and here i thought San Diego was so chill. sounds like they need to get some sun and enjoy some tasty waves.
That’s probably true for a lot of this kind of stuff, but when it comes to stairs in particular there are few common examples of civic architecture that have a greater potential of leading to falls and injuries. They’re deceptively simple but there’s a ton of different factors that go into making a well-designed, safe stairway, and it’s easy to unknowingly screw something up.
Obviously the right thing would have been for the city to never let the stairs get to such a state of disrepair in the first place, and that neglect already exposed them to a certain amount of liability. But there’s no way that any city is ever going to make a public statement saying that they’re cool with volunteers doing unsupervised, amateur repairs on a stairway. That’s a very different prospect from thanking volunteers for painting over graffiti or something.
This reminds me of the time a guy built a set of stairs:
Similarly, the guy was just trying to improve things for himself and his neighbors. The big difference here was that his stairs likely didn’t adhere to any requirements for safety the city would have had to hold to if they did the work themselves. As for the case in the OP, I find it unlikely some sanding and a paint job is going to cause any harm.
Definitely that… and losing a kickback from a repair business.
Man, I do NOT miss that commute.
A few years ago, I had to go up to Carlsbad for work a couple days a week and when I was done at the end of the day, I literally just stayed up there (in Encinitas) for a yoga class and then left there at around 7. The difference coming back to the city was an hour less…
At the point where union members may be near to considering the use of baseball bats as a corrective measure while forgetting the times when businesses would hire thugs to put down unionizers with baseball bats.
tip of the hat
i see you’re picking up what i’m laying down, sir. thank you, thank you. : )
I was in HS when that came out. Lord knows how many times we all saw this by the time we graduated.
A good example of why so many guerilla urbanists do so with masks.
They are called “standard details” and are intended to be used by engineers and contractors. (Contractor-did-something-stupid isn’t any better than volunteer-did-something-stupid.)
Here’s an example:
You just need to make them pretty.
[Edited to replace the picture with one that is more obviously stairs]
Although this project didn’t start or end well for Mr. Selarón.
“… and to make sure it was longer lasting, I used a high gloss enamel paint on the treads!”
This is a good summary of why this sort of thing is always more complicated than people realize. People love to get mad about government for having so many rules and will rage about the “lack of common sense” for not letting a guy paint some stairs. However people don’t realize how much has to go into that when you’re a government, and are thus responsible to the public and the environment. It doesn’t even have to be about liability (though that is of course a concern as well). Imagine the public uproar if they let a guy do this and he used the wrong paint and a bunch of benzene ends up in the ocean or something. Suddenly they’d be demonized for letting something so terrible happen. Yet if they don’t open themselves up to that risk, then everyone accuses them of being too bureaucratic. Government can’t win here so it’s best to keep the public out of it.
All the building standards for public infrastructure are available, but they are necessarily complicated and difficult to read. Sticking to the stair painting example, if the code calls for epoxy paint (so they don’t have to be painted again as often, saving money) that paint may have to come from an approved vendor, mixed correctly with the correct equipment (epoxy should be mixed by weight, not volume, but most people don’t know this), the cure time must be correct, the weather conditions must be correct for curing, etc. All of this has to be spelled out in the building code for the job to be done right. It needs to be complicated even though it seems simple to citizens who haven’t done much real-world maintenance besides a little DIY stuff around their house.
That’s fair. I think municipalities also have to do a better job explaining these details, otherwise the only narrative out there is “bureaucrats ruin a perfectly good civic act.”
That, and there will always be a portion of the public that says “hell with standards and codes, let’s just fix these stairs so they are usable”. For some people the DIY, organic, grassroots aspect of this is more important and they are happy to live with/impose upon others the additional risks of ignoring the details.
And as someone who has had to spend weeks looking at specs for some basic paint and sanding in a civic context, you would be very mistaken. Starting with the obvious, it is fully possible that the new paint was more of a fall hazard in some conditions. It may make it harder to paint it with an approved paint in the future. Then you get into the sanding and stripping, what was in the underlying paint (lead?), what solvents were used, and so on. Then you get into the possible weird corner cases. Were some aspect of the stairs construction or maintenance federally funded? If they were and the city sanctions the actions, will the agency involved treat that as part of work done on a federally funded project without an environmental review and yank funding? Things get harder at scale.
The only strike that fits that timeline and location I’m aware of was the 1992 AFSCME strike. It lasted 14 hours. Do you have more details on how the gardens got so bad in that time?
Yeah, I suppose there’s not really a simplified version that’s workable. Doing anything less than the standard could eventually cause problems, even if it all seems okay in the short term - in this case, the paint used might wear that much faster when exposed to ocean conditions, which means the whole thing might need to be repainted faster than it would have (bare patches aside), and might cause issues with the eventual city repainting - as some paints won’t adhere to others.
And this really is the simplest sort of job someone could take on - once you get into anything structural or having to do with accessibility or complicated materials… forget it.
And honestly, even “professionals” - my parents spent decades remodeling their house themselves, and now when my mother needs work done, she more often than not finds she knows more than the people she hires (which is often shockingly little). I wouldn’t necessarily trust even a professional house painter to do this job right, as they wouldn’t necessarily know the standards.
Regarding all the comments about slippery stairs, from everything I can see on the video, the treads are not and were not ever painted. It looks like the guy sanded and repainted the railings and the benches in the “penalty box.” The news reporting is misleading.
I get that there are concerns about people building or modifying access, but this seems to not be one of them.
For example, a home-designed driveway culvert might be fine in a drizzle over a year or two, but wash out and flood your neighbor’s house in an, increasingly frequent, 100 year storm.