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09/11/2003 Entry: "No Fencing"

Well, I don't want to talk about 9/11, but my previous prediction this week would suck has so far proven untrue. Sure, it's been interesting...

My house is behind a shopping center. I think I have said that before. It goes like this: back of house -> back yard -> a row of juniper trees -> slope -> alley -> the back of the Ross store. "Wait," some of you may say, "didn't you have a fence in there somewhere?" Yes. Yes I did. Did. Well, a few months ago, we got a certified letter from Combined Properties, Inc., the company that owns the shopping center (up to an including the juniper trees) that said they were sick of repairing the fence (trucks kept backing into it, and it was nearly demolished during the last big snow when snowplows piled snow against it), so they were going to make some serious changes.

Now, the properties along the back alley don't all have a fence. Half of them have a huge brick wall, which I would LOVE, but they aren't going to replace the fence with a brick wall. Instead, they are going to dig into the slope about 10 feet, and put up a shadowbox fence (now it's just a tall closed picket design). They said they would call us and let us know. Well, of course, they didn't. And to make matters stranger, they did it last night in the middle of the night. We never saw or heard them, but this morning, just before we let the dogs out ... there was no fence! Good thing CR saw this before he let out the dogs, because they would have just run off into the alley, barking at cars and delivery guys.

Our hope is they replace the fence fairly quickly. My fear is they will mess up the juniper trees (or cut them down, nooooo!!!) or damage the small chain-link fence that separates us from the neighbors. The chain link fence is apparently "part of the neighborhood property," according to their letter, and will not be removed, but will be cut back. Their theory is, if they dig into the slope by ten feet and put up the fence back ten feet from the current curb, trucks won't back into it. I seriously doubt this will stop accidents. But maybe they'll put up those metal tubes filled with cement like the currently have around gas and utility meters back there. Who knows.

I don't have much faith in Combined Properties. Why? Because I used to work in their shopping centers, back when the Haft empire owned them. Now maybe things have changed since 1989, but one of their major problems was they outsourced everything to the cheapest contractors. And it was not done intelligently: there was no general contractor. Outsourcing to multiple companies in itself isn't dumb, but having no GC to manage all of this is very dumb. Like when I managed a Crown Books, a warehouse truck backed into our sign, we had one guy who did the sign work, another guy who did the neon in the sign, another guy who did electricity behind the sign, another guy who had access to the shopping center roof, another guy who handled the store electricity, another guy who did the store sign timer ... and so on. The total was like 8 guys, all from different companies, none of whom knew each other, working to fix the sign. It took over nine months from crash to fix. For nine months we were "Crow ooks." A few months after I left, another warehouse guy crashed into the sign, and the store became "Cr n oks." It was like that for over a year. Birds nested in the broken letters over the spring. The funny punchline? My store got fined every week for having a broken sign. By Combined Properties. Who also owned Crown Books. Finally I said to the guy (a guy would show up with a clipboard and yell at us), "Look, we all have the SAME BOSS! You tell HIM to pay it." We never paid it.

Gees, I hope they actually replace the fence without too much damage.

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