I went out to the driveway Tuesday to retrieve my morning newspaper. I noticed a man standing beside a flatbed truck parked across a driveway on the other side of the street. He was preparing to enter the lot there where some serious construction activity has been taking place.
I was reminded that, in days not too far behind us, a small house could be built with a couple loads of lumber, three or four carpenters, a plumber, an electrician and assorted other tradesmen. “Not so today”, replied the standing man when I asked him if a pile driver, a ten-ton front loader and other assorted diesel powered machines were really necessary to erect a building (of yet unknown design or proportions) on a residential small lot which measured about 40′ X 145′. He further assured me that this would be the standard for buildings in this area of high water table. I told him that I thought it seemed to be overkill.
He smiled, opened the enclosure which surrounded the site and disappeared inside. For the better part of three weeks we have heard – and sometimes felt – the impact of the pile driver which towers thirty feet over the small lot and is moved about on treads from one spot to another to set the piles. The front loader also moves about on treads.Beside the noise and diesel exhaust from those machines and the occasional cement mixer truck, the turned up earth has spread sust over most of the block, the street is sometimes impassable due to parked trucks and any guest parking is sparse due to the workers’ vehicles. The arrival of these machines a few weeks ago made quite an impact on the neighborhood Is this really the current practice for building in WEHO West – and East?
That question was answered the next day during a conversation with a Code Compliance officer easily recognized in his natty olive drab jersey emblazoned with a large golden star (badge) and other information. He confirmed that we would see more of it, especially as the number of two-story “box” houses seem to be the next wave of replacement for the older, 1920s an 30s frame houses, those often with a lot of individual character and charm. Change, of course. Well, the officer was on the street to deal with a number of code infractions by the construction crews. He said he had visited this site several times and said “they seem not to care about the fines”.
As I watched the site activity I thought about the Mayor’s 2045Plan and that there is much to do to alter any construction trade practices to accommodate the Plan. Today, we were treated to the removal of the pile driver. Our narrow little street was hardly the place to effect such a move, but it was done within an hour. The pile driver tracked out onto the street and a waiting rig backed its trailer to the driver which then crept onto the trailer. Meanwhile traffic still backed up in both directions waiting for an opening. The city told us not long ago that we see a minimum of 300 vehicles per day.
At the far end of the street another construction site containing the skeleton of an older house in the process of “rehabilitation”. No need here for a pile driver, just a few carpenters.
If the construction process noted above is to be repeated in our cramped residential streets, I have some suggestions which might appease residents, the city and the constructors. First, residents should be advised in advance of the movement of heavy equipment in their neighborhood. Many will want to move their cars to safer ground. Second, the street should be blocked off during the move and city traffic officers should supervise the placement of barricades, warning signs and the use of the construction company’s clearly visible “walkers”, those walking beside and in front of the equipment to prevent problems. And, when the move is over, to supervise the re-opening of the street.The pile driver on its transporter measured approximately 70 feet. Not easily maneuvered in this part of town.
Change is inevitable and never more both a threat and an opportunity. We are under the spell of that ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Climate change is here and affecting ever human endeavor, now giving us not much time to learn how to adapt. The tale above is but one item to consider for our changing future. I will have more on tghis subject later.