[This piece was published in San Diego Magazine.]
When I tell people I live in the La Jolla Triangle they usually think I’m referring to the Golden Triangle area encompassing the University Towne Center mall and surrounding business complex. No, the Triangle where I’ve lived for thirty-five years is more of the Bermuda variety where, as my friend Barbara says, “ships, planes and municipal services mysteriously disappear”.
We got our first inkling that there were some anomalies with our location soon after my former husband and I moved in and called 911 to report an accident in front of our house. The police dispatcher called back ten minutes later to clarify the information as, she said, “there is no such address”.
As it turned out, four of our neighbors’ homes were AWOL as well. Most of our street of 4-digit addresses meanders along on the west side of La Jolla Boulevard but inexplicably skips some 5100 numbers when it crosses, marooning five houses with 3-digit addresses on the east side.
It wasn’t only the fire department that was a little hazy on the whereabouts of these 1947-era homes. The regular mail carriers knew where we were but the substitutes would routinely return any three digit-numbered mail to sender as undeliverable, resulting in unpaid bills, DMV fines for expired registrations, shredded bank statements, and unanswered invitations. (Our mortgager expressed dismay when their communications to us were returned with the address stamped “nonexistent”.) Calls to the post office would only temporarily sort it out; in that era, the La Jolla Postmaster position seemed to have a higher turnover than the swing shift at Burger King.
Our own problems were further compounded by the fact that there was an unoccupied vacation home on the west side of La Jolla Boulevard which contained our three digits in the same sequence. Both the postal carriers and UPS (at the time, even less able to find our home than their public counterpart) were notorious for writing a fourth digit in front of our house number and abandoning our mail at the vacation home whose owners would kindly return it to us once a year. It was like Christmas in July.
When my husband and I divorced after ten years in the house, I had to ask myself: Did he just want his mail?
It didn’t help, of course, that the house across the street from us, built at the same time and whose front door and driveway faced ours, is deemed to be on a different street, as is the one kitty corner to us. How some houses on our street came to be assigned to one street and others seemingly randomly to another remains, in my view, one of the Great Unsolved Address Mysteries of all time.
Episodes of lost mail might still be occurring except for the fact after a two year spate with only substitute carriers on our route, my second husband received a Final Notice from the fund company handling his IRA that since their three previous communications had been returned as undeliverable, his retirement account was being turned over to the state as abandoned. The sheer force of ballistic energy from our house could have fueled a missile to Mars – or more likely, a direct hit into our postal substation. Less than a week later, the Regional Postmaster had changed our route to connect it with the west side, and promised us a regular mail carrier, a really terrific guy who we’ve now had for some years.
But would that it were just the mail. Neither SD G&E nor the city of San Diego will lay claim to the street light in front of our house. Eerily, both insist that there IS no street light in front of our house. (Cue Twilight Zone music here.) Fortunately, it only goes out every few years.
And just when I thought that after thirty-five years and the advent of GPS locators our sixty-one year old house could finally acquire its rightful place on a map, our trash pickup suddenly ceased this summer. Just ours, not any of the neighbors. Unlike most of the blocks in our neighborhood which come in nice rectangular shapes, the end of our block is rounded with our house on the tip and – count ‘em – five thoroughfares coming together at the end of location our driveway. Backing out on a foggy morning has always been a leap of faith, but that’s another article. After the fourth missed pickup, my new best friend, the La Jolla sanitation supervisor, revealed that routes in our area had been reconfigured and that somehow, given our quirky address and our at the hub of so many streets, we’d dropped off the grid. But even the truck he’d sent back out to pick up our trash several days later returned empty handed. “Where ARE you?” he queried into my voice mail.
So at this point, we’re very (very) clear why the previous owners moved. But what about us: if we ever sell, do we have to disclose that our mail service is iffy, trash pickup sporadic, the streetlight a phantom, and pizza delivery a mere wishful fantasy? Does real estate law have a “Black Hole Rule”? And since half our neighbors are deemed to be on a different street anyway, could the new folks choose?
In the meantime, we suggest that low flying aircraft steer clear.
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