Sunday, August 14, 2016

Living In The Twilight Zone

[“Let Inga Tell You,” La Jolla Light, published August 17, 2016] ©2016 
I’ve written before about living in a house in the twilight zone. I’m still trying to figure out if we’d have to disclose this if we ever sell. The house was built in 1947 so you’d think that the city would have caught on by now that it’s here. But several city databases – Environmental Services (trash pickup) and Transportation Services (public transit) still maintain there is no such address.  I could accept this except that the San Diego County Tax Assessor’s Office knows exactly where we are.
It’s a quirky address. I get it. The next door neighbor to the south has a different street name. The houses directly to the east and north of me have yet another street name. For a while last year, the Post Office had the five houses on my street that have the same street name on three different postal routes.  (The only reason our water hasn’t been turned off is that we can now pay most bills on line.) But I’ll save the Post Office issues for a ten-part series in the future.
One thing that has become clear to me over the 43 years I’ve lived in this house: every city or county agency has its own database that does not communicate with any other city or county database.
Why would some databases have our address and others not? My husband Olof thinks he has cracked the code.  Agencies that want money from us know where we live. Agencies providing services to us don’t.
What’s even more annoying is that agencies who do not have your address in their database will not add it just on your say-so. The order has to come from Above. (Note: Sending them a copy of your property tax bill does not count as Above.)
For the Transportation Services database, I don’t even bother fighting with them.  If I want to know a bus schedule, I just plug in a neighbor’s address. But Environmental Services (garbage pickup) is another ball of trash, er, wax, especially in the summer time when they have relief crews doing pickups. For one whole summer, they missed our trash every single week.
I really thought we had that sorted out until our trash pickup was missed again recently. Calling them is at least a half hour on hold. The recording advises you to make your missed trash pickup complaint on their website.  So imagine my dismay when I typed in our address only to get the following:
Your address was not found in our database. You may return to the previous page using the back button on your browser to modify your address and then re-submit the form.
What is an even bigger mystery is that for most of the 43 years I’ve lived here, they’ve been picking up our trash at an address they say doesn’t exist. How does that happen?  Are they just driving by and say, “Look, Joe, a trash can. We probably ought to empty it.”  The summer sub crews, however, might be following an address map.  So when they see our trash bin sitting out at the curb they say, “Nope, not on our list! Sorry!”
Miraculously they picked up our trash again the next week. But efforts to get a reply to numerous emails from the Environmental Services people have been for naught.
Of course, what really concerned me after the most recent trash non-pickup episode was whether the emergency people had our address in their database. I called the police department’s non-emergency line.
Inga: I want to make sure that my address is listed in the city’s emergency database.
Operator: Why wouldn’t it be?
Inga: Well, even though the house has been here for almost 70 years, the trash people don’t have it listed in theirs.
Operator (annoyed): We’re not associated with the trash people.
Inga: I just don’t want to have an emergency and find out that our address is not in your database.  Could you confirm that you have this address?
Operator: You’d have to call 911 to be sure.
Inga:  I don’t really want to call 911 if I don’t have an actual emergency. Could you check to see if the police department has this address in its database?
Operator: Um, yup, we have it.
Inga: So that means that 911 will have it too, right?
Operator: Not necessarily. 
I truly am not exaggerating about this twilight zone thing. We have a rogue streetlight on our corner, for example, that both SD G&E and the city claim no knowledge of. Not on any of their maps, both parties say.
So, real estate agent readers, is the admission that your house only exists on some dimensional planes a required disclosable? That trash pickup doesn’t happen when Mercury is in retrograde? Inquiring minds want to know.

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