AKA “You can fight City Hall, but victory will cost you dearly.”
This is belated by a year, but I wonder how many people have to go through similar turmoil just because they want to improve their property.
Last summer, my folks and their next door neighbors decided to turn their asphalt driveways to cement, widen them, and split the cost of a wall that would separate the driveways. Fine and good. Then they decide to get permits, licenses, insured contractors, etc. so as to remain on the level and not have to tear all the stuff apart if caught doing it without permits.
That’s when the ordeal began. The city insisted that the first eight feet of the driveway (next to the street) belong to them and must be filled with “city mix,” which they had to measure and which cost more to put in. Also, the contractor had to have a million dollars in insurance in case somebody might fall and hurt themselves on the easement; the city did not want the liability. My parents have had this property for over forty years and nobody had ever fallen on their driveway except mom, and that was only because of her shoes. Okay, fine. They deal with this bit of code written long ago.
But wait, there’s more: the city inspectors say they must come out four times during the course of the work to check on things…but they take their good old time and drag out the process because there are very few of them available. Why? Because their colleagues all decided to go on vacation at the same frikkin’ time. Brilliant.
Hold on, we’re not finished yet! When the aforementioned wall was nearly completed, City Planner Guy (CPG) tells my mom and her neighbor V. that the wall must be painted so it matches the house. Mom and V. must have gone to this guy’s office more than half a dozen times. Here is a reconstruction of the conversation between V. and CPG:
V: Why does the wall have to match the houses?
CPG: Because it’s visible from the street.
V: Everything is visible from the street. Who makes up these rules?
CPG: This rule has been on the books since 1959.
V: Well, it’s stupid. The houses are two different colors. Do you want the wall to be blue-gray on one side and beige on the other? Or what if we paint the houses a year from now and then they don’t match the old wall color anymore?
CPG (after several more minutes of arguing): FINE! Paint it pink, purple, any color you want! I don’t care!
Mom and V. were able to leave the damn wall alone and unpainted, but only after a great deal of stress. Mom still says she wishes she’d never even bothered with permits. Of course, that would have led to any number of other problems with the city.
Is this the norm? I’m betting it is.