Monday, January 14, 2008

the saga continues

The night was cold, the sky is a clear blue. This weekend I finally saw La Vie en Rose about the life of Edith Piaf in our little art movie theater. What a great film, wonderful acting, but then such a sad life story. I could not hold back the tears. When she sang Non, je ne regrette rien, a song from rather late in her career, it was just too much. Here is a YouTube link, not from the movie, but the actual Edith Piaf. Seeing the movie helped to see and put matters in perspective, especially concerning the saga around our neighbor, Republican Gay Guy.

On Saturday our street had a meeting to discuss the concessions our neighbor agreed to in regards to his plans to build this monstrous four-car garage with an apartment above. The discussion focused on the question if we are happy with the concessions he made or if we continue to oppose the project. Some expressed that he goes for confrontation, and we will “fight” him, and this is where I have problems. The emotions are running high, especially if people get offended, and calling people names and threatening them, like Republican Gay Guy did, does not help. Even the most rational thinkers can get angry. But I feel uncomfortable. If my neighbor behaves like an adolescent (“if you do this to me, I will do that to you”), we should restrain ourselves not to do the same. I do not want to “fight” him. You fight injustice, yes, but here we should oppose his plans, and not fight him. Even though he acted like a jerk, it does not give us the right “to go after him.” It is not about the person, but about the issue. My neighbor from third country over there thinks that you cannot have it both ways. What does it mean, “to have it both ways?” Do you need to fight the person in order to oppose the project? Am I just hair splitting?

Well, Republican Gay Guy has a right to build a garage, no matter what, but he has to adhere to the guidelines of the historic district. Our concern is that he will be renting out the apartment above the garage. He claims, he needs storage, and this is a rather silly argument. The house is huge, he lives there alone, currently with a “cousin” (his words, but the cousin has mentioned that he is not a cousin). But still, the entire third story is for storage, and a garage alone would do without an additional apartment above. In the end, we do not know why he wants to build this large compound, including a building with an outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and a “lanai.” My personal guess is, that he wishes to create his perfect fantasy world with this project.

What did we decide? The concessions were not deemed sufficient. Most Special Spouse and myself said that we could live with the concessions, but we would prefer not to have the monster garage with a still forty-feet curb cutout (should be only ten in the historic district). This is actually our major concern: this garage house will change the look of the entire street.

Last night, a second meeting took place with the chair of the Historic Commission on the speaker phone. I opted out to go in order not to get worked up, but Most Special Spouse and Teenage Daughter went to Cool Freelancing Lawyer’s house. It turns out, that the Historic Commission had been influenced beforehand, and the chair now regrets voting for the project. As most Special Spouse put it, the city is reluctant to oppose projects, is rather open to variances, and only when citizens complain, they will actually stick to the rules. It appears that most members of the Historic Commission were simply reluctant to speak out against the project. So we, the citizens should raise concerns that projects have to keep to the rules, putting us in the role of the “bad guys.” I do not like this, especially if you have a neighbor who appears to have such a vindictive nature, clear from comments such as “I am ready for mud slinging,” “If you go after me, I will be going after you.”

So here I am. I do not like the project, I am opposed to it, but I do not wish to fight the person, I oppose his plans. Is this like attempting to have it both ways? What to do if this is your next-door neighbor? I so much fear for our peace of mind. I only know that this whole affair is costing me already way too much energy.

1 comment:

Phillip said...

What a mess - I feel for you! I can identify (sort of). We have neighbors across the street from us whose residence is a complete eyesore - run-down, about to fall in, surrounded by a chain link fence and until a few weeks ago, filled with yapping dogs. Animal control showed up and took all the dogs but one - I don't know what exactly occurred but I'm glad they are gone. They barked at everyone. I've never tried to do anything because, like you, I hate to stir up trouble. I did call the city last summer and talked with the officials there who told me that there had already been complaints filed and they had been warmed. About what, I don't know. The situation is basically the same except those god-awful dogs are now gone.

I loved La Vie En Rose! I saw it on dvd a few weeks ago. The lead actress will surely be nominated for an Oscar. She won the Golden Globe last night. Incredible performance and quite moving.