Monday, August 18, 2008

HOA - This Time It's Personal

Well, this post about our HOA (home owner's association) will probably not be what you expect. Yes, we have problems with our neighborhood, but we're not being hounded by the HOA. We ARE the HOA.

The Brain has the dubious honor of being the current president of our subdivision, which when you think about it, is quite possibly the world's most thankless job. There's no pay, no prestige, and rarely does anyone even say "thank-you". Mostly people are just a little crazy about something, and they want The Brain to Do Something About It.

You may have already noticed at some point in your life, that there are people in the world who are off their rockers. They just don’t see the world the same way as everyone else. Apparently crazy attracts crazy, because they’ve all ended up here. With us. (Wait, what does that say about us?)

If you don't believe it, come to my house and listen to a week or so of the phone calls and emails we get from our neighbors, who, without exception, all seem to have been hit right between the eyes by the Crazy Fairy's magical Wand of Insanity.

All The Brain wants to do, really, is keep the neighborhood normal. That’s it.

Ya wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, would you?

But the challenge comes in where one person’s normal, is another person’s Vietnamese roosters being kept in their backyard for the big Autumn Celebration which is 3 weeks away.

Oh the phonecalls.

At least they didn’t call at 5:30 am every morning - when the roosters woke up everyone within a 3 block radius.

And three weeks later, the problem was solved with the death penalty for the roosters. (Another thing the neighbors were a little vocal about.)

Then there was the time our neighbors at the top of the street installed a peeing-boy water fountain in their front yard. Nothing says class like a peeing boy permanently installed on your front lawn. It’s always fun to critique what someone else thinks is “art”. But the angry neighbor phone calls won out, and they ended up having to replace it with something else. (Everyone in the neighborhood still calls them the Peeing Family, though. I have to give a little nod to karma for taking care of that one.)

Then there's the couple who absolutely "does not have time" (use your sarcastic airquotes there) for yard work; including either mowing or even watering their expansive lawn. Naturally they live on the corner where you enter our subdivision. Yes, the very first house in the neighborhood. Last year they racked up hundreds of dollars in fines, but every time The Brain went over to ask what he could do to help (he even fixed their sprinklers for free), they gave him another sob story about how they just don't have time.

Maybe it's just me, but if you were racking up weekly fines, wouldn't you FIND time? Or at least pay someone to come and do it? Or sell your house and move to a condo where you can live in a yardwork free zone and never have neighbors knocking your door down again?

You know, everybody here has a rule they want enforced AND a rule they want overlooked. It's enough to drive you... Wait, I think I'm already there..

Who knew that when The Brain wanted to "get involved" and "make a difference", it would make him the Mayor of Crazytown.

And I? I am the Crazytown answering service.


Yvonne said...

Love the button. Where do we order one???

I can't believe you never posted about the peeing fountain ; )

There must be people who are "just too busy" in every neighborhood (or every family ; )

I think at your next meeting you should have "The Brain" get a little desk plaque that says "Work with me people". (I saw the plaque in a store and was so mad I didn't buy it for Allan ;)

Amy Peterson said...

"The Brain" is lovin his job now, right? Oh they didn't tell him that he needed a PhD in Psychology to be the president- I think there is some fine involved there, you should check into it! The answering service is perfect because you get to laugh first and then tell them there is nothing you can to but your husband will get back to them- perfect!

Jill said...

Better to be the answering service than the Mayor.

The Wiz said...

HOA's suck. I'm sorry, they just do. I do think it's the worst for the president, and I feel for you.

I mean, really, "normal" is different for everyone, you can't force people with peeing fountains to move, (and truly, if they did move, who knows? Somebody worse could move in) and fines just don't matter to some people. And if someone complains, then they feel like they've done their job, and now it's up to you. I hope you still have friends when your presidential stint is over.

Full disclosure: I did have a letter once about my weeds, which ticked me off, since we'd lived here about 3 weeks, and the weeds were out of control before we got here. Also, I didn't have time. :)

Also, everyone's yard here is full of rocks with random plants and the whole thing looks like one big weed pit unless you are familiar with AZ plant life, which I wasn't. I thought they should have given me a little time to get around to it, but I pulled my weeds and it's not a big deal.

Of course, I drove around and checked out everyone else's yard, mostly in an effort to see what was a weed and what wasn't, and as I learned, I also realized we were SO NOT the worst offenders, leaving me to believe my close neighbors are ones that like to complain. But whatever. They also watch my dog, and now I'm super vigilant about weeding, so we're good.

OK, long comment. Normal is overrated. Ditch being the president, disband the HOA, and let the weeds, the roosters, and the fountains run amock. Your sanity is worth it.

Paul said...

The lawn thing makes me crazy.

Our next-door neighbor is an imbecile, and I'm being kind. He bought a great house with a great yard, then just let it go. He told me when he first moved in that he hated yard work. Fine. Do what I do, and hire a service to keep up with mowing and weeding. If you can't do it yourself, and are unwilling/unable to pay someone, then you don't belong in the house. You have a basic obligation to your neighbors to keep up reasonable care of your yard.

My favorite was when he learned the word "xeriscape." Overnight, he became environmentally conscious - despite the fact that he had told me over and over that he was lazy ("I just hate being a slave to my yard.") and cheap ("I can't believe my water bills here - I'm cutting way back on watering:" and, "I offered the neighbor kid almost TEN DOLLARS to do our lawn, and he just didn't seem interested!").

So, I've decided to spray paint profanities on his garage door. It's the only real solution. I don't want to escalate it to arson, but I am not ruling it out - yet.

Heather said...

Ha, you are the 1st Lady of Crazytown! Isn't it awesome??

heather of the EO said...

Last time you mentioned your HOA, I was the idiot that said, "what's that?" Obviously I don't live in one. But I do find that all the crazies live on my street (amidst some of the Best Neighbors on the Planet). One crazy is currently taping the house next to us. Yes, video-taping. Just in case. You know in case they do something illegal. So weird. Another lady walks up and down the street with her arms above her head...
something about circulation.
Never boring. No, never boring.

mormonhermitmom said...

We passed on a little place just a couple of years ago and decided to keep renting when we saw all the HOA rules. The HOA wanted immediate improvements to the property if we moved in and it wasn't financially possible for us to do it, so we said no thanks. And we saw at least ten other properties in the development that had similar problems. If you don't enforce it for all, don't pick on just the newbies I say.
Interesting to hear the other side of the story though. How on earth did these things get started anyway? I thought this was the land of free expression.

"Vern" said...

Heather has a point, being First Lady of Crazytown has a nice ring to it.

Melissa said...

I've never complained to the HOA, but I've wanted to. Our neighbors have two yappy dogs. And they bark all. night. long. The neighbors obviously have really good insulation, because they never hear these nasty little beasts. I was outside the other day and the neighbor came home. The dogs went nuts and I said, "Your dogs are going to eat you alive!" His comment? "They just bark when they are happy". Those are the happiest dogs I HAVE EVER SEEN! (or heard... whatever!)

Nancy Face said...

One of my biggest pet peeves is people who don't take care of their stinkin' yards, forcing all the neighbors to look at the hideousness of it all! We have 3 or 4 of those on our street, and all the other yards are well kept, including those of elderly widows. GAH!!!

I need to go count to ten.

Nancy Face said...

I think a peeing boy fountain would be right up there with the pet PEEves.

kristen said...

Oh my gosh Heather! I was soooo going to say that.

I've complained to my HOA for insisting on dumping pounds of salt on our driveways, thus causing much chipping. We all just paid 400 bucks to repair said damage, but they insist they will still have to use the salt due to a stupid lawsuit. I tell, we live in a crazy world.

I feel for ya' though. That would be a tough job. Kudos to you guys for stepping up. It sounds like you're doing a good job. (I wish you could be mine.....) I actually ran to be on the board, but alas, was not elected.

And, a peeing statue? Seriously? What the crap are people thinking? People like that belong in Berkley CA. Freaks.

Heidi said...

A peeing statue. I would have insisted that stay up just to bring up the resale value.

Seriously, peeing boys are always a bonus.

Becky said...

You were right - this is definitely a different angle on the HOA thing than I was expecting to read about! Still, it was worth it. I'm so sorry about your husband's woes. It definitely would be a thankless duty, I can see that.

Still, I hate HOA's. I'll do everything I can to avoid getting into one when I finally get to live in a real house instead of an apartment. ;) As was said, normal has too subjective a definition. And you know, in my opinion, when everyone is "forced" to adhere to a certain definition of normal, things get boring, everything is too much the same. Sure, I'd rather not have a neighbor with a hideous lawn. And I'd definitely not appreciate looking at the Peeing Boy fountain. But then, I wouldn't want people hounding me if I decided to use multi-colored curtains in my most prominent window, either. Or dictating what I may or may not plant in my lawn. Or what type of fence I can have. My bottom line is that I just wish people could all possess common sense... and then use it, so society could do away with HOA's. Because honestly, in a lot of places, they get out of hand.

But again, bless your husband's heart for putting up with this job! Nothing like getting complained to, all day long. And if I had to have an HOA president, by the sounds of it, I'd want it to be him. :)

Chell said...

Hee hee ;)

Here in SA we dont have these HOA's and you should see some of the yards here! I kinds wish we had something like this to keep the neighbourhood in check.

But I wouldnt want to be in your shoes having to deal with the crazies!! :)

Chell said...

Ps: I need that badge!! :)

happy mommy said...

This was just the gut laugh I needed today, as I am dealing with another one of life's most dreaded groups, no, not HOAs....

4th grade girls who cannot all play nice together, and the parents who go mental and call special meetings about it.

I'll take your peeing boy statue over a mom who believes every single thing that comes out of her daughter's mouth any day.

But, this really isn't about me, is it?

The Dillon 6 said...

yeah -- the HOA is a double-edged sword. Hate 'em when they come after YOU, but LOVE them when you need them to go after your Neighbor. I hope your term ends gracefully and quickly!! :)

ganelle said...

I think I'd prefer Queen of Crazytown over First Lady, but that's just me.

Good luck with that! :)

East of Eden said...

The blog quote of the week goes to Randi: "You may have already noticed at some point in your life, that there are people in the world who are off their rockers"

Because yes, people are off their rockers....most of the time.

I would shudder to think if they even tried to put an HOA in our little dinky town. The people would surely rise up and overthrow the ruling class.

But roosters? Really? Roosters, in the city? As for the peeing boy, that is totally art, totally. Now, what do your rules say about Bathtub Mary's in the front yard, because that's a favorite in our town...big five feet tall Bathtub Virgin Mary's...from Walmart, made in China and out of plastic...classy, sooo very classy!!

No Cool Story said...

Heather took my comment!
ALl hail 1st Lady of Crazytown :D

Boy, that'd be a perfect job for blogging. You could write non-stop about all the craziness.