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By Cindy Vedder | Agent in Riverside County, CA
  • Noisy Neighbors: How to Turn Down the Volume

    Posted Under: Entertainment & Nightlife in Riverside County, In My Neighborhood in Riverside County  |  March 30, 2012 2:44 PM  |  251 views  |  No comments

    Noisy Neighbors: How to Turn Down the Volume

    By: Sue Mellen

    Turn down the volume on noisy neighbors by politely ratcheting up the pressure on them to quiet down.

    Show your noisy neighbors how loud they are.

    Step one in your noisy neighbor silencing plan is to invite them over to hear firsthand what you hear. If the neighbors smile, nod, and ignore your verbal request, write them a polite note about the problem and keep a copy for yourself. This note and others that you’ll write will help prove your case if you have to take your complaint to court later on. But first…

    Tell the HOA how noisy your neighbor is.

    When they continue being noisy neighbors, take your complaint to the first rung on the local authority ladder.

    If you live in a home owners association, write the board or manager a note asking what your Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) say about noise. Do the CC&Rs say second-floor unit owners have to carpet floors so you don’t have to listen to their clomping feet? Keep a copy of the note to the HOA and their response for your files.

    If the CC&Rs are silent about noise reduction, ask the board to mediate between you and your noisy neighbor, providing both a neutral ear and a venue for the discussion.

    If the HOA refuses to help, ask your neighbors if they’re having noise issues and if they’ll come to a board meeting with you. Or, run for the HOA board and work to pass noise-reduction rules.

    Ask the city to quiet your noisy neighbor.

    If the HOA route fails, or if you’re not in an HOA, turn to city noise ordinances. City hall can connect you with the noise cops in your town—probably planning and zoning in a small town, or environmental quality in a larger city. Write or call the appropriate group, asking that a noise control officer come out and measure exactly how much noise your noisy neighbor is making.

    If the noisy neighbor is loud enough, then the noise enforcement officer can issue a citation. You can also call the cops every time your neighbor gets too loud, which might create yet another citation, or at least a verbal warning to your neighbor.

    Keep a copy of that correspondence and notes about when you call the cops, as well as times your noisy neighbor disturbed you, but you didn’t call the cops.

    Sue your noisy neighbor

    If you’re determined to make noisy neighbors shut up already, and none of those civil options has worked, you can sue them in small claims court. You don’t need a lawyer, but you will need detailed records of all the things you’ve tried to silence your noisy neighbor:

    • Copies of letters you sent the noisy neighbor, the HOA, and the city
    • A list of times the noisy neighbor has been noisy
    • Videos of the noisy neighbor’s dog barking at 2 a.m.
    • Copies of citations, if you can get them

    Such items show how hard you’ve worked to solve the problem before turning to the courts. Judges like people who’ve tried nicely and politely to solve their own problems.

    Small claims court is a lot like the Judge Judy show on television. You ask for compensation because your noisy neighbor is disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of your home. Your noisy neighbors, if they show up, argue that you’re a crank. You whip out your paperwork and other evidence to prove your side of the story and, hopefully, win.

    If your HOA and your town blow you off, and you don’t want to go to court, you still have three options left:

    • Live with it.
    • Move. No doubt, you’ll check the soundproofing before you buy your next home, right?
    • Soundproof. You’ll probably end up creating pockets of air to channel the sound away and adding sound-absorbing materials in the walls. An accoustical consultant can help you figure out what will and won’t work in your home.
  • Labor Day Bar B Q, Charcoal or Smoker?

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Riverside County, Entertainment & Nightlife in Riverside County, Shopping & Local Amenities in Riverside County  |  August 31, 2011 8:47 PM  |  1,307 views  |  No comments

    Happy Labor Day Folks!  Enjoy and Be Safe.

    Outdoor Appliance Guide: Charcoal Grills and Smokers

    By: Douglas Trattner

    Published: April 26, 2010

    With models priced from $35 to $1,000, there are charcoal grills to fit the budget of anyone who’s a fan of traditional barbecue.

    Cost range: $35-$1,000 and up

    Likely additional costs: assembly, cover, charcoal

    Average life span: 3-16 years

    Sub-$50 range

    In the case of charcoal grills, "small doesn't have to mean cheap," explains Hale, author of "Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual." Whereas many gas grills priced south of $50 aren't worth the money, the same isn't necessarily true when applied to charcoal.

    Weber, the king of the kettle, sells a solid and wholly functional grill for around $35. Of course, that unit rests on the ground and measures just over a foot in diameter, making it useful only for the smallest of gatherings. Larger grills in this price range tend to be constructed of thin painted steel and positioned atop wobbly aluminum legs.

    $50-$100 range

    A homeowner looking to satisfy the needs of an average-size family should plan on spending at least $60 for a roomy but basic grill. Models in this category are of the 19- to 22-inch kettle variety, which is large enough to handle over a dozen burgers or chicken breasts.

    Despite the increased girth, these grills restrict all but the most rudimentary cooking methods due to shallow lids that can't accommodate whole chickens, turkeys, or other roasts. Because charcoal (and especially hardwood lump) burns hotter than gas, the thinner steel grates found on these grills often warp and need replacing at a cost of $15 to $45.

    $100-$200 range

    This price range includes 22- and 26-inch name brand kettles. But the roomiest charcoal grills in this category are not round, they are rectangular barrel-style units that mimic a dissected 55-gallon drum.

    These solidly constructed rigs, which start at around $130, boast a cooking area two to three times the size of comparably priced kettles. The 1,000-square-inch grate surface makes it easy not only to cook for a crowd, but also to do indirect cooking for slower, longer roasts.

    Though billed as smokers too, these models typically lack the airflow control needed for the serious, long-temperature cooking associated with traditional smoked barbecue, warns Hale.

    $200-$300 range

    The additional dollars spent for charcoal grills in this category often buy convenience rather than increased capacity or improved construction. Kettle-style grills come mounted in a portable cart with storage for charcoal and a small work area. Some feature propane ignition systems for effortless charcoal starting sans lighter fluid.

    Hinged cooking grates make it easy to add or rearrange charcoal without having to remove the food. And many facilitate the ash-disposal process thanks to removable catch basins. For frequent grillers, these conveniences are worth the costs.

    Ceramic cookers

    "The Big Green Egg folks are like Apple computer people," says Hale, referring to a prominent brand of ceramic charcoal cooker. "They are very passionate."

    Owing to their thick-walled ceramic construction, these trendy grills are unmatched at retaining heat for long periods of time. Precision dampers make it easy (with practice) to accurately control temps, making the units effective for everything from high-heat searing to roasting to low-and-slow smoking. Homeowners, however, must be prepared to shell out $700 and up for a grill with a cook surface equal to a $70 kettle.


    Most charcoal grills can be configured to accept wood chunks or chips, allowing the cook to impart a pleasant smoke flavor to cooking foods. But in order to truly excel at barbecue, says Hale, a grill must contain a system of tight-fitting dampers and vents that make it possible to accurately regulate cooking temperatures.

    Offset smokers look like barrel-style grills with the addition of a side-mounted firebox. Heat and smoke travel from the firebox, through the main cooking chamber, and finally out the exhaust. Because the heat source is not directly underneath the food (indirect cooking), it is easier to maintain the lower temps needed for smoking. These units start around $250.

    Water smokers, of which the Weber Smokey Mountain (aka the Bullet) is the most popular model, look like elongated kettle grills. Situated between the charcoal bowl at the bottom and the cooking chamber above is a shallow pan of liquid that acts like a heat sink, regulating temps. Well-made and backed by Weber's 10-year warranty, these smokers sell for around $300.

    Suggested extras: Wood ash combines with rain water to make lye, a corrosive and caustic substance. For that reason alone, a tight-fitting grill cover is a necessity. Prices range from $20 to $70. Chimney starters ($15) make fast work of igniting charcoal briquettes without the need for lighter fluid. Folks serious about barbecuing, says Hale, should purchase a quality grill thermometer for $10.

    Cost of operation: There is no denying that charcoal grilling is more expensive than gas grilling. A typical charcoal cookout will cost about $3.50 in fuel, while the same session on a propane grill will run about $0.60, and even less if hooked up to a natural gas line. Nevertheless, charcoal grill aficionados swear by the superior taste of foods prepared with charcoal.

    Douglas Trattner has covered household appliances and home improvement for HGTV.com, DIYNetworks, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. As an avid home cook and pit master-in-training, he struggled over the age-old debate of gas versus charcoal grill--so he bought one of each.

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