How Many Times Did You Flush The Toilet Today?

by on October 31, 2014 · 5 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

nosey-neighborDo  We Want Neighbors Spying On Each Other?

Really, how many times did you flush the toilet today?

I remember reading Orwell’s “1984” many years ago, and laughing as I read page after page of things that I thought were impossible to occur during my lifetime.  After all, who expected to have drones following your every move; computers able to pinpoint just where you were standing in the Universe.  Well, another joke on me!

I have been accepting of most of the “1984” happenings, but I think the one thing happening now that really ticks me off is the offer of an “App” that you can use to report that your neighbor is using too much water.

Neighbors spying on each other?

There is a neighbor that lives a few houses down from me that reports EVERYTHING to whomever she can report it to.

Going to add a small addition to your house without a building permit?  It will be reported.

Have someone visiting you and they have their motor home parked on the street for more than 72 hours.  She’ll report that.

Complaining that you are making too much noise in your swimming pool that is filled with ten 6 year olds celebrating a birthday party.  She reported that.

Saw that you had a visitor coming over a few times a week in a governmental car.  Took the license number and reported it to the government.

Knows what EVERYONE in the neighborhood is doing, and has the mayor’s number in her memory bank on her telephone so she can call him when she thinks that other neighbors were walking their dogs in the alley and not picking up the droppings.  Bet she was surprised when she find out they were figs from a tree that was dropping its fruit!

Now we are giving her a license to report everyone and anyone that may water their lawn for 11 minutes instead of the 10 minutes allowed.  Or the person(s) that haven’t figured out how to change the watering schedule from Saturday to Sunday if you live on the odd numbered side of the street.  My mother once told me that the waves in the ocean are caused by everyone flushing their toilets! My goodness.  We live ½ block from the ocean.  Is she going to watch the waves and report them to the city?

Since when have neighbors ceased to be just that – neighbors?

What has happened in our society today that we are given the right – in fact, encouraged to – spy on the people living next door to us?

The water department can tell who is abusing the watering law.  Look at how much water was used in the last billing cycle and compare it to this month.  A decrease?  Good. The law is being followed.  Much more than the previous month – charge them more for the water.  But for goodness sake – don’t encourage neighbors to “report” other neighbors.  It is reminiscent of “tattle tales” in kindergarten. …  and 1984.

Kathleen, from Point Loma stated the following on our “Next Door Sunset Cliffs blog”:

“ Why not drop a note off at the home owners telling them that they have a leaking sprinkler head or a problem rather than reporting them? It’s all a little creepy reporting neighbors. A little Soviet bloc pre perestroika.” 

It is a better idea than reporting them to the city, but, come on, don’t you think they know they have a problem?  These commented the following on the same blog:

“I don’t believe in being troublemaker neighbor! Let the water patrol catch them.. Also maybe the city should stop wasting water”. 

Are they going to turn off all the fountains they just installed at the new water park downtown? (Judi’s question.)

Perhaps Becci from Sunset Cliffs put it best:

“Today the Water Nazi’s, tomorrow????”

Once again I am horrified to think of the next thing to come to infringe on my rights as a homeowner, my rights as a citizen, my rights granted by the Constitution.  I try to obey the law at all times; if you flush your toilets too much, I can promise you I will not report it.  Just try to do it a little less often than before.  After all, you wouldn’t want to be blamed for the next flood in San Diego! Particularly during the drought.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page October 31, 2014 at 1:41 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment Judi, but riddle me this.

How do you deal with a neighbor that gets up at 4:00 a.m. (yes, that’s right and he apparently goes to bed at 7:00 p.m. Something to do with the drink) every day and washes down his driveway then washes his car. Every day. In the dark. The water patrol will never catch him. The billing review only works if you mandate a reduction for everyone but then that penalizes people like me. I rarely water my lawn and I take my cars to a car wash. I don’t know how I could make a real reduction in what I do already.

I think the new reporting system would just improve on the existing system. Have you ever tried to call the City to report anything? It is discouraging but a neighbor can still do it if they are as determined as your neighbor. In fact, the only way Code Enforcement works in this City is if a citizen reports a violation, otherwise, nothing happens. It ain’t perfect but I don’t think it is quite as 1984 as you may think, and I do respect your opinion.


judi curry October 31, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I don’t have an answer for you Geoff. Obviously what your neighbor is doing is against the environmental/watering rules. I am not sure that the water patrol will not get him if a call were placed to the City asking them to patrol the streets early – real early. Of course we are allowed to water early in the am; they would have to see him actually doing the driveway cleaning. You are in a real difficult spot.

I had the City come out last month and tell me what I could do to save water. Funny thing is that he told me I wasn’t watering enough; should add a few more minutes on to the schedule.


OB Mercy October 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Anyone remember this from the 70’s? “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.”


Wireless Mike October 31, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Judi, sounds like you have a Gladys Kravitz in your neighborhood. I call it the “snoop and gossip” mentality, although “snoop and snitch” might be more appropriate in your neighbor’s case. The new reporting system gives nosey people a sense of empowerment, they can cause even more trouble for good, honest people.

Flushing the toilet too often? Maybe try to gross out the snoop with the disgusting details of digestive problems. That might deter their snooping, but probably not.

The new reporting system is helpful to report blatant abusers and nuisance neighbors, as Geoff describes, but it is vulnerable to abuse itself.


OB Dude October 31, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Some take a shower in the morning and some take a shower in the evening.

Does it really matter when you water? Shouldn’t the issue to be conservation and use of common sense….like not water at high noon.

Some interesting dialogue on this issue are here:

As for the neighbor issue…every day washing a car? Sounds obsessive compulsive but hey!, he’s got a clean car and driveway. He’s outside and able to key an eye out for shenanigans or malefactions….neighborhood security? It’s better to have a neighbor that cares about his property than one that doesn’t give a damn.

My dad goes to bed really early and gets up before everyone else. He likes the quiet time and does some of his chores in the early hours. Different strokes for different folks.


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