What was once 20 acres of land containing beautiful, functional and open spaces and a single family home was turned into a housing development by a contractor and home builder. The residential neighborhood that resulted was more compacted than my tooth is impacted.
The land was developed. That almost makes it’s sound like a good thing. “Holy shit, Bob. Your land is completely undeveloped. You got yersef a situation there, padner. Better get on it.”
Development is the process of taking natural land and converting it to hardscape. How many units per acre is the name of the game. Three single family homes on one-third acre lots? Decadent.
Four residences on quarter-acre lots? Better.
How about 8 to 9 small houses with 5,000 square foot plots? No, 5,000 sq. ft. is not the heated living space of the home. That’s the size of the entire lot. And there’s not a lot of it.
You got a weird shaped lot that won’t divide up nicely? Cram a fucking flag lot in that hole and you’ve got yourself yet another unit.
I’ve heard grown men stand in city council meetings and whine like you wouldn’t believe. “If I have to put in city standard streets it’ll cost me some units. The streets in my project should be 12 feet wide. If I have to meet code it’ll mean less units. I need a variance.” They manage to conjure up actual tears. Hollywood has got nothing on a city council meeting. “Why does a fire truck need to turn around in a cul-de-sac, anyway? If the houses burn down I can always build more.”
“Why do I have to put in sidewalks? On both sides of the street? And a planter strip? With trees? Come on!!!”
I have to admit. Some of the houses looked pretty good, like they had been placed by the magical cookie cutter of life. The same floor plan repeated ad infinitum yet with different flourishes so the neighborhood didn’t look too monotonous. At least not at first blush.
The obscenities got built and the people lined up to overpay and have the walls of their home 15 feet from the walls of their neighbor’s home. Since they were just about the only units on the market, they moved pretty much like pancakes and the developers could claim, “We’re only giving the people what they want.” Why then did so many purchasers bitch about the facts of life in their new neighborhoods? I guess they weren’t in on it since they never really had actual choice. It wasn’t like they could buy the one-acre lots on the other side of the street.
If there was one thing a developer knows, it’s curb appeal. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to look good. At least until the deal clears escrow. Stick in some plants, any old plants, and call it “landscaping.” Most of them would be dead in less than a year. Absolutely no care or thought was put into what types of plants would be viable based on climate, sunlight, etc. But they sure looked good when it was time to sell the home. The same with the fence. The same with the kitchen cabinets. There will always be some settling, they say. You didn’t expect your doors to open and close, did you?
In those planter strips they shoved in some trees. Within two years a lot of those trees would be stone cold dead.
What else can you say about an industry where every corner cut increases your profit and superficial adornments make the money move faster?
At the end of the block was “Phase 3.” It was a big vacant lot. You figured they’d build there some day. Then the bubble popped and that lot just sat. Phase 3 got put on hold. And that lot sat, was forgotten, and became completely overgrown. Was the developer around to make it look nice? Take a little care in his neighborhood? Look out for his customers? Maybe take a brush hog to it once a bloody year? No. Not unless the City finally ordered him to do so.
Where was the developer, anyway? I sure saw him a lot in city council meetings. After building hundreds of homes down a busy street, the city was forced to pay to put in a traffic signal because the intersection had become dangerous and neighbors were dying in traffic accidents. The developer was there to complain about the charges, a mere drop in the bucket he’d been asked to pay, monies that would be set aside to pay some of the costs incurred by the city (aka the neighboring residents) by his development. These fees are known as SDCs (System Development Charges). He was complaining that the fees were too high for him to bear, and the city council, loaded up with bankers, realtors and businessmen, listened hard. You could say they were a very receptive audience.
SDC fees (also known as impact fees) may help to assist in the development of needed parks, schools, roads, sewer, water treatment, utilities, libraries, and public safety buildings to the newly developed area. Without these fees, developers pocket more profits and the city and residents are forced pick up the tab long after the developer is gone.
It sure was rough for Mr. Developer. Even with those damned development fees he owned the most expensive
house mansion in town. I guess that’s why he was groveling to the city council like Oliver asking for more gruel. We saw the pictures of his $15 million home on the internet (complete with private underground cave pool) when he was getting divorced and had to list it on the market. Yes, this was truly a man deserving of government subsidies. Maybe he needed another house just like it?
If I was successful enough to own a $15 million mansion I sure as shit wouldn’t spend my free time in city council meetings asking for even more at the cost of my fellow citizenry. I’d be out enjoying the good life.
The landscaping has since died out. The dead trees still line the streets too narrow for the homebuyers to drive on. And that giant empty Phase 3 lot sure is an eyesore. I think it may be where the next season of Survivor is going to be played.
Why didn’t I ever see any of this shit on the board game of Life when I was growing up?
Note: I was going to entitle this On The Street Where You Shiv but apparently I already used that for a different post.
I’m not sure why, but the city gave the developer permission to make the streets narrow in the subdivision where I live. How narrow? If you are an expert driver and can balance your wheels on the curbs, you’re just able to navigate a normal sized car while hovering six inches above the ground.
Perhaps I exaggerate just a skosh. I claim the right due to umbrage.
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– You’re at the grocery store checking our with your groceries when an elderly person starts a conversation with your checker and suddenly you’re standing there bored and ignored
– An elderly person rams your car when parking and when confronted merely shrugs, never apologizes and walks away
– After waiting patiently in line at the restaurant to pay the check an elderly man walks up and sticks his ticket in the face of an employee who takes care of him first
Frustrating? Hells yes. Like a helpless idiot you take it each and every time. And there’s nothing you can do about it, right?
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Described as a “mansion” by some, it is reportedly “about six times larger than neighboring homes with walls as high as 15 feet, topped with barbed wire.” (Source: Los Angeles Times.)
Thanks to the magic of Google Maps, you can magically transport to Pakistan and visit the compound yourself.
And that’s where things get interesting.
If you click the link to go there, Google Maps shows the satellite image of the “mansion” where Osama lived. If you click the little icon for “Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound” a little bubble that pops up with a bit of info and a thumbnail image.
Wait a moment! What is that little thumbnail image shown in the bubble? That looks strangely familiar. Let’s click it to see the image associated with Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound.
Of course! It’s a Bluth Company home! They illegally built homes in Iraq for Saddam Hussein so it’s not too surprising.
But wait, that’s not all. In the left column is locations and reviews by Google Maps users. There is a listing for Osama Bin Laden’s Hideout Compound. As I write this, it currently has 582 “reviews.” (Click here to read them.)
One traveler, named only “Mike,” gave the location a five-star review:
Perfect romantic couples’ getaway spot if you’re looking for something a little different than your ordinary Hilton or Red Roof Inn. We were charmed by the lack of internet and telephone services, although there was a delightful little courier who would bring us baskets of figs every couple of days. Our host, “Osama”, couldn’t have been more pleasant – he had the cutest nickname for my husband – “The Great Satan”, and we truly enjoyed how he went out of his way to make us feel welcome by tossing little green metal balls into our room each night – this must be a local tradition. The hotel is obviously doing quite well, as evidenced by the fact that the cleaning crew is actually helicoptered in each evening, and in fact they go so far as to destroy any furniture that they feel is outdated or in need of repair. Of course, the owner must be quite a disciplinarian, as on our final night he actually had the entire staff shot and killed, presumably for underperformance. Even the cute little housemaid, who we had taken to calling “Mrs. bin Laden” for some reason, wasn’t spared. All in all, however, we have no complaints, and can’t wait to return for our anniversary in September when the renovations are complete. Bravo, Abbottabad Inn!
Between the Twitter bombs and hi-jinks Sunday night when the news original broke and Google Maps, I’d have to say, this has been quite the exhibition of what modern technology is capable of.
Thank you, thank you, thank you so much! You love me, you really love me. I want to thank the universe for this incredible gift. I never thought this could happen to me. And there are so many others I want to thank. Thank you to the homeowner’s association, my landlord, and of course my wife for standing by me during the dark times. It was a struggle. And, I have to thank the neighbors. Without them none of this would have been possible. Everyone, please remember. Dreams can come true!
I may never win an Oscar, but who cares? I’ve already received a gift much more precious. As far as I can tell my work on this planet is now done.
What can I say about my neighbors that hasn’t already been said? Of course they are dim. They are obnoxious as hell. There were eight people living in that house, most of them not even on the lease, and a dog they never told the landlord about. (The dog was famous for poop in the backyard, which, of course, they never picked up.) They routinely paid their rent 20 days late. The man of the house was on “disability” leave from work (he fell down stairs on the job) but partied his ass off every single night. The place was busier than Grand Central Station with umpteen cars parked out on our narrow street 24/7 and people living in the driveway. That was their hangout where they’d drink, smoke, ignore their kids and eyeball us every time we went in and out of our house.
We knew their days were numbered but my brain never fully accepted that this day might come. Well, it actually happened.
The neighbors have moved out!
However, they didn’t exactly go gently into that good night. I guess they couldn’t help but leave some spore behind as proof that they once existed here.
When I walked out on my driveway this morning, the garage area was naturally the first thing I examined. Miraculously the door was closed! I didn’t even know it could do that. The second thing I noticed was there were no cars! Not in the driveway and not on the curb. Wow. How extremely odd.
I did notice their trash cans were still out on the curb, though. Those poor abused cans had already been through so much, being stuffed overflowing week after week. Garbage pickup was yesterday morning so they should have been put away by now. And the neighbors were in their driveway last night so they could have taken care of that. Apparently they opted to leave them out. After all, why should they have to bother with them when they can be made to be someone else’s problem?
As as expert tracker (and a trapper) I looked for other signs of neighbor spore. I noticed they left the outside lights on. Nice. And for bonus points one of the bulbs was burned out. Double nice. I guess that will be the landlady’s problem.
What was that? Something on the roof caught my eye. I moved in closer to take a look. It was some sort of toy they left behind. Nice. Again, someone else’s problem now.
While there I noticed the front yard. The lawn was left in terrible condition. Big divots of wasteland left behind in a sea of yellowish dying grass. Nice.
I couldn’t resist taking a few photographs of what the house looks like empty. In my old age I’ll never ever need Viagra. I’ll just pull those suckers out to get in the mood…
Most people don’t have the luxury of choosing their neighbors. I’m no exception so I have douchebags next door.
I happen to live in a newer subdivision so wisely allowed by our city leaders. You might know the type. The single family dwelling lot sizes are smaller than the square footage in some people’s houses. (At under 5,000 sq. ft. I like to call them “postage stamps.”) The street is about three car-widths across and parking is allowed on both sides. (Yes, that means the street essentially becomes “one-way” when cars are parked on both sides.) And the houses are literally about 15′ apart. (I call this “Santa Claus development” because he could theoretically land and simply hop from rooftop to rooftop.) These houses pretty much don’t have luxury items like yards. Lastly, you can park two cars in the “two car” garage unless you do something stupid like put a box in the garage, then you can only fit one car.
As you might imagine, having asshole neighbors in a community like this bites the big one. Of course the worst neighbors in the entire development are located next to yours truly. It’s kind of funny how things work out like that.
I’m sure the landlord thought she was getting a good tenant. The man is a manager at one of the local banks. She probably liked the sound of that. It has the ring of responsibility to it, eh?
Let’s briefly recap some of what I might have shared about them before in a post entitled The neighbors days are numbered :
- They are friends with our gerbil, party with him, and provide him with illegal drugs;
- They routinely have excess garbage spilling out of their garbage cans, place cans too close to mine on garbage day;
- They smoke outside all the time creating an omnipresent cloud of disgusting smell we have to navigate every time we come and go;
- Cigarette butts are found all around their property;
- They allow their crazy kids to run rampant and unsupervised;
- They make a ton of noise such as loud banging noise, kids, and gunning their motorcycle engine for endless periods of time;
- Their friends park on the curb, the grass strip, block our driveway, and park diagonal across the sidewalk;
- They have friends over seemingly 24/7 with multiple vehicles always parked on our narrow streets;
- They have kiddie pools and camping in their front yard with frightening regularity;
- They are “driveway dwelling” folk, their garage door always left open showing their clutter, lounging in folding camping chairs and smoking throughout the day.
Like I said, however, the neighbors days are apparently numbered. I say “apparently” because even though the landlady has told them their lease will not be renewed (praise God!) I’m still not convinced they’ll actually leave. They seem like the sort to stick around and force physical eviction. My motto is “expect the worst and you won’t be surprised.”
Even though we are miserable next to them, we never complained to the landlord who happens to rent both houses.
So yeah, the landlady wants them gone and it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes good things can happen to good people. (I’m talking about me.)
We’ve learned a few extra tidbits about these people since I last wrote:
- There are EIGHT human beings (allegedly) living in that three bedroom house, three adults and five kids;
- In other news, some people living there have not been reported on the lease;
- They won’t pick up dog poop in the backyard which frustrates the landlord’s gardener to no end;
- In other news, they never asked for permission to have a dog at all;
- They are damaging and abusing the front and back yards;
- They routinely pay their rent 20 days late or more and the landlady has been too nice to charge the late fee;
- One day the landlady went to the local bank to find the guy and discuss the late rent only to find out he was out on disability leave for falling down the bank’s stairs, meanwhile he’s been out living the life of a mondo party animal for months on end;
- It was quiet last week; the family was vacationing at Disneyland giving us a little taste of what it’s like not to have asshole neighbors for an entire week.
The assholes are back and picked right back up on their douchebaggery without missing a beat. It’s business as usual next door — but only for 21 more days. They have to be out by the end of the month!
Of course I’m expecting nothing less than bigger douchebags to move in and replace them at that time, but who knows? I just might get surprised.
Maybe, just maybe, good things can happen to losers.
They are “garage door open all the time” sort of people. (I’m the opposite.) Their messy garage is always open and so is the inside door to their house. They must love heat and bugs.
Because of these neighbors, I’ve been formulating a completely new theorem. It deals with the amount of time a family spends in their driveway and how it correlates to I.Q. These people are out there all the time so I hypothesize they are pretty low in the I.Q. dept. They have lawn chairs they keep handy so they can hang out and smoke, in their driveway, for hours on end. Maybe more on that theory later.
Our neighborhood is nice and quiet and orderly – except for the neighbors. These are the people that live on the lot next to mine and their house is literally less than 20′ from mine. Yes, the one and only nexus of jerks in the entire neighborhood happens to be located directly next door to me. What are the odds of that? (Hint: 100 percent.)
The house is the location of innumerable and never-ending parties. It is also the kid nexus of the area. Balls over the fence and then poorly-behaved kids pounding on our front door wanting them back. And all of the kids from miles around apparently are drawn to this nexus, too. It’s kid crazy over there.
For some reason, the City allowed this development to have extra narrow streets. They are not regulation width. There is just enough room for parking on each side of the street then room for ONE LANE of traffic. It’s hella crazy. I know they allowed this non-standard street so the developer could squeeze in a few more lots and make even more money. This is the same developer who lives in a $16 million house and bitches at City Council meetings that the City shouldn’t raise fees on developers. Whaa! “If you don’t let me make the streets narrower than normal it will cost me some lots!” Fuck the residents, eh?
The point here is that I’ve never in my entire life seen a house that gets so many visitors. And so, naturally, the street is constantly clogged with the vehicles of their guests. That forces our street into a continual one-lane fucking nightmare. When we drive in or out we have to drive 2 miles per hour while watching carefully for the omnipresent and unsupervised children who are allowed to run crazy in the street. They party every night, have the inflatable jumping cage in their front yard, with smoking and drinking and kids galore. One of their guests ALWAYS parks with two wheels up on the sidewalk – presumably because his rig is so precious and he’s worried about the narrow street. Him and another douchebag also park by a narrow section of curb that is decidedly not a parking spot and their vehicles block our driveway. Our neighbors, of course, have never once given a flying fuck that our drive is blocked.
Anyway, we happen to have the same landlord. Even though I hate these people with a passion and our enjoyment of this home went completely to shit when they moved in, we have never once complained about them, the cars, the parties, or their constantly overflowing garbage cans.
So the other day we get an email from the landlord. It seems she’s been hearing complaints about them and, as the people located in the eye of the shit hurricane, she wanted our opinions. Had we seen anything next door she wanted to know. She’s been hearing complaints about noise, cars, cigarette butts everywhere, garbage and the front and back yards being destroyed. Apparently she’s also being asking them behave in a certain manner and also she’s gotten for her trouble is the tenant equivalent of “kiss my grits.”
I didn’t want to be a tattletale, so I simply tried to remain calm, logical and factual when replying, “We can confirm that what you have heard is true.”
So the other day we get a follow-up email from the landlady. The neighbor’s lease is up at the end of August and she has already informed them she will not be renewing with them. They has gots to go!
Someone keep a phone handy. If too many things start going right in my life (like one more thing on top of this) I may go into myocardial infarction and someone might have to dial 9-1-1 to save my life. Please remember I have a standing “do not resuscitate” order on my corpse.
Happy days are here again!!! Party at my place in six weeks!!! 🙂