Sunday, January 4, 2009
The Yard v. The Homeowners Association
I wouldn’t say that the houses are made of ticky tacky because they are very well built. And I wouldn’t say that they all look just the same because they each have at least one defining characteristic. But several of my Relatives in Far Flung States live in developments that are overseen by homeowners associations. I’m always amused and sometimes horrified by the rules that are imposed. Every once in awhile I hear a news report about some ridiculous thing that is forbidden by these associations, such as smoking in one’s own home, or putting up a wreath in the shape of a peace sign.
My own relatives have been called out for doing such outlandish things as hanging a wreath on a fence (wreaths must only go on the front door!), leaving the garage door open (“Is everything okay over there, hon? Your garage door is open!”) or planting a non-approved tree in the backyard (conifers only need apply). A neighbor of my aunt’s was chastised for putting his holiday decorations up after Thanksgiving. It seems one must wait until December 1.
The strictest rules apply to gardening and landscaping. In many developments, you can’t add any beds or plantings to the front yard at all. Backyard beds and plants must be approved and forget about storing a boat or putting in a swingset. They are very picky about parking too – they frown on any car that is not in the garage, and parking on the street is a big no-no. A dog must never be allowed off leash -- even in his own yard.
On the upside, they mow your lawn, trim your bushes, rake your leaves, plow your driveway and will repaint your door (but only in one of the pre-approved colors: slate, cream or “bark”). For my relatives who are mostly of retirement age, the trade-off is worth it, but I think it would be fun to live somewhere where the OPPOSITE kind of rules were in effect! Something like:
1) Your door cannot be painted the same color as any other door on your street.
2) Homeowners with the most diverse plant species in their garden win a gift certificate to the local nursery.
3) Garden gnomes, pink flamingos and colored lights encouraged year-round.
4) All front yards are hearby to be turned into vegetable gardens.
5) All homes come equipped with coops for free-range chickens.
Got any to add?