Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
July 1, 2005
am proud to say that I am a homeowner living the American dream in a
beautiful neighborhood in Peoria. I thank my lucky stars every night.
However, if there were one burr in the saddle of my suburbia, it would
be the homeowners association.
In theory I can understand why we have such an association. In principle
I can't understand at all how we give a group of people the right to
ding us for our so-called "sins" as homeowners. Worse, we pay
them a monthly fee to do so.
I have found in many conversations with other homeowners the same token
of disdain. On one hand I am glad to know that there is a group to keep
our neighborhoods beautiful, free of broken-down cars or a yard
knee-deep in weeds. What I can't understand are all the violation
notices and fines that are enforced for things that can be very personal
to home ownership.
I have received violation notices for weeds that I do not have; for cars
parked in the street overnight, many of which were friends visiting my
neighbor's; and for having left my garbage can out on the sidewalk
overnight. And when I say overnight I mean, literally, my garbage was
left out on the sidewalk until the following early-morning hours of
garbage day. I have therefore been fined for that unacceptable human
behavior as well, and on more then one occasion.
It doesn't matter whether you're a single, working mother with a million
other things on your mind or the pope. You are NOT to leave your garbage
can out on the sidewalk for any reason whatsoever. I'm guessing it's
somehow a threat to society that consequently incurs a $25 fine. To add
insult to injury, if you don't pay these fines, they can take a lien out
against your house, and all because my 12-year-old son forgot to put
away the garbage can.
It's getting to the point where I am afraid to open my mail. I take good
care of my house. It's not always easy on a single salary, but I do the
best I can. What makes it harder is paying fines for human error. I
think it'd be cheaper for me to pay for a room at a local resort for my
garbage can to sleep overnight rather then just leave it on the
A couple of years ago I bought my youngest son, Alec, a basketball hoop
for his birthday. I have never seen a boy more excited about a gift. But
after three months of violation notices, 20 attempted phone calls and
$100 in fines, I finally had to remove the hoop.
Alec was so disappointed, as was I. My disappointment stemmed from my
heartbroken son. It made me angry. I'm living in a country where we have
the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and what not, but I can't
for the life of me keep a basketball hoop in my driveway for my boy.
I was later told that had I just jumped through all the right hoops
(pardon my pun) in the beginning, then it just might have been possible.
A ll I know is that those violation notices gave me no choice. Since
then I have had a bitter taste in my mouth each month that I write a
check to the HOA.
I really am not confrontational. In fact, I am a very easy-going gal. I
always try to find the bright side of things, and people have found it
hard to do that in my dealings with the HOA.
I write this on the cusp of just having white-knuckled yet another
violation notice, this time for my garage door that is "not quite
in alignment with the other neighboring houses." I am finding that
"keeping up with the Joneses" has never been more of an uphill
and costly battle. And in a world as diverse as this, we are ultimately
being fined for not all being in "perfect alignment" with what
one association deems to be "perfect."
June Reilly is a freelance writer and communications specialist. She is
a single mother of two boys and the author of the children's book
"My Stick Family; Helping Children Cope with Divorce." She can
be reached at [email protected] The views expressed are those of