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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.

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shizzyfinn Sept. 26, 2009 @ 6:21 p.m.

Glad to hear the unsightly fence got taken care of. But I'm still intrigued by the article's first sentence: "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."

Only in America, perhaps, could a two-bedroom apartment quickly become too small for a married couple. What filled the place up? Unnecessary gifts from the wedding registry? Stacks of DVDs, each DVD watched only once? Rarely used exercise equipment? Decorative pillows?


David Dodd Sept. 26, 2009 @ 6:36 p.m.

Alternative beginnings include:

"Like most middle-class American newlyweds, we spent our first year living in my mother-in-law's garage."

"Like most middle-class American newlyweds, we spent our first year sleeping in the park, swatting away the winos, saving coupons."

"Like most middle-class American newlyweds, we spent our first year contemplating divorce, because the stupid bastard couldn't hold down a job."

The variables are mind-boggling, Shizz ;)


rickeysays Sept. 26, 2009 @ 11:12 p.m.

Shizzy, nice observations on the Walmart-shopping average American: "Stacks of DVDs, each DVD watched only once? Rarely used exercise equipment? Decorative pillows?" It's what passes for wealth in today's society. Accumulating unnecessary "stuff". One might add the item bought off the TV after the infomercial convinced you you had to have it, then used once and forgotten.


JohnInCalifornia Sept. 25, 2009 @ 7:58 a.m.

Bryant, The big question I have is how does Kaiser Permanente, a purported not-for-profit, justify owning this land? Last I heard, Kaiser was in the business of [denying] healthcare, and not using its member premium dollars to acquire land in residential areas and then dedicating it to "wildlife and environmental preservation."

It now makes me wonder how many other tracts of land Kaiser has acquired and then let sit dormant. It's a very curious practice for a not-for-profit purported to be using the revenue (and tax exemption) it receives to serve the needs of its members.


PistolPete Sept. 25, 2009 @ 10:25 a.m.

This is the Whale's Vagina,John. Didn't you know? Corruption is a part of the charm of living in a resort town. Do as Kaiser says,not as they do....Afterall,our furry friends need a place to thrive. Someday,when all is forgotten,Kaiser will sell that land to a developer friend and recieve a huge kickback.


Bryant_Le Sept. 25, 2009 @ 1:37 p.m.

Well - there's definitely some cash laying around. Keep in mind, this is the 2006 era before the great recession.


rickeysays Sept. 25, 2009 @ 6:39 p.m.

Only Pete could turn something positive in SD into something negative. You have a private foundation holding land "dedicated to wildlife and environmental preservation", and when approached by neighbors about making an investment to beautify the area, they cooperate and spend the money. Seems like everybody wins to me. Maybe Pete would have liked it better if you'd had to pay off the planning commissioner to get the permits, then the owner of the fence company skimmed off the top, as the Kaiser rep took a kickback. remind you of home, Pete?


PistolPete Sept. 25, 2009 @ 9:10 p.m.

At least in Chicago EVERYONE admits the corruption. By the looks of that piece of land,I wouldn't exactly call it Wild Animal Park Jr. And John made a very legitimate point about Kaiser.


whyigotahaveid Oct. 1, 2009 @ 11:33 a.m.

typical , people moving into a neighborhood and then decide things are supposed to be changed. like the fools that bought next to mira mar n decide they dont want the jets /helicopters flying around. or as in san marcos . the egg ranch dosnt belong here santee . las colinas . san diego abutts mexico but cant have mexicans around here.


CuddleFish Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:01 p.m.

I have made a similar point about the people who buy apartments or condos downtown and object to the noise, whyigotahaveid, I'm like, ooookaaaaay, that makes sense.

Agree with the comments about the typical newlywed couple, "typical?" Reminds me of Bush in the supermarket.

By the way, as to those people who gave up after 13 months: Tell them to move down here and ask for anything. Maybe their grandchildren will live to see it happen.

Okay, off my "not grasping the concept" rant, just want to add that's a beautiful fence and glad Kaiser made it happen.


PistolPete Oct. 1, 2009 @ 12:03 p.m.

The ones that make me laugh are the train whistle complainers.


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