Perhaps my title for this column is a bit misleading. Okay, more than a bit. Naturally there hasn’t been any fracking at the Shores for these past five months, it’s just felt like it. Allow me to explain. This year the Shores turns 50. Apparently, high rise buildings, like aging movie stars, need a little nip and tuck now and then.
Recently, the Shores had very small chunks of plaster falling to the ground. But small chunks can lead to bigger ones, which could lead to even bigger lawsuits. So, since last December, we at the Shores North Tower, have been subjected to an almost steady cacophony of pounding and jack hammering in a process known as spalling. (Also known as noisy!) Though they’re coming back in 2017 and 2018, for now the worst is almost over. But it’s Memorial Day on Monday, so the summer noise is just beginning.
In early December of 2015, we received a notice all patio furniture and plants had to be removed. The result was my living room looked like Fred Sanford’s backyard. The spalling required a humongous scaffolding that was anchored to the roof and lowered from the 17th floor to the 1st floor, identifying where plaster was cracking. The next phase was the jackhammering where, at as early as 8 a.m., cracked or loose plaster was removed before the area was re-plastered. (And, sleep deprived, I would feel like going out and getting plastered.)
One morning I awoke to jackhammering so loud I thought it was in my bedroom. It kind of was. It was on my balcony where workers had removed so much plaster I could see the re-bar. It was not only incredibly noisy but seeing the original re-bar was a little unsettling. A week later they plastered over it and I went back to bed thinking this had been a five month nightmare. On the day after day of noise my neighbor Beth joked, “I’d rather be waterboarded!” Ouch.
Hopefully, by the time you read this, the long, some semblance of peace and quiet will return. Given my reaction, or as the office might characterize it, my “over-reaction,” I can say I would not have done well in London during the “blitzkrieg.” (I could imagine my note to Hitler: “Dear Adolf, could you please start the bombing at a reasonable hour?!”)
Keep in mind, in 1974, when I first moved into the Shores, the surrounding area was a 9-hole 3-par golf course. The biggest noise then might have been a gopher digging a hole on the 5th fairway. But then, over much ineffective protest by locals, including me, came the Sea Colony. With that came the Ocean View Park with the tennis and basketball courts. And with that, for me and many of my neighbors, came earplugs.
The year-long project was a deafening nightmare filled with earth-moving, construction noise 8 to 5 p.m., traffic blocked on Ocean Park and the beginning of the end for me of “quaint, quiet, sleepy Santa Monica.” It became more like “Sleepless in Santa Monica.” After the Sea Colonies were built, I don’t know if the town was necessarily any prettier, but it definitely was noisier.
Apparently, for a few years, the Ocean View tennis courts became an after hours gay bathhouse without the baths. I wasn’t aware of this until 3 a.m. one morning when I heard screams, “Help, he’s killing me!” I took the screams at face value and immediately called 911. I was stunned when the female dispatcher asked, “Do you think they’re gay?” I snapped back, “What does that have to do with anything!” Offended and hoping no one was seriously hurt, I insisted the police inform me of the resolution of the matter.
Eight police cars arrived within minutes and I was informed it had been gay sex. And also that the fellow screaming didn’t want to press charges, maybe hoping for a second date. Remarkably, the city managed to deter the after hours rendezvousing at the tennis courts, but the after midnight basketball games woke neighbors for months.
Given the poor lighting, I can’t imagine the quality of play was any good but they were world-class trash talkers. Ingeniously, the city devised barriers for the rims to be hoisted at sunset every night, allowing peace and quiet to return. But for how long?
Sure enough, Parks & Rec recently debated converting some of the tennis courts into space for “pickle ball.” I’m told the game is like paddle tennis only much louder. However, P & R commissioner, Phil Brock, assures me the idea was voted down. The sound you hear is my sigh of relief. For now.
Whenever I express concerns over changes in Santa Monica, including the Metro Line, I’m told “You can’t stop progress.” Personally, I have nothing against progress, I just wish it wasn’t so damn noisy.