Courtesy of The Gwinnett Daily Post
July 9, 2005
have mixed emotions about neighborhood homeowners associations, or HOAs. I
don't really want anybody telling me what I can and can't do with my own
property. On the other hand, I definitely want someone telling my neighbors
what they can and can't do.
In the past, I've been critical of my own HOA. For two years, I battled the
president and his henchmen - I mean, the board - over a portable basketball
goal, which they said was prohibited by the covenants. I maintained it
wasn't. The stalemate was broken when the board resigned and the president
was exiled to the isle of Elba, off the coast of Italy.
Excuse me, wrong megalomaniac. Actually, I think he still lives in the
neighborhood, keeping a low profile. As a postscript to that story, many of
my neighbors now have portable basketball goals, just because they can.
Anyway, after that standoff was resolved, the new association leadership and
I entered into a period of uneasy detente. They left me completely alone and
seemed to be doing good things for the neighborhood, such as building
walking trails and keeping homeowners safe from marauding bands of lawn
gnomes. Still, I remained skeptical of the whole HOA concept.
Then my neighbor painted his house lemon-meringue yellow.
To put this in context, you must understand that our subdivision has
recently undergone something of a color revolution. All in all, this is a
good thing. When the homes were first built six or seven years ago, buyers
could choose any exterior color they wished, as long as it was beige. The
result is that the houses are all pretty much the same color, kind of like
Gwinnett County's political leadership.
However, the HOA has recently loosened up and added new colors to the
"approved" list, such as white and off-white. Just kidding.
Actually, they've added attractive shades of green, brown and yellow. But
one of those shades is not lemon-meringue.
Fortunately, it turned out to be human error: The painters simply got the
wrong shade of yellow. The homeowner was just as mortified as the rest of
us. I think even he called the HOA president to complain. That made 111
calls the poor president received that day - and we only have 110 homes in
our subdivision. The other call was from our letter carrier.
Anyway, the story has a happy ending. The painters rectified their mistake,
repainting the house in a shade that is much easier on the eyes, if not as
appetizing. And I gained a new appreciation for homeowners associations and
the ways they protect home values and community interests.
And now that I've said all these nice things about them, I wonder if the HOA
will mind when my cousin Bill and his wife, Linda, move their five kids into
the trailer I'm setting up in my backyard.
resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the
Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org