Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Government At Work

Our house was moved to this lot from another place in the city, well over 40 years ago.  I believe the people who moved the house also owned many of the lots to the east of us--and that is why our house is 'illegally' positioned on our lot.  We are just a couple of feet from the eastern-most lot line--a situation that is only allowed because we were 'grandfathered' in when laws/ordinances were put into place.  So, this was why our neighbor's driveway was directly under my bedroom window.  As a matter of fact, if they parked at the very edge of their driveway, I could have (almost) reached out and touched their vehicle from my window.  While it wasn't ideal--and it could be a bit noisy, at times--over the course of 30+ years, I learned to live with the way things were.  Our street steadily declines from west to east, so the neighbors were able to put up a retaining wall on the other side of the narrow driveway and put another driveway directly in front of their house--on a level with their basement.  With multiple vehicles and parking ordinances, all vehicles have to be off of the streets at night during the winter, so the added driveway was a necessity for them.  And this summer, things changed and that is why I am using the past tense.  So, on to the rest of the story...

After all of these years, the neighbors finally decided to put up a garage.  They own the lots to their east, so the garage was built on the side away from our house.  They got the proper permits, etc, so the city was well aware of what they were doing.  Because our neighbor did the work himself, it took most of the summer to complete the building.  About a month ago, the city was called to come and do the final inspection.  That was when the 'wisdom' of our government shone so very brightly--as happens so very often.

With the building of the garage, a new driveway was put into place.  This meant that the property--THREE lots wide--now had three driveways.  And the city had a meltdown over this.  How DARE our neighbors try to have THREE driveways on their property--which just happens to border up against the dead end street we live on.  They were told that one of the driveways MUST be DESTROYED and grass MUST be planted and growing before the snow falls.  NO discussion, NO exception.  Our neighbors' protestations and explanations meant nothing.  They asked if, at the very least, they could keep the curbing from having to be placed in front of the space where the driveway was closest to us.  As they explained, the door on this side of the house is 36"--the width needed to bring an appliance or over-sized piece of furniture into their house--and the door on the other side was only 32".  This argument fell on deaf ears--as the city told them, "Those moving trucks have NO problem driving over the curb, so it must be installed."  Unbelievable.

As far as I know, there was no good explanation as to why they were not allowed to have three driveways.  If they own that many lots, why CAN'T they?  If they wanted to pave over their entire property, why not let them?  It is getting too sad when EVERYTHING is so regulated--and yet, the entire country seems to be going into the dumper.  I don't have answers to how things could be changed for the better, but I certainly don't think regulating such piddly things is going to make things better any time soon.


meleah rebeccah said...

Seriously, why can't they do what they want with their own property? That's strange.

ordinaryjanet said...

Probably it's to keep people from paving over too much property. There could be any number of reasons, including what's under the concrete, like pipes nobody but the engineers know about. Plus, they have to enforce the regulations-if they let one person get away with having three driveways, everyone else will say "But you let them have three driveways!". Cities would prefer to have green stuff growing than have what could turn out to be poorly maintained paved-over spaces.

On our street, and probably in our entire neighborhood, you can't put up any structures past the house itself. No fences in the front yard. The only exceptions I see are ramps for those residents who are handicapped. Sometimes regulations do make sense-I can imagine all the eyesores that would spring up if people were allowed to build front-porch decks, have falling-down fences in their front yards, etc.

I guess they have these rules to prevent people from willy-nilly throwing up whatever strikes their fancy, then neglecting to keep it up. The more places look like a ghetto, the less property values will be, so the less revenue the city gets. At least, that's what I think is the reasoning.

cmk said...

meleah: It is getting to the point where our city is starting to sound like a homeowner's association. ;)

janet: Oh, I understand about the 'not being allowed to pave over the entire yard' concept and where pipes, etc, are. The three driveways not being allowed completely eludes me, however. Conceivably, there could be three different houses on the property our neighbors own, so that would mean three driveways. (And, believe me, three houses would be MUCH worse to look at--we are in a very old section of town and our lots are extremely skinny. The houses would practically be touching each other.) Just because there is only ONE property owner and one house should make no amount of difference--in my opinion. For some reason or another--we have also been the 'victims' of this recently--the city has decided to begin 'enforcing' some obscure ordinances. They really make little to no sense and it almost seems as if they are doing this in order to give 'busy work' jobs to some people. I understand not allowing people to do things the way they want, just because they want, but the city is doing the exact same thing while enforcing these rules--and all without informing the citizenry that things are changing. It just rubs me the wrong way, is all. That place north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska keeps looking more and more tempting all of the time. ;)