For years now, there’s been so much construction in Santa Monica that the atmosphere almost reminds me of New York City. There’s always lots of noise in lots of places. Miriam Ginzburg, born here in 1948, whose beloved father survived a German POW camp to own a barber shop on Main Street for 30 years, sarcastically referred to her changing hometown as “Dubai by the sea.” (Before she moved to get some peace and quiet, I wrote “Miriam battles the bulldozers.”)
I’m just happy they haven’t built anything in the ocean. Actually, once there was talk of an island off the pier that would somehow connect to Malibu and LAX, which at the time, caused me to wonder what the proponents were smoking.
The current development boom has had an impact here at The Shores apartments. In 1974 the cheapest apartment was $245 a month. Today it’s $3,545 up to $7,972! And yet the Shores is almost always nearly full, as new tenants move in and out like a revolving door.
But many new residents don’t stay long. Tenants who’ve been here for decades often don’t know new residents who live on their floors because the newbies don’t stay long enough to get to know them. Simply put, there’s just not the same sense of community here.
For example, last week, I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. by a barking dog who, as it turns out, lives two floors above me. Ten years ago, I likely would have known the tenant. Instead, I found myself cursing a new resident for seemingly letting their dog bark its head off. The poor pooch was even howling. Actually, poor us, as the bark-fest went on for five hours!
I finally phoned a non-emergency Santa Monica police line but was told there was nothing they could do about a dog barking from inside an apartment. They informed me to contact Animal Control, which of course was closed. However, the dispatcher did ask if I wanted her to send police to investigate and if I wanted them to call me when they were done. I gave an emphatic “yes” to both and hoped relief (a barkless rest of the night) was on its way.
But the canine cacophony continued until 8:30 a.m. When I called SMPD back I got the same dispatcher. Police had come out but didn’t hear any barking. (They went to the wrong end of the building!)
Why didn’t they call me? The dispatcher said, “Since your building doesn’t have an intercom, they left.” Intercom? Why had she taken my phone number? The perfect end to a perfectly terrible night and morning.
In my sleep-deprived state, something finally dawned on me. The dog’s owner might have had a stroke or a heart attack and be lying there, helpless! And that would explain the howling.
I even told the dispatcher, “Nicole Brown Simpson’s Akita howled after the murders in Brentwood.” The dispatcher’s response? Nada! Quoting Lenny Bruce, “Like an oil painting.” Feeling thoroughly defeated, I hung up the phone and crawled back into bed.
That night, like the Terminator, the bark-athon was back! And so was the howling. I had to wait until 8 a.m. for Animal Control to open. And guess what? The owner didn’t stop the dog’s barking because … he was in the hospital!
With understandable privacy concerns, it’s been impossible to get any more info. Having apparently gone days without food and water, the dog was rescued not by the city’s Animal Control but a private animal rescue service. It’s all a bit weird and very hush-hush for some reason. Hopefully, owner and dog will be back at the Shores soon, so stay tuned.
During the three-day “siege” I phoned, emailed and traded ear-plug recommendations with neighbors Susan and Byron, who live on different floors close to barking ground zero. Actually, Byron lives directly across from the tenant but has never met him. After three days of constant barking, Byron stormed to the office with a worst-case scenario: “We might have a dead tenant!”
So what’s the moral of this frustrating tale of a rapidly changing Santa Monica? One, maybe building management can facilitate getting to know our new neighbors. Then again, when many newbies only use their apartments on weekends or holidays, it’s not going to be easy.
And two, when phoning in a non-emergency occurrence to the police, insist on being heard. When asked if you want to be notified regarding the disposition of the call, and you do give your phone number, you should be notified. (Phoning in, I felt I had all the credibility of a telemarketer.)
And finally, when a dog howls, it’s probably for a very good reason. Maybe the same could be said when Yours Truly goes on a rant? Well, almost.