Thursday, April 10, 2008

Land of the free, home of the...Oh, wait.

Hey kids, did you know that your Homeowners Association has more power than the Federal government? Well, neither did I until yesterday. I came home to find an envelope taped to my door, a notice from my friendly HOA. I assumed it was about my lawn, which is a disaster. No, the knee-high weeds weren't the issue. It was my lawn sign. What I had failed to notice in the HOA's covenant is that signs, even those expressing support for a political candidate, are verboten.

Not realizing I had signed away my First Amendment rights when we moved into this neighborhood, I called the woman who heads up our HOA. Her argument was, if she let people do whatever they wanted, the neighborhood would quickly devolve into a ghetto.

I suggested that putting up a candidate's sign in my yard and turning my cul-de-sac into a ghetto weren't quite in the same ballpark and reminded her that political speech was protected by the Constitution. Then she asked me when the Constitution was written. I told her 1789. Then she said, assurance of her rightness swelling her voice, "And things have changed a lot since then, haven't they, sir."

I told her I had missed the news that the Bill of Rights had been amended to keep up with the times.

After 15 minutes, I knew that debating the fine points of Consitutional law was like explaining the ferris wheel to my dog. So I assured her that I would not remove my sign and said that if she was going to have me arrested give me a few hours notice so I could call the local news media.

Then I called my lawyer and guess what? My HOA does have the power to restrict my political speech. The city can't. The state can't. Not even George Bush can make me take down my yard sign.

But my HOA can.

So I'm writing a letter to the local paper, writing to the ACLU and, well, telling you. I've also asked when the next meeting of the HOA board is so I can attend. We'll see what happens.

But as it stands, I am not giving up. Too many people were brave enough to fight for my free speech, I'm at least brave enough to use it. Fuck the HOA.

And as soon as the housing market settles down, we're moving.
I hate the fucking 'burbs. Bunch of uptight little fascists.


JD Rhoades said...

Having been on one side or another of HOA squabbles for the past nineteen years (as a lawyer, not a homeowner) I can say with absolute sincerity that I would live in the street before I lived anywhere with an HOA. The people who tend to rise to leadership positions in an HOA are the type of people who like to be able to tell their neighbors what to do.

Best of luck, but your only hope is to be able to change the rules at the meeting. they won't do anything as crass as arrest you; they'll just charge you a fine for every day you have the signs up. Said fine will act as a lien on your house. Yes, this is legal.

David Terrenoire said...

Thanks, Dusty.

I was wondering how they were going to enforce this.

Yes, and I have learned a lesson. Never again will I live under the petty tyrrany of an HOA.

The fucks.

Anonymous said...

Since the bitch thinks that dusty old paper written in 1788 is irrelevant, I say take a page from Sammy Adams playbook.

Tar and feather her at the next HOA meeting, then dump all her tea in the pool.

JD Rhoades said...

A thought just occurred to me. If you haven't already seen it, make her show you exactly where it says no political signs. I won a case a few years ago because the alleged restriction claimed by the HOA didn't actually exist. I had another where the homeowner was charged with violating "architectural standards" which also, as it turned out, didn't exist.

John McFetridge said...

Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister of Canada may be most famous for his line, "All politics is local." That's where they really get ya.

But really, you're better off out of the burbs. Good luck.

Beneath the Carolina Moon said...

You mentioned that your lawn was a wreck. Are they doing anything about that, or the 40 other lawns that are wrecks and potentially contributing to making the neighborhood into a ghetto?

Are they stepping all over your constitutional rights, with the blessings of the law behind them? Yep. And, tell me again, what is their purpose for existing?

And we wonder about politicians and government?

Bryon said...

Wasn't the guy who turned out to be BTK president of an HOA or something? I remember them saying how much he liked to measure other peoples' lawns.

Jeff Shelby said...

Two thoughts here:

One - I would've paid a lot of money to hear that phone call had you been thoughtful enough to tape it for all of us.

And, two - your knee-high grass may come in handy here. Can you mow what the sign says into the lawn???:) (Pictures, please...)

Phoebe Fay said...

Argh! I hate HOAs, and I hate the tight-assed, priggish, prissy-faced self-righteous swine who try to enforce cookie cutter conformity!

Go get 'em!

Anonymous said...

Yes, people who tend to come to power in HOAs like to tell others what to do. HOAs = Fascism. Make sure you read the charter thoroughly. You may have to move to get away from it. Not all burb neighborhoods have HOAs.

Anonymous said...

I live 75 miles from the nearest city, and thought we could get away from all that HOA bullshit out here, 5 yrs after we moved here a group of assholes moved in and took over the board and started changing all the rules, It has been nothing but Hell ever since, The whole community is divided and does nothing but fight now, Our property values have gone down and nobody can even sell out because nobody in their right mind would want to move in here. Never again will we move into anywhere that has a HOA. Beware, they can go bad at any time!

Anonymous said...

Our HOA is the typical bunch of little minds that want to rule the world too. And they support their own special interests, trust me. I disagree with one of their policies, plus I disputed a fee they tacked on to my dues, and now I am sure they are targeting me. They are having a hard time collecting dues, and I can see why.

Question: Is there any chance that - with the housing market in the toilet and the economy going down the same path, any cbance that HOA's will breathe their last during the downturn? IE, could homeowners just rebel and quit paying the ridiculous dues that we pay in order to put up with these self-important little twits?

In The Land Of The Free download said...

its looking good:-)