Opinion » Lingo Yarns

Lingo Yarns May 26, 2004

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We had our big exercise in civic bureaucracy this week when we had to buy land next to our house we thought was ours in the first place. It started with a letter telling us the county had "found" a strip of land between our property and the neighbor's which nobody was paying taxes on. After learning that nobody officially "owned" the long, skinny strip (even though our air conditioning unit, water main line and gas main are located on the "unowned" property we were notified it would be put up for auction this last Monday at the Ada County courthouse.

Apparently there were 18 other such "properties" the county put up for auction because they were "found" to be delinquent in their taxes. The minimum bids for such small pieces of property, in one case a six-foot by six-foot square in somebody's backyard next to the alley, were about $100, as was ours. They were flying through the list, selling each property for the minimums. An occasional large plot would come up with a bigger minimum amount and one particular property generated a small bidding war, we assume between neighbors. Everything was fine, until our small uncommercial plot came up for sale.

This wanker and his female friend in the back that we'd never seen before started bidding against us and what should have been $100—no contest—ended up costing us $560. Now if you've seen our little North End bungalow and the "lost" property in question you'd know that you couldn't build anything on the 13-foot-wide strip. Half of it is a hill and the other half has huge trees. A good portion of it has the aforementioned household comfort appliances permanently placed on them. What if somebody else had bought it? What would have happened? Would they have forced us to pay rent?

While a public auction is public and anyone has the legal right to bid, it defies our comprehension as to why anyone except the property owners on either side would want this strip of unusable land other than extortion or harrassment.

I decided to ask the bidders a few questions. I asked what use would they have with the property and he responded, "We don't have to tell you." I said I was a reporter and that I'd like to ask them a few questions and he asked, "Are you threatening me?" I asked them another question and they told me to be quiet. They ran up another bid a little while later and I heard him say, "I like raising my hand."

Some people are just jerks.

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