We’re literally talking tarp, as in the four varying-sized lengths of black, plastic tarp that drape down the steep slope behind this very big house on top of a ridge in Walnut Creek. Actually that’s what this house has instead of a back yard: tarp, tarp, tarp, and tarp. The sheets of tarp cover the steep areas of bald dirt and gullies that get muddy and slippery when it rains, as those areas have with the storms of the past couple weeks.
The owners unfurled the tarp several years ago at least, and they haven’t taken it down since. They leave it up all year, even during the long dry months of summer.
They apparently had the money to buy this Big Ugly House, no doubt for a million or two or three, but they don’t have the money to reduce the risk of their house sliding down the hill. Or, the house was built in such a way and in such an unstable location that it is beyond help.
If this house tumbles down the hill, it and all its mass will land in the playing field of a local elementary school.With the rains, it looks like the owners have propped sandbags up on the hill, on top of the tarp, to hold the sheets in place. Let’s hope those sandbags do the trick.
I could go on about how this house, perhaps more than others I’ve featured so far in Big, Ugly Houses, is a metaphor for our strange, shifting times. You get it, don’t you? A big house that someone bought with ideas of grand, suburban living (and with spectacular central Contra Costa and Mount Diablo views). But a house that sadly, for the homeowners and for the rest of us, was constructed on apparently unstable ground.
Obviously, this house is a literal representation of all those homes across America that people bought with risky loans, the shaky foundation that helped bring about our economic crisis and the creation of more government programs with weird-sounding acronyms like TARP.