Community Commentary: One man's defense of the Woman's Club

In response to the Woman's Club article published in last week's Independent ("Neighbors launch petition," Jan. 19), I'd like to make some points that are being overlooked and refute some others. My wife and I have lived next door to the Woman's Club for 15 years, and we have been bothered by gatherings only a handful of times. We seem to be the only ones in support of letting the club rebuild.

Before I begin, I'd like to say that we respect our neighbors and their opinions, even if we don't agree. We live in a free society, and studying the facts on both sides is what makes our democracy great. As far as the allegations of people urinating and defecating outside the property, why would someone do this when there is a bathroom inside? I have caught people urinating on the side of my house, but they were people coming or going to the beach or Main Street, not members or renters of the Woman's Club. A homeless man once started sleeping near the alley, but it was only for a short time. That could happen anywhere.

When you buy a home at the beach, you should be prepared to put up with some noise and parking issues. If you bought a home here and expected peace and quiet, Irvine-style, then you didn't think it through. It's like the person who buys a condo next to the pool and then complains to the association about the noise. We all had a chance to investigate the activities at the Woman's Club before we purchased. I did and came to the conclusion that it wasn't a big deal. I'm sure everyone else did too, or at least they should have.

If peace and quiet is what you crave, then downtown HB is not the place to find it. Living downtown has a certain charm, but I acknowledge it's not for everybody. As far as parking is concerned, the club is used two to three times per week on average for around four hours at a time. Parking on the street is frequently a problem, but it's a problem whether or not the club is being used due to close proximity of the beach and Main Street. First come, first served, I say. We are planning a raging housewarming party in a few months after we move back in. Most of the 75 guests will undoubtedly park in front of the other neighbors' houses.

The Woman's Club has been there since 1920, well before any of our homes were there. They own the property. Since the codes have changed since 1920, does that mean they can't rebuild? Seems to me the fair thing to do is to grandfather the rules and allow a parking variance. If I build a third story on my existing house and the codes change to only allow two stories, are they going to make the existing three-story homes tear down the third story? Variances exist for a reason, and I think the fair thing to do is allow one in this case. Parking will be a problem whether the Woman's Club is there or not. I knew that before I bought the house.

The concerns of the neighborhood can be easily addressed. I'd rather live next door to a bunch of seniors who meet a couple of times per week and take up the street parking than live next to affluent homeowners with rowdy teenagers and their friends. The bottom line is, if you don't like airplane noise, then don't buy a home near the airport. If you love looking at the pool and buy the condo next to it, then don't complain about the noise. If peace and quiet is what you crave, then the suburbs are probably a better fit, and we all should have known that before choosing this location. Beach living requires tolerance of a different lifestyle than living in the suburbs. You've got to take the bitter with the sweet.

MIKE ORR is a Huntington Beach resident.

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