Thursday, April 8, 2010

Belated Apology to the late Roger and Flora Stewart

In Memorium: Roger Stewart (1915 - 2003, age 87)

In Memorium: Flora Stewart (1922 - 2005, age 83)

The two of you are owed the Mother of all Apologies by the owners of TLC Catering, other former neighbors, the County of San Joaquin, and the City of Manteca. They, of course, will not apologize to you, so I offer it to you on their behalf. I can do so because I took your place in the hell these individuals and entities created for you on Fishback Street during the last 16 and 18 years of your lives. I never met you, but I have come to experience firsthand your soul-weariness and intense frustration in dealing with the parties named above. I'm truly sorry the two of you went to your graves without relief from this bestial treatment, being in constant torment from your neighbors' noisy and illegal business operation, which crime was aided and abetted by a long succession of City minions.

What should have been your quiet sunset of years turned into a truly demonic hell when Lynda Allen and Theresa Brassey took up residence next door, recruited Corky Greene and others, and dragged along their operating catering truck business. How could they get away with that?

I apologize for the Grubb's, the Mego's, and the County for abjectly failing to resolve the illegal mobile home problem before November 1987. Your former neighbors didn't do you any favors. Nice enough folks, the Mego's, who had no business operation on their property when the east side of Fishback was made part of the City of Manteca and zoned R-1 Residential. You watched Lewis and Anne Mego deal with the myriad changes attending annexation, particularly selling most of their parcel to the school district, leaving them with an half-acre, their house, and a scruffy, unpermitted mobile home left over from when Dale and Georgiana Grubb owned the property and let the permit lapse.

I apologize for Allen and Brassey not having a clue how or where to properly set up a business. That confounded mobile home! When Allen and Brassey saw it in 1987, they immediately connived to use it as storage, as a commissary, for their catering trucks. They never got - or even asked for - conditional use permits from the City for either the mobile home or for their business use. They also failed to file a Fictitious Business Name statement with the County Recorder for their first year-and-a-half on the property. How did they get away with all that? Of course, they told you they had permits for their trucks from the County Health Department - with the emphasis on "County" - as if to imply they didn't need any land use permits from the City.

I apologize for lazy, reluctant City department officials, and for Allen and Brassey lying about their origins in order to evade permits. TLC's comings and goings constantly disturbing your after-midnight hours was bad enough for the first few years, but then another truck and another driver was added. This area had always been a residential area, and a new Home Occupation ordinance was adopted by the City in 1992, yet Allen and Brassey kept growing their business bigger and bigger. Something just wasn't right. You tried calling the City's business office, or code enforcement, or planning, but you got the departmental run-around for a long time. Finally, an "investigation" was made, which consisted of a few conversations with the lawbreakers, who lied about the scope of their business operation and remain stubbornly and willfully ignorant about the property being in the City when they moved the business onto it.

I apologize again for Allen and Brassey and Greene, who dismissed your legitimate needs (sleep, for instance) and turned their malicious, vindictive natures upon you, or anyone, who spoke against them. For example, after feeling some pressure from me, a year ago they deliberately added MORE noise to their already noisy operation by moving their outdoor radio speaker very close and pointing it my direction.

I apologize for incompetent City officials, who, through laziness or overwork, did not challenge and deny the liars' claims. In a classic case of the whistleblower getting punished, all hell broke loose upon your property after that farce of an "investigation." A HUGE MISTAKE was made when Manteca officials believed your neighbors' lies, without verifying the facts, and wrote a few false and fateful words on City letterhead. With that bogus "grandfather" letter, the City basically bound you, gagged you, and held you down, while your neighbors vilely subjected you to "waterboard torture" with around-the-clock noise. Allen and Brassey took that letter to the Health Department and "legalized" and expanded the commissary operation far beyond the mobile home: without a City permit, your neighbors hauled a trailer with retrofitted refrigeration units on top onto their property; without a City permit, they poured a concrete slab, behind their outbuilding and right up against your fence, to install a walk-in freezer with its compressor unit sitting on top; without a City permit, they built a ramshakle shed over part of the concrete slab to shelter the outdoor installation of a grossly noisy commercial icemaker, and mounted its condenser unit above it on the roof of the outbuilding, facing your house; without a City permit, they began receiving commercial vendor deliveries to the expanded commissary.... And the City refused to do anything for you concerning any of it!

I apologize for the many City functionaries, some still employed, who had the power to remedy this travesty but made no effort to do so, or fell far short of even mediocre performance. As with you, department after department "quarantined" me and my complaints. Proof of Allen's and Brassey's illegitimate status - the long overdue verification of facts - was handed to the Mayor and City Council over a year ago, but my experience with political animals was the same as yours; a stretch, a yawn, glazed eyes, further posterior spread - with a little flatulence thrown in for good measure, and a 5-0 vote for denial.

I apologize to your daughter, who lived in your house - with the hellish conditions described - for a year after Flora died, before I bought it.

I apologize for taking more than three years to get this cancerous catering company cut out and chemo'd - but I can report good news! Goaded along by my nuisance lawsuit, just this January Allen and Brassey quit running the infernal icemaker, and in February ceased running their last truck. Their rolling stock has For Sale signs posted on them (but they've pulled that stunt before.) They have abandoned much of their business equipment, although it remains on the property, rusting, disintegrating - for now, anyway. They didn't notify the Health Department that TLC Catering is out of business, so I did, by seeking copies of the truck and commissary permit cancellations. They still have not filed and published an Abandonment of Fictitious Business Name, but I'll see they do. Some tumbledown structures still exist contrary to building codes, but those will be reviewed shortly for demolition.

I apologize for neighbors and friends who did not – could not! - believe you or help you when you confided this impossible situation to them. I thought you two might like a short report that vindicates what you felt all along - that something was mightily wrong next door! Well, I proved you absolutely right. My aim is to restore this neighboring piece of property to a state of residential-only use, after the twenty-three years of fouling at the hands of Lynda Allen and Theresa Brassey.

Again, I apologize for the City of Manteca. It would be nice if code enforcement and zoning officials stepped up to do their unfinished jobs - now that the heavy lifting is done. My expectations in that regard are not very high, but I will be moving on City Hall this fall.

Good Riddance after 23 years:
TLC Catering on Fishback Street (1987 - 2010)

(May You Twist in Hell)

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