A month ago I wrote about the construction noise at the Shores that’s been ongoing for months and have a few months left to go. To my surprise, I received feedback from residents all over Santa Monica with their own noise tales of horror, two of which I shall detail later. In the meantime, I hope I’ve stumbled onto some humor. (Some critics might wisecrack, “It’s about time.”)
For example, I was talking to my friend Ron who lives in the South Tower and I could hear his building’s construction noise through the phone and in return he could hear mine. I was reminded of the movie “Deliverance” which included the famous scene that became known as “Dueling banjos.” For Ron and me hearing each others construction noise through our phones felt like “Dueling jackhammers.”
As I’ve given this noise issue a fair amount of thought, albeit often with earplugs, this construction phenomenon might have begun back in the late 1980’s. It was then when the two-story, 115-room Surfrider Inn was replaced by (drum roll please)…the eight-story, 350-room Loew’s Hotel!
On July 16, 1989 Loew’s opened much to the delight of many Santa Monicans, including me. As I exuberantly exclaimed to my wife it was exciting that a major New York corporation thought enough of our quaint little beach town to bring glamour and sophistication here. (Naive as I was, Little did I anticipate what might follow.)
As a small example of this upper-class lifestyle I’m reminded of Loew’s lavish Sunday brunch. To my eyes it was fit for an upper-crust crowd from Madison Avenue the likes of which some Santa Monicans might not have seen before. I know I hadn’t. The lobby was converted into an elegant brunch dinning room for the then unheard-of price of $50. (Though Santa Monica was known to be a casual beach town, nobody wore flip flops, at least not having paid bank for brunch.)
In the middle of the elegant room was a large, gorgeous ice sculpture. The upscale brunch featured: lobster, crab, shrimp, and two carving stations manned by executive chefs with large knives, one for roast turkey and one for roast beef; extensive types of gourmet salads and mouth-watering pastries. (As it happens, any of which I could go for right now.)
The brunch was a huge success and, unfortunately, so was the hotel. I say that because of the myriad of hotels that followed. They brought jobs, tourist dollars and the all-important bed tax which filled city coffers. Though some will disagree, the city council seemed to be addicted to the newly found moolah and this led to more and more hotels and adios quaint and quiet Santa Monica. (Lest I be labeled “anti-progress,” I’m with Mark Twain who said, “I’m in favor of progress, it’s change I don’t like.”)
Back to the Shores’ noise, one of my neighbors emailed me saying it was so intense it would have made “Hanging out under the runway at LAX seem like camping next to a mountain stream.” As for the jackhammers, “It sounded like they would be coming right through the wall at any second.” That brings me to the many emails I received from readers cathartically venting their noise nightmares from all over our city.
Janine, in the mid-Wilshire area, wrote about the cacophony and also sent me a video of the construction at her apartment building. Not only are there scaffolds and jackhammer palooza but there’s also the constant pounding of steel doing what I’m not sure but would drive anyone bonkers. I was gratified Janine got a kick out of my column and marvel at how well she’s dealing with it all. (As opposed to my whining.)
Doug, who grew up in Santa Monica, lives on Pico and shared his tale of noise troubles starting with the removal of asphalt at the Santa Monica Civic to turn a former parking lot into an athletic field. The field looks terrific but Doug describes the noise he endured as horrific. And now the bowling alley apparently will become condos and, Doug, who fortunately still has his sense of humor, jokes that ear plugs strong enough to block out that noise, haven’t been invented yet.
At the Shores, not only are residents subjected to the construction noise Monday through Friday, but on Sundays, for over a year, they are blasted with amplified music from Ocean View Park. Councilman Phil Brock is diligently trying to get legislation that helps rectify the problem. (How about no amplified music in public parks that abut residential housing?)
The Shores’ manager, Leon, assured me that when the North and South Towers are painted they’ll be like brand new. I wish I could say the same for me.