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"I'm doing this for my pride. I'm doing it for the principle of the matter. I'm also doing it because it's going to be awesome to have a robot pony bicycle when this all ends."
September 27, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

"The Home Owner's Association at my building has been leaving me notes asking me to clean up my parking spaces in the garage...Apparently, the rules say that only bicycles are allowed to be stored in these spaces. In the spaces I have: 2 bicycles...and one mechanical pony..."

via reddit:
Original post

Thrilling conclusion
posted by overeducated_alligator (77 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a proud example to anyone who's ever dealt with an HOA. Ride strong, Pony Express.
posted by JauntyFedora at 7:42 AM on September 27, 2010


The HOA picks on me because I'm a good 50 years younger than the average resident in this building, and am unmarried and living with my boyfriend (I live in the south). I'm tired of receiving their letters, while my messy old neighbors leave stacks of weird grandma shit all over the place...

Bitter old olds.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:49 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I could understand the notes if the writer was ignoring those bolts that robo-ponies 'leave' on the floor after eating.
posted by LD Feral at 7:52 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I was a kid and had nailed up a crappy little clubhouse (main purpose, avoid bad weather while not being under the same roof as adults), there was all sorts of rage from neighbors about having buildings near property lines. Looking around, I noticed a lot of people had trailers, right up against the fence, so I talked my dad into registering it as such. All we had to do was put wheels on it, some rear lights (unattached to anything), and get a license plate. Bam, trailer.

All this guy's pony needs now is to have glowing red eyes and play Laura Barrett when you bike around.

Christmas Eve, 2053, underneath every little girls' tree, a robot pony. Comb their soft and luscious nylon fur; listen close, hear their clockwork hearts whirr.

I fucking love it all.
posted by adipocere at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


I have a friend in Florida who, for years, never had a problem with her HOA. That is, until her spanish speaking boyfriend moved in with her. An unending steam of letters about everything from the location of her trash can to the way the lawn was trimmed descended on her. It was pure harassment.
posted by R. Mutt at 8:04 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


STAY GOLDEN MECHANICAL PONY GIRL
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:05 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


The bigger mystery is - why are there a couple of b/w cat photos in the mechanical pony photo set.
posted by dominik at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2010


It might be thrilling, but I seriously doubt it is the conclusion. From my experience, the miserable fucks that occupy HOA boards, are zombie-like in their pursuit of non-conformers. You might kill a few, but they replicate like septuagenarian rabbits, and eventually they will conquer all who stand in their way.


you have been warned !
posted by lobstah at 8:22 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Say, I was just remarking to some guests yesterday about how the board of our HOA are a bunch of perceived property value fetishizing Nazi tards and need to spend some time in a third world shantytown to get their heads straight.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:34 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: Stacks of weird grandma shit all over the place
posted by dirigibleman at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


You might kill a few, but they replicate like septuagenarian rabbits

So, not very fast, or at least in any way that would be interesting to watch?
posted by hanoixan at 8:47 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great story, but this photo is going to haunt my dreams.
posted by JoanArkham at 8:49 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The HOA picks on me because I'm a good 50 years younger than the average resident in this building, and am unmarried and living with my boyfriend (I live in the south). I'm tired of receiving their letters, while my messy old neighbors leave stacks of weird grandma shit all over the place...

No, they "pick" on you because you are apparently incapable of following the rules you signed up for when you moved in.

Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.
posted by madajb at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


> No, they "pick" on you because you are apparently incapable of following the rules you signed up for when you moved in.

Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.


Eh, HOAs are fine in abstract, and often do provide a necessary function. But if you're making that kind of blanket assertion then perhaps you've never seen a militant HOA goon in action.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


One of my coworkers just got elected to his HOA after the last board was turned out for embezzling funds.

His first email was from a resident complaining about pit bulls (not prohibited), someone parking their dump truck on the street (ok, we'll get on that) and his neighbor shooting a rifle off the back porch (holy shit, why didn't you call the police!). Evidently my coworker's failure to guarantee swift and terrible justice ( he replied with "ok, we'll check out the first two things, but you should really call the police if someone is firing guns in the neighborhood) was insufficient, and got an all caps reply accusing him of being a lazy bureaucrat who was too afraid to come out from behind his desk and do some real work.
posted by electroboy at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, they "pick" on you because you are apparently incapable of following the rules you signed up for when you moved in.

I think you missed the point. EVERYONE ELSE IS BREAKING THE RULES AS WELL. But only she gets the HOA up her ass. Get it???
posted by spicynuts at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.

I thought about it the same way for a long time, but I learned from the "Arizona Parking Solutions" story that in some areas finding such a neighborhood may be more difficult to find than most people think.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Many, not all, but many HOAs boards kinda remind me of Tea Partiers... which electroboy's comment kind of illuminated for me, the boards are often filled up with angry ranters who hound the reasonable people off the board and replace them with other angry ranters.

Seriously... there is something to be said for an agrarian society where your angry neighbors where a few miles away and at least had a bunch of hard labor to do to take the steam outta them.
posted by edgeways at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I try real hard not to be a prick, but it's a fine line to walk. On the one hand, it's your home, so you should be able to do what you want, but we all live here together, and we, you included, have agreed to certain rules.

Coincidentally, if you move into a place inhabited by older people, then expect that any young-type behavior is going to be met with some sort of disapproval and probably a good deal of static at all levels. This isn't unique to HOAs, it's any community.

That being said, if my Board had sent this notice and then later discovered that the pony had been converted to a pony-bike we would have noted this in the minutes and considered the problem resolved.

While it might seem like HOAs delight in tormenting "rule-breakers," it is often a pain in the ass. For us, any token symbol of conformity is a fine excuse to just leave it alone. We don't get paid to do the job and try very hard to spend only as much time as necessary to keep things running smoothly.
posted by BeReasonable at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every mad scientist I ever met had his own castle.
posted by digsrus at 9:25 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


My 'hood doesn't need an HOA, because if a neighbor is doing something that's a nuisance, we walk over to 'em and talk about it (or get talked TO) in person. Of course, we also walk over & chat even if nothing is wrong. That's why my street is full of great folks. Funny how that works.
posted by sciurus at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Actually in this case it's just the opposite. My coworker is the nicest guy in the world and ran for election because the previous board wasn't getting the grass cut and the trash removed. It's the residents that are the nutcases who think their HOA fee guarantees a private security detail and no neighbors darker than taupe.

My experience working on a community association board is pretty similar. No one follows what we're doing even though we send out newsletters, post our minutes on the web, have open meetings and email our constituency on important issues. The second someone gets a whiff of something they disagree with, we're bombarded with angry all caps emails about how this group of unelected elites is making decisions without telling anyone.
posted by electroboy at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2010


No one follows what we're doing even though we send out newsletters, post our minutes on the web, have open meetings and email our constituency on important issues. The second someone gets a whiff of something they disagree with, we're bombarded with angry all caps emails about how this group of unelected elites is making decisions without telling anyone.

This is a universal truth about human nature.

Arthur Dent's story is unrealistic (among other reasons) because humans would have been tossing the notice about the hyperspace expressway into the trash for thousands of years unread, ignoring the Vogon broadcasts once a month, and blocking out the giant WE ARE GOING TO BULLDOZE YOUR PLANET PLEASE RESPOND signs floating next to the moon since we crawled out of the trees.
posted by winna at 9:38 AM on September 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think you missed the point. EVERYONE ELSE IS BREAKING THE RULES AS WELL. But only she gets the HOA up her ass. Get it???

I thought the point was that the HOA and her neighbors were old and they had "weird grandma shit" and they smelled funny because they were old.
posted by rocket88 at 9:39 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.

Especially if you are black. Or "Mexican."
posted by mrgrimm at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


HOAs, ack! No way would I ever buy a house with one of those encumbrances. Way too much opportunity for petty Hitlers to strut their stuff.
posted by mdoar at 9:54 AM on September 27, 2010


It's also possible that:

1. She wouldn't know if her neighbors are getting notices about their weird grandma shit since she doesn't seem to have much of a relationship with them.
B. Her HOA may be long on threatening letters and short on enforcement.
III. The board is cutting some of her neighbors a break because they're old and might not be able to keep up with the housework as well as a 20 year old.
posted by electroboy at 10:01 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Eh, HOAs are fine in abstract, and often do provide a necessary function. But if you're making that kind of blanket assertion then perhaps you've never seen a militant HOA goon in action.

Heh, I'm quite active in my City's Neighborhood Associations program (a different beast from HOAs, but related).

Believe me, I've heard every just about every HOA horror story you can think of.
posted by madajb at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2010


I thought about it the same way for a long time, but I learned from the "Arizona Parking Solutions" story that in some areas finding such a neighborhood may be more difficult to find than most people think.

In new suburbs, they are definitely ubiquitous.
posted by madajb at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2010


I saw the photos before reading the story and was horrified. That is one creepy pony bike--reminds me of Survival Research Laboratories and other industrial horror art from the 80s. Seeing her smiling happily with her creation didn't help. I feel a lot better now that I know it's meant to piss off the HOA.

If she's forced to get rid of it, she should get a couple of these.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2010


Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.

Know how I know you're a curmudgeony HOA enforcement officer?
posted by splice at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


So this is how Androids Dreaming of Electric Sheep all begins, is it?
posted by symbioid at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2010


There was a story on NPR this summer about HOAs foreclosing on homes in TX for missing payments on dues.
posted by edgeways at 11:29 AM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The way most HOAs are set up, the only enforcement mechanism they have is through placing a lien on your property. Although that's pretty much the same way a lot of cities handle it.

Here in Baltimore, there's a cottage industry of buying up unpaid ground rents and tax liens, charging the owner the maximum legally allowed "recovery" fees, then foreclosing after the owner can't make the payments.
posted by electroboy at 11:55 AM on September 27, 2010


I own a townhouse that I rent out. There is an HOA that I never had a problem with, until my most recent tenant moved in.

I love my tenant. He pays on time. He put in a new hardwood floor for next to nothing because he found a great deal on material and he's handy. He doesn't drink, smoke, or throw wild parties.

The HOA HATES him. For two reasons: he's blue-collar, and he's black.

"Frank's parking his trailer in the parking lot! Covenant violation!" Um, no. The trailer isn't parked; it's attached to his truck. It leaves when he leaves. Not. Parked.

"Frank's having a CRAZY PARTY!" Um, no. Frank invited his preacher and his wife over to dinner after church, then they sat out on the back porch and listened to gospel music. Until 9 PM. Not a crazy party.

And here's the best one: "Frank DISRESPECTED me!" I actually got a call from a neighbor who was absolutely furious that Frank had the temerity to slam the door in her face after she called him "colored". Un. Bee. Lievable.

Little tinpot fascist fucks running the neighborhood like it's their own fiefdom and trying to bully their way to an all-white suburban enclave. Argh. This makes me so angry.

Fortunately, Frank is a thick-skinned guy who relishes a fight, and so, as it happens, does his landlord.

Bring it on, HOA.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:09 PM on September 27, 2010 [84 favorites]


Honestly I was expecting a bit more out of this than pony fabric grafted onto the bike. I was thinking of attaching the hooves to a wheel and some metal bones and joints to simulate leg movement, but the horse in question is far too short for that. So now you've got a piss poor bike and a ruined mechatronic pony. I hope you're also good with rhinoplasty after spiting that face.

We're fortunate enough to live without a HOA, and I have a friend who presides over one in exchange for the fees. I think the deal is that HOAs are like families: good HOAs are all alike, and dysfunctional ones are dysfunctional in their own way. My favorite is the construction contractor who's wife was on the HOA board and who regularly voted for and passed mandatory improvements.
posted by pwnguin at 12:28 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem with a lot of things like that (HOAs, community associations, police) is that a lot of people use them to fight the personal grudges they don't have the stones to settle with their neighbors face to face. Kids playing music too loud? Call the police! Think your neighbor's porch is ugly? Tell the HOA! Much easier than discussing things like adults.
posted by electroboy at 12:29 PM on September 27, 2010


Know how I know you're a curmudgeony HOA enforcement officer?

Heh, while I do technically live under an HOA, it has not met since, as near as I can tell, about 1987.
Here's hoping my neighbors never discover it!
posted by madajb at 12:31 PM on September 27, 2010


I have to deal with a management company that gets a stick up its ass every time there's a unit for sale in the building (which makes me blame the realtors). The AOAO for the building eventually reins them in on every issue, but in the meantime it's pure stupidity.

The latest is a ruling from on high that only one pet is allowed in each unit. Before that we had a ruling that since your vehicle must be centered in your parking space, and the parking space has only one center, that means you can't have a motorcycle and a car in the same space. And god help you if you're a renter and not an owner.

Then they don't keep a record of what the AOAO has ruled, so five or so years down the line we go through the same stupid hassle.

The problem with many HAOs is that the bylaws give the developer control until the last unit is sold, and the developer is only interested in making the place look as bland as possible, so anyone who sticks out for any reason is going to suffer (and they can make you suffer). We have HAOs that prohibit rain gutters, for some god-awful reason, as if ditches in your yard from the run-off are more attractive than gutters on the eaves. They have rules about what plants you can have in your yard and what color your house (and roof) can be painted, and those rules almost always prohibit ecologically conscious alterations like reflective roofs and xeriscaping.

And the only way to escape HAOs is to find a house in an area that predates the concept.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:32 PM on September 27, 2010


For all those saying they'd never buy a home with an HOA, try finding a new home w/o one.

We have a fairly militant one here, but on the other hand, there are no cars up on blocks.
posted by jeblis at 2:06 PM on September 27, 2010


jeblis writes "on the other hand, there are no cars up on blocks."

You say that as if it's a good thing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:18 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


All I know is this: one day, as I lie on my deathbed, gasping for oxygen and staring into the abyss, I will be comforted by the fact that one of my last acts on Earth was to paint that goddamn townhouse front door bright pink with green trim, just to hear the head-pops of the HOA. Go ahead. Sue a dead man, you fuckers.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:44 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


they replicate like septuagenarian rabbits

I guessing you're talking "rabbit years" there. Cuz when I first envisioned actual 70-year-old rabbits replicating, it was ... gruesome. (Brrrr)

I'm guessing home-owners associations must have been invented by school-board members. Sort of a treacle-down theory.
posted by Twang at 2:49 PM on September 27, 2010


Oh, how awesome. As I was reading about all these nosy parkers, "Harper Valley PTA" came up on my shuffle. Now I'm leaving the thread feelin' good and full of righteous justice in the face of Harper Valley hypocrites everywhere.

Sock it to 'em, robot pony bicycle girl!
posted by Spatch at 3:02 PM on September 27, 2010


Let me just say, as a reluctant HOA president (somebody has to make sure business gets done, and nobody else is willing), that until I joined my HOA board of directors I never knew it was so goddamn difficult for people to follow two simple rules.

1. Be considerate of your neighbors.
2. Don't be an asshole.

Seriously. I don't want to have to babysit my neighbors. I don't want to get phone calls and emails from neighbors who can't get along with one another. I don't want to be threatened with a lawsuit over every little perceived injustice. But I do. Every. Single. Day. I lived here for years, blissfully ignorant of all the nonsense that HOAs have to deal with. Then I was asked to join the board because most of the board members had just kind of faded away and nothing was getting done. Sure, I'm a community-minded guy, how hard can it be? I had no idea that so many people in my own community were such complete nincompoops who are happy to complain, complain, complain about every little thing that bothers them. But just talk to your neighbors, be decent to each other, make an effort to get along, or if that doesn't work step up and volunteer some of your time to be a part of the solution? Oh, heavens no! And god forbid the HOA doesn't send a letter or impose a fine when a rule is broken. You've just set a precedent and there are a dozen people who will deliberately break that rule at every opportunity.

I'm sure there are plenty of petty tyrannies posing as HOAs, and I'm sure it sucks to live under them. But HOAs do serve an important purpose in many cases, and they often consist of community members who volunteer their time to do the work that nobody else is willing or able to do. I can't tell you how many people in my community treat me as though I'm their enemy when I am volunteering time that I'd prefer to be spending on anything else, to look out for the best interests of the community and make sure business gets done. So fuck HOAs? Sure, I'm with you on that. Homeowners Associations suck. But it's not because the associations suck, it's because homeowners suck. You don't like your HOA? Step up and work to make your community the kind of place you'd like it to be. Or shut the hell up.

Thanks for listening. And ride on, robot pony bicycle girl.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:12 PM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Step up and work to make your community the kind of place you'd like it to be. Or shut the hell up.

Community?

*Jim Mora voice*

COMMUNITY?!

That's exactly why HOAs exist: to substitute legal mechanisms for the social norms of a community. The better to fuck with dangerous outsiders who might not want a shit-brown front door, or who might, God forbid, repair their own vehicles.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:28 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's exactly why HOAs exist: to substitute legal mechanisms for the social norms of a community.

Or, you know, mow the grass in the playground. Hire a lifeguard for the pool. Fix the streetlights.

But don't let the humdrum mundaneness get in the way of your outrage.
posted by madajb at 5:38 PM on September 27, 2010


I've never had a HOA in charge of any property I've owned, and I've owned 6 houses now. Unlike what some above say, it hasn't been that hard to avoid them, and I've owned property in three states now.

Why would I want to do have a HOA-encumbered property? It sounds awful. I respect Balonius Assault above for his/her attempts to help, but I wonder why it is necessary. My street & neighborhood here in Portland work just fine without a HOA. If a neighbor is a total jerk, they get other neighbors telling them that, and then eventually if the neighbor persists in being a jerk, the police are called.

How is that wrong? How is a HOA any better? One of my neighbors recently had the police called because he had an RV (used for Burningman, but I think I was probably the only one who correctly guessed that) parked in front of his house without moving for too long. We (the reasonable neighbors, you know, the ones who talk instead of calling the cops right away to deal with our annoyances) think someone is trying to sell their house, and is trying to spruce up the neighborhood. House sales are rare on my block, because we talk (I think).

OK, the guy moved his RV. No biggie. He would have done it if the anonymous complaining neighbor had simply asked, but whatever. How would a HOA have helped? Would it be any faster, would the result be any better?

I am not being disingenuous, I am honestly asking, how is a HOA a benefit to non passive-aggressives?
posted by Invoke at 5:56 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe HOAs are mandated in all new communities over a certain size here in VA. Many services that government usually provides are shunted off to the HOA. (Trash, street maintenance, snow removal) But hey...at least our taxes are low. we just pay for it elsewhere

Also, I wish we knew our neighbors more, but this is a transient area. People move in and out all the time, and not having kids in school means we're sort of outsiders. Not everyone lives in Mayberry.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:07 PM on September 27, 2010


Or, you know, mow the grass in the playground. Hire a lifeguard for the pool. Fix the streetlights.

But don't let the humdrum mundaneness get in the way of your outrage.


You're absolutely right and I stand corrected. It was wrong of me to imply that all HOAs are totally useless pieces of shit just because the one I happen to be dealing with is a totally useless piece of shit. I'm sure many of them are doing great things to make sure their neighbors meet their stringent standards of propriety.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:25 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh BitterOldPunk, ILYSFM.
stay bitter bb, stay bitter :)
posted by liza at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2010


But HOAs do serve an important purpose in many cases

Such as?

Apart from paying for maintenance on commonly-owned stuff, it's difficult to imagine anything that HOAs do that couldn't be dealt with more simply and fairly by a de jure government instead of a de facto one. And with a de jure government, you have the advantage that it can't legally enforce laws unequally.

Even with stuff owned in common... I dunno. I'd much rather see a city or county playground or park or whatever than one built by a developer and managed by an HOA. Paid for by actual no-shit taxes, democratically decided upon, instead of by pseudo-taxes from the fake government.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


btw, this is the thing of nightmares
posted by liza at 6:33 PM on September 27, 2010


I am not being disingenuous, I am honestly asking, how is a HOA a benefit to non passive-aggressives?

Depends on what you are into.
As I said above, a lot of HOAs are in charge of common areas. Someone needs to take care of those places, and a HOA makes it easy.
In addition, HOAs can take care of things that would otherwise involve local governments and hence tax dollars - out of code outbuildings, derelict cars on the street, etc.

The HOA up the street from me holds an annual street festival, has a nice newsletter where kids can advertise babysitting services, and is generally low-key about violations.

On the other hand, if you're the type of person who likes everyone's lawn to be no more than 1" high, likes all the houses on your block to be taupe (it's very soothing) and hates clotheslines, then there is an HOA somehwere for you as well.

Can they be taken over by tin-pot busybodies? Sure they can, but so can school boards and city councils.
posted by madajb at 6:51 PM on September 27, 2010


Don't like HOAs? Don't live in a neighborhood that has one.

Or, you know, people can try to mind their own business and not be flaming asshole wrecks of human beings who voted themselves a small measure of power and intend to use it to make everyone around them miserable as a reflection of their horrible empty lives.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 8:04 PM on September 27, 2010


Can they be taken over by tin-pot busybodies? Sure they can, but so can school boards and city councils.

The regulations issued by school boards and city councils are limited by constitutional freedoms held against governments, and the actions of school boards and city councils are restricted by the equal protection clause.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


My 'hood doesn't need an HOA, because if a neighbor is doing something that's a nuisance, we walk over to 'em and talk about it (or get talked TO) in person. Of course, we also walk over & chat even if nothing is wrong. That's why my street is full of great folks. Funny how that works.

This works beautifully in older, established neighborhoods where many residents have lived there since the town was platted and many more residents intend to live there until they die--barring changes in fortune that cause the fabric of the community to deteriorate. Neighborhoods where people feel a genuine sense of ownership and pride. People move out reluctantly and move in because they can see and sense that it will be a good place to be. Even the odd nasty neighbor in a real, organically developed community, is usually more of a lovable crank than a real nuisance.

It doesn't work as well in recently-sprung-up erzatz communities, where people are more staying there than living there, even if they stay there for decades. When two hundred plus people come from wherever to all buy brand-new houses within a few years of one another, you don't get a community, you get a large-scale version of The Real World. The HOA functions, at worst, as that asshole who is always wondering who is eating the peanut butter with their fingers.

In my experience, living in a lot of places, from pretty much the lowest neighborhood on the socioeconomic scale, through suburbs of all stripes, to upscale urban living--it's hard to find that sense of neighborliness in any community that was planned purely for people to sleep someplace and have a lawn to mow.
posted by padraigin at 8:31 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter : HOAs :: the Tea Party : Federal Government
posted by electroboy at 8:41 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


HOAs do serve an important purpose in many cases

Such as not being bound by the same legal constraints as a "real" government, while still having the power to act as if they were a government.

Various people have commented on the death of neighborliness. I'm doing some work for a landlord right now, and her new tenant told me about trying to go around and meet the neighbors, and despite the fact that they were obviously home, no one would come to the door. So he hasn't met a single person in his cul-de-sac. (Bunch of crappy McMansions, a lot of the work I'm doing is correcting stuff that would never have been done in a properly built house.)
posted by Jimmy Havok at 8:53 PM on September 27, 2010


The regulations issued by school boards and city councils are limited by constitutional freedoms held against governments, and the actions of school boards and city councils are restricted by the equal protection clause.

Uh-huh, and the regulations issued by an HOA are limited by the existing CC&Rs, applicable contract law, and state laws governing HOAs.
posted by madajb at 10:28 PM on September 27, 2010


Uh-huh, and the regulations issued by an HOA are limited by the existing CC&Rs, applicable contract law, and state laws governing HOAs.

Yay. More lawyers. Awesome. Group hug!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:23 PM on September 27, 2010


Friend of mine would get his boat out of storage and park it overnight in front of his house so he could head out to the lake first thing the next morning. The HOA complained that it was against the rules to park a trailer overnight on the street.

At the next HOA meeting, my friend suggested making the housing tract a gated community.

HOA reply was that they could not, since they do not own the roads.

His reply was that since they don’t own the roads, they have no authority to tell him that he could not park his boat on them.

Homeowner – 1
HOA - 0
posted by Krapulous at 12:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Uh-huh, and the regulations issued by an HOA are limited by the existing CC&Rs, applicable contract law, and state laws governing HOAs.

The bill of rights and equal protection clause are just a wee bit better guarantors of individual liberty and property.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:59 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are (gasp) neighborhoods where that community sense is lacking. Ours, for example. When our "neighbors" (I use that term lightly for week-on-week renters in the slum house across the street) decided to jump-start their scooter at 11:30 PM right outside our window while screaming into the telephone (not hyperbole) and I suggested they take it back into their own yard, the answer was "You ain't my daddy, you can't tell me what to do! If you don't like it, you can move!"

Or the guy catty-cornered calling his lost dog at 3:30 AM, walking up and down the street and yelling for it. There, I told him to be quiet, and his answer was to complain at length and loudly about some motherfucker telling him to keep quiet when all he was doing was calling his damn dog.

The police know me by name now.

My point is, for all you people saying how people can just talk to their neighbors - that really only works in established communities. If you don't have that, you need force. Living in this particular neighborhood has really started making me understand authoritarians. (Of course, the house was really cheap.)
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:56 AM on September 28, 2010


Or, you know, mow the grass in the playground. Hire a lifeguard for the pool. Fix the streetlights.

Maybe I'm confused, but I thought that's what cities were for. ??
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on September 28, 2010


But haven't you hear, mrgrimm? Government is BAD, BAD, BAD and doing things privately is always the best solution!
posted by JoanArkham at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2010


What's pretty often the case is that HOA developments are built outside of incorporated areas and don't get the benefit of city/town services. It makes them cheaper to build and cheaper to buy, but your property taxes don't cover a lot of the service like garbage collection, right-of-way maintenance that you'd normally get from living in town.

My neighborhood in Baltimore is a special benefits district, which means pay a surcharge on our property taxes and get some additional services (street cleaning mostly) from a quasi-public agency that has to be reauthorized every few years. It's kind of a weird thing, in that they're providing a service that the local government should be providing, but our city is strapped for cash and wouldn't provide those services no matter what we do. The benefits district also doesn't have any enforcement powers or special rules. Their job is to clean the streets, empty the trash cans and STFU.

It wouldn't really work in an unincorporated area though. Most places like that don't have zoning, so your neighbor could convert his house into an aluminum smelter and you wouldn't have much recourse.

I don't really understand the HOA hate. Presumably people know the HOA rules when they move in and even if they don't like them, you can always change the rules if enough of your neighbors agree.
posted by electroboy at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2010


electroboy writes "The benefits district also doesn't have any enforcement powers or special rules. Their job is to clean the streets, empty the trash cans and STFU. "

This would seem to be the ideal HOA setup (even though it sucks that your city isn't providing basic services like trash pick up). Pretty much all the HOA horror stories involve their ability to fine and/or foreclose on properties.

electroboy writes "I don't really understand the HOA hate. Presumably people know the HOA rules when they move in and even if they don't like them, you can always change the rules if enough of your neighbors agree."

Problems include uneven enforcement; a change in what is enforced; a change in CC&Rs. Or when a dormant HOA (like say madajb's which hasn't met in a couple decades) elects a few members who get religious. Or even a shifting in priorities. And many people are ignorant of how a HOA can make one's life hell when they buy a home. Renters won't even see the CC&Rs and generally don't get a vote in meetings.
posted by Mitheral at 9:26 AM on September 28, 2010


What's pretty often the case is that HOA developments are built outside of incorporated areas and don't get the benefit of city/town services.

Unincorporated areas can be annexed.

It wouldn't really work in an unincorporated area though.

Of course it would. Lots of unincorporated areas receive services through special districts. Fire districts, water districts, what have you.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2010


Or when a dormant HOA (like say madajb's which hasn't met in a couple decades) elects a few members who get religious.

Luckily, we don't have a lot of turnover in my neighborhood so (thankfully) that's pretty unlikely.

My HOA is fairly old though, so the CC&Rs were created long before much of the nonsense current HOAs are known for.

They're all of about a page and a half long and I can count about 7 violations just looking out my window. Hopefully if anyone did get a wild hair about starting it up again, they'd take one look out their window and give it up as a lost cause.
posted by madajb at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2010


His reply was that since they don’t own the roads, they have no authority to tell him that he could not park his boat on them.

Heh, good for him. Hoisting someone on their own rules is always a good time.
posted by madajb at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2010


Unincorporated areas can be annexed.

Which sort of defeats the purpose of buying in an unincorporated area. You trade off municipal services for lower housing prices, lower property taxes and a certain amount of freedom from zoning laws. It's fine to say that people should just suck it up and pay the costs of living in a town/city/community, but I don't see how that's fundamentally different from saying "you don't like HOAs? don't live in one".
posted by electroboy at 11:35 AM on September 28, 2010


Maybe I'm confused, but I thought that's what cities were for. ??

Many HOAs have private common areas for the use of residents.
posted by madajb at 11:38 AM on September 28, 2010


This would seem to be the ideal HOA setup (even though it sucks that your city isn't providing basic services like trash pick up).

They pick up the trash, but only when you put it in cans behind your house. The benefits district has guys that clean the alleys and pick up litter and the occasional sofa that people dump. But since they're funded through a property tax surcharge, they *can* foreclose on your property, although it'd be the city, not the benefits district that would do it. (Actually what happens is the city auctions off your tax lien, then some douchebag speculator forecloses on you).
posted by electroboy at 11:49 AM on September 28, 2010


I recognize that many (most?) complaints of HOA abuse are valid, but in a condominium there really is a need for a condo association with some way to enforce payment of dues. Unlike a subdivision with free-standing houses, in most condos the common areas include the roof and exterior walls. If owners don't pay their dues, maintenance stops and the place falls apart pretty quickly. You often see a death spiral where a few folks don't pay, maintenance starts getting neglected, then more people stop paying because the association isn't keeping up with mowing and painting, and then maintenance gets more neglected, and more people stop paying. In that type of situation, the association really does need some way to make people pay. One condo association I worked for had buildings covered in synthetic stucco that were rotting away behind the styrofoam. Without everyone contributing to repair the exterior walls, the place would have literally fallen in on itself.
posted by fogovonslack at 2:48 PM on September 29, 2010


> your neighbor could convert his house into an aluminum smelter and you wouldn't have much recourse.

"I'd love to head to the lake with you and Sue but you know smeltin' ain't easy."
posted by Skorgu at 12:29 AM on September 30, 2010


I always found it funny how HOAs were so often run by "freedom loving" tea party types who have aggregated themselves into the modern equivalent of a commune, at least for housing purposes, so that their freedom to live their life as they see fit without government intervention is now usurped by the HOA. I guess just like in communist Russia it's OK to take freedom when you are the one doing the taking.
posted by caddis at 6:21 AM on October 2, 2010


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