Friday, July 27, 2007

The Torrance Hoi Palloi

It's about time.

The Torrance Planning Commission is finally addressing construction hours in Torrance.

Unlike other South Bay cities, Torrance allows construction for 13 hours a day, seven a week. Imagine the glorious sounds of jackhammers, diesel trucks and really loud power tools wafting into your home everyday, all day, from 7 in the morning to 8 at night. Yup, it's legal to hammer in the morning, evening and all over this land on Christmas, New Years and all the other 363 days.

In Susan's perfect world scenario, any construction in Torrance would be limited to 8 hours per day, a shorter day on Saturday, and no construction on Sunday or holidays.

For those of you not familiar with what occurs during a Torrance Planning meeting, I would recommend you attend at least one. At the very least, you should visit the online minutes of those meetings. What you will find is Torrance is a bit of an Animal Farm - everyone is created equal, but some are more equal than others, and pigs run things here too.

If you live where the Hillside Ordinance is in effect, you can't build a birdhouse on your property without the approval of every human living within 4 city blocks, and special dispensation from the pope. This ordinance is reponsible for at least 90% of the hot air expunged during the bi-monthly Planning Commission meetings where the public can attend.

If you live in the HO, the commission and your previously amicable neighbors dictate where your new windows should be located, how big they should be, and whether they need to be clear or opaque. Your blueprints and plans are scrutinized as seriously as a proctologist examines a diseased colon.

A neighbor you've never seen will inform the commission that your planned balcony will constitute an eyesore because he can see it through his bathroom window while standing on his toilet. Commissioners will tour your neighborhood, take 8 x 10 glossies, and peruse the site with a dedication usually reserved for archeological digs in the Holy Land.

You will need to build a tinker-toy framework simulating the new construction so your neighbors and anyone driving by knows you have more money and equity than they do.

Do NOT expect this consideration if you live outside this surreal environ. The proverbial rubber stamp of approval is good enough for the Great Unwashed, otherwise known as the other 95% of the city. Commissioner Horwich leads the charge with relish, approving giant McMansions designed in the Lego/Monopoly Hotel style of architecture, across giant swaths of unsuspecting non-HO Torrance, his curmudeonly hands dispelling any doubt that ugly is alive and well, and about to be erected behind your home, with his gummy grimace of approval.

So, we're about to be thrown a bone. The commission is considering a recommendation to shorten the hours of construction. Perhaps we should be thankful and burn incense.

Better yet, write to the city council, the mayor, and most certainly, the planning commission TODAY.

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