The Final Solution

Photo by Joy BastLife is back in balance at Leisure World in Seal Beach, which is to say that death is, too.

“Nature is taking care of things,” a spokeswoman says in an eerily well-practiced bedside manner, reciting what might as well be the motto for the famous retirement community. “The population has stabilized.”

Indeed, the grounds of Leisure World's 533-acre compound seem extremely sedate —deserted, actually—compared with last spring, when its manicured streets and gardens and golf courses suddenly became so overcrowded that the most drastic of solutions was proposed.

“Oh, we never really came close to going through with that,” pooh-poohs the spokeswoman, who can chuckle about it now. “Not after the Seal Beach Police Department refused to issue permits to use the pellet guns.”

Until then, however, circumstances were moving toward just such a ruthless resolution, and the 9,000 legitimate residents of Leisure World were in turmoil. Although just about everybody acknowledged that the 28-year-old community was being overrun, many people felt kindly toward the new arrivals—often feeding them and unintentionally encouraging them to stay. Some people were distraught at the idea that their new friends might be picked off by a pair of hired guns, who were awaiting orders to thin out the population. Others reluctantly agreed with the counsel of extermination experts, who determined this was the best of the available options. “We want to minimize the pesticides we use,” said one such expert, “which is why we'll use pellet guns.”

The debate didn't stop at the high walls and barbed wire that surround Leisure World, however. All of Orange County is facing overcrowding issues of one sort or another, and just about everyone had an opinion on the matter.

In the end, the best course of action turned out to be very little action at all—just like the last time this happened.

“It turns out that we faced the same type of problem 10 or 15 years ago: the community was being overrun,” the Leisure World spokeswoman recounts. “One of our consultants said that it came to the same type of solution. That is, it died on its own.”

Well, almost on its own—and not quite completely. The Leisure World Homeowners Association has continued the baiting-and-trapping removal program that has been in place for more than a decade.

“The objective is to keep things manageable, to avoid a huge influx,” says the spokeswoman. “I don't think people would like it if Leisure World didn't have any rabbits at all.”

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