Let Us Broil

In the Mojave Desert, residents are on the cusp of our least wonderful time of year. Indeed, if Andy Williams had to sing about this season those lyrics would get stuck in his throat.

Summer. Already in mid-May Las Vegans can expect triple digit temperatures. As the month elides into June it becomes hotter with July and August turning everyday into a constant blow torch of torrid.

Throughout summer, I thank American breweries for 30 packs!

For now, though, temperatures that will torment us don’t arrive until sometime in the afternoon. Mornings are pleasant, middays tolerable without complaint. Such won’t be the case this time in June. Then mornings will start at a hundred-something before it heats up during daytimes.

2022 will be the first summer we will be without swimming pools at my residence. When I first relocated here in 2013, residents could avail ourselves to cooling relief in 1 of 4 cement ponds. And a good number of us did. However, emphasis on return on investment has drained the pools. ROI has filled them in, paved over each with decorative bricking, and planted scrawny water efficient saplings whose papery leaves will elusively provide ramada-like shade on 114° days.

On the upside, though, insurance premiums plummeted. As did maintenance costs. And while on those really baking August nights a quick dip dissipated a lot of body heat, the amount of money being saved by owners is cool, too.

Fortunately, I belong to a health club. A pool is among its amenities. Thing is the facility may frown upon on a member fulfilling a spontaneous desire to skinny dip at 3 or 4 on a summer morning. Just one way to find out.

I liked our complex’ pools because they became natural gathering spots. Reminded me of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom when various species gathered to sip at stream- or riverbanks before hunting or being hunted. During summers, those pools were the likeliest sites I’d see my neighbors. Now, without the relief the pools offered I’ll have less idea who resides here.

Transient as Las Vegas is, knowing neighbors beyond a nod is flighty. For a while there I experienced stability of that sort on both sides of my apartment. Stability as in length. Continuity brings a kind of comfort. Rather than a month, now renters remain for months. Some even a year or two.

Seldom, if at all, do I wonder where former neighbors have landed, how they’re making their ways. It doesn’t pay to get involved with strangers in Las Vegas. At least in my situation it doesn’t.

Too many of those living on either side of me have existed on the margins. Some margins thinner than others. Mouthy as many often were, no questions about their circumstances needed asking. Like a lot of my colleagues here, former neighbors would give up the gum drop without a coin having been slid into the slit nor the knob being turned. Through neighbors I’ve learned plenty about domestic and criminal matters as adjudicated through the courts. Knowledge I did not need.

Back then, at night, in summers, when one could open windows to freshen the interior air, pool lighting playing on the water surface fueled my imagination. Angled as I had the slats of the blinds, periwinkles and the sounds of lapping water slipped through. Yes. It was that quiet at night so one heard water lap. Reflected blue-green light striped across my walls and parts of the ceiling. Hot as summers are in the Mojave, all the scene lacked was a noirish backstory and thoughtful drags on cigarettes.

But I don’t smoke and I’ve never been one to bring work home.

Now that this property is worth far more than when I arrived almost nine years ago, investors, Californians mostly, local real estate management companies the rest, have made owner/residents like myself a rare breed. There are 120 unit in this complex. If 10 are owner occupied it’s seven more than I might’ve suspected.

Hopefully those who sold their places got what was then considered top dollar before the real estate market went nuts. At least then they might’ve had opportunities to purchase comparable living spaces in or near Las Vegas. Doing so now only means having a big bag of money on hand yet nowhere those meager six figures could buy. Yes. That’s how insane real estate has become here.

When the bubble pops in this part of the Mojave, it’ll make the Great Recession’s resemble a small balloon that slowly deflated. Indeed, the buying mania in Las Vegas has been just that unhinged.

Management, the powers that be, whoever’s operating this property – See? That’s how removed live-in owners have become from people administering this address. Before, one knew who was who. Now? Good luck. – have surveyed the landscape and reached this conclusion: done right this place could be an endless cash cow.

Speculators have been sniffing around. Not for the structures so much but the acreage. This address occupies a sweet spot. A lot of future desirable Las Vegas is being built or renovated within its proximity. One sharpie actually floated a telephone number length purchase figure. Say this for them, the people in charge didn’t let the amount confuse them. Clearly, they saw if a likely teardown so valuable, further sprucing and upgrades would attract the “right” renters. Meaning rents could race to the sky. Meaning fatter ROI.

In resident/owners’ cases it means is our operating contributions should remain pittances.

Among the new faces hanging his hat at this address is a Bay Area tech guy. Maybe he bought. Maybe he leases. Either way his is only a weekend presence next door. On his days and nights here he’ll occupy himself playing video games and music. Both at high volume. Since our schedules rarely jibe it’s not a problem.

Otherwise no need to imagine he avails himself to Las Vegas’ many attractions, distractions, and amusements. After all, he’s more a visitor than resident. Now and then he’ll order in a hooker. I know this because invariably his horizontal entertainment will scratch at the wrong door. Mine. Our doors have similar designs. Yet they have different numbers. Which is everything necessary to know about today’s working girls.

To renters who saw our home as a refuge, a respite from landlords elsewhere charging monthly extortion, property owners chasing after easy prosperity means they must relocate. In the ebb and flow of residents, there have been occasions when property owners weren’t particular regarding tenants. Sometimes to the detriment of us who lived here.

Collecting the rent was all that mattered. Therefore, a number of public assistance recipients were sometimes noted. Few would be mistaken as strivers. More like deadbeats feeling themselves entitled to suck from the public teat. Moreover, they brought their conflicts along. Of these they had no compunction to broadcast.

Seeing more, better money within reach, property owners and management companies performed a simple act which nearly has emptied this address of the less than motivated. They raised rent thresholds to $1500. Section 8 pays 1400. Tops. Nevada has no rent control. Nevada may have some of the most arbitrary rules favoring landlords and property owners in America. Renters have little recourse. Especially now with Covid abating.

The moratorium on residential rentals put heavy pressure on landlords and property owners. Despite receiving supplements to the state’s unemployment contribution what renter didn’t declare him/herself in dire financial straits? The kind that allegedly made paying rent impossible.

Rent? Wow! Difficult. Seventy-inch TVs? New cars? Easy as pie.

The worm having turned, rental trucks being stuffed are common sights at this address these days. That’s unfortunate. Who knows where such dust will next settle?

Working people, the aspirational among us demand better. Already one observes the parking lot and courtyards are less littered. Childish scrawls which mar a few walls has decreased. The minor vandalism brought on by boredom or indifference has been banished.

Most importantly there are fewer instances of the security doors being thwarted. All earning their keep know those safety devices don’t work if the locking mechanism is blocked. Always good to see more people who care will reside here.

The scenes above demonstrate the pride of place laboring people have. Earners want their moneys worth. We maintain the premises. Who doesn’t know that when life just gives you things, those items usually hold less value?

Damn shame we had to forfeit the pools, though.