I've Been Owned

I live in a neighborhood governed by a community association, which means I pay several hundred dollars a year for the privilege of being ordered by strangers to drag my trash cans into the garage.

Don't Tread on Me flagLike any government, the association has found it much easier to expand its authority than to occasionally unclench, review the rules, and get rid of the more nettlesome ones.

In some ways, it's kind of entertaining, like having a busybody in-law who can't repress the desire to micromanage your life. My actual in-laws are delightful people I got to know for the first time when they took me to an Orlando nudist camp against my will. It would take a lot of neglect for this free-spirited pair to object to the condition of my home. Even then, they'd be more likely to drag the trash cans in than put their concerns in writing. I wish all my problems could be solved by annoying other people until they fix them.

I was informed by mail today about my unclean mailbox and four other "compliance issues." The letter, copied to the Compliance Committee, is worded masterfully, suggesting that I must make things right within 10 days or find myself in a world of hurt:

Perhaps you have already started to address the problem or are having difficulty in doing so. In either case, would you please call our office ... and let us know the status? ...

Otherwise we will assume that you are taking care of this problem and will make a note to check again in 10 days to see how you are progressing.

The complaints were so specific -- "treat turf for weeds on right side of driveway" -- I'm surprised I didn't see someone walking my yard with pencil and pad.

Centuries after our forefathers tamed a wild verdant frontier, I can't help but think they'd be ashamed at what's become of the land they killed millions of indigenous people to acquire.

I'm thinking about flying one of the "Don't Tread on Me" Gadsen flags in my yard -- a giant mustard yellow symbol of America's unquenchable thirst for freedom.

I just have to get it approved by the Architectural Committee first.


I have to read through those things as part of my job; some of those things get ridiculous.

Just a warning, I once saw one that forbade anyone of "low or questionable character" from living in the subdivision. If yours has similar language, you may have to move.

And don't think that all that good will from the Vatican will help. Every neighborhood committee I've seen would evict God if he painted his trim an unapproved color.

Your in-laws provide the answer: doing yardwork and collecting your mail in the nude will help more than anything else in this case, but make sure you tame your wild verdant frontier first.

My dad lives in one of those weird gated community dealies in Lake Worth and ended up having some ridiculously expensive legal battle with his "community association" because they wanted him to move a tree about 6 inches as it didn't quite comply with one of their bajillion byelaws. He's now looking to move back to a "regular" neighbourhoods where people are free to live their own lives without some officious busybodies poking their noses in at every opportunity.

Land of the free? My ass!

1) Write to the various papers (both neighborhood and metro/local) about how difficult it is to live in your neighborhood, and that if people are looking for good neighbors they should look elsewhere.

2) Sell your house for a low value and ask the buyer to pay all associated costs (closing, etc.) so you can make the money up. If your home sells for cheap it makes it more difficult for your "neighbors" to sell for a good price - which is what they deserve.

3) Sue the association AFTER you have sold your property for the difference between your sale price and the top assesed value in your neighborhood. Claim they lowered the value by imposing undue burdens on potential buyers (which is not untrue), and that you could not continue to live there for fear of continued harassment.

Good luck!

tame your wild verdant frontier first

Landscaping or manscaping?

I thought you pay a lawn service, right? If so, delegate the responsibility to them... that's what you pay them for.

Freedom DOES have a price. You've traded your ability to do whatever you want with your property for an assumed assurance that your property value won't go down.

Sure, you run a risk of winding up with a wingnut neighbor who will put his chevy up on blocks, but the idea of someone else telling me what colors are ok on MY flippin' house just makes my skin crawl. Someone else feeling they have a right to tell me to treat the weeds next to MY driveway would make me run screaming from that neighborhood.

Better you than me, pal. I hope its worth it.

Welcome to the Way-new America where the real power is held not by the Republicans or Democrats but by the Third Party, The Buttinsky Party.

The Buttinsky Party is proof positive that the real shortage in American life these days is a number of punches right in the nose.

If more people got punched in the nose, they'd be much less likely to put their nose in.

Let's bring back this fine American tradition.

As for "the land they killed millions of indigenous people to acquire..." Well, you'd be hard pressed for lawns, garbage cans, don't tread on me flags and wifi broadband without that unremitting and very, very bad slaughter of the millions upon millions -- pretty near the entire population of everywhere USA.

Then again, the future always holds the promise of the invention of an alphageek time machine so that we can go back and undo it all and live, once again, with a clean conscience in our loincloths and yurts.

Someone else can bring back the yurts. When the time machine is invented, I'm going to eyeball the grassy knoll.

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