Think Community and Grow It

By Eric Ahlberg

Let’s face it you dumpster diving bohemians, you are in a hot property market, millions of investment dollars are aimed ousting you and putting up a monster mansion in the place of your humble abodes where the dudes and dudettes abide. Investment-hungry politicians are not much help, they are lobbied and they lobby where they can, with a handshake and careful campaign donation, without the slightest smell of quid pro quo, until the connections are drawn by their actions.
The Canals became a hot market after the canal reconstruction. Some of my friends had lived there for 40 or more years, in their little bungalows, nearly overgrown with plants. They were very upset by the reconstruction project because each parcel was burdened with a portion of the cost. Now they are best friends with people who live in the 3 story monsters, because, hey, monsters can be your friend. Scarier than monsters however are the ghost mansions.  Owned, but rarely or never lived in. Somebody with too much money just not caring wether a house lives in a community, or it is dead.
Tearing down bungalows and building monster mansions, in addition to driving up density and blocking views, is a great burden to the neighbors. Construction noise, debris and traffic in an area without street parking. There is already street congestion on Dell during commuting hours, and often on the weekends, sometimes tour buses.  Summer weekends get worse, and hot summer weekends with beach-day radio promotion make traffic in the Canals even worst. There is only one way in and one way out.
When three adjacent lots around the corner from Deborah Groening’s house came up for sale, she purchased them, to keep them from being turned into monster mansions. She has recruited and hired her neighbors to help her rebuild the three lots into an art enclave, bungalow guest house, music studio, fire pit. She digs through the grungy artifacts to find ways to re-purpose them. So Deborah you are my exemplary community angel for honoring and valuing a beautiful community, and for knowing that it is all about the people who live here.
Bookending Deborah’s three lots are two monster mansions. The first, SE corner of Linnie Canal and Dell, is a three-story metal and glass and concrete monstrosity and 100% exhibitionist. It has been under construction for 10 years, unoccupied. With such a giant jerk-off of a house, somebody should be exposing themselves in it. Every house is a story, beginning with its design and ending in its demolition. Why waste a house? Who can afford to just drag this project out for 10 years? At the East end of the three lots is a big three story white stucco box, also unoccupied. Since tear-downs sell for $2M now, the affordability goes to the housing rich, because if you are really in the big money, you just can’t own too many houses in hot markets. Maybe you’ll visit it someday.
So look Dicks, see the free market in action, driving the cutthroat wars of the dollars, wasting, wasting, wasting. Then look again, that the spirit of a community lives in its commons.

By Sam Clay, Suzy Williams, and Eric Ahlberg
Sing to the tune of Day-O

Demo, De-e-e-e-e mo
Bulldozers come and they flatten your home.
Demo, De-e-e-e-e mo
Developer come and a taka you home.

End of month comes your money is spent
Developer come and a taka you home
Landlord comes and he raises your rent
Developer come and a taka you home

1 floor 2 floor 3 floors more!
Developer come and a taka you home
why one family when we can fit 4
Developer come and a taka you home

six foot seven foot eight foot fence
Developer come and a taka you home
Maka more traffic and maka more dense
Developer come and a taka you home

Knock down a craftsman, make a stucco box
Developer come and a taka you home
close all de alleys and put on de locks
Developer come and taka your home

Well the people get together gonna shut them down
Daylight come we’re gonna own this town
We are fighting to save it, because it’s our town
Developer gone because we say “No More!”

Developer gone because we say “No More!”

Eric - Canal Px


Above: part of Deborah Groening’s three new lots – future home of a stage

Eric - Canal Px2

Above: part of Deborah Groening’s three new lots – future home of a garden

Eric Ahlberg - Canals px3

Above: unoccupied eye-sore monstrosity – NOBODY wants to live in one of these!

Eric Ahlberg - Canals px4Above: under construction for the past ten years, unoccupied

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