Alternative for squatting???

So I got a comment on the squatting entry as follows:

yeah its totally disgusting when people take inniative and house themselves . people who own enough property that they forget about some of them totally deserve our sympathy. maybe we should set up some kind of donation pool to help support wealthy land owners?

OK, unless things are vastly different in the Netherlands and the government doesn’t care about taxes, I think anyone would have a hard time believing that owners can possibly forget about a property. They get a yearly reminder that they own x piece of land. If they are rich enough to sit on a property for a year and not use it, they certainly do not need us to support them. It is this ridiculous attitude that taints most of the pro-squatting sites and makes people side with the owners.

OK, so it seems in the rules of squatting that you have to verify with the city that a piece of property is vacant for a year. So therefore the city should know what property is vacant. When they identify vacant property, I think they should proactively notify the owner and give them a deal: drop the taxes a bit, in return for turning the place into public housing for 5 or 10 years. They will also get a little bit of rent to help pay for expenses of the property. Tenants get a LEGAL place to stay for years at a time. Property owners know they can make plans to use the property at the end of the ‘lease’. Everyone is happy. And more importantly nobody has to be underhanded about anything and take over what doesn’t belong to them.

Or maybe I am missing something. Please tell me why squatting is a good thing. Because I can’t see any reason why anyone should agree with the idea…

what a day…

Wow, what a day. Been running around like a madman. Sold my car today, along with my 9 foot by 6 foot L-shaped desk, 4 dining room chairs, and a great teak dining table. I sold the car through a group called They are on a strip of road in San Jose where they have dozens of competitors, eager for people who have gone beyond their means and need to sell the most expensive item they own quickly. Or people like me who are leaving the country soon and don’t have time to deal with getting a title transferred. Now if you want to sell your car and get the best price, sell it on your own on CraigsList or Ebay. But if you are in a hurry, avoid the others on W San Carlos and go to CashForCars. I sold my 2002 GTi VR6 for $10,500. I could have gotten about 12–13000 from a private party with a lot of hassle. But every other organization on that road offered about 8000. So the deal I got sucked, but it sucked less than the other options. But it was kind of sad parting with it then walking to the CalTrans train station.

The rest of the stuff that went today was sold through CraigsList. I posted all of it this morning and sold it today. There are just a few items left and somebody from an East Bay charity offered to pick up whatever is left Thursday afternoon. SWEET!

Let me tell you, I am going to be soooo damned happy to get this move over with. Friday morning when I sit on that plane in my upgraded-with-miles Business Class seat all the way to Amsterdam, I will finally be able to rest…


Whats up with Squatting in Amsterdam

Its my last few days before my move to Holland. The movers come tomorrow, and my flight is at the end of the week. As such I am trying to get more and more into the Amsterdam way of life. Being several thousand miles away makes that a bit difficult. So I have been listening to Dutch podcasters, in particular BicycleMark. When he talks about his background and the great city he lives in, he comes across as a very intelligent, well spoken observer of life around him. But then he steers over to other topics and it gets more and more annoying to listen.

One of the recent topics, well, recent for me as I am catching up, has been about squatting and the eviction of the ‘Africa’ squat. He talks of the police and the owners of the building as evil people and the squatters as heroes defending their well-earned homes. I had an initial opinion about this, but I wanted more info. So searching around the net, the only info on squatting seems to be biased towards the squatters. I want to hear the owners’ stories. I think this is disgusting. I can’t believe we live in a world where people believe it is right to steal in such a blatant way, and then others praise them.

From what I gather here is how it works. If a building is unoccupied for about a year and this can be proven by visiting various agencies around the city then squatters can move in, even breaking locks, and set up a basic home. These squatters now have the same rights as a paying tenant. When the owner of the building decides he wants to use the building he has to go to court to get these people evicted. If I own something I want to be able to use it the way I want to use it when I want to use it. The idea of buying something and then having to prove to a court that you really want to use it before being allowed to kick these people out is horrible.


Selling on Craiglist

I have often praised Craigslist on here. Typically you list something and within an hour you have buyers lining up. My latest series of entries is no different. Today I [posted a few before going to a dentist appointment. On the way back from the torture I stopped off at Pizza Orgasmica on Fillmore (a mediocre pizza by the slice joint). While eating I got a call from someone coming round this afternoon. Apparently she didn’t even see my most creative effort listed here.….I am still enjoying it everytime I re-read the ad:

solid maple chest of drawers with history!!! – $75(marina / cow hollow)

I have a wonderful SOLID MAPLE chest of drawers with, get this, history!!! You know when you watch Antiques Roadshow, someone will come on with something they are proud of, something thats been in the family for ages, and the reviewer says something like: 

Wow, I have never seen someone bring in such a large collection of 18th century bits of broken glass in such bad condition. You say they have been in the family for 4 generations, always passed on with a great celebration? Well normally I would tell you they are worth pennies (at which point you see the proud owner start to cry), but with your lovely story they are now worth thousands of dollars!!! 

Well, thats what I am going for, except for the thousands of dollars part. My parents came over to the US back in 1970 from England. Soon after moving they bought this chest of drawers from a friend who in turn had it for years. I think they had a story but I don’t want to make up stuff. Anyway, this chest eventually made it into my room and when I got my first apartment in Tallahassee, FL, my parents drove it up from our home in Miami. When I moved to NYC it followed in the back of the UHaul. When I moved to San Francisco, Moisha’s Movers brought it across the country. When I moved to Redmond, WA United Van Lines hauled it up (at Microsoft’s expense). When I left the empire to work for a smaller company back down here, it moved again. And of course I have had several moves in each of those cities. So chances are, this chest of drawers has seen more of the US than you. Yes, it has earned a few scratches in its time, but think of the history. They are battle scars: noble marks of courage. 

But it is time for another move for me and this one is an expensive one. Anytime boats are involved in a move, they add an extra digit to the price and the time is in months instead of days. Moving this chest of drawers to my new home on the Prinsengracht in Amsterdam would cost several hundred dollars. Love it, but not that much. My parents are upset that this lovely piece of…history is moving on to another family, hopefully. Would you like to have it? I am willing to part with it for a song….or maybe 75 bucks(OBO). Come on, I have been reviewing some of the horribly ugly furniture being sold on here for lots more. This is a steal!!! Why so cheap??? My one way flight to Schipol Airport is very soon. 

Some more specifics about this lovely piece of…history: SOLID MAPLE. SOLID!!! Not this veneer stuff from Ikea. SOLID!!! 4 drawers. um…..did I say SOLID MAPLE???? 

You can reach me on my cell phone at 425-922-2843. Yes its a Seattle number, but I am here….never got around to changing it and now that I am moving again, doesn’t make much sense to do it now.

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I love that….