Opinion: Pet Peeves

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Sea Wall

By Mark Crantz

A Victoria Beach family took sheltering in place very seriously. They did a remodel to their beachfront property that included a sea wall. The Coastal Commission fined the family for not building the sea wall properly. The fine for incorrect sheltering in place was $1 million. That’s a lot of clams. Dig it.

I believe the Coastal Commission got this one wrong. The homeowners worked in good faith with the city compliance officials. A Main Beach stool pigeon who had flown south to Victoria Beach for the winter, remembers the day the city inspected the work for compliance. “Here it is Mr. Inspector. See wall,” said the homeowner. The inspector replied, “I see wall. Approved.”

That should have been the end of it. But unfortunately, the project had to be approved by the Coastal Commission inspector, as well. “Here it is Mr. Inspector #2. See wall,” said the homeowner.  The Inspector replied, “See wall? Yes, sea wall. Disapproved. $1 million. Start digging for clams.”

Obviously, the whole brouhaha is over a simple spelling error. The city sees wall and approves. The Coastal Commission looks at the project and sees sea wall, instead. It’s an easy mistake to make. Everybody has lost their reading glasses just when you need them most. It’s an honest mistake. And besides, the sea is right there and common sense tells you without your reading glasses that it’s a sea wall and not just any old see wall.

It should have been just an “aw shucks” moment. The Coastal Commission Inspector should have said, “So sorry homeowners. I left my bifocals at home. Without them I can’t see near or far.” But it was too embarrassing of a mistake to back down from when cell phone footage leaked from TMZ clearly shows the bifocals on top of the Coastal Commission inspector’s head. He admits the glasses are his, but his head is not. That was photoshopped in. The inspector claims to be out of his head at the time.

The family stopped digging for clams and decided to fight the $1 million penalty. They went on the offensive by getting more defensive. They submitted city plans to build a moat. “Here it is Mr. Inspector. See moat,” said the homeowner. The inspector replied, “I see moat. Approved.”  Shortly after, the Coastal Commission inspector showed up for a review. “Here it is Mr. Inspector #2. Sea moat,” said the homeowner. The Inspector #2 replied, “I see boat. That’s a marina. Disapproved.”

Crantz tells the Indy when writing this column he thought of old times when his mom bought him his first pair of clam diggers. Mom exchanged them for shorts to get the length right.  Crantz has been coming up short ever since.

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