Neighbors, Drainage, AirBnB and Guns: Part 1

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Recently there was an article in Bloomberg about the many efforts of AirBNB to silence any reports of crimes committed at properties listed through them.

That provided me with a key bit of intel as to why we never heard anything about the events of the evening of February 21, 2021.

But I’m getting ahead of the story…let me back up a bit.

Here’s a map to start you off.

We are the blue dot.

The callouts are pretty self explanatory, but they give a good idea of how things are laid out, although you can’t really get a feel for the changes in elevations.

Here’s a basic breakdown of each label.

  • The “Overgrazed and Gross Pens” are where the problem goats, sheep, cows and mule came from back when we first moved here. We’ll come back to that property shortly.
  • The Next Nearest and Nearest Neighbors are just that….they share the very first “top” bit of our driveway and have a small additional easement to get to their properties.
  • Then there is the area marked “Trash Animal Pens.” This area has actually seen HUGE improvement in the handful of years since I first wrote about the manure and garbage issues. A change in owners resulted in new problems, but some new fencing eventually solved those new problems and on top of that the new owners recently did a big trash cleanup and the area while still not great, is so much tidier.
  • The “Tibetan Buddhist Center” moved in up here 6 months ago. They bought what I call “Crazy Mary’s old house”. I’ll start with that property before I get to the truly scary stuff.

So Mary is a woman who has lived up here since the mid 1980s. Divorced since the early 2000s, she and her browbeaten son lived up the hill from us. She has a drain at the end of her driveway for stormwater only the drain doesn’t work. On top of that, when the house across the road from her was built (most people up here refer to that residence as “The Old Aldon Smith House” since the NFL player owned it for a number of years and it became infamous because of the party that involved gunfire and Smith being stabbed) county mandated that a concrete swale be created along the south edge of Crazy Mary’s property to provide drainage and divert water into the creek to the north.

Mary allowed the swale to be blocked off and to fill with debris.

This means the water just sheets down the road (keep in mind the grade is very steep) and all that water runs past our driveway and pools in spot just above the word “overgrazed” in the top image. Then the water eventually flows down the hillside where it has carved a small canyon out of the hillside.

These shots below are were taken from the lower road looking up — the spot just to the left of the circle labeled “overgrazed”.

The water coming down this gully then runs down the road on the left side of the top image (Higuera Rd) and the super ironic factoid is that it flooded out the first house on the left side of that road. Why is that ironic? Because that house is also owned by Mary.

Now let’s jump to late 2018. I’d just started trying to roll the boulder that is getting people ready, willing and able to help address issues with our small road system, as it’s a private road which means no government entity is responsible for maintaining it and its up to the residents to do so. Since the great repaving project back in 1999 almost nothing had been done. So I gathered a handful of residents and we started talking about what to do.

One of the ideas was to unblock the swale to try to stop the water and mud that oozed from the freshly made gully. So one weekend a couple of other residents made some cuts and put in form work planning to go back the next day to pour concrete. When they went back up the next day however, Mary had pulled the form work out, and then I received an “anonymous” letter.

Yep, you are reading that typed, unsigned letter on the left correctly. The other papers she included detail the issues our poor neighbor, who has to deal with the pooling water, has had to face. Mary reported him to county for the issue she herself has caused — and she won’t own up to the fact that she is actually responsible because she blocked the swale and allowed it fall into disrepair.

Here’s an additional video showing not only that the proper drainage path is blocked by a small landslide but that a tractor cab is buried and would need to be extricated to restore proper drainage. Bonus points if your eyes spot the wandering coyote!

I know this “letter” was from Mary because shortly after receiving it in our box (hand delivered by her son probably) I received an email message saying Mary wanted to meet with me. Not surprising I was pretty much the public face of the ad-hoc road group. I did not want to go by myself and one of the other members offered to go with me, but Mary (via her son) insisted it just be me.

This is the summary of the visit I sent out after my visit.

In other news I visited Mary this morning.  

It was awful.  

I have never ever been spoken to in such a vile, horrible manner.  I did try to record the conversation but my device failed me.  Suffice to say every other word spit from her mouth was "Shutup!”  Attempts to reason with her, cajole her, just let her vent and even explaining that I’m one of the only people on the hill willing to try to work/deal with her were to no avail.    

Mary wants everything to be put back to the way it was before Richard paved the area to the left of his house, but trying to explain how impossible that task is AND that we have to work with what we have (ie the existing gutter, plans to divert water via drainage out to Flink Creek, etc) was impossible.  

After about twenty minutes I walked away.  Her son Doug is resigned to her behavior.

Also, I glanced at what was cut as I drove up the road to visit Mary and we are going to have to revisit the geometry/layout.  What was done is not optimal.

I’m now going to try to recover my sanity.

I did leave out the bit where Mary actually threatened to shoot me at some point in the future. Considering she in her late 70s and was wearing a house coat with curlers in her hair — think of a really really angry Mrs. Roper — I was able to mostly shake off her threats.

But wait there is more to the story….Mary put the house above us up for sale a year ago. It sat on the market for a couple of months and then she started reducing the price. It finally sold at the end of last year and the buyers are a bunch of Tibetan Monks known as Barom Kagyu Choe Khor Ling. Mary then moved down into the house that she flooded out: I’m assuming repairs were made.

Apparently the monks have grand plans for the property as there is currently a pre-screening application in front of county to build a small ADU, a secondary garage, and then a five-thousand square foot “event center” building. In the mean time they’ve installed some flag poles and some gazeboes with a fence. And I must say for a group that states “We are committed to creating harmonious environments and to bring peace, compassion, wisdom, and loving kindness to all beings,” the amount of light pollution coming from their place is annoying….just ask our owls.

I honestly cannot make this stuff up….and all of this is just part of the craziness. Next up….the story I meant to tell of AirBnB and guns.

And that row of lights visible above the glow of our garage lights….that’s the light pollution I’m talking about.

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