house over selling Drugs…..RBA or not. Our best neighbors by a long shot have a band living/practicing in the first floor flat of their Victorian….and our worst neighbors do all sorts of car maneuvers to not lose the spot in front of their house – I can live with that particular obsession – its the nasty scowls at all who dare cross their paths that worry me. Its the braking dogs that put me way over the edge…

  7. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    I came of age in the 70s, and got any interest in pot done with when barely into my teens. Thus, I find pot kind of hilarious. The growing plant smells kind of good, and the seeds are actually nutritious and tasty, I’ve eaten them toasted and imported from Canada. I have no interest in the “whacky weed” as a drug. As drugs go, it’s pretty harmless stuff. My poison is alcohol, and I expect to become a competant moonshiner, perhaps producing “acorn lightening” in the future. Those growing dope now will have a leg-up on growing food later as these times get worse, so it’s all good.

    I’d like to see grow houses and grow yards and grow fields all over. Take the high price out of pot, and it becomes simply another product to be used for utilitarian purposes.

    As for the racial angle that’s been injected into this otherwise pure RE blog, look up white-on-black vs. black-on-white crime. You’ll find the latter far outweighs the former, both in sheer quantity as well as utter viciousness.

    An open invitation to Zimmerman: I will shelter and protect you in my own home. However humble. I mean this. Come on over. Worst case we leave a ring of empty brass around us and many vanquished to light our way to Valhalla!

  8. The Gilroy Alex Says:

    JB – those damned braking dogs. Do their cars’ brakes whistle like the ones on my new/old Volvo? Or are they actually doing lock-ups, screeching tires?

    Just throw some beef jerkey out on the road, the dogs should jump out from behind the driver’s seat to gobble that stuff up. Then go curl up for a nap. No more braking dogs for the night.

  9. Metalhead Says:

    Of course this is the RBA – check out the place just down the road at 1145 31st – They have the Zillow “Make Me Move” value of $22M. Now that is some RBA neighborhood loyalty – $21.9M would not be enough for someone to move out of this premium area.

  10. SEA Says:

    $22M? That was so 2006! The over bidding will bring it right where it needs to be.

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