You may recall the story of one Long Island man’s struggle to keep his small plane in his driveway. In that story, I was very pro-guy-with-plane, and I still am. Sadly, though, the town of Oceanside, Long Island, ended up being quite anti-guy-with-plane, and recently his plane was dismantled and removed.
NBC4 tells the story of Harold Guretzky, 70, a man with a tidy little airplane named Spirit of Oceanside. Lacking money to rent a hangar, he kept it in his driveway. The airplane blocked no traffic and was completely within the boundaries of his property.
After some of his neighbors started to complain, he began to recieve summonses to remove the plane—he got up to 17, but he maintained the plane was not an issue. Guretzky analogized the airplane in his driveway to a boat, which was considered just fine in the neighborhood, and I think it’s an entirely valid comparison.
One neighbor, Vincent Labruzzi, referencing the boat analogy, said:
“There’s just no reason for it to be here. It’s not a boat you can put in the water. You can’t go down the street and take off, so what’s the point?”
This drives me batshit. Vince, in case you haven’t checked, the street isn’t water. You can’t just take a boat out to the street and take off, either. I mean, technically, you can take a small plane onto the street and take off, something you sure as hell can’t do with a boat.
And, there is a reason for the plane to be there: the man owns it. It’s his plane. That’s his driveway. End of story.
Another neighbor had this to say:
“It’s a relief to the entire area. It’s very dangerous.”
What? Dangerous? The fuck are you talking about, neighbor? How is the plane any more dangerous than any other stationary thing parked in someone’s driveway? It’s not like the plane was just left running, its propeller gleefully decapitating toddlers. It was just sitting there on his property.
I suppose I should also note that Guretzky did threaten anyone who tried to take apart or move his plane with a crossbow. I mean, he was out of the country at the time, and no crossbow has that long a range, so I’m not sure how serious a threat it was, but it did come up.
According to NBC4, he said:
“I’m glad I’m not there. If I would be there — I have a crossbow — anybody who comes near that airplane, I’d shoot right through their [expletive] chest.”
Now, sure, crossbow threats don’t help anyone, but even with that in mind, I’m still on Guretzky’s side here. Before the comments start coming in, yes, I am a homeowner. My house is not, shockingly, a filthy shithole in the burned-out remains of a battery factory. It’s in a nice little neighborhood. I understand property values and not making your neighborhood look like a trash heap and being respectful and all that. I promise.
That said, I have no fucking idea how or why anyone would have such an issue with an airplane in a driveway. Why does something somewhat unexpected have to translate to “eyesore?” Why can’t it be novel, and interesting? An airplane in a driveway I think gives a neighborhood character, distinction, and makes it exciting.
I would be delighted if my next door neighbors, who are a married couple that both are helicopter pilots, decided to park a chopper in their yard. My kid would be thrilled, I’d love looking out the window and seeing that – what’s the problem?
Clearly, many people, including enough citizens of Oceanside, Long Island, disagree with me. But I’m going to stick to my guns (or maybe crossbow) and say this is idiotic. The plane wasn’t some rusty derelict, and if you think it’s an eyesore, I think the ugly is in the eye of the beholder.
The fact that the town could be forced into forcibly dismantling a guy’s private property (and sending him the bill for the work) just because some people don’t like it, for reasons that are subjective at best, is absurd. This is the sort of thing that, as gearheads, we all need to oppose.
It’s a plane, but it could have been an unusual car, or a car trailer, or something else. We’ve seen this happen in those other contexts already. People with stunted, limited ideas about aesthetics shouldn’t have the right to dictate to others what may or may not be on their property, provided it’s causing no one harm.
There’s gated communities with HOAs and all kinds of restrictions these people can move into, and let their eyes atrophy from a monotonous onslaught of beige nothingness, never seeing anything unexpected until they day they die, unremarkably, commonly, and without any good stories to tell.
Fuck ‘em all. The guy should have been able to keep his plane. The town was out of line to break apart the plane, and everyone who complained to the city was wrong, too. They have every right to not like it, and they can complain all they like to one another. But unless they want to buy Guretzky’s house, that’s all they can do.
I don’t condone crossbow threats, but I feel like I understand the desire.