On the Street We Live

Humboldt Avenue

Most of you know that DT and I moved into our house November 30 of last year – can’t believe it’s been almost a year!  2011 has really flown….I feel like I say that at least once a day.

Once we found the house (we first drove by Labor Day weekend 2010), then went to a showing (October 9, 2010), it didn’t take long for us to realize that this was THE home for us.  It had pretty much everything we hoped and dreamed for:

  1. Perfect size.  Moderate and modest to be sure….but certainly enough room for DT and me, plus it accommodates when the kiddos are with us.
  2. Four bedrooms – our minimum requirement was three.
  3. Two [full] bathrooms.
  4. A yard.  We weren’t asking for much.
  5. Finished basement.
  6. Significant updates had already been made (e.g. kitchen remodel – including granite counter tops and stainless appliances, basement was finished – including a beautiful new full bath *with* Jacuzzi, two-year old roof, new-ish coat of exterior paint in a shade that isn’t horrendous).
  7. Central and accessible location – we have several grocery stores (and Target!  And the mall!) within five minutes from our house.  DT and I have easy commutes (he to downtown Minneapolis, me to a westward ‘burb).
  8. Safe, reliable neighborhood. When I say “safe,” I mean safe in the “free of crime and rifraff” safe.
  9. Awesome neighbors (which we learned after we moved in….we feel pretty darn lucky).
  10. Affordability.  This was an important factor to us, and to most home buyers, I’m sure.  We had a price range that needed to be honored if we didn’t want to feel stress every month when the mortgage was due.  Budgets shmudgets….how I wish I could have picked my pie-in-the-sky house in my pie-in-the-sky location, but that’ll just have to wait until we win the lottery.

So, yes.   We feel pretty fortunate to have found this little place to call our own.

However.

There’s something about the street on which we live that makes me hate it.  It makes me hate where we live.  Hate is a strong word….and I hate that I’m describing my feelings about where we live with such putrid intensity and anguish.

We noticed it last winter, and then it was plenty bad.  During the snow-and-ice-free months, it’s been straight-up awful.

Here’s the issue.  From one end of the block to the other – stop signs are at each end – people speed from one corner to the next.  And when I mean speed, I mean speed.  They race.  They zoom.  They fly.  They totally blast down our street.  What is the speed limit in a residential area?  Usually 25?  30?  Well, these people are EASILY going at least 10 miles above that.  For a BLOCK.  Our block.  Half the time, the stop sign nearest to our house (so we can see it) is totally blown through too.

And it drives.  Me.  CRAZY.

I can tell that this post is already making me sound like a crotchety old woman, but this plagues me.  And the fact that it plagues me as much as it does makes DT crazy too (if not for the speeding, for my incessant complaining about it).

I know a lot of this disturbance is tied to my OCD….once I fixate on something, it’s hard for me to let go.  And if what I’ve fixated on is at all bothersome, disruptive, or feels like we’re living on a major freeway, well.  OCD cha-cha-cha!

But here’s the reality, sans OCD-speak:

  1. It’s dangerous.  First of all, we have two kids with us a lot of the time.  I wouldn’t dream of letting them ride their bikes near the end of the driveway unsupervised, or down the block by themselves.  Thank goodness we have a long driveway.  I’m nervous about them playing in the front yard alone….what if a ball rolled into the street and a car came zooming through?  Second, there are many walkers, runners, and bikers that pass through our street (including us).  They shouldn’t have to fear for their safety because some idiots need to speed up to 45 mph for 10 seconds.
  2. It’s loud.  It’s really freaking LOUD.  Especially in the summertime, with the windows open….our bedroom faces the front, so all night long we get to hear people screeching and roaring down the block.  Deeelightful.  And so relaxing.
  3. This is NOT I-35 (although that’s only a few blocks over so we get to hear that too….at least it’s more like white noise and not so immediate and close).  This is a neighborhood….our neighborhood.  It’s residential, it’s the street where we live.  My dreams of living on a quiet, quaint street….well, they’re just that for now….dreams.   Maybe someday.

It’s funny (or sad and ironic and pathetic – however you want to look at it)….when we were looking at houses, I remember David’s boss advising us to thoroughly scope out the neighborhood before signing on the dotted line.  His philosophy is that the neighborhood – and by extension your neighbors – are more important than the house.  Once you have the house, it’s yours.  You can do whatever you want to it.  But the neighborhood is something you can’t control….or not nearly as easily anyway.

Makes total sense.  NOW.

Of course at the time, we were like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a great idea.  You and your wife were smart to do that.”  But in reality, we found this house and said “BUY.”  The house, and the house alone, spoke to us.

I can’t help but wonder, in hindsight, if we’d known then what we know now about the street’s traffic patterns, would we have still bought the house?  Would we, could we, have even known what a nuisance it is and how much it would bother us until we moved in?

Being the vigilant citizen (plus just being straight up ANNOYED), I took action.  DT too, if only just to shut me up.

We started calling the non-emergency police line in April.  Every couple of weeks we’d place yet another call, explain the situation yet again, and be told there would be added patrols assigned to the neighborhood.  Eventually we got the name of a patrol lieutenant….it was nice to at least have a contact.  He said he would assign more officers to our area.

One morning, as I plodded out from the bedroom, I saw this through the living room window and I nearly lost my mind:

Humboldt 5-0

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, HAPPY day!  Teehee, sorry sucker speeder.

What added to my speed trap bliss that fine Thursday:

  1. As DT left for work (before me, as usual), he came running back into the house to tell me he saw another car pulled over (within a half hour of the above sighting).
  2. When I came home from work that afternoon, I saw *another* (yep, that’s three folks!) car pulled over on the next block.

BOOYA.

I felt such civil JUSTICE.  (I know, I know….me with the drama.)

Well, that was one day.  We’ve seen a smattering of pullovers since then and every now and again a police car cruising down the street.  But overall, same old story.

The patrol lieutenant referred us someone who works in the city’s engineering department.  DT spoke with him a few weeks ago and he suggested laying hoses across the street to monitor traffic frequency and speeds.  We were all for it and shocked to see the hoses in action a mere three days after that call (we just figured enacting that would take some time).  Four days later, the hoses were gone.  I followed up with our contact Monday and he said the sampling provided a “yellow flag” level of concern, according to their measurements.  Hmmm.  But sir, it’s not!  It’s a blazing, fiery red flag of concern, don’t you see???

UGH.  Engineering guy is feeling like a dead end for now.  Grrrrmmm.

I also emailed our city councilman to let him know about the issue and ask for any assistance he could provide.  He called me back that same day and we had a positive, and I think, constructive conversation.  He was going to connect with the head of engineering who has dealt with similar complaints in other areas of the city, and had apparently favorable results.  I need to follow up on that.  Another email is drafted.

We’ve also considered engaging our neighbors, getting involved in the neighborhood watch group (whomever leads it and attends/wherever it takes place), and attending city council meetings.

DANG.  I really do sound old and crotchety!  I sound like a gosh-darn adult.

I know, I know….it could be worse.  Soooo, soooo much worse.  There could be a meth lab next door.  Or teenage punks TP-ing our trees.  Or pumpkin smashers (so far the squirrels have been the only destroyers).  Or super-loud parties every night across the street.  Or heinous lawn ornaments on the corner (plastic pink flamingos would be a dream at this point).

There is none of that….at least none that we know of.

There could be a lot, lot, lot more assaulting things than this traffic situation, but still.  It’s just soooo unnecessary and undesired.  It’s a disquieting invasion to where we live, and squeaky though we may be, there’s only so much we can do.  I hate that feeling of helplessness.

Ugh, anyway. I rant.

Just wanted to share.

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2 Comments on “On the Street We Live”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Sounds like a battle. Ever watch Modern Family? There are at least two episodes where Claire does something about traffic.


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