Saturday, April 07, 2007

Orphaned Lots

Here is the Law of Unintended Consequences at work again. The Town of SPI requires new buildings to be built up 5-8 feet above the street level. So what happens when people build on all three sides and you're left in the middle? Basically, you have most of the ingredients for a small swimming pool that can breed mosquitoes when it rains.

Add to that the heavy-duty trucks and now you have some pretty good ruts - contractors will use any empty lot as their private staging area without even asking.

In this case, the outcome has a good ending, at least we hope, since the builder turned out to be a real good guy and promised to help. But then I got to thinking, hey wait a minute here, my lot is at Ground Zero, dead level with the street. Therefore, if folks built up on the adjacent properties, I could be in the same boat.

Well, dang, I'm already in a house so I can't raise my yard and house 5-8 feet without the use of a bulldozer and starting over again. I know the Town has good intentions, but some of us in the cute old beach bungalows from the 70's and 80's could be condemned by virtue of Town fines and a lien. Bummer.

Then I got to thinking, that these old pole houses were meant to flood, but the waters quickly recede by soaking into the sandy ground. The houses built on San Benito foundation clays do not allow water to percolate as well, so they end up actually making the runnoff problem WORSE.

I don't have any solution to the problem other than perhaps a better culvert and french drain system could be used on the side streets. For example, the joint in my driveway by the road (a little dip there for water drainage) allows water to seep down quite rapidly, whereas all the new construction is water-tight and they all have standing water for days after mine is dry. According to the experts with the Town for years, such a culvert and drainage system was proposed at one time but died due to ... some kind of opposition.

Funny how my lot works great and the problems are with the elevated lots. Maybe it's time to rethink the issue again.


Anonymous said...

The Army Corp of Engineers decided lots should be higher, not the local town government.

Sam said...

That sounds plausible but wait a minute ... this entire Island is in the flood zone and that's why we pay so much for special insurance. Are you sure about that?

My understanding was that Kay Mitchum in the Building Dept. took that action because as a matter of a Town Permit, he could not allow substandard elevations any longer. He also required deeper pylons in the ground as well. This was simply a matter so individuals wouldn't sue the Town because they issued a permit that was negligent.

Honest, my friend, I don't see how piling 5-8 feet of dirt keeps you out of an areawide Flood Zone. The Corps of Engineers doesn't own or control a single bit of land on the Island and I just don't see where they fit in. The places where the flood zone maps are changing is up the Valley, where they are discovering that many acres of land is in the 100-year flood zone.

We'll be in it forever and a day!