Like most middle-class American newlyweds, we spent our first year in a cozy two-bedroom apartment that quickly grew too small for both of us. Around the turn of the millennium, my wife and I entertained the idea of owning a home. Our home-buying experience met some tough challenges but ended with satisfaction.
It’s a two-story corner-lot home with a sizable front and back yard in a peaceful and quiet neighborhood. Other homeowners were great and the community was fabulous, but the unsightly fence at the corner of the street was unattractive, to say the least. New to this side of town, my wife and I tried to accept it, as my immediate neighbors had.
One morning, after a few miserable years staring at the chainlink fence and the concrete lane barriers on the other side of it, I decided I’d present a proposal to the city council requesting an aesthetic amendment to the property’s perimeter.
Sooner than expected, I received a welcoming email from the office of San Diego city council member Brian Maienschein (termed out in 2008). According to Maienschein’s office, the department that oversaw the property in question was the open-space division of Parks and Recreation. Further investigation, however, revealed that this property did not belong to the city but to the Kaiser Foundation, and the area was dedicated to wildlife and environmental preservation.
The councilman and his staff helped us in communicating with the Kaiser Foundation’s director of community relations/government affairs as well as the land use manager. The initial conversations were promising -- they were personable and attentive to our concern. We were pleased with their plans and proposals as well. Negotiation was our next step. My goal was to get as many of our neighbors involved as possible. Surprisingly, it was quite easy.
We began our petitioning process with emails and phone calls to both the city and Kaiser Permanente. We also shared with Kaiser sample images and suggestions for the future fence. Kaiser’s initial proposal was to replace the chainlink fence with a black vinyl one and add landscaping stones along with plants/shrubs on the outer side of the fence. We held a meeting of our own and agreed that this was not much of an upgrade. Kaiser ultimately agreed to upgrade their plan to a wrought-iron fence.
A few days later, we learned that the budget had allowed for a wrought-aluminum fence -- much more durable than wrought iron. After further discussion, Kaiser agreed to add keystone fixtures along the outside of the fence.
The implementation phase did not go full throttle until the 13th month of this ordeal. A few neighbors lost faith along the way. Around the 4th of July, I drove home one afternoon and found that the unattractive concrete lane barriers on the inside of the fence were no longer there.
After 19 months of anticipation, the end result was worth the wait! Many neighbors say there’s no doubt that their property values have gone up. Other neighbors say they’ll spend more time in their front yards.