From the time Lou Mele and his wife first glimpsed the new home on Dragon Fly Street in the Glendale hills, they knew it was for them. But there was one problem: Neither of them wanted to live on a street named after an insect.
Other streets in the Chevy Chase Canyon subdivision had names like Foxglove Road and Fallenleaf Place. Dragon Fly just didn't evoke the same woodsy image, the couple thought. In fact, the name really bugged them.
So in May, five months before his escrow was to close, Mele paid a $225 processing fee and asked city officials to rename the street. His suggestion: Briar Court.
Mele said his request had nothing to do with entomophobia. "I don't have anything against dragonflies. They're nice insects."
As his wife, Vikki, explained: "Briar Court went better with the other names in the development. We were spending our life savings on a brand new home, and we thought Dragon Fly was just out in left field."
But others disagreed.
Four homeowners already living on Dragon Fly protested the name change vehemently, saying they would have to reorder pre-printed checks and stationery.
The proposal also raised the hackles of subdivision developers Ponderosa Homes, which said it would incur substantial expense to reprint brochures and alter legal documents.
Most persuasive of all, however, was a report from the Glendale Fire Department noting that the city already had three similarly named streets--Briar Ridge Road, Briarwood Lane and Brier Lane--and the department already had enough problems keeping them straight.
At a May Planning Commission hearing on the proposed name change, commissioners recall that someone suggested changing the street name to "Butterfly."
That would have suited Mele fine. "Anything but Dragon Fly," he said.
But later that month, the commission recommended unanimously that the City Council deny Mele's request for a change and recommended that the City Council, which has final say in such matters, do the same.
Meanwhile, the pro-Dragon Fly forces were busy. Eight area residents signed a petition that urged the council to deny the name change.
On Tuesday, after a horde of insect jokes, the City Council finally squashed the whole issue, denying the name change by a unanimous vote.
"If people find the name offensive, they don't have to buy property on that street," Councilman Carl Raggio said, just after suggesting under his breath that the applicant might find the name "Shoofly" less offensive.
Mele, who now lives in the city on North Howard Street--a name he presumably doesn't object to--took the news calmly.
He even made one last-ditch effort, joking that the council might consider renaming the street Jamriska, after city Planning Director Gerald J. Jamriska.
But Mele, a tall, affable businessman awaiting the close of escrow, seems resigned to raising his two children on Dragon Fly Street. He says he has learned more than he wants to know about local government.
"I wouldn't have done it had I known how complicated things would get," he said. "I thought it would be rubber-stamped."