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Bored Review Design

by Mark D. Crantz

When we came to Laguna, the neighborhood welcome wagon put sticks and flags on our house. I asked, “What are those things for?” The Wagon’s self-appointed spokesman said, “It’s a local custom. Like bringing a pie over in other places.” “Oh, I like pie. Would it be too rude to exchange the sticks and flags for a piece of pie, instead?” “Yes. That’s rude. Very rude.“ And off went the spokesman and our welcome with him.

Several weeks later, our second floor went missing. I was surprised to have slept through it. I didn’t know what to do. I mean whom do you call about a missing floor? I decided the police would have to do. “Laguna Police station. Officer Friendly here. How may I help you?” I said, “I’m missing half my house.” No response. “Hello. Are you still there, Officer Friendly?” I think I heard a sigh followed by, “I wish I wasn’t.” I couldn’t believe I heard right. Officer Friendly wasn’t being friendly. I didn’t want to get on the wrong side of the law so soon after our arrival. So, I bit my tongue and said, “Ouch,” and mumbled, “If you can’t help, could you direct me to someone who might?” Officer Friendly passed the buck. “Call the Design Review Board.”

I called right away. The Design Review answering message said, “Press One for permits. Press Two to schedule reviews. Press Three to get follow-up permits for failed reviews. Press Four to schedule appeals. Press Five to get Barstow real estate agents for your dream house that’s not buildable here. Thank you for calling the Laguna Design Review Board.”

I thought I would sleep on it and figure out the next step. The next morning my first floor was missing. I didn’t remember any sticks and flags this time. Thank goodness I didn’t sleep in the buff. “Hello, may I speak with Officer Friendly?” “I’m sorry sir, Officer Friendly won the Friendliest Officer of the Month Award.” I replied, “That’s nice. When will he be back?” “He’s retired sir. One friendliest award fast tracks the pension requirement.” I didn’t know what to say. “I know sir what you’re thinking. It couldn’t happen to a nicer person. We all agree. How can I help you?” “My house is gone.” The Officer Friendliest replacement answered, “So, you’re homeless? Let me suggest that you call the Laguna Homeless Shelter. Have a nice day.”

I had no place to sleep on it. How had I come to end up overnight at Main Beach boardwalk? I should never have asked for pie over sticks and flags. What was I thinking? A Main Beach stool pigeon set met straight. “Here’s the skinny,” he cooed. “The Design Review Board puts up sticks and flags when a homeowner wants to expand the premise. It’s a long and costly review that many think is arbitrary, at best. In time, the homeowner after immeasurable time and expense gets his McMansion. However, in your case, the Design Review Board did not review you. Instead, a vigilante group calling themselves, the Bored Review Design, has taken the traditional approval process and reversed it. They put up sticks and flags on houses that they deem too tall and then bring the houses down to village size while the owners sleep. Obviously, they don’t like your house. However, quite honestly, we’ve never seen them raze a house like yours before.”

Why, mine?” The stool pigeon nodded sagely, “The rumor inside city hall is the vigilantes want a community garden. Your place had to go.”

Crantz tells the Indy that he is going along with the Bored Review Design vigilantes. He finds living under eggplant leaves good enough.

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