I am wrapping up my trip to Monterey, California. Prior to this one, I was in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara last October. I loved both visits, but noticed some California idiosyncrasies.
The first thing that intrigued me was how a large percentage of car owners with any sort of nice car drive around with no license plates. I have investigated, and it is clearly a loophole in the law being exploited. Temporary dealer or new car placards in windows are what these cars use, and they can renew the “temporary” status. Why people do this is still unclear. I suspect that they avoid automatic camera tickets, or that the lack of a license plate makes it too much of a hassle for a cop to issue a ticket?
Then, I have noticed both in the Hollywood Hills, and now in Carmel-by-the-Sea, that none of the roads have street lights. At night, one is driving on small winding roads guided just by headlights. In Monterey at least, this is intentional to reduce light pollution and allow the night sky to be seen.
There are also no real street signs. They have hand painted crude street names vertically on the wooden posts at each intersection.
Traffic intersection lights are also rare. Stop signs govern most intersections.
Finally, adding to the driver-beware Wild West nature of California driving, there are rarely guardrails on winding roads with steep cliffs just feet away. With epic scenery to distract, I was told that people drive over cliffs quite often.
In real estate, as I was driving along the ocean drive properties of Carmel and Monterey, I noticed homes with ocean views crumbling to ruins. Windows were broken. Roofs were sagging. I asked a lady walking her dog and she explained that it is an intentional ploy used by owners to skirt onerous historical district zoning boards that will not allow new houses to be constructed. However, if the building becomes condemned, then a new house can be constructed. For those same reasons, one can spot construction projects where just a few token timbers of the old shell remain so that the project can be categorized as an “interior” remodeling.