Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Homeowner Associations Annoy (Ctd.)

In the latest salvo in how neighborhood associations hate it, hate it, when any hint of personality or quirks invade their streets, a family is in trouble out near Denver because a three year old girl has been using chalk to draw pictures on sidewalks.
This dog, which fell asleep on a sidewalk chalk drawing,
shows the danger HOAs are trying to protect us from.

Apparently, the chalk violates an edict againast "anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment" of the neighborhood, according to a subcommittee of the neighborhood association in the development, on what was the old Stapleton Airport property.

Because, as we know anything beyond the bland beiges of the neighborhoods and the most boring of landscaping violates the peaceful enjoyment of the neighborhood.  And chalk drawings of flowers and dogs and houses are really offensive, even if the drawings wash away in the next rainfall.

Could you imagine the heart attack the neighborhood association would have with my house?  Stone walls, made of found rocks from the side of the road, are scattered around my property. I haven't finished building some of them yet.

Flowers and plants are placed randomly around the yard, just because it just felt right to put particular plants where they are. And worst of all, I have a clothes line!

I get Homeowners' Associations, known also as HOA's. Done right, they help prevent one homeowner from having 12 derelict cars up on blocks amid weeds as tall as an NBA player. And who wants a neighbor who's driveway is littered with the beer cans and used Trojans accumulated from their nighttly parties that blast on until dawn?  

Supposedly, about 20 percent of all U.S. homes fall under HOA rules, and presumably, most of them are OK.

When they get out of control, I thank gawd I don't have an HOA harassing me. I found an old Gawker article detailing some of the worst abuses. Among them:

--A guy spent $200,000+ in legal fees to combat an HOA edict that he couldn't park his pickup truck in his own driveway. As the article points out, the guy won, but the HOA probably jacked up homeowners' fees to pay for the ruling against it, so now everybody who lives there hates the pickup truck guy.

---Another homeowner got in trouble with his HOA because he had Marine decals on his car, again parked in his own driveway.

--A Colorado homeowner got in trouble because she hung a Christmas wreath shaped like a peace sign. The wreath was "divisive," according to the HOA. Yeah, we know how many people hate, HATE peace, especially around Christmas.

--A Florida retiree went to jail because his HOA got a court to order him to resod his lawn, which had pretty much died. He couldn't afford to fix it, but too bad, he went to jail. Since people who don't take care of their lawns are worse than child molesters, right? Because green lawns are more important than God, right?

Eventually, friends and neighbors collected money to fix the God Almighty Lawn, and the retiree was sprung from the pokey.

I know this is more difficult than leaving it to an HOA, but if my neighbors do something obnoxious, I can start by going over and talking to them and working out a solution. If that doesn't work, there's always the zoning board.

And besides, who has time to worry if there's an extra car in the driveway, or they paint their house a color I don't like?  I can close the window shade, or plant a bush obscuring the view of the offending house. Problem solved.

But that's not the American way.  Messy lawsuits are, I guess.

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