From eyesore to eye candy

Local Chico home moves off of bad list onto very, very good list; plus, Peru says no to GMOs

Donna and Jim Becker’s house at 632 Pine St. as it looked in July 2010.

Donna and Jim Becker’s house at 632 Pine St. as it looked in July 2010.

Photo By Christine G.K. LApado

Home transformation
Last July, the CN&R ran a cover story that focused on local buildings we considered to be eyesores (“Make it go away,” CN&R, July 8, 2010). The uninhabited house at 632 Pine St., owned by Donna and Jim Becker, made our list due to its boarded-up windows, ramshackle fence, graffiti tags, etc., as well as neighbor complaints of homeless people sleeping on the front porch and odds and ends piled on the strip of dying grass near the street.

Donna Becker—who, along with her husband, owns six local rental properties—recently invited me to come over to 632 Pine St. to see the amazing transformation that has taken place over the last five months under the hand of Paradise contractor Scott Lemm.

Becker met me at the extensively renovated house—now painted a crisp, glowing white with cheery blue trim, rather than the former drab, spirit-depleting, patchy green. It emits positive energy as soon as one gets close.

Inside, the circa-1910 home looks as if it is brand-new; every inch of it has been renovated. Becker said that, as much as possible, original features—such as a period bench-cabinet with a brass handle—were preserved and revamped.

“We preserved the original trim [inside the house] as much as we could,” said Lemm. He did a stellar job of redoing the home’s original front door, which included much sanding of layers of old, peeling paint, and preserving five out of six panes of 100-year-old glass (see photo). Never-used, 30-year-old wood cabinets were installed in the kitchen, and wood salvaged from the basement was used to build the fence. A stack of recycled brick sat on the patio, awaiting installation.

The same house in June 2011, after extensive renovation.

Photo By Christine G.K. LApado

While I was there, Becker told me the story of the homeless man she let stay on the porch last year “during a bad, bad, bad storm.” She said that he offered to work on her property in exchange for a place to stay, as he couldn’t get into a shelter.

“He pulled weeds for four days, and cleaned up garbage,” she said. “It’s really sad when you have a homeless man on your porch because he can’t get into a shelter.”

Becker said she is looking for a long-term tenant who lives and works in Chico—“a family or a professional”—to rent the home.

Three cheers for the Beckers and Lemm for the beautiful job done.

Scott Lemm Construction ( can be reached at 872-2860. For inquiries about renting the Pine Street home, call Donna Becker at 864-7261.

Peru says no to GMOs
The Congress of the South American country of Peru recently adopted a bill that places “a 10-year moratorium on the entrance of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for cultivation and breeding or any other type of transgenic products” into the country, according to Elie Gardner, at

“The project was supported by the president of the Agricultural Commission Aníbal Huerta,” wrote Gardner, “who warned against the danger he says that biotechnology could bring to the country’s biodiversity.”

Go to to learn more about the local (and statewide) fight to get an initiative on the 2012 California ballot requiring all GMO foods to be labeled as such.