We caught a lot of flack recently for our post, 10 Essential Life Hacks That Make L.A. So Much Better. Residents of the Eastern Columbia building in downtown Los Angeles were particularly irate after we suggested that readers looking to cool off might try sneaking into their breathtaking rooftop pool.
“I remember when the Weekly had standards,” wrote one resident, Rachel Parker, in an email, “at least the kind that wouldn't permit anyone recommending criminal trespassing on private property. It's never exactly been a paradigm of journalistic standards, but it least it had some. I know that at least the residents of our building would appreciate an apology from you.”
]OK, we'll admit it. That was kind of a dick move. We certainly wouldn't want random hobos breaking into our office, drinking our coffee and using our phones to make international calls. In our relentless pursuit of helping average Angelenos enjoy a dip in a pool, we forgot about the on-site inhabitants.
Parker, who had calmed down a bit by the time we spoke to her on the phone, has lived in the Eastern Columbia since it opened in 2007.
“We have had our fair share of security issues at this building,” she said, citing one instance where a group of people snuck onto the roof and threw beer bottles off of it. “And we also have enough problems maintaining the rules with people who already live here.”
She was pretty good-natured about the whole thing. Less so was the general manager of the building, Eric Teves.
“You upset a lot of people by writing what you did,” he said sternly. “This is a private residence. To be quite frank, it's quite offensive to building management – to be portrayed as if we're not able to keep our residents safe. It upset a lot of our residents, because you're encouraging people to trespass on our property.”
Teves stressed that it is very difficult to sneak into the Eastern Columbia. There are at least four different checkpoints you have to get past. And he said he had not noticed an uptick in break-ins since we posted our story.
“I just worry when it's a hot sunny weekend, some people are going to have this brilliant idea that they're going to be able to get into our pool,” he said. “I don't think so.”
French economist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon once declared that “property is theft.” On the other hand, he later declared that “property is freedom.” So which is a pool? Is it the privatization of perhaps the quintessential public resource, water? Or is it a privately owned commodity, like an iMac or a Buick?
If you let everyone into a pool, will that discourage the creation of more pools, leading to a pool shortage? These are deep, philosophical questions that can't be answered in a short blog post without an infographic or interactive map or some such thing.
For now, let us say this: Try going to a public pool this summer. They're not nearly as filled with pee as you might imagine. I myself have never been to the Eastern Columbia pool, but if you must sneak into a pool, try a hotel. Not somebody's home.