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Because it's not just vampires and phlebotomists sucking right now.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Because it's not just vampires and phlebotomists sucking right now....

If you're a friend of Eleanor's blog, you know the things that have been going on with our not-so-friendly new neighbors.

We've lived in this house for just over 21 years. For the first 18 of them, our neighbor on the side closest to the house itself  became and remains a dear friend. She lived there along with, at times, one of her daughters and that daughter's daughter. We were- are- family to Sally. For those years, her casa was our casa, and vice versa. They'd just brought home a Dalmatian puppy the month we moved in next door in 1994; Woody became one of our favorite animals and, for a year or two before he passed after we first got our first dog, he was Tasha's best dogbud in the world. We never had an unkind word or an unkind silence with Sally in all those years; I helped with computer issues, and Eleanor once laid chicken wire under a long stretch of her fenced-in yard to keep Woody's successor dog from tunneling under and getting out.

When her health problems became too big for her to continue living there, she put it on the market, more or less "as-is" with a price to match, and a father-and-son investor team snapped it up, closing on our anniversary in September of 2012. They spent the next several months doing serious renovations and upgrades before beginning to rent it out.

Tenant the First was more a mystery to us than a problem. She had a dog, a cat and a young daughter, and seemed to pay small and similar amounts of attention to all of them. Eleanor once walked in the yard door to their family room because Mom had fallen so sound asleep, we were concerned for the child's supervision and safety. Sometime in the late winter of 2013, she was up and gone, leaving quite a bit of stuff behind.

By summer, Tenants the Second came, and were there for almost the next two years. Both law students, they got married at the end of that first summer. No kids, but a cute puppy- who caused the only issue we ever had with them: Lexi was out in the yard a lot, and in the first winter, we'd hear her barking at length after she got let out. The noise was a problem, but our bigger concern was for her- that 2013-14 winter had some brutally cold nights and even subzero wind-chill days. When we talked to them about it, they were conciliatory and caring, and it rarely even required a quick phone call to resolve after that. We'd hoped they'd be long-term tenants, maybe even owners, but last spring they bought a house one town over and by May of this year, they were out.

That gets us to where we are now....

Pacific Heights.

D&M moved in, little by little, in early summer.  They still own their previous home, also a town or so over, but the yard was small. We have no idea if they're renting it out or have been trying to sell it.  They are still renting this one from the father-son, best as I can tell from the land records.  I've met their daughter briefly, and have also heard quite a bit from their dog. He, D proudly told me, is "a purebred black Lab, unneutered."

Ebony must be thrilled.

She sees little of him, because most of the lot line is covered in wisteria and they're rarely out back at the same time.  His barking was an issue initially, mainly because they were leaving him in the house while they moved stuff, and its relative emptiness worked like a sound chamber to magnify it.  That's when we made our initial introductions, I got his name and number, and we seemingly solved the noise issue.  They've grilled out back once or twice, but it was out back- away from the corner of the lots where our master bedroom is much closer than any part of their house is.

Then things began to get interesting.  A pile of gravel materialized in their driveway a week or so ago. Then, it got laid down in an area of their yard where you enter their family room, and D put a wooden deck on top of it, with wooden pallets laid down over the gravel and under the deck itself.

Here's an annotated Google view of it from happier times:

I suck at 3-D stuff, but here's the best I can do. The deck now covers the small patch of concrete in front of that back door, more or less where that little rectangle would be if I could photoshop it onto the ground. It extends all the way to the fenced lot line, which is where the yellow line is. And the problem is resulting from the circled part- the bedroom window which is about ten feet away from the edge of the deck and maybe five feet away from where Eleanor is trying to sleep.

She saw D working out there on Sunday. He told her they were planning a Halloween party tonight and that we were invited. Yippie ki-yay.  He also mentioned they'd have a fire pit.  He did NOT mention it would be on the deck, at the end closest to that circled bedroom window, and that there would be open flames rising several feet into the air after we went to sleep that very night.

I vaguely heard what next happened, but I heard more in the day or so that followed. Sometime after 10 p.m., Eleanor threw a coat on, went out and asked him to turn it off.  She got attitude- it's HIS property, and "you have neighbors now."

When I went to look the next day, I saw where it was. I also saw a hot tub sitting next to it.  I was in court and/or out of town most of the day, and didn't get to talk to him until Tuesday.  By then, we'd looked up the applicable fire code, and it appears that such fire pits have to be at least 15 feet, and possibly 25 feet, from any structure.  When I told him that, he looked back at his own house, mentally measuring, and I quickly reminded him that "any" includes "ours," which you can see is closer to where the thing was.  He asked me to give him a copy of the code, which I brought over before the end of the day.  He never got back about it the next day.  By this point, I had a letter to his landlords all ready to go; they are subject to fines under the code as well, and it's their investment, and possibly their insurance which might not cover their investment if this thing goes haywire and burns it down.

I called D. late in the day Wednesday, and he talked about possibly moving the pit to right outside the family room door, near where the charcoal grill was in that 2011 picture.  I said I'd talk to Eleanor about that and we'd talk again the next day....

which was yesterday.  Eleanor was coming down with a bug and was home all day. I took a work break around 3 and came home and tried calling again. No answer. I left a message (they only have cell phones) and said I'd be home until around 4:30.  Another call, another no answer. Finally, I'd reached the end of my (much longer than Eleanor's) rope, and just left word that we'd tried to work something out but he should check his mail.  The letters to both landlords, copied to him, went into the mail in time for 5:00 pickup.

He called back at around 5:10.  I have not returned the call.

One of his defenses is that his fire pit is not wood-fired but runs off propane.  In checking contact information on our fire department's website, Eleanor noticed their Cautionary Tale posting of a recent total-loss fire on a $180,000 house less than a mile from us.  The cause? "A propane grill on the rear wooden deck." Also? Wood doesn't explode when first ignited.  Also also? Wood doesn't go airborne and risk ignition around people smoking cigarettes or lighting candles.

Weather permitting, or maybe even not permitting, they're having their partay tonight.  If that pit is in the sight line of that circle on the picture, there are going to be people in uniform showing up later; we're not sure whether those uniforms will include fire helmets or nightsticks yet.  I haven't heard from anybody today in response to the letter, and given our shitty mail service around here, I expect nobody will even get the letter until tomorrow, if then. But this is not going to turn into a long-smoldering issue.  I hate being put in this position, and I am not even getting into the triggery emotional component of this from Eleanor's childhood; I'll let her talk about that first if she chooses. But this kind of treatment is not going to just blow over- because in the worst of cases, their out-of-control fire almost certainly will.
2 comments or Leave a comment
weebleswobble From: weebleswobble Date: October 30th, 2015 11:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
fire pit codes in my neighborhood require the fire to be 25 feet from neighboring PROPERTY lines, *not* neighbors houses. it ALSO requires the pits to be 25 feet from any structure, house, shed, whatever. i realize every city can have different codes. but thats pretty damn rude to put a fire pit right next to a neighbors bedroom window.
nentikobe From: nentikobe Date: October 31st, 2015 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
People are just... irresponsible twats sometimes. Sending a big hug to E, and wet weather wishes to you...
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