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The local papers are full of stories about folks who still have not rebuilt since the 2003 fires. Hummm! As I putt around the fire-burnt areas, most homes look rebuilt to me. Some just getting that way in parts of Julian, but Harbison Canyon looks rebuilt as does Crest. I’m sure Scripps Ranch is redone.

But out here in the back country, folks are still underway or yet to begin. The guy down the hill from me is an example. But he’s not the kinda guy who you’d expect to rebuild quickly. The dwellings that burnt down there were mostly unpermitted, ramshackle and surrounded by junk (non-op cars, trucks and scrap) and he had folks living in trailers on his property…rentals we guess.

He did build a garage fairly quickly. We guess he’s turned it into a rental residence since he and his lady friend live in two trailers on the property. He rents out a third RV. On a recent day, a water tank appeared on the property. He never had one before the fire. And some concrete blocks have appeared. And some holes are being dug by hand (and wheel barrel) on a flat place. The assumption is that he’s giving the county enough evidence of a rebuild effort to keep them at bay.

I’d expect that he’s fairly typical of the un-rebuilt folks. Stuff out here gets built “East county style.” That is without permits. Which ain’t really great, ’cause having a good septic tank, good access to clean water and such is kinda important.

And if you build “East county style,” we expect that it’s tough getting insurance. Folks aren’t supposed to know that you built something. And all this is fine(?) until a Debacle comes along. All the stuff you built illegally ain’t insured and suddenly there are a lot of eyes on you as you commence to rebuild. Oops, gotta have a water tank. Gotta have a septic system. Gotta have stuff inspected. Gotta have sprinklers in the new home.

So what’s happening (at least down the hill, I suspect) is folks bide their time. Live in the trailers, rent the garage out and give the impression that you’re rebuilding to keep the county at bay…and after a decade folks will forget about you and stop snooping. You’ll build some more stuff “East county style,” and life goes on. I don’t suspect (could be wrong) that that water tank will ever get hooked up to anything. Frankly, I think the boy is too close to the “swell,” to build anything legal, but I could be wrong.

I guess I should be more sympathetic to the folks who have not rebuilt yet. I may lack human compassion. But it doesn’t make much sense not to have insurance…it’s certainly okay if you don’t but how much compassion is required of me if you don’t and the Debacle happens?

But I feel guilty about my lack of compassion, and so I’m gonna read every one of the stories in the papers today about folks who have not yet rebuilt and I’m gonna feel bad. In fact, I may feel bad for a couple of days. Then I’m gonna get over it!

JIMMY VALENTINE

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