Saturday, May 23, 2009

Land of the Sun

So here we are in a section of the California desert called Tierra del Sol which I believe means Land of the Sun. It is an appropriate name since it was hot and as you could see there wasn’t any shade to be had. Tierra del Sol was located about 50 miles east of San Diego and only a few miles north of the Mexican border. The astronomy club that I belonged to had a generous benefactor who purchased and donated 10 acres of this desert land for observing the stars far away from the city lights of San Diego. The club decided to go first class and construct a modern restroom. When we went to get the building permit from the county we were told that the restroom would have to have at least one toilet and sink for the handicapped. We told them that there was only going to be one toilet and sink but they were insistent on the handicapped facilities. So the one toilet and sink was for the handicapped. After construction, the county inspector came out for final approval and he said where is the ramp? We asked why we needed a ramp since the slab for the foundation was only going to be a few inches above the ground level when grading was completed.

He said that if you have a handicap restroom and the slab is elevated slightly from the ground (so the rainwater doesn’t come in), then you need a ramp for wheelchairs. So we put in a ramp. You can see it in the picture sloping to the left. After this picture was taken the inspector returned and asked where the railing was. Once again we said why do we need a railing since the height was so small. He said that if you have a ramp of any kind then you have to have safety railings. After this picture was taken, iron railings were installed which made the inspector happy and we got final approval. All’s well that ends well as they say. Or is it? We forgot about a higher authority that we had to answer to. To flush the toilet and wash your hands you need water from the electric pump sitting in water at the bottom of a well. Yep, a wonderful giant lightning rod well grounded deep in the earth in water. Tierra del Sol was a flat desert and the highest thing for miles around was the top of the electric pole at the site with nice copper wires running down the well to guide the lightning bolts to the copper wire in the electric motor of the pump. On two separate occasions lightning struck the electric wire resulting in a melted pump motor at the bottom of the well which had to be removed and replaced. When I moved from San Diego, this problem with the Hammer of Thor (lightning) had not been solved. But the purpose of this blog was to describe the frustrations you can run into when trying to build something yourself and not knowing all of the regulations beforehand. Our club members built the restroom themselves. It was a club project and I was out there also with shovel in hand helping with the construction. Maybe we should have contracted to have it done and avoided all of the frustration but we were trying to save a few bucks. But it may have been “penny wise, pound foolish” as they say. But it got finished and the observing site was enjoyed by the club members as well as the general public and no one had to run behind a bush to answer “the call of nature” but could use a modern restroom provided lightning hadn’t knocked out the well pump again. Have a nice day. Lew

1 comment:

seaside said...

This situation from our point of view would be considered over regulation. Government having too much influence on people's daily lives. However, if you look at it from a person who is handicap the improvements are pretty neat. I always liked the clause "Grandfathered in." This meant you were the exception to the rule and things went your way. I did the blogs and Villager corrected my grammer.