Kosmicki: Downtown parking garage or Rainforest Cafe?

A pigeon sits atop the Briggs Building, undeterred by the sound effects.

If you’ve heard a deranged monkey, delirious pterodactyl or distant seagull flying over a non-existent ocean in downtown Hollister, you’re not going crazy. Hollister officials, on the contrary, are messing with your head.
The city’s top brass in late winter decided to address pigeons taking over the routinely empty Briggs Building—known to some as the Parking Castle—by paying $2,200 to put in sound machines blaring bird noises throughout downtown. They concluded the fake bird/dinosaur/monkey sounds would scare away all the pigeons, some of which have called the city’s bluff and returned to their concrete bluffs.
It’s not that City Hall is full of anti-pigeonites. The birds were just dropping their droppings all over the place. So city leaders devised a plan, and I imagine the strategic pigeon session behind closed doors must have gone something like this:
Official 1: Hand me that bucket of chicken, would ya? So, should we release a special unit of killer hawks or falcons? I read about it in National Geographic. It might’ve been an old issue—like, from the ’80s—but it was interesting enough.
Official 2: No, too brutal. Awesome sounding, but brutal.
Official 3: I googled “pigeon problem” over the weekend and it was quite helpful. How about steel spikes, bird netting or electric shockers? They’re all common methods for pigeon removal and they’re all humane. At least that’s according to DestroyEveryPigeon.com.
Official 4: I’d like to say something. When I think of the pigeons, I think, how could we do this in a more natural way and maybe take care of another issue at the same time? We’ve been discussing the problem with feral cats all around town. How about we round up the wild cats and drop them onto the Briggs Building? Maybe Calfire could lend us a helicopter.
(Laughter from everyone)
(Everyone stops laughing when they see the animal control chief, with no reaction, in the corner.)
Official 5: All right. Let’s get this pigeon meeting under control.
Ahem? City manager?
City Manager (paging through a catalog): One second. Take a look at page 64 of this Sharper Image I grabbed on a flight back from Tahoe. I’d been planning to present estimates for contractors who’ve handled these issues for other cities, but this product blew me away.
Official 1: Looking at this catalog, you mean the Heated Fog-Free Shower Mirror? Are you thinking about some kind of reflection deterrent?
City Manager: No, but that might be worth considering, especially with our morning fog. I was actually thinking about using this product right here (as the city manager stares into the official’s eyes while pointing deliberately to the catalog.)
Official 1: Oh, now I get it—you mean the Motorized Tie Rack. It’s like a colorful, continuously revolving shoo machine.
City Manager: Not that. This one.
Official 1: Ahh, I see. Wait, you’ll have to explain this.
City Manager: It’s called the “Sounds of the Amazon Lurking Migratory Predator” machine and it blares out exotic bird noises from sunrise to sunset to scare off the pigeons. It’s kind of like killer hawks without the killer, or the hawk.
I have the audio files hooked up to this iPad here if you give me a moment as I catch my breath from talking a bit much.
(Pepsi and KFC consumption ensue for a minute or so)
City Manager: OK, here we go. These birds might sound unfamiliar because none are natural to the area, but the pigeons won’t know the difference. As you can hear, there are three or four distinct sounds.
(City officials listen in to a pattern of bird screeches followed by silence, screeches, more silence and more screeches lasting about 50 seconds.)
Official 1: Now I don’t mind the one that sounds like a pterodactyl, but what’s with the flying monkey?
Official 2: I actually like the flying monkey. It’ll probably confuse the pigeons.
Official 1: Do we know it’s a flying monkey?
(No one answers.)
Official 3: Can we keep the pterodactyl and monkey, but drop the seagulls? I’m not sure seagulls are scaring off any pigeons.
City Attorney: We would need that in the form of a motion since we originally proposed all three sounds in the draft resolution.
Official 3: OK, I propose that we move ahead and purchase the Sounds of the Amazon Lurking Migratory Predator machine for $2,200 while including the pterodactyl and flying monkey sound effects but excluding the distant seagull noises.
(No one seconds the motion.)
Official 5: OK, moving ahead, I propose buying the Sounds of the Amazon Lurking Migratory Predator machine with pterodactyl, flying monkey and seagull noises included in the package.
All in favor?
(The item passes 4-1)
Official 5: Great, that’s that. Now, let’s move on and decide a design for those new cartoon eyes that will pop out of the whale fixture at Valley View Park.

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