Even though mortgage rates are higher than a cat’s back, it’s still a seller’s market here in Lodi. Local Realtor Larry Underhill says there are currently only 34 active listings in Lodi right now, about 50% fewer than a year ago. There have only been 12 closed escrows so far this month, as opposed to 21 last year, he says. Underhill says properties are spending an average of 32 days on the market. “More inflation is expected. Tight home inventory is expected to continue for years. While interest rates are expected to soften a bit, the unheard-of rates in the 2’s and 3’s are gone, likely forever,” predicts Underhill.

NEW SCHOOL: The original Lodi First Baptist Church on Central at Oak is long gone, having been torn down several weeks ago. Now there’s just a deep hole where the church basement used to be and many memories of times past. The property belongs to Lodi Unified and they will be building a new school for special education students there. The name has yet to be decided, but district Chief Financial Officer Leonard Kahn says the new facility will serve special ed grades 9-12. He estimates the final cost to be between $2.5 - $3.5 million.

NEVER FORGET: Fifty years ago, two gunmen robbed Victor grocery store owner Wally Parkin. They went on to kill Parkin, his family, their babysitter, her boyfriend, her father, mother, and brother. Nine people perished that day in Parkin’s home on Orchard Road. It was easily the worst crime to happen in the Lodi area in modern times. Parkin Memorial Park was built at Victor School to keep their memory alive. But Lodi Unified has fenced-off all the playground equipment there and at other school sites. Wally’s brother Norm Parkin says, “I can’t think of a better way to honor my brother and his family to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their passing than to install a playground at Parkin Memorial Park.” He seeks to raise $75,000 for the project. To that end, a GoFundMe page has been setup to allow people to donate to the worthy cause: www.gofundme.com/f/312g1wlj3c.

COLOR CODED: It will be late summer before the city council takes up the issue of meeting the state’s new organic waste disposal mandate, according to city officials. In the meantime, it’s status quo for residents. When the issue does resurface, the plan will likely include a way for residents to keep their beloved smaller trash cans, perhaps at a higher cost. One thing is for sure. The can colors will change. The state has mandated that lawn and garden and food waste cans be green, recycling cans be blue, and regular garbage cans be gray. So, everyone will either get a new can lid or a new can in the appropriate color starting next year.

ACTION NEEDED: The city has added its voice to the call for something to be done by the state to remedy the fentanyl crisis. In a letter to the state legislature, Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Craig wrote on behalf of the council asking legislators to take “further action” and to “meaningfully” address the problem with more funding and resources. Craig writes, “Delaying additional legislative action another year will undoubtedly result in many more preventable lives lost.” Lodi first responders handle multiple fentanyl over-dose calls a month, some of which end in tragedy.

CONSTRUCTION ZONE: Turner Road, from Stockton St. to Hwy. 99, and Century Boulevard, from Ham to the WID canal, will soon receive a fresh layer of pavement. Work should begin sometime this summer when the weather will most likely cooperate. The projects will cost about $810, 000 to complete.

ON THE MAP: Forbes Magazine recently published a piece on their website featuring Lodi as a destination city. The article was entitled, “For Wine, Adventure, And Natural Beauty, Lodi Is California’s Best Kept Secret.” No news there. The article was written by freelance contributor Rebecca Deurlein, who “loves finding the story in the last place I’d expect it.” She highlights not only Lodi wine and wineries, but she mentions various shops and attractions, such as Lodi Lake, Headwaters Kayak, Lodi Cyclery, and Micke Grove. “Lodi marries wine with the great outdoors, and I consider it one of California’s hidden gems. Get there before everyone else discovers it,” she writes.

FLASHBACK: When Lodian Anne Meyers heard that a Massachusetts federal judge acquitted a man of prostitution, ruling that the crime of prostitution can only be committed by a woman, she was livid. And to prove a point, in July 1975 she applied for a Lodi business license to open a male brothel in town. City Hall was atwitter. Meyers had plans to open the enterprise above the Playboy Club at 5 S. Sacramento Street, a building she owned. She said, “Since it appears to be legal, I’ve discussed it with my women friends … and they are encouraging me.” But city planner Greg Freitas said there were a “number of problems that needed to be worked out” first. Assistant City Attorney Bud Sullivan said Massachusetts law differed from California law, and that prostitution was illegal here. Meyers said she started receiving calls 45 minutes after leaving city hall. “They were all favorable, and one lady said I’d made her day.” But Meyers’ idea might have made an impact. A few days later an Oakland judge who was about to sentence 60 women found guilty of prostitution was told to halt the proceeding until a higher court determined whether anti-prostitution laws discriminate against women. City Hall ultimately declined to issue the permit, and Meyers dropped her plan, but said, “The cause will go on.” Anne died in 2002 at age 75.

LAST LAUGH: Someone posted, “Old is when ‘getting lucky’ means finding your car in the parking lot.”

Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel and at stevemann.substack.com. Write to Steve at aboutlodi@gmail.com.