Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Partial Victory

I woke up this morning to find a dead rat and what looked like corned beef hash on the hood of my truck. My truck is a 71 Ford with a less than pristine paint job so this was more of an annoyance than anything else. The rat went in the sewer and I hosed off the “corned beef” and went to work. I was delayed about 5 minutes.

This is of course the current state of affairs between my neighbor and I. It seems the city has come through, but I have a feeling the last battle has not been fought yet. What I can say is that as I write my neighbor’s idiot sons are moving out. Literally. I can hear them yelling and clanging equipment and inventory into trailers and trucks right now.

Besides the rat and “corned beef” on the truck I woke up to find the shell of a beat up old Nissan pickup truck parked next to my house. When I got home from work there was a large bucket lift truck and a 15 foot trailer parked on the street right where I normally park my truck. I know the bucket truck and trailer belong to one of the sons and yesterday I saw the Nissan on the trailer. That was before they mostly gutted the truck.

I now I kick myself for not snapping a picture. If I had known they had already been contacted by the city I would have snapped the picture of the Nissan on the trailer. You don’t need a crystal ball to predict what these guys will do. They basically act like 12 year olds whose parents have never set boundaries. When they are forced to do something that they don’t want to do they throw tantrums. I’m half expecting to see one of them in the street on his back, flailing his arms and legs about and screaming, “I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna!”

After the rat and trucks I knew something had happened. I first called the city about the Nissan and it has been towed off the street. I then called the city and spoke with the woman at the Planning Dept. in charge of the case. Sure enough she had contacted them via registered mail on the 27th. She sent me a copy of the letter but because it wasn’t registered I still have not received it.

The idiot sons are so stupid and have such contempt for authority that they really made this easy for the city to get after them. When the one son took over the business from his father he got a business license and put the address as the illegally built mother-in-law unit in the backyard. So not only is it a slam dunk to prove they are running the business in the backyard but now the city wants to know about the MIL unit as well.

My plan has always been to be methodical about this. I was going to start with the Planning Dept and get those guys after them for running the business. The next step was going to be to go to the building department and complain about the MIL unit. The thought was that the building department would bring up the file and see that 3 years ago they were sighted for running a junk yard and then now they have been sighted again for the business. My hope was that this would encourage the building department to do something other than just send a stern letter.

The woman I spoke to at the Planning Dept. told me that they sent the letter via registered mail. It basically said that they have 15 days to get rid of the business and to answer for the illegal MIL unit. At the end of that period if they do not comply they will be sent a second letter, this time with more aggressive language and threatening a fine if they don’t comply. After that they will be fined (unknown amount) and the matter will be turned over to the city’s lawyers.

It doesn’t seem it will come to that because it seems they are moving out. I asked the woman from the Planning Department about trucks and trailers parked endlessly on the street. She said unfortunately that is not an issue she can address. She repeated the same thing I was told by the parking department: Vehicles have to be moved every 72 hours. So it seems I’m left with only one option and that is to call the parking control people every time they dump something on the street.

Like I said, it’s a partial victory. I’m hoping that once the business leaves they will eventually find it an inconvenience to keep equipment on the street here. I’m going to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks before I do anything else. I’ll let them get the business out and see if they take the junk with them. After that if there is still a bunch of junk on the street I will contact someone else higher up the chain in the Parking Control division of the Police Dept and find out if there is more I can do about stuff being stored on the street.

The real question at this point is just how stupid are these guys? Can I expect more retaliation besides Nissans, rats, and “corned beef”. I think I’m going to head to Radio Shack and see about a cheap surveillance camera I can hook up to my VCR. I think I can expect more stuff from them but I honestly don’t think they are willing to risk serious jail time to get back at me. I still have some more of this storm to weather, but I can’t say at this time just how bad it will get.


Gary said...

Two pieces of advice. Make sure your homeowners insurance is paid and coverage is adequate. Then see if you can find out what their federal business ID # is or a social security # because I'm sure a letter to the IRS would cause a series of yearly audits.....
I know. I'm evil. Nobody messes with me though.

Mike said...

Some more advice:

Start a spreadsheet and document every time you call the cops about parking, or anything else related to them. It can be really handy to have an objective record of violations.

When the idiots in a rental next to our old place wouldn't stop having loud parties and the landlord wouldn't do anything I started calling the cops to ticket their illegally parked cars. When the landlord went to the board of adjustment a year later to try to increase occupancy of the two units, I showed up with a spreadsheet documenting 115 tickets in the previous year. The board denied the request.

Like Gary I have a somewhat evil side!

Gary said...

I should add that that "Deliverance" movie banjo music can be faintly heard here in the midwest. Maybe it's the whole rat thing that triggered it. How low will these boys stoop. Wait, let me guess. A hamster maybe?
You should stick a couple of sheep in their yard with signs on them that say "For stress relief only". See if the get the humor....
I'm a sick puppy and I know it....

JS said...

YOu could consider a private lawsuit. I am not a licensed CA atty, but in many places you could sue for breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, nuisance (a private right of action sometimes) or trespass (noise). Damages could be monetary or injunctive (probably better for you). Injunctive relief would give you leverage with this problem, as you could invoke the police to help as well as large fines for contempt (for violation of injunction)

John said...

Good documentation is your friend.

Keep notes, a spreadsheet, or whatever works best for you. Keep a log of everything that happens no matter how insignificant it seems (calls to the city, the police, etc). And, keep the names of everyone one you talk with, when you talked to them, what the conversation was about, et cetera.

And take photos, lots and lots of photos.

We got into a long running fight with one of our landlords five or six years ago. Since we kept records of everything and took lots of photos, we blew them out of the water. Of course it took them three years to settle it with us, but everyone needs a hobby, right?

HomeImprovementNinja said...

Good work. I also agree that you should keep a notebook and take pics whenever possible.

Maybe I'm biased b/c I am a lawyer, but "papering the file" is always really helpful in making your case.

Ms. P in Jackson said...


You seem to be quite computer-savvy so why not invest in cheapo computer cam(s) and aim at the areas in question. You can even buy an inexpensive or used PC to do nothing but record and catalog what the camera(s) catch. x-10 has some good deals for this type thing. Wouldn't it be a hoot to catch these b*stards in the act?

Litcritter said...

Many digital cameras have a setting that will take a photo every X minutes (or seconds or whatever) until the card fills up. Might be easier than the VCR thing.

StuccoHouse said...

lol...a dead rat? Was there a little noose tied around it's neack and a joker card in its little pocket? The funny thing is you know he pulled that dead rodent out of his own property. I'm sure one of those sons laid awake at night thinking that one up.

Don't let it take over your life. Do what you can. Photo what you can (if not just to post to your blog for our amusement (and yours later when all of this is funny to you.) Imagine the hits you'd get with a photo of a dead rat on the hood of your car!)

Jocelyn said...

Well, I hope you're not losing sleep over them because people like that are not worth it. How distressing- but they are so over the top to be laughable.

I agree with everyone's comments about the documentation.

I'm sure you'll be relieved when they are gone. When we had a crackhead prostitute living in the apt. building near us and she and her hooligan friends would hang out in front of the building and she'd walk by and say things to me like, "I'm the one who picked your tulips- so you can spray me (with my garden hose)" - I'd just think to myself, "You're not going to last here but I'm going to be here a very long time and I can call the police on you every night if I have to and you will be gone." And, of course in a few months she was gone. Not to be unkind, but good usually prevails- it just takes time.