Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Of Neighborhoods and Homeowners Associations

I'm going to imitate the Ol' Curmudgeon - HARUMPH!!

We live in an older neighborhood. With the national trend in decreasing mortgage values, some of the residents recently decided we needed a Homeowners Association. We went to one meeting - assured ourselves that we weren't dealing with a "Covenant Community" situation (yuck). At the meeting, the Powers That Be told us that a Homeowners Association would decrease crime, increase property values and just be a Good Thing.

Two connected streets are involved here. Let's call them Rockytop and Aspen. The PTB, of course, live on Rockytop, and think that the people on Aspen (where we live) are lower class, or at least less classy than they think they are. So, all the children who live on Aspen are considered to be delinquents by the people on Rockytop. One of the Rockytop women said she had to keep chasing "those Aspen kids" out of her yard before he did something criminal.

Not only do we live on Aspen, 3 of our grandchildren live on Aspen - next door to us! Kids play in yards - not only their own yard, but the yards of everyone in the neighborhood. That's the way we played when I was a kid, and it warms my heart to see the kids in our part of The Neighborhood playing in the same way. They have a "secret clubhouse" under the huge bush in a yard several houses away. I remember having one of those - 5 houses up the street in the yard of a widow-woman who had no children.

Thankfully, she thought it was "cute," and didn't call the cops. The woman on Rockytop was ready to call the police because a kid was in her yard! Please note, she lives on the "outside" corner of The Neighborhood - right across the street from The High School - and the kid was in her yard right after school let out. Who didn't cross yards when walking home from school??? She's worried about her property values because a kid walked across her yard?

Speaking of property values, how does belonging to a Homeowners Association either increase or prevent decrease of property values - when the rest of the country is experiencing a general decline in mortgage lending?? Put signs up saying "Our houses cost more because we are holding the line on mortgage costs?" No, we will "keep up" our houses and yards better because we belong to this Association - because other neighbors will "tattle" on us if we don't. All the City Property Maintenance regulations will be Enforced!! So what now? Someone will sneak into our yard at night and measure the length of the non-existent grass? Count the number of leaves on our driveway? Count the number of patches of peeling paint on our abode?

BAH!! And again I say, BAH! At the first meeting, we asked what we were supposed to do - I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia and 2 degenerated disks in my low back. The Ol' Curmudgeon has 6 bad disks in his back and has had 2 heart attacks. We can't get out there and do major yard maintenance. The son next door had several episodes of heat prostration while in the military, and is very sensitive to heat - can't "do yard" in the summer. We finally found some kids up the street who are greedy capitalists (I love teenagers who are greedy capitalists!) and will mow our yard, front and back, for less than $100. So at least the mowing is taken care of. We'll teach them how to blow off leaves and stuff them into bags so the pick-up service will take them.

We were sent a message from The Homeowners Association that the police would be driving The Neighborhood and noting any deviations from the Property Maintenance Regulations.

OK - so now the police will take their valuable time inspecting the length of our grass and the number of leaves on the driveway? Great use of resources!!

The people on Rockytop say they are experiencing a small crime wave of break-ins. Especially on empty houses that are for sale. In addition, someone's garage was raided and several yard-maintenance tools (of the electronic and motorized variety) were stolen. OK. Rockytop is having a "crime wave" and the kids on Aspen who cross yards after school are part of this crime wave? How will our Neighborhood Association help with this crime wave? Well, the police will respond more quickly if we are United and have an Association!

HUH? How does that work? How about the people who live in Slum Row neighborhood? What if the residents there get together and create a Homeowners Association? Will the police respond more rapidly than they do now if they form the Slum Row Homeowners Association? The mind boggles!

Not only that, but to be a member of the Rockytop Homeowners Association (why isn't it the Aspen Homeowners Association?) we will be required to pay a membership fee! Currently it isn't much - only $35 a year. Remember that when I post the yearly fee every year from now on. Wanna make any bets as to whether it stays nominal or goes up?

Those of us on the "back end" of Aspen are considering having a block party and forming our OWN "Back of Aspen Homeowners Association." We'll help each other out with yard work, have block parties, and play loud music - so we can drive the residents of the Back of Rockytop crazy. Oh yeah - and we'll report suspicious kids setting up secret clubs in the bushes or cutting across yards to get home from school to the police.

Where's that CD of the Carmina Burana I got last year??

1 comment:

mike@playborhood.com said...

Hey, Elizabeth:

I really enjoyed this post! It's great to see you have kids outside playing.

I've just started an online community devoted to supporting parents who want their kids to go outside and play. It's called Playborhood.com. You might be especially interested in Mikes Manifesto.

Check it out and tell me what you think! Make a comment or two over there!

- Mike