Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Homeowner's Associations

Since I was a young man, I had aspired to live in a neighborhood desirable enough to sustain a homeowner’s association. The promise of elevated home values, resulting from gently-enforced esthetic constraints, seemed like an idyllic way to run a neighborhood. After all, no one wants to invest decades of their income in a dream home only to see the lot beside them bulldozed to make room for their newly-paroled neighbor’s meth-trailer/recording studio.

When my wife and I purchased our first house (an experience that I detail here) we were unable to afford such a utopian slice of heaven so we acquired a dwelling in a traditional neighborhood. I could not be happier. It appears that homeowner’s associations may be the greatest threat to the American way of life this side of Al Qaeda. In fact, many of the groups have evolved into a form of “residential Taliban” intent on snuffing out dissention in any form it presents itself.  

Take little Jessica Cohen, who got together with some other elementary school children to open up a neighborhood lemonade stand. They sold the cold beverage to passersby’s and donated the money to the school attended by a disabled friend, but the homeowner’s association that governs their Palm Beach neighborhood is shutting them down because of a restriction operating a home based-business.

In another Florida town, a homeowner’s association in Edgewater is considering a proposal that would specifically ban “games of tag and loud toys” along with prohibiting any child from playing outside without adult supervision. Violations would result in fines up to $100.

In April of 2000, 61 year old Richard Glassel walked into a homeowner’s association meeting in Peoria, Arizona and opened fire on the board killing two members after an altercation concerning the height of his hedges.

In 2006, a homeowner’s association in Pagosa Springs, Colorado made news when they demanded a resident to remove a Christmas wreath in the shape of a peace sign. The association considered the decoration “divisive” because some residents felt it was offensive to deployed troops or even satanic.

In 2009, 90-year-old retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot found himself in a fight with his Richmond, Virginia homeowner’s association when they demanded he remove his American flag and flag-pole from his front yard. The Congressional Medal of Honor winner was asked to remove it after the association decided it violated the neighborhood’s “aesthetic guidelines.” 

In 1998, North Carolina resident Mike Perkins was threatened with legal action for having the audacity to mow his own lawn. The homeowner’s association requires each homeowner to pay a fee to the same lawn crew so that all of the yards look “uniform.” Perkins continued to pay the fee but just felt that he did a better job.

In 2005, residents of the Majestic Oaks Subdivision in Ocala, Florida were forced to turn away Hurricane Katrina Evacuees. The issue came up when a resident wanted to temporarily house a family who was now homeless due to the storm. The association insisted that it was a clear violation of the stipulation against multiple families in a single dwelling.

I could understand the consternation of the HOA if little Jessica and her friends were running an investment firm out of the house, but perhaps bringing down the hammer on a disabled children’s fund is a tad heavy-handed. After doing some research, it appears that Homeowner’s Associations have more power than I thought. This leads me to my other aspiration: to create an illogically-strict residential dictatorship.

My neighborhood association will have the following stipulations:
  •  All shrubbery must be trimmed in the shape of a former Federal Reserve Chairman
  • Anyone’s dog caught defecating on a neighbor’s lawn will be beaten to death with an unabridged copy of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.
  • If any resident is caught fertilizing their grass with value-brand chemicals, one family heirloom will be forcibly removed from their home and smashed in front of their children.
  • If guests are being entertained at your home and parking spills out onto the street, all vehicles must be parked alphabetically by manufacturer. Failure to observe this stipulation will result in the immediate revocation of “domestic socialization privileges.”
  • Christmas decorations left up after January 1st will elicit a profanity-laced verbal warning and violations thereafter will evoke immediate liquidation of the resident’s IRA accounts.
  • All exterior illumination must be provided by fixtures in the approved Neo-Grecian Revival Style. The use of outdoor wall sconces will result in immediate suspension of sidewalk privileges.
  • Any resident caught harboring crabgrass will be fined $150 and shot in the left knee-cap from close range.
  • Birdfeeders are allowed by permit only. Unlicensed bird-seed dispensaries will be rigged with explosives and the youngest member of the offending family will be forced to detonate the bomb during peak feeding time.


  1. oh gosh! I H-A-T-E our H-O-A!!! so dumb i mean i see how they can be helpful in maintaining a nice neighborhood and all but they can get too powerful and step over my rights as an American. I mean the Ret. Col. really take down his flag!? I would have went and got a bigger flag to fly!! like the ones the spread accross the baseball field!(and maybe a rebel flag as well!!)

  2. As Groucho Marx stated:

    I refuse to belong to any country club (homeowners' association) taht would have someone like me as a member.

  3. I'll bet you drive your wife crazy don't you?

    I LOVE this stuff and your style of presenting these societal idiocies are as well spoken as they can possibly be.

    I'm a huge fan. Thanks for the infusion of light and humor!

  4. Exceptional MediocrityApril 16, 2011 at 11:17 AM

    Dear Anonymous,

    Thanks for your kind words and I am glad that you enjoy my dementia. And yes, I do drive my wife crazy but she is very patient and often heavily sedated.


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