Monday, August 13, 2007

We're a Nuisance!

Permit Update
Dan has been spending every spare minute he's not at work down at the planning office trying to get things sorted out for the foundation permits. We're still hung up on the deck/landing in the back. The city is going to make us get the back deck 'amnestied.' That means we get to pay all the fees that would be due if we built the deck today, plus some penalty fees, and some fee fees, and some fees on the fees. To prove when the deck was built, we had to go get letters from neighbors stating when they remembered it being built. This week an inspector from the city will come by and inspect the deck and tell us how screwed we are. He can just sign off on it as-is (not very likely), tell us to upgrade a couple of things, or (this is my favorite) make us tear the whole thing out and turn it into basically a back stair/landing only. Funny thing was, EVERY person we talked to said the same thing: "The city built that deck!" But there's apparently no record of that, and since Leroy isn't around to testify (and the shady contractor who built it didn't leave his card: want an illegal deck? just call me!!), this is what we have to do. It's been a nice excuse to chat with the neighbors, and everyone has stories about our house, and especially about Leroy.

Tales of Leroy
Our next-door neighbor called up a friend on the city council because he thought it was silly for us to be jumping through all these hoops when all anyone wanted was for us to fix up this house.. his friend didn't have much info on the deck, but she brought by these 2 old articles from The Alameda Journal! The 2nd one isn't dated, but seems to have been from the week after the 1st.

The saddest part of the condition of the house is that poor Leroy lived like that for so long, rats and rotting food and all. We love how the building inspector in the article notes the "powerful stench" from a lack of sanitation and decomposing food. And that "debris was piled more than five feet high on all three floors of the house." But Leroy apparently was very active.. he went to the senior center for lunch every day, and in the evenings would "hit the bars, talking up the ladies." Although the house is legally a triplex, he lived here alone for 30 years after his wife died.

In addition to all the stuff in the house, Leroy filled the block with classic cars. Neighbors say you could always tell which cars were his, because "they looked like they were held together with chewing gum," and they were filled to brim with stuff. A couple people told us they thought he had only one battery for his dozen cars, and would walk down the street, battery in hand, when he wanted to drive a different car!

Another tale we heard of Leroy, was that about 10 or 15 years ago a "friend" of his kidnapped him, and was holding him hostage in exchange for Leroy signing over the house! And a couple people told us of a different time when a "big guy" sat out on the porch for a couple days because he thought the house was going to be his. The police had to escort the guy off the premises. Apparently in the past, three different people thought that they were going to con-vince Leroy to sign the house over to them. It's kinda crappy all these local people who were trying to take advantage of the poor old guy. It makes us wonder if there are still some shady characters lurking about with a grudge against us or the house because they think that the place should be theirs.

Everyone in the neighborhood has a story about the house, and about Leroy. And everyone is excited that we're living here and working on fixing it up. Now if we could just get started, everyone would be happy!


Kitt said...

What a sad history.

amy said...

I'm wondering how something built before you bought the house is your responsibility. It doesn't seem right.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Amy,
Yea its not our fault but if we want to get any new permits approved its going to be our responsibility to bring the deck up to's the zoning thing that worries me. If they are going to be sticklers about it they will make us tear it up and turn it into a landing...

Tish said...

Leroy sounds like a classic Alameda character. That's one of the reasons I love Alameda. You can talk about someone you don't know and just begin to describe them and everyone will know who you mean and has a million stories about them. It's too bad about all the crap you have to go through just to build a darn deck. I'm starting to get worried for when we tackle our front stairs and porch.