Skip

Green Grass
October 3, 2007 11:04 AM   Subscribe


 
Those that would trade freedom for manicured lawns deserve neither.
posted by Mapes at 11:10 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


And thus the human race will extinguish itself from the planet through gross mismanagement of water resources, not with a bang, or a whimper, but with the soft shk-shk-shk-shk of a billion goddamn lawn sprinklers.
posted by kcds at 11:11 AM on October 3, 2007 [18 favorites]


One minute you're watering your lawn, the next minute you're rolling around in your driveway with two electrifying prongs planted squarely in your buttocks.
posted by phaedon at 11:13 AM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Am I too late for the argument about whether HOAs are good or evil?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:17 AM on October 3, 2007


Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
posted by kimdog at 11:17 AM on October 3, 2007


Am I too late for the argument about whether HOAs are good or evil?

Is that like the argument about whether smoking crack during the third trimester is good or bad for the fetus?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:20 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Christ, HOAs are so damn evil.
posted by the dief at 11:20 AM on October 3, 2007


Even for outragefilter, this seems pretty mild.
posted by djlynch at 11:21 AM on October 3, 2007


WTF HOA?
posted by maryh at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2007


I can't figure out why it offends certain people SO MUCH to see someone's lawn not looking how they'd like.

Loud music, scary people hanging around, violent behavior, etc. THESE are things to get upset about. I can't imagine getting mad because my neighbor didn't water enough.
posted by agregoli at 11:26 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


While the Board is aware of the inconvenience presented by the heat and water restrictions, we believe that having neatly landscaped lawns of grass is of the utmost importance to our community

It so weird that the American middle class so fucking obsessed with square hedges and .25 acres of pristine green grass, cut every week by Paxil prone youth strung out on the 50 miles between their bedroom and the heaven of the city.
posted by four panels at 11:27 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


There are other ways . . .
posted by ND¢ at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2007


Nothing a few tons of gravel, a shovel and a spare weekend can't solve.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:28 AM on October 3, 2007


I don't have a cite, but I am under the impression that the percentage of homes associated with HOA's is on the rise, at least in the US.
posted by everichon at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2007


Local Hitler's Outrage Association (HOA) is Outrageous. Baby Jesus Waters Lawns With His Tears. News at 11:00.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


"While the Board is aware of the inconvenience presented by the heat and water restrictions, we believe that having neatly landscaped lawns of grass is of the utmost importance to our community," said a letter sent to the homeowners in August.

So it turns out that "Green Terrorist" can mean more than just a radical environmentalist....

Also, I like it when affluent whites start complaining about HOA's "oppressing us". The damn things were invented to keep negroes and wetbacks out of the neighborhood, and now you're surprised that they're turning against you? Pfft.
posted by Avenger at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Grass Now Greener with Paint!

on preview, what ND¢ said

posted by salvia at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2007


It so weird that the American middle class so fucking obsessed with square hedges

It's nothing compared to the English.
posted by The World Famous at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2007


You mean the kind of people who will fine you for having the wrong color garbage can are a bunch of dicks?
posted by eisbaer at 11:36 AM on October 3, 2007


I can't imagine getting mad because my neighbor didn't water enough.

I believe the argument is that the sorry-looking state of your neighbors' home will bring down the value of your own.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2007


Utmost importance.

Really?

Christ, what assholes.

I'm so thankful for my lawn - it's mostly dead and the rest is hardy pansies that provide no more than ground cover for most of the year. Cut it four times a year.
posted by notsnot at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2007


I can't imagine getting mad because my neighbor didn't water enough.

If anything, I should be glad if they have a brown lawn. Makes it easy to spruce up my own yard, relatively speaking. (That is, if I gave a rat's ass about what my neighbors thought about my grass.)
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on October 3, 2007


Also, while I don't want to seem like I'm defending the idiots who would sue over insufficient lawn-watering, there are plenty o' dumb stereotypes floating around in this thread. "They must be racists!!!!"...except the kid in the picture is black. "STOOPID MIDDLE CLASS"...my middle class area has no such rule.
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2007


Anyone got a pic of that painted grass? It sounds surreal.

Yeah, it's always seemed insane to me that lawn watering would go on in a drought. And all the chemicals they put on lawns in housing estates are horrendous.

More of the story and pictures of the 70 year old Orem, Utah woman, who was arrested for not giving her name when told to water her lawn.
posted by nickyskye at 11:43 AM on October 3, 2007


Bah, we successfully separated ourselves from the British, declared our independance, but still had to pick up their pesky bad habits decades later...

p.s. Aside from the lawn care burden they bestowed on us, I love the UK
posted by samsara at 11:44 AM on October 3, 2007


I've got a friend who just moved about an hour outside Charlotte; his HOA forbids him from having more than three pets. Is there just no choice anymore, or do people really want to live in these kinds of neighborhoods? Can't we just be, you know, neighborly, instead of imposing nonsense rules on each other?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:45 AM on October 3, 2007


I believe the argument is that the sorry-looking state of your neighbors' home will bring down the value of your own.

Of course, not as much as having to belong to a micromanaging homeowner's association does.
posted by stevis23 at 11:47 AM on October 3, 2007


former director/treasurer of an hoa here to tell you hoas are not evil; but for us stalwart guardians of the ccrs, your complex would look like an appalachian shanty town. feel free to get your hate on!
posted by bruce at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2007


It's hard out here for a HOA.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


I like Appalachian shanty towns.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2007


but for us stalwart guardians of the ccrs, your complex would look like an appalachian shanty town.

Instead they look like the farm where they grow the Ethan Allen Manor homes.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:52 AM on October 3, 2007


But...Brawndo has electrolytes!!
posted by billysumday at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


And what if it does, bruce? Since when can you artificially inflate your home's value at the expense of others' freedom? If you wanted an asset that would hold up value, you should rent and put your down payment towards a diversified index fund portfolio.
posted by OldReliable at 11:56 AM on October 3, 2007


All your lawns are belongs to us.
posted by Gungho at 11:57 AM on October 3, 2007


I wish I woulda thought of the lawn painting service. What a scam. I can't imagine that lasting 90 days, no way in hell.

I hate HOAs more than the next panda, but I will credit them with being fairly transparent. Buyers usually know what they are getting into at purchase time thanks to well documented by-laws.

If you didn't flip someone the bird when you saw that, you got what you paid for.
posted by butterstick at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2007


since when can you artificially inflate your home's value at the expense of others' freedom?

from the moment the ccrs were recorded in the county recorder's office, which you knew about before you bought your home.
posted by bruce at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2007


Also, if I am getting this right, the HOAs are ordering people to violate the water restriction rules. If I remember my business law course, that cannot be enforced, and the HOA has no recourse to make people pay the fines.
posted by OldReliable at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Awesome -- lets have the argument where one side says if you don't like it, don't live there, and the other side calls them fascists.

fascist is a funny word.
posted by garlic at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2007


HOA's are not nearly so bad as you people seem to think. Yes, they restrict you choices, but the alternative is sometimes worse. I would rather live with a three pet limit than live next to someone who thinks it's alright to leave 5 loud, barking dogs out while he goes away for the weekend. Neither would I want to live next to the guy with the three beat-up cars on blocks in his front yard. Many, many people don't care about their own house, and this attitude materially effects you ability to enjoy your home and your ability to sell your house. HOA's serve to curb many of the worst tendencies of bad neighbors. This necessitates limiting some choices, that's a bad thing.

(The fact that you don't like a particular policy, doesn't make it bad either.)
posted by oddman at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2007


I moved to suburbia and I still don't get the lawn cult thing.

Apparently, I've let me lawn grow longer than regulation, since my neighbour has come over and cut it twice.
posted by spnx at 12:01 PM on October 3, 2007


I believe the argument is that the sorry-looking state of your neighbors' home will bring down the value of your own.

I've heard that argument and I can't see how brown grass brings down the value of a home. It's ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 12:02 PM on October 3, 2007


Bruce, that first post was harsh. I'll never buy a home that comes with that kind of covenant, but its there. That second one is a serious question, though.
posted by OldReliable at 12:02 PM on October 3, 2007


Local homeowner to community: We're all in this together Fuck you!
posted by sourwookie at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2007


I'm just gonna repeat a comment I made in an earlier thread:

"My pet theory about all of these uptight neighbourhood associations and things like the relatively recent explosion in home-and-garden porn is: as long as people can point to their green, green lawns and lush gardens, they can go on believing the environment is just fine."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't it be awesome if you could water your lawn with Pepsi?
posted by phaedon at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2007


Sometimes oddman, sometimes. A lot of times it's just a means for people to feel important. The kind of issues you take umbrage with could just as easily be addressed on the municipal level, yet enforcement gets taken up by each development.

Usually by control freaks. People take their homes very seriously and don't like people telling them how to define something they consider part of their identity.
posted by butterstick at 12:06 PM on October 3, 2007


It's not that HOAs are inherently evil.
What you have to be careful of, however, is whom you elect to the boards. The best rule I can think of is to avoid like the plague anyone who just moved to the neighborhood and immediately want to sit on the board. Invariably, they tend to be exactly the sort of zealots that will turn an HOA evil.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:11 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is profoundly mystifying to me. I am not a HOA kind of person, but I understand that some people might enjoy them. What I don't get is a community in the midst of a crippling drought demanding that precious water be squandered in such a frivolous fashion.

How can they not... get that?

A first violation is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third violation results in water service being shut off.

So what are the homeowners supposed to do after their water gets shut off? Truck it in from Target?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2007


oldreliable, it is your hoa. it is a service entity that belongs to you and your neighbors collectively, you don't like it, take it over and fix it. it's a form of local government run in a democratic, american manner. the developer provided for it originally because apparently, many homebuyers want some kind of order in their neighborhoods and the developer wanted to please his prospective customers; he didn't create it to tick them off. it is not an infringement of your freedom any more than the county or city is, it is a voluntary, consensual structure which saves you from the worst case. would you really like to live next door to someone like me in a state of nature, with absolutely no law, order or structure moderating my actions?
posted by bruce at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2007


Wouldn't it be awesome if you could water your lawn with Pepsi?

Pepsi? Are you CRAZY??

Brawndo has what plants crave!
posted by LordSludge at 12:17 PM on October 3, 2007


Lawn painting images.
posted by ND¢ at 12:18 PM on October 3, 2007




Something you should know about Paint It Black Lyrics

Title: The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black lyrics

Artist: The Rolling Stones

Visitors: 389 visitors have hited Paint It Black Lyrics since Feb 12, 2007.


(M. Jagger/K. Richards)

I see my brown lawn and I want it painted green
No colors anymore I want them to turn green
I see the HOA walk by dressed in their enforcement clothes
I have to water my lawn until my grass it grows

I see a line of cars and they're all painted green
With flowers and my love both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a new born baby it just happens ev'ry day

I look inside myself and see my heart is brown
I see my brown law and it has been painted green
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facin' up when your whole HOA is whack!

No more will my green sea go turn a browner brown
I could not foresee this thing happening to you

If I look hard enough into the settin' sun
My love will laugh with me before the mornin' comes

I see a brown lawn and I want it painted green
No colors anymore I want them to turn green
I see the HOA walk by dressed in their enforcement clothes
I have to water my lawn until my grass it grows


Hmm, hmm, hmm,...

I wanna see it painted, painted green
Green as grass, Green as grass
I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted green
Yeah!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:19 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes! because then I would be too preoccupied with my fear of violent death to bother with the lawn! Or we would be in paradise. Do you like Hobbes or Descartes?

Like I said, its not my HOA, I don't own a house. I don't care that much, but I will repeat my serious question:

How can these HOAs enforce a contract that demands that homeowners violate the City or county or state's watering restrictions?
posted by OldReliable at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2007


I would rather live with a three pet limit than live next to someone who thinks it's alright to leave 5 loud, barking dogs out while he goes away for the weekend. Neither would I want to live next to the guy with the three beat-up cars on blocks in his front yard.

I'm not sure this thread is full of anarchists. But to have rules means to have stupid, petty rules? Yes there is a water shortage but we must have green lawns. Where is the perspective?
posted by dreamsign at 12:21 PM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


the answer is, i don't know. i have the same reservations about enforceability; ultimately it will end up in court and some judge will decide, subject to appeals.
posted by bruce at 12:26 PM on October 3, 2007


When my wife and packed in our Suburban American Consumer Lifestyle and moved back into the city, we convinced our selves it was for all sorts of loft reasons. We wanted live more sustainably. Downsize. Be less material. Burn less energy. No more commutes - free up more time.

But you know, secretly, for me a HUGE factor was... NEVER MOWING ANOTHER FUCKING LAWN AS LONG AS I LIVE!

Put in a lower maintenance garden you say? Oh. Yeah? Gardening is for suckers.

Yes. I said it.

No matter what that shit just keeps growing. Weeds are another word for what should be,by Darwinian right, growing in place of roses. DOWN WITH GARDENING!!! Free the weed!

If I was a Bond supervillain I would breed a super dandelion that grows a hundred feet tall.

I can think of like twenty four thousand nine hundred and fifty three things I'd like better to do with my precious time that sit in dirt for five hours every Saturday.

And worse than all that is spending a precious second worrying about how green my grass is? What? Who ARE these people?

I am certainly biased as, while growing up, my father used yard work as punishment. The smell of cut grass, the sound of weed whackers, the spongy feel of compost bags fills me with bitterness and suppressed rage.
posted by tkchrist at 12:29 PM on October 3, 2007 [9 favorites]


Well, tkchrist, tell us how you really feel.

I'm with the majority here. Lawn-watering is a waste of time and resources. Lawns are for people who don't have parks nearby, which is sadly way too many people.
posted by desjardins at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bah, we successfully separated ourselves from the British, declared our independance, but still had to pick up their pesky bad habits decades later...

Hey, don't go blaming us for this one! I'll let you into a secret. Grass grows here all by itself. It's bloody hard to stop it, frankly. We mow the lawn so it doesn't eat children whole. Well, that and so you can see the cat surprise left somewhere in the middle before you step on it.

It so weird that the American middle class so fucking obsessed with square hedges
...It's nothing compared to the English.

Umm. Ahh. Ok, you got me on that one. But look, you declare independence from tyranny, then deliberately go live in places where you end up painting your lawn during droughts so you don't get fined or even arrested by the police at the order of your neighbours. I mean, bloody hell guys, can't you just leave snotty little notes stuck on the car windscreen or something?
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Notice, that the articles include comments from reasonable HOA's. As has already been said, HOA's are not inherently bad. It's HOA's run by idiots that are bad. Are you in favor of abolishing the Republic because the current administration is incompetent and evil? Are all democratic-capitalist societies bad because the USA is enforcing some dumb rule right now?
posted by oddman at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2007


would you really like to live next door to someone like me in a state of nature, with absolutely no law, order or structure moderating my actions?

Since when does not being part of an HOA means you can break the law?

Seriously, some people on HOA boards are kooky. They view themselves as the defenders of all that's good and right, and then require you to break the law to keep your grass green enough for their standards.

Then they tell you if they didn't do that you'd be living in "an appalachian shanty town". No fucking perspective at all. Just to clue you in, I've never been part of an HOA, nor have I ever lived anywhere that could be described as a shanty town. Not only that, but when neighbours had loud parties lasting past midnight, we just called the cops. We didn't try to form a commitee to stop it, and regulate what type of mailboxes everyone should have on top of that.
posted by splice at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish my lawn had brown spots on it. Then I wouldn't have to mow it so much. It's a vast green expanse that I've never watered once, but still it grows and grows. Blasted living on the bank of a river.
posted by drezdn at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2007


"Buyers usually know what they are getting into at purchase time thanks to well documented by-laws." Because in the middle of all the chaos of a home purchase, everybody reads the phone book sized covenant and recognizes that their sons 1000$ basketball hoop doesn't fit the HOA rules because it is adjustable and white rather than fixed and clear.

HOA rules are selectively enforced most of the time and used to bludgeon those who are different most of the time.

I put an anti-theistic bumper sticker on my car and suddenly the HOA yard maintenance letter fairy visited us frequently.
posted by Megafly at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Many, many people don't care about their own house, and this attitude materially effects [...] your ability to sell your house.

Maybe people should buy homes to live in and to be part of a community, rather than for resale value, which I suspect might foster neighborly behavior.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


My lawn is overgrown!

Should we have a mefi lawn photo post... in our flickr or something? then we can link to them from here? That'd be fun.

We can vote ... who has the crappiest lawn!
posted by symbioid at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2007


We could have a lawn growth contest like the running or biking contest. Every week you measure how much your grass has grown. The winner gets a free Brazilian.
posted by drezdn at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2007


Damn. Man! I just bought a Brazilian, too. It's too late to take him back. I already bought him his speedo and gold jewelry.
posted by tkchrist at 12:51 PM on October 3, 2007


Yeah, we might have given you lawns, but you made up these HOAs things all by yourselves. We mow our lawns whatever day of the week we like.
posted by Helga-woo at 12:51 PM on October 3, 2007


i have the same reservations about enforceability; ultimately it will end up in court and some judge will decide, subject to appeals.

don't a lot of hoas require binding arbitration instead of one being able to take a dispute with the hoa to the court system?

that doesn't exactly chime in with your "it's a form of local government run in a democratic, american manner" statement does it? - cause when my local government - or for that matter my landlord - does something i think is illegal i have a court system to appeal to, one that is obligated to follow the law and follow the constitution

does the average hoa member have that?
posted by pyramid termite at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2007


I'm guessing xeriscaping would get you run out of one of these developments on a rail. Torches and pitchforks (and rubber hoses) would also be involved.
posted by bonehead at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2007


We can vote ... who has the crappiest lawn!

I win.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2007


Lemme guess Megafly, you just read the first 3 pages of the mortgage too?

I personally hate everything about these, and as a result it was one of the first things I asked about each time I saw a house I liked. What I'd really like to see is the value of the homes go down BECAUSE they were governed by HOAs, instead of up.
posted by butterstick at 12:57 PM on October 3, 2007


don't a lot of hoas require binding arbitration instead of one being able to take a dispute with the hoa to the court system?

mine (1985-1995) didn't, and even if it did, the city isn't a party to that agreement so it isn't bound, and it can take its water restriction case straight to court.
posted by bruce at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2007


Are there any alternative sorts of HOAs? Like ones that insist on lawns being ecologically sound -- no fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc? Or are they all of the plastic green lawn variety?
posted by pracowity at 1:05 PM on October 3, 2007


I've got a friend who just moved about an hour outside Charlotte; his HOA forbids him from having more than three pets.

That's also common in real-law zoning, or as a local ordinance. We don't have an HOA or a covenant (or if there is one, I never signed it), but we're still limited to three or four dogs by the Town of Amherst.

it is your hoa. it is a service entity that belongs to you and your neighbors collectively, you don't like it, take it over and fix it. it's a form of local government

If they would admit that they were de facto governments, and had to respect their residents' constitutional rights, and could not impose limits on their residents that a real local government could not, and had to provide due process and, sometimes, jury trials to anyone who might have violated their rules, then there wouldn't be a problem.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


When choosing a house in Houston, we specifically told the realtor "Nothing with a mandatory HOA", as we'd heard too many of these stories.

We got a great place that has a voluntary "neighborhood association" that has no powers over me or my home or the land it sits on. If anybody tried to pull "you didn't water your lawn, here's a fine" I'd tel them to start making my mortgage payments before they can boss me around.

Everyone keeps their lawns looking nice (within reason) and there's no petty backstabbing going on over how green someone's lawn is.
posted by mrbill at 1:13 PM on October 3, 2007


Grandma up top wasn't arrested by a HOA cop -- that was a real police officer trying to ticket, and ending up arresting grandma for not watering her grass. Suburban towns can make up laws that are HOA like all on there own.
posted by garlic at 1:22 PM on October 3, 2007


Unfortunately Oddman, most HOA's don't have any sort of fail safe to keep them from falling into the hands of idiots. And idiots collect on these things like barnacles.

See "OMG! They were sleeping in a disused storage closet in the mall where I work. The very thought of it makes me feel dirty." Twenty bucks says the mall spokes critter (or whoever penned his press releases) is all over the idea of HOA's.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:26 PM on October 3, 2007


"That's also common in real-law zoning, or as a local ordinance. We don't have an HOA or a covenant (or if there is one, I never signed it), but we're still limited to three or four dogs "

And this is bad, why?
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:27 PM on October 3, 2007


And this is bad, why?

I don't think the suggestion was that it was bad (although I could be wrong). It was in response to a comment I made about a silly HOA restriction (which, for the record, I believe also applies to indoor-only animals, which is even sillier). I still think the town restriction is a little silly, too, but at least they won't foreclose on your home if you have "too many" pets.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:34 PM on October 3, 2007


My parents lived in a HOA neighborhood before they escaped to a doublewide in the sticks.

Their HOA was typical of the ones I've ever been a party to: a small group of insiders who selectively enforce the rules. In theirs, meetings were even held and rules changed that basically made it impossible to evict the little Hitlers who were running the place. Add in special assessments to pay for the lawyers hired to defend the rule makers and bring action against their enemies, and it's essentially like living in a third world country.
posted by maxwelton at 1:35 PM on October 3, 2007


We don't have an HOA or a covenant (or if there is one, I never signed it), but we're still limited to three or four dogs

Zoning laws in the city of Seattle forced me to give up my Ebola Gorilla Lab in our parking garage. Fascists.
posted by tkchrist at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2007


the city isn't a party to that agreement so it isn't bound, and it can take its water restriction case straight to court

and of course the people who run the city aren't going to bend over backwards to avoid pissing off the local realtors, are they?

the point remains - often, the homeowner has no access to the courts under an hoa, and one certainly can't expect the city to do anything for them as their interests are often with the people who set these up
posted by pyramid termite at 1:37 PM on October 3, 2007


If I don't have the right to do what I wish with my home, within reason, then I am not a homeowner. Applying for building permits, sure. Maintaining the city-mandated limits on distance between building and edge of property, sure. Being forced to water my lawn, drought or no, just to fit in with a bunch of tight-assed neighbors? Hell no. I won't buy a house I can't actually own. If I want to dig up the yard and replace it with a natural tallgrass prairie and burn it off every winter to maintain it... well, that may be pushing things but damn, I ought to have the choice.

Watering a lawn is a stupid thing to do, anyway (unless you've just laid down sod or seed, I guess). So is fertilizing. Christ, mulch your damn leaves instead of raking, and you'll be feeding your lawn for free while you cut it. The right landscaping can actually save you some water. A rain barrel can be set up to provide water for free without taxing local reservoirs. Besides, most lawn grass in the US is not fit for the environments in which we plant it. That's why it turns brown. May as well get pissed that your maple goes bare every winter - why won't it stay green year round? Oh the humanity! Glue the leaves back on and paint them. The HOA demands it.

People just don't understand ecology.
posted by caution live frogs at 1:54 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


And this is bad, why?

Because this is supposed to be a country where we try to maximize freedom.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:55 PM on October 3, 2007


Freedom ... to own 165 dogs? I, um, ...no.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2007


My lawn, in an HOA neighborhood, natch. Of course, we've had so much rain recently is hasn't required much to keep it green.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:04 PM on October 3, 2007


Because this is supposed to be a country where we try to maximize freedom.

The New America - Value Added Freedom with Every Purchase!
posted by oneirodynia at 2:21 PM on October 3, 2007


“Nothing a few tons of gravel, a shovel and a spare weekend can't solve.”
posted by Civil_Disobedient

Wow. Synchronicity. That’s exactly what I tell guys looking to date my daughter.

Here in the Great Lakes we have plenty o water. Although I don’t water. And I cut my grass whenever I damn well feel like it.
I’m having a problem with my neighbor’s trees tho. Thick turf with deep roots really holds on to the dirt and prevents erosion. Some kinds of trees - not so much. And they refuse to plant shady growing grass. Some folks out here like the “country” style living. ‘Cept, y’know, we’re in the ‘burbs.
But yeah, we flush away how much water in the toilets? In the half hour showers? Live on a ship for a while, you begin to appreciate water conservation.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2007



(The fact that you don't like a particular policy, doesn't make it bad either.)

Yes, but the fact that you like a particular policy doesn't make it a good one either.
posted by dazed_one at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2007


And this is bad, why?

I'm not particularly opposed to it. It would make more sense to have a problem-oriented ordinance than a flat limit, and frankly three seems a very low limit (if it's three), but that's quibbling.

I was just saying that that particular thing wasn't just an HOA thing. Real governments do that too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:38 PM on October 3, 2007


My lawn. Ugly? Hell, you should have seen it last year.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2007


Freedom ... to own 165 dogs? I, um, ...no.

That's what freedom means to me.

Want to have 165 dogs? Probably can't do it without violating some reasonable animal welfare or noise law, but if you can, go ahead.

Want to have a brown lawn, or a pile of dirt, or xeriscaping? Freedom.

Three cars up on cinderblocks? I don't have the right to tell you what stupid shit you can or cannot have on your lawn.

Hang your laundry on a line? (This is also verboten.) More freedom.

Put up a wind turbine? Freedom again.

Laws (and these are basically laws - these are basically local governments) have to restrict freedom - we do not have the freedom to murder people. But we should very carefully weigh the necessity of any law against the loss of freedom it causes. "Living in a place where all the lawns are green" is not some sort of human right. Freedom doesn't give a shit about your property values.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2007


the homeowner has no access to the courts under an hoa

Traditionally courts don't like that sort of thing. Contracts can't oust the jurisdiction of the courts. (Of course, the court could still examine the contract, strike out the "you have no access to the court" paragraph, and rule the entire rest of it valid.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2007


Contracts can't oust the jurisdiction of the courts.

Sure they can. Mandatory arbitration clauses do just that.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:04 PM on October 3, 2007


It so weird that the American middle class so fucking obsessed with square hedges

My impression is that the vast majority of these HOAs are put in place by the developers at the time of construction. So perhaps:

(1) the middle class really does want them and the developers therefore put the HOAs/covenants together because it helps them sell homes like hotcakes
(2) a minority of the middle class wants them, but it's enough at the margins that it makes extra sales and most of the rest of your buyers will overlook it if you throw in a home depot gift card, so it's therefore worth doing anyway.
(3) or perhaps the vast majority of the middle class would rather have no HOA, but economic constraints (or naturally occurring constraints on vision) among land developers mean they keep delivering the architecture, landscape, and values of Camezotz anyway.
posted by weston at 3:46 PM on October 3, 2007


Hey, don't go blaming us for this one!

Nah, i don't really mean it. I'm just concerned that even places like AZ are adopting the green lawn craze that started in the US back in the 19th century. I believe it starts with golf courses.....

I mean, bloody hell guys, can't you just leave snotty little notes stuck on the car windscreen or something?

Unfortunately there are many places in this country where people do whatever they can to avoid direct confrontation. Really all it boils down to is the crazed rejection of "broken window theory" (eg. once one neighborhood window is broken and left broke, the rest of the neighborhood declines). Another example is I haven't cut my lawn in 2 weeks...my neighbors are oddly copy-catting.
posted by samsara at 4:03 PM on October 3, 2007


I am a golf course superintendent.
Firstly, this green lawn fanaticism is coming on hard, not going away...driven mostly by entitled feeling, younger baby boomers...most that are hooked on it are environmentally unaware, or simply don't give a shit. Worry more about the water usage than the pesticides for now. I feel badly for those who have been 'forced' to move into a burb with a HOA... HOA's seldom have a good feel for what's being washed down the storm sewers when it rains. I could go on and on. i live it everyday and can rightfully say that there is nothing natural or sustainable about green, lush turf. It's totally manufactured with chemical smoke and mirrors.
Anyone saying otherwise is just uninformed.
posted by greenskpr at 4:15 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Two days after the television interview, the HOA board removed her from the landscape committee.

They then preceded to painstakingly airbrush her out of all group photos.
posted by brundlefly at 4:17 PM on October 3, 2007


Because in the middle of all the chaos of a home purchase, everybody reads the phone book sized covenant...

When I'm about to put myself on the hock for $200,000+ dollars? Better believe I'm reading every page.

You didn't? That's your foolish mistake.
posted by eriko at 5:06 PM on October 3, 2007


bruce writes "would you really like to live next door to someone like me in a state of nature, with absolutely no law, order or structure moderating my actions?"

Where did you get from the absence of a HOA to anarchy? There are steps in-between, you know.

Laws already exist to ensure we don't harm each other. I don't need my neighborliness codified. What gives you the right to tell me how my lawn should look? Sure, you can complain. But I'd never want to live anywhere where the neighbors don't trust each other enough to need something like a HOA.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:24 PM on October 3, 2007


bruce writes "it's a form of local government run in a democratic, american manner."

No, it's not. There really is no accountability to other branches of government. It's a private entity.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:33 PM on October 3, 2007


Front Yard
Back Yard

I think, if we're going by overgrowth, it's a tie for me and card cheat.

If we're going for brown, corpse wins...

Come on folks, keep 'em coming!
posted by symbioid at 5:44 PM on October 3, 2007


I spent part of summer fertilizing people's lawns. I worked for the largest lawncare company in my city, and some of their business practices bothered me.

For one, every lawncare company has adopted a "green" image and all claim to be ecologically friendly. Despite the fact we encourage our customers to water their lawn after every application on top of their regular watering (they get seven applications a summer - I live in a cold Canadian city), the substances used on their lawn are harmful, unnecessary, and damaging to the environment.

We mixed all the liquid fertilizer with a weed kill, and thus, I had to wear rubber gloves, long sleeved clothing, and rubber boots. After blistering occured from those godawful boots, I tried a week of wearing my regular skate shoes. I had to stop after my feet developed red sores all over them and the weed killer burned right through the side of my shoes.

I called the company that produces the fertilizer (behind my company's back - I was curious) and they essentially told me I shouldn't be spraying the stuff without wearing a mask. Yet this stuff finds itself on people's lawns multiple times a summer. We've had reports of cats dying after going outside and eating some grass too soon after the application. And the weed killer was a thick brown goop we added to the mix. If we sprayed it on a tree or a flower, they'd be dead within a couple days. But that resistant grass, oh no, we loaded it on there to make people's lawns perfect.

We even had to include lawn propaganda with each application:

> A 50' by 50' lawn releases enough oxygen to meet the needs of a family of four.

> The front lawns of just 8 average houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning.

> Turf grasses absorb many pollutants and dust particles. This is very beneficial to allergy suffers.

And it costs $46 for an application of the stuff, and the chemicals themselves probably cost a buck. So, to justify my laziness I betrayed the company and began "skipping" lawns to the point I would just deliver invoices and go home and sleep. I figured I was doing my part to help the environment, and no one really seemed to notice anyway. Until I got caught on videotape and was fired. Fuck em'.
posted by ageispolis at 5:49 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, to justify my laziness I betrayed the company and began "skipping" lawns to the point I would just deliver invoices and go home and sleep.

So, you committed fraud. Nice.

Until I got caught on videotape and was fired. Fuck em'.

That's the spirit. How dare they fire you for committing fraud.
posted by The World Famous at 6:02 PM on October 3, 2007


How dare they fire you for committing fraud.

Umm, that's actually the _opposite_ of the attitude he had about it, which was that he had it coming and doesn't seem to give a shit.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:38 PM on October 3, 2007


I'd post lawn pics except it's dark now. I have an abandoned square foot garden area of about 200 square feet where the grass and assorted garden volunteers are SIX FEET HIGH. The air conditioner is out, and I had to tell my wife to cut a path for the repairman so he can get to the compressor unit. And there is a section I don't dare go near with the lawnmower, because there are rock tables there and the neighborhood cats [DAMN NEIGHBORS] have knocked the rocks off into the grass, where they can't be seen.

The front lawn, by contrast, is relatively normal.

The house next door is "between renters" and the front grass is a foot high. That back yard is rapidly getting even worse than mine.

We do have a few wannabe fascists who have tried to start up a HOA but I've told them that the minute they pass such a thing they will be buying my house. I bought this place in part precisely because there is no HOA and as far as I'm concerned such a thing completely tanks its value. I will never, ever sign any contract including a HOA and will challenge in court any action that claims it can retroactively impose one on me.

I will clean the weeds out of the back yard -- done it before, sometimes things just get out of hand -- but in my own time, when it's a lot easier and they won't spring right back up. There is a time to all things, and sometimes a flat green yard isn't on schedule.

Much machete work to be done once the weather cools. Welcome to Louisiana in the summer.
posted by localroger at 6:53 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lawn are bad, period. Bad for the trees, bad for our water supply, and usually coated with pesticides. Now that I really know what lawns are up to, I can't look at one without seeing this big fake green cover on top of what should be, nature.
posted by lamarguerite at 10:03 PM on October 3, 2007


Mine sounds like localroger's. I'm in Florida, it's monsoon season, and the kid who does my yard hasn't been by in a month. Tomorrow I'll take some pictures with a full-grown Boxer for scale.

I decided to go one step beyond Xeriscaping. I call it Lazyscaping. Whatever wants to grow, fine. Grow. Grow all you want, green stuff. If they sprout spiny barbedy things, grow poisonous fruits or skin irritants, or try to cause structural damage, they get removed. Open areas are mowed because I have dogs. Everything else can do as it pleases, especially if it's got flowers. As a result I've got ferns growing out of the roof of my carport and ten different pretty bee- and butterfly-attracting types of flowers all over, and a really cool metal clothesline pole coated in flowering vines, and if my neighbors hate me for it I don't particularly care.

The best thing is, I get visitors. Like this guy and this critter and these but only at night, and one momentous summer, one of these girls moved in under a tree. Tons of birds, though none of the feral parrots have stopped by yet. (I had a vulture once. COOOL.) It's as close to real nature as I can get, living on the grid, and it'll do me for now. Much more satisfying than a carpet of sod that can't handle Florida sand. Carpeting is for indoors!
posted by cmyk at 11:31 PM on October 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


My favorite CC&R is the one about "no clotheslines." There's another pro-waste one for you. Want to air-dry your clothes? Only if you do it inside!
posted by salvia at 11:53 PM on October 3, 2007


cmyk, any panthers yet?
posted by salvia at 11:55 PM on October 3, 2007


A first violation is a $200 fine and a second is $1,000. A third violation results in water service being shut off.

This penalty structure along with a few sprinkler enabling missions at selected properties would seem to allow for an easy solution to the crazy HOA regulations.

uncleozzy writes "his HOA forbids him from having more than three pets. Is there just no choice anymore, or do people really want to live in these kinds of neighborhoods? Can't we just be, you know, neighborly, instead of imposing nonsense rules on each other?"

Local city bylaws here restrict each household to two dogs. It's been big news because a pair of dog lovers got together and the city is hounding them because they've got three dogs, one of which is dieing.

bruce writes "former director/treasurer of an hoa here to tell you hoas are not evil; but for us stalwart guardians of the ccrs, your complex would look like an appalachian shanty town."

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by Mitheral at 12:51 AM on October 4, 2007


I like Appalachian shanty towns.

Yeah, they're great unless you happen to live in one.

And also - just to clarify - most British people don't have lawns or hedges. The vast majority live in semidetached houses near urban centres or flats. It's only the wealthy who have enough land who get anal about lawn care.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:14 AM on October 4, 2007


I was in Boston once, visiting a friend. His weird neighbours had taken a lot of abuse about the state of their lawn, so (instead of cutting it) they put astroturf down and spelt out "THE NEW LAWN" with superglue and Scrabble letters.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:18 AM on October 4, 2007 [2 favorites]


When I lived in the UK, I had a yard that was all bricked over. Best yard ever! Big parking area, no mowing. Like tkchrist, my dad also used yard work as punishment (imagine what this does to the idea of 'work ethic'). Here in South Africa, I have no lawn either. The front has no room for lawn, the back is all pool, tile, and shrubbery. The other side of the back wall is African bush, going down to a wildlife refuge along an estuary. I suspect there used to be an HOA (these are townhomes), but I'm not aware of any restrictions (but I rent). (Signage indicates the street is in fact private).

The idea of an HOA fills me with rage. My favorite HOA story is about a woman given fines for daring to hang a grass/bamboo blind outside her patio door, where the sun was heating up her house (California somewhere). Utter complete bullshit. HOA boards attract petty tyrants like moths to lights.

Yet, I do understand people don't want to have junk yards on their street. It's easy to resent a neighbor that lets his property go down. Yet other folks also get all bent because someone decides to paint their house a peculiar color--But then HOAs tend to mandate what color (and many people seem to think that looks nice).
posted by Goofyy at 2:29 AM on October 4, 2007


Nice one ageispolis, that's a nice bit of green anarchism! Think of all the cats' lives you saved. Or something.
posted by asok at 3:15 AM on October 4, 2007


Can somebody explain this HOA business to me? I don't understand at all. Are you forced to sign a contract with them and if you refuse to do so aren't allowed to buy the place? If the owners lose a sale because of this are they compensated? Does the HOA have to approve potential buyers?

This all seems very weird, sounds like people who live in areas where HOAs exist don't really own their property. It really boggles the mind.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:08 AM on October 4, 2007


The Wikipedia article on HOA's give a good basic description. Particularly of note to those questioning the legality of their governance:

Like a city, associations provide services, regulate activities, levy assessments, and impose fines. Unlike a municipal government, homeowner association governance is subject to corporation law, and sometimes specific legislation governing homeowners' associations. As HOAs are considered private corporations, they are not subject to the Constitutional constraints that public government must abide by.

And:

In some U.S. states, including California and Texas, a homeowners association can foreclose a member's house without any judicial procedure in order to collect special assessments, fees and even a fine.

That last bit, living is Texas, is why we avoided anything with any sort of HOA when we went house hunting. I'd rather live with dry dead lawns and a neighbor with a car too many in his yard than allow someone the right to fine me for having a dry lawn or painting my house an unapproved color and then take my house and sell it if I refuse (or can't) pay the fine.
posted by Orb at 4:24 AM on October 4, 2007


wow, orb, that stuff is freaky scary.. one thing i don't get is if the HOA is considered a corporation then this would mean that in order to enforce their rules and regulations they would have to own the property or at least part of it. no? i wonder if it's possible to vote an HOA out of existence?

i can understand the need for an HOA in an apartment building owned by lots of different people but for houses it doesn't quite make sense to me. ah well..
posted by canned polar bear at 4:47 AM on October 4, 2007


We looked at one piece of property in a new division, and the real estate agent handed us a book of HOA rules. I made it to the third page, the top of which stated that you had to plant Petunias, and you couldn't park pick-up trucks in your driveway, and you HAD to put in a flagpole and display an American flag. Then we started laughing and tossed it in the trash. It was just page after page of micromanagement of the homeowners' lives.

We drove by the place again (four years later) and all the empty lots were still empty. I wasn't terribly surprised, but it's a shame, because it's a beautiful piece of land and just what we wanted. We have since learned to adapt to inner city living with no pesky HOA (just a few insane neighbors).
posted by Orb at 5:00 AM on October 4, 2007


LOVE the photos of overgrown yards! Your yards are so much better than a manicured lawn of grass, even if it is all overgrowth. It makes me happy to think of the wildlife finding refuge in your yards.
posted by agregoli at 7:04 AM on October 4, 2007


Yeah, they're great unless you happen to live in one.

Good thing we're talking aesthetics, then.

Buuut given the choice between living in the country where people leave you alone and don't give a rat's about your yard or a crowded carbon-copy McMansion terrain, where uptight WASP wannabes are eternally fretting about 'the tone of the community', I'd take the former.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:36 AM on October 4, 2007


canned polar bear writes "i wonder if it's possible to vote an HOA out of existence?"

Most HOAs have a mechanism in place for disbandment. It's getting a bit tricky though as the trend in some places is for the HOA to own the streets and the quasi public improvements like parks. Disband the HOA and you don't have anyone maintaining these facilities. The best you can do is try and defang the HOA and turn it into something that just collects improvement fees.

Orb writes "you couldn't park pick-up trucks in your driveway"

One of my aunts lived in this kind of place. 4000 sq foot house and you couldn't park a truck or RV in the driveway. It had to be either in the garage or at a community parking lot a couple blocks away. Oh and there was no street parking in the whole neighbourhood. Which I guess would have been all right if it was 0.25 acre+ places but these were small 60X100 or so lots.
posted by Mitheral at 9:38 AM on October 4, 2007


salvia, no panthers, and I'm glad of it. I'm way too far into the city -- if there were panthers here they'd wind up as roadkill. Better for them to stay in the pines and the swamp.

agregoli, I've got several kinds of butterfly, bees (loads, there has got to be a hive nearby), all manner of birds (grackles, blue jays, cardinals, mockingbirds, and some little brown sparrow things are regulars), green anoles, brown anoles, house geckos, black racer snakes, Cuban tree frogs, some as-yet-unidentified green tree frogs, and spiny orb-weaver spiders with smiley faces on their backs. I walk outside and all I see are critters doing their thing. It's fantastic. Pictures of most of them (the reptiles, especially) are here.

This is my jungle which was weed-whacked and clear-cut and mowed down to bare dirt.. I want to say a month and a half ago? I mis-copied my Lawn Kid's phone number, so I have to wait until she shows up for it to be dealt with again. Once the rainy season is over I plan to sharpen up the machete (no, really, I have one, and that photo is why) and figure out what should be kept and what should go. Right now that'd be an exercise in futility.

This is why I could never live under a HOA. All the things that make my house special to me are, I'm sure, the sort of things that would cause one of them to foreclose. I fucking love living in Florida, and I want to see Florida when I look out my window. Let there always be a palmetto outside my bedroom window with a tree frog living in it, because that is a uniquely here thing, and I love it.
posted by cmyk at 11:21 AM on October 4, 2007


Fantastic, cmyk! That's the right attitude.
posted by agregoli at 12:17 PM on October 4, 2007


« Older Cry of Brazil   |   The Right (wing) to Voice an Opinion Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post