Friday, March 2, 2007
One of our neighbors (who we came to know much later) described what happened then. Richard pointed out that many people who live on small 'ranchettes' move there because they need "wiggle room." These are folks who have trouble getting along with their neighbors, who are willing to do the extra work involved with a bigger place because they just can't get along with people who get too close. These are not go-along-get-along kind of folks, instead they see their personal space expanding to fill the area around them.
Our first introduction to this was a neighbor who got County money to build a bridge across the small river that runs through an edge of our property. Unfortunately, their plans called for the bridge to be built on our property. The County had already closed the public hearing and approved construction of the bridge by the time we heard about it.
"You can't approve a bridge to be buillt on our property without telling us about it!" we protested but they could -- and had.
When we asked what our recourse was, the County's response was "It's a civil matter" meaning that if we wanted to fight having a new road and bridge built on our property, we would have to file a lawsuit.
Not cheap. Not easy. Not simple. But it got done, the bridge plan was moved onto the property of the neighbor who'd applied for the funding. In some ways that experience is what made me begin to advocate chicken outlawrey. I learned that fighting City Hall is not only possible, but that bureaucracy can be confounded by ordinaryh people with persistence and effort. Every time someone drives over the bridge that is not on our part of the river, I think it was worth it to fight City Hall.
This year another neighbor who decided she needed some more wiggle room built gate onto our existing driveway. The semi trucks and customers for her petting zoo/birthday party business she have chewed up our concrete driveway. When we went to the City to ask what we could do, the response was one we were all to familiar with, "That's a civil matter." was the Planning Department's response. But that's not the last answer here. Like martial arts, sometimes the answer to a problem lies in pulling someone forward rather than pushing them away. More on this later.