The Deal with the Devil: Part 1 — The Dirt

Or perhaps this post should be titled, Santa Clara County Planning Department should not be run as a revenue generating department especially when it is so broken and understaffed.

Yes….it’s one of those posts, or series of posts really, as things in this county are BAD.

But I digress, I have a story to tell, so I will get on with it.

Jumping back three and half years in time….cue the Wayne’s World “do lee do” bit.

One day I was sitting at the computer in my office and noticed a great number of dump trucks heading up the hill. A few dozen went up, so I decided to see what was up. I hopped in the mini-truck and drove up the road. There are only six developed parcels up there, so it wasn’t going to be hard to figure out where the trucks were going.

Soon enough I found out that trucks were delivering dirt to the second-to-the-last property, for what reason I had no idea, but curiosity satisfied I started back down towards home.

On my way back down the hill, I was stopped by this guy. His name is Joe Mitcham and he explained he was living out here doing contract work as he’s originally from Arizona. It was this individual that was responsible for the trucks moving all the dirt up the place past us.

He stated that in return for providing a site for the dirt, some repairs and repaving would be made to sections of the road above our place. I mentioned that I was part of an effort to start figuring out how to repair and repave some sections of the road system and he suggested we talk.

That talk led to the rest of the volunteers wanting to meet with him, so he attended a couple of our wee meetings. He stated that if we had other sites that could take in some fill, the company moving the dirt would be willing to send up some asphalt and paving equipment and crews to resurface the roads.

Eventually it was decided that making use of such an offer to get the cut through renovated (which was detailed in the last post) would be a good thing. In addition, Agent Smith and I made the decision to take in fill to fix the problem that we called our own little Pit of Sarlacc.

You can read about the pit via the link above, but suffice to say it was indeed a pit. Created when the road was built, it was, according to the children who grew up here, an area where water would pond. Meaning rain water would collect and than go stagnant. This, along with the cuts in the hillside created an erosion problem and since the original driveway to our place was up through the pasture containing the pit, it eventually led to the creation of the road our place is now accessed from.

I wrote about the two road/address issue five or so years ago, but for new readers here is the pertinent bit cut and pasted from that earlier post.

"This being Purgatory, we actually have two addresses as the property sits between two roads.  The lower road is considered the road we live on by the county and you can technically get to the house from the bottom gate, but only if you like treacherous steep and dusty hikes or you are a goat.  Our actual driveway and our actual postal address are off the high road.  This is the road that the Doc who built our house is responsible for (as in he had a big earth moving apparatus he liked to play with and one day, he made the road–although it probably took him longer than a day, but you get the point.)  And please don’t do what I just did and start singing “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond”. Although my favorite arrangement of that song was in the 1944 movie _Bathing Beauty_."

So, we had a somewhat unstable hillside, a nasty pit, ponding water in the rainy seasons and lot of subsidence near the road edge. We figured taking in some fill would help. And it did…tremendously. The only problem was that we had unknowingly made a deal with the devil.

More about the repercussions of that deal in the coming posts.

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