Resident rolls out the welcome bench

Resident rolls out the welcome bench
Pat Feldman added a “porch” to the area in front of her Solana Beach home to encourage neighbors to sit, chat and get to know one another better. Photo by Bianca Kaplanek

SOLANA BEACH —When Pat Feldman decided to convert to drought-tolerant landscaping, little did she know she would be creating opportunities to meet her neighbors and in turn allow them to get to know each other as well.

“My house is set back and the front door doesn’t face the street,” the 23-year Solana Beach resident said. “But my pool does. When I was remodeling that area I was arranging some Adirondack chairs and my neighbors saw me out there and waved.

“That was such a great feeling,” she added. “It reminded me of when I was growing up. We had a front porch where people would sit and chat. I thought, ‘This is what I want, to create a front porch.’ And that’s what I did.”

Since she couldn’t extend the road to her home, she brought a front porch to the sidewalk. The 4-foot square area includes a bench with the word “Welcome” worked into the wrought iron.

Feldman said she purposefully added the “patio” around the bench to make the area inviting.

“I didn’t want people to think they couldn’t walk on the landscaping,” she said. “It invites you to step up and sit down.

“It’s such a beautiful feeling to go out there every day,” Feldman added. “I just met some people on my street who have lived here for 12 years.”

She also learned about a neighbor’s mother who had passed away and met a woman who many years ago volunteered for and met former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“It’s amazing the things you don’t know about the people who live around you,” Feldman said. “People who live a few blocks away have been stopping by. Kids riding their bikes sit there. That’s what I want.”

Feldman said she believes the timing is perfect, given the recent divisive election.

“But we don’t talk politics,” she said. “It’s a place where you can have moments to relax. Anyone can come sit down, have coffee and enjoy it.”

The day after the election she walked outside to find County Supervisor Dave Roberts, who lives near her home on San Lucas Drive, sitting there chatting with another neighbor.

“I had just read that he was re-elected and there he was,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say. I was so grateful I took a picture. I was a little choked up.”

Feldman said she went inside and called her daughter.

“I told her it’s working,” she said. “This is my way to further our sense of community. This is my dream.”

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