Those of us sharing ownership with the back of one of these older Westside houses know that they are constantly in need of expensive repairs or renovations or even simple updates. Thus, there is always some form of construction work going in nearly every block of West Hollywood West. For the most part the intrusion of workers is fairly acceptable, since we all do it. Our little two-piece compound has had all the utilities replaced, a new sewer line (later a sleeve blown in), a couple of roofs, tankless water heater, an electric load center to replace the cartridge fuse arrangement and, finally, a solar roof-top electric system. All but the last item done prior to cityhood – and I would have done a few other things except that I had a look at the city’s 65 page book of fees and permit costs and decided that the house was a “tear-down” anyhow and I’m 84 years old, so what he heck. That’s the kind of work just about every house in the area has experienced. However, there are some notable exceptions to the ordinary, sometimes egregious events that can make life unpleasant for those living in proximity.
Here’s an example, something I see every day. For over a year, the former home and studio of our beloved neighbor David Jones, who passed away almost two years ago, has been undergoing — well, we’re not exactly sure what it is undergoing but it has been noisy, dusty and a traffic-stopper all during that time. The sign still posted at the head of the street warns that a 6,000 pound weight limit is enforced on Dorrington Avenue. Tell that to the Marines, I guess, for we have had trucks carrying full and empty dumpsters, a mobile 100-foot hydraulic crane, a big rig hauling nine steel girders (which the crane picked up and deposited into the building through a hole in the roof), countless other large delivery trucks and service vehicles (plumbers and the like) and, the only machine under 6,000 pounds, a forklift, weighing in at 5,500 pounds. I have been told that weight limits for streets are there to protect the underground utilities from damage and to keep the pavement from disappearing too soon. So much for that rule.
I was abruptly aware of a loud crash-thump about 7 a.m. one day. From the third story window large, heavy items were being tossed out to a dumpster sitting below. While the cloud of dust still hung in the air I was at the gate to tell the workers that they had to wait until 8 a.m. My rudimentary knowledge of Spanish, but an ear for invective, told me they did not like to hear such information. However, they did stop. A couple of times they were working well after 8 p.m., all Saturdays and a couple of Sundays. Others made complaints, and the contractor said he would follow the rules regarding start and finish times. The noise issue continues. The building, which must be an empty shell by this time, resonates every sound throughout the street. When large objects are tossed from windows, the impact of them hitting the ground can be felt at least 300 feet away. I saw workers with no protective gear doing things tht made my old safety engineer’s pulse rise. I would have called CalOSHA, but they only send out letters these days. The only off-setting feature is that once in a while a single voice will start a song, to be picked up by others working there. Like the Seven Dwarfs – happy workers.
I’m trying desperately to not be peevish about the demolition/construction/whatever at David’s old building. After all, everything changes, and acceptance is often difficult. We resident citizens must live with the rules and ordinances, so I do not see why construction contractors are able to skirt them. When a Parking Enforcement bike showed up one day after a call from a neighbor, we were shown a piece of paper, chatted a few minutes, then he left. I was told that the paper was the encroachment permit, which allowed contractor vehicles to park on the street – apparently this covered the forklift as well since it was often left out overnight. Parking enforcement does not come by there any more. That situation leads to the voicing of unfounded, but possible, conclusions.
All of this simply calls to question how our ordinances are enforced. How much action should residents take when they see others not abiding by the rules? How many of the rules are put aside in order to accommodate a contractor at the expense of the residents’ comfort and ease? How soon do the ears at City Hall close up after repeated calls regarding the same situation that seems to have no resolution? Playing by the rules is fair for everybody. These paragraphs may apply only to those living in one and two-story houses and not to condo dwellers who are above the fray, but playing by the rules affects the entire city in one way or another. I asked twice at the construction site what they were building. Both times the respondent seemed unsure. (What do their permits allow?) I also asked if they had any idea of a finish date. The response was an abrupt laugh.
Here’s a late item: Sounds of a pile-driver (unmistakable) wafted over from Rangely, a block away. A neighbor investigated and reported that the piles were being driven 40 feet down to support – what? What is going to require 16 or so steel piles driven 40feet into the ground for support??? Stay tuned.