By on July 21, 2011


It just does my heart good to see a suburban Denver neighborhood in which there’s no meddlesome HOA to tell a man he can’t have a vintage customized Econoline on the street and a Mustang drag racer in the driveway.

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46 Comments on “Down On The Mile High Street: Take That, Homeowners’ Associations!...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Murilee, I wish you could meet a fellow gear head and collector of all things not worth my time – my buddy in Missouri! Two peas in a pod, that’s for sure. I’ll be spending my annual day in the country at his dump – I mean “house” with him next month – who knows what he’s going to get me involved in. Most likely, wrenching on one of his old junkers and a hair-raising ride in his 1961 PV544 right after he stuffs my face with his own brand of biscuits-and-gravy washed down by some of his booze! What a way to start a morning! My wife just shakes her head when I tell her of our day’s escapades when I return late in the evening, thinking about next time! Good grief, I’m 60, he’s 59 and we still act like kids! Great times! Stuck in the 60′s and 70′s forever.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “It just does my heart good to see a suburban Denver neighborhood in which there’s no meddlesome HOA to tell a man he can’t have a vintage customized Econoline on the street and a Mustang drag racer in the driveway.”

    I’d agree, what a beautiful sight. Especially when you add in the overgrown lawn and the pile of junk next to the Mustang. I’m guessing the leaning car tailer, that probably isn’t road worthy or liscensed, has at least one flat tire. And most likely it’s been a long long time since that Mustang has seen a drag strip…..LOL

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      That “junk” is a couple kid’s toys. The trailer isn’t going to look any prettier with a small metal state-issued tag affixed to it. The van looks like hell but it’s amazing to see what looks like one of the original engine-in-a-box-between-the-seats Econolines still on the road! Lawn looks ratty.

  • avatar

    That’s not a Mustang, that’s a beached pregnant whale masquerading as a Mustang! :)

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      Yeah, have you ever sat in one of those? I’m 6′ 2″ tall, and the beltline is about at my shoulder level. Those things make better drag cars than street vehicles…you only need to see down the dragstrip.

  • avatar
    Trauto

    HOA can be a pain in the rear.

    But here in south Florida — which has suffered a lion’s share of hard times — it’s no small thanks to HOA that my neighborhood and others like it have narrowly escaped resembling the above.

  • avatar
    michal1980

    Just because you CAN do something does not mean you SHOULD do it.

    Your on that fine line of why some people love and create HOAs.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    First of all, there is really no real reason to think the Mustang wasn’t racing last night. It just looks like that because the track was really dusty. And that is not junk next to it – it is simply a child’s playhouse that hasn’t been set up yet. There is no reason to judge this guy based on the fact that his grass grows faster than everyone else’s. He fertilizes it. That is why is is so high, so fast. His lawnmover is in the garage, and he will make sure it is cut as soon as his wife returns from the maternity ward. The doctor told her she will need a few more days before she can get back to gardening. The riding tractor is going to be rigged so that she can breast feed the twins as she mows.

    The van needs to be washed – thats all. The fact that it is older and has a unusual color, doesn’t mean it is rolling junk. As soon as the water department gets that check he sent – they will turn on the water so that the van can get washed.

    He knows that the house needs to have the old shutter attached to the windows, as soon as he finds them again in the garage. He stored them back there just last autumn in order to paint them. But right now the garage is full because his ex-wife’s junk is still there. As soon as she pays him back for the bail money he loaned her when she got that completely unfair DUI last year, she can have her junk back. He already tried a garage sale. No one is buying Beanie Babies anymore. He got $5 for her mom’s Hummel, but no one wants her ash tray collection or her match book collection. This neighborhood is full of snotty people who just don’t see value in what is obviously worth a whole lot more than they think.

    According to eBay, his garage is a freaking gold mine. There are five IBM PC Jrs somewhere, right next to the shutters. When he finds a buyer for those things, he can get the paint to do the shutters.

    And the van isn’t really leaking all that bad either. Everyone knows that these vans always leaked. So, those street stains are completely normal. There is no reason the city came by and gave him that ticket to clean it up. He is being discriminated against.

    See the door? That’s new. Just put it up last year. He didn’t want to put it up, but the ex-wife was threatening his new wife and kids when she got tanked up. Her boyfriend tried kicking the door in, and this protector door keeps him out. That and the restraining orders.

    Look, he is doing the best he can. There is no reason to judge. He has every reason to keep the old 1975 Dodge camper parked behind the garage. It still runs. As soon as he gets some new tires on it – he intends to take it to the lake. It isn’t a dog house. The dogs are just staying in there on hot days to keep out of the sun. No one likes pit bulls anymore? You want to see them dead from the heat? They get fed. Really. They just poop a lot, that’s why there is so much dog crap back there. And as soon as the window is replaced in the camper, the wasps will stop being able to build those nests in it. There was absolutely no reason the city needed to threaten to tow it. They just don’t appreciate a guy’s stuff.

    Where are you supposed to put snowmobiles during the summer? It isn’t snowing! It is summertime! He uses the weed wacker around them and as soon as the snow flies and he can put the treads back on the back of the Snow Cat, these things are a blast up around Rollins Pass! There is a guy he works with who says these things are worth a fortune. He would have them back at his place but he can’t do it since he is living in Aurora in a condo after his house was repossessed. He has to stay in Aurora so he can have his kids and his grandson on weekends. He takes them to McDonalds Playland every Saturday. No not that one – the McDonalds that got robbed last month.

    So chill people! There is absolutely no reason to judge here! The economy is in a free fall and everyone is hurting. Do you know how much he paid for that house? Well, it is now worth a whole lot less! That is why he stopped making mortgage payments on it. That bank was a bunch of jerks to demand a payment every single month! If they want to foreclose, then they can have it. And his ex-wife’s stuff in the garage. Maybe they can sell her collection of White Snake albums. And maybe find her cat. It got hurt and stumbled into the garage a couple of weeks ago. Now there is some kind of smell like it is dead in there. But perhaps that is the raccoon crap since they’ve been getting under the garage door when he forgets to close it at night. Damn things eat the cat’s food when he remembers to feed her.

    So screw you Murilee! You got a lot of nerve to post this picture on your hoity-toity know it all blog just to make fun! You think that just because this blog gets all these wonderful reviews you can just do whatever you like? Top 25? Yeah – this year. Next year this blog is going to be as popular as pubic hair at a Brazilian beach.

    If guys like this one ever get their electricity turned back on – I’m sure he will have his seven year old daughter post a few comments here. She writes really good and he’s way too busy to bother with you people! Either she will do the writing or her teen boyfriend can do it. As soon as he is out of juvie.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      2nd best post on TTAC ever.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      One of the best, that’s for sure! VanillaDude, you rock! IBM PCjr? I’m sure there’s a Commodore 64 and a “trash 80″ (TRS-80) in there, too!

    • 0 avatar
      uncleAl

      Great post VD! I laughed so hard I thought I was going to choke!

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      You can tell he made all this up: He didn’t mention the two BBQs and lawn furniture.

    • 0 avatar
      obbop

      So, you have also dwelt among the unwashed horde at some time!!!

      You mentioned one of the most adorable aspects when mentioning mutts.

      Constant never-ending yapping that is impossible to escape from, even inside the most well-insulated shanty upon one’s own property, the supposed one place for a human to supposedly escape the outside world bit is unable to do so.

      Then there is the ever-growing piles of mutt excreta that fills entire neighborhoods with a permeating constant never-ending STENCH… perfect for outside BBQs and other events.

      I AM fortunate, however… VERY fortunate.

      None of my immediate neighbors allow or engage in those most disgusting loathsome activities.

      Other locales, however…

      Admittedly, scum, trash, filthy folks are found nation-wide across all socio-economic groups.

      One problem is that po’ folks tend to be packed in akin to small fish packed in olive oil ensconced within a can.

      Wealthier folk can often semi-isolate themselves with distance between shanties by dwelling in a BIG shanty with ample space between shantys.

      The luckiest folks can live rurally with acres between abodes and ample firepower to enforce trespassing postings.

      Then there’s the innate advantage of old age.

      If pushed to far the elderly can take the law into their own hands.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Hey, what’s all this about mutts?! I assure you that when I was growing up, the neighbor’s purebred (“with papers”, they were always quick to point out) Jack Russel Terrier would yap for all twenty-four hours of the day at a volume that would put any mutt to shame.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        aristurtle is right. Breed lines are fairly orthogonal to a canine’s merit. The correct nomenclature is yaptrash.

        An important thing to note about yaptrash, is that they are only auditioning for status as dogs, hence animals. Hence, until they pass the bar, so to speak, feeding them antifreeze soaked chicken and other corrective delicacies, in no way constitutes animal cruelty. In the progtard era, it’s still illegal most places, so I can’t recommend doing so in a public forum; but it carries no moral connotation whatsoever.

        Similarly, owners and protectors of yap trash in no way qualify as fully human. With all that entails as far as moral protections awarded them.

        And trust you me, yap trash (and enablers) infestations are in no way limited to lower economic strata. Go for a walk or run through even the toniest parts of Bel Air, CA on a supposedly quiet morning, and you’ll quickly realize how wrong you are.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        A garden hose with a nice, high-pressure nozzle works wonders on a neighbor’s obnoxious dog…

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Amen to those who understand what HOAs do and do not do. Add two RTVs, a motor home, pealing paint, and an old water heater on the front lawn and you have it.

    Properly administered with care and understanding, you will have a safer neighborhood much more pleasurable to live in with your investment in your home more secure. Notice the iron-bar screen door and bars on the windows. This guy is helping to make that necessary!

    Pencil it out: compare seven years of your gross income with the value of what you have on the ground when your loan interest is included. On average it’s a close match. Few are rich or understanding enough to have a bohemian neighbor strip 25% of that away.

    Invariably, it is the bohemian screaming the loudest.

    Confession: HOA President with several relatives unsuitable for apartment, condominium, town home, or HOA living. They fit best on 10 acres with a well and septic.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      So HOAs prevent robberies? Just wondering how that works.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Like any sort of organization, you’ve got good ones and bad ones. Yeah, sometimes there’s a rotting motor home in a neighbor’s front yard.

      Other times, the HOA president is borderline psychotic and trying to get a neighbor jailed for growing plants in her garden that are not on the “approved plants list”. Or who want you to sell your car, despite the fact that it’s in perfect condition, because it’s not a prestigious enough brand. Or calling the cops every time your garage door is open.

      Thanks, but I’d rather risk living next to the guy in the picture.

      • 0 avatar
        Trauto

        “Thanks, but I’d rather risk living next to the guy in the picture.”

        Either (a) you live next to someone like that, and you’re good with that, or (b) you don’t, and don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        My mother-in-law is someone like that. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of person who digs a giant hole in her front yard as part of an ill-thought-out plan to “make a little pond”. Not one, but two camper trailers next to the house: one that gets regular use and the other that hasn’t moved for so long it’s two license plate styles out of date. I know how bad it can get.

        I’d still rather live next to somebody like that than somebody who calls the police when you leave a pair of lawn chairs on your lawn overnight. It’s funny, but “that guy” can lower property values too, if you’re talking about how much you value your property.

      • 0 avatar
        mopar4wd

        When I drive thru an HOA neighbor hood I always picture the hammers from “the wall”

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      That’s all OK as long as noone is forced to abide by HOA rules unless they explicitly agree to it. Or it was grandfathered in by an agreement with a former owner when they bought the place. The notion that “we”; whoever that may be, has agreed that this is how “we” want it, and therefore you have to abide whether you want to or not, is the problem. Regardless of what kind of excuse “we” use for justifying the bullying, like two of our dads’ grandpas were titled nobility, or we are a voting majority or whatever.

      Note that there is a huge difference between doing things that directly harm or inconvenience neighbors, and things that some neighbors simply can’t keep from snooping into fro no reason. Having beehives in the back yard without a way to prevent the bees from flying into neighbors yards are of the former. So are operating a backyard firing range, a straight pipe motocross track, an open air sewer, or abandoning yaptrash there. In all those cases the offender is directly violating the property of someone else.

      Which is entirely different from painting, or not, your own darned house in an approved manner, cutting your own darned lawn to a length you prefer, and parking your own darned cars on your own darned property. For anyone else to uninvited meddle into that, is simply inexcusable. In a civilized society at least, if perhaps not in the kind of post civilized cesspool that passes for a society in contemporary America.

      If all your neighbors built mansions on their lots, and populated them with rich people, your home value would go up as well. As if them not doing so, is something a HOA should get involved in.

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      Just looking around, it is not too difficult to determine if there is an HOA or not. Some people do better not living near people who drive a POS across the lawn to park at the front door.

      For the most part, a CC&R is nothing more than common sense and consideration for your neighbor, written down so you can get your head around it. If that sounds too scary, you’ll probably be happier living somewhere else.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    When I moved back to Florida, I passed by my old neighborhood, a former blue collar, working man decent place to live, now it’s full of crack dealers, dirty, overgrown with weeds and unkempt yard and yes lots and lots of semi-abandoned, non working vehicles of all sorts making a mess of the formerly manicured, maintained lawns.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Yep there is a fine line between the HOA being a huge pain in the rear and them keeping the area looking nice. I’ve lived in both and prefer the HOA even if they made me get a new mailbox post just because mine was “not up to standards”. Like the poster above I’m in South Florida and unregulated communities quickly turn into dumps due to a few bad apples deciding they can park any rusting POS outside and ignoring their lawn for weeks on end.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Thanks, but I’d rather risk living next to the guy in the picture.”

    I suspect you’ve never been a homeowner and/or had to sell a house. Most people prefer to get fair market value for their homes when they need to sell w/minnimum days on the market. Which again is money in their pocket. Not to mention the stress associated with a home that won’t sell because one of the neighbors property is a dumping zone.

    I lost at least one potential sale on my first home when a guys wife looked out the living room window at the property across the street and said no way!

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Watch how well it sells when somebody does a Google search on the neighborhood and the first thing that comes up is an article in the local newspaper about a guy being forced to get rid of his brand-new F-150 because the HOA president decided that a Ford pickup was too “low-class”. (The HOA president, naturally, drives a Lincoln Mark LT.) It’s the twenty-first century now; stuff like that stays on the Web forever and comes up with a quick search. Potential sales don’t even show up in the first place when Google pops up an article of “Woman fined $5,000 for growing tomatoes instead of flowers in backyard garden”.

      Are all HOAs bad enough to make the papers? Of course not! Just a few. And not every non-HOA neighborhood turns into a dumping ground, either.

      • 0 avatar
        VanillaDude

        I keep reading your claims that HOA presidents have some kind of dictatorial powers the allows them to do what you claim they are doing. HOA have constitutions, and presidents are elected and usually term limited. HOA constitutions don’t give them the power to choose brands of homeowner’s vehicles for any reasons.

        If this is how your HOA president acts, and if these are the kinds of things your HOA is empowered to do, then you should contact Washington. This administration likes to make dictatorial decisions without any local competition.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        You sure like to rip on a guy who calls the cops over HOA violations (which in my area will get HIM in trouble with the cops, not the HOA violator). I’ve gone through lots of HOA covenants & have yet to find one that addresses the type of car you are allowed to keep outside your home (so long as it is operational, registered, etc. – but again, that’s required by law, not the HOA).

        The other thing to remember is that if you don’t like your HOA, change it! Serve on the board, give people an option to draconian tyranny. Enforce rules as you & the community thinks they ought to be enforced. Almost always, most people are reasonable and will run things with level heads. Your example is an extreme outlier and as such is not particularly relevant to the general discussion of HOAs.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Well, I had never heard the story before, but I found it in a couple minutes on Google, complete with snobbish quote by the HOA president.

        http://jonathanturley.org/2008/08/19/pick-up-and-get-out-out-texas-home-owner-told-by-association-to-get-rid-of-f-150-truck-in-drive-way/

        I have heard other stories of HOAs run amok. Told by people I knew who couldn’t wait to get out from under their HOA. (These are respectable people who kept a clean yard.) I believe the HOA fined them because someone stole their recycling bin and then returned it days later (not on trash day). And the HOA dues went up year after year, even when the claimed services (outdoor maintenance and snow removal) were neglected. Contracts were funneled to friends and relatives of the HOA members.

        Voting them out is possible, but the people in question didn’t have time to sit on an HOA, and the majority of people in the neighborhood didn’t care enough to change the status quo. So, there it was.

        It is worth pointing out that, for some people, the presence of an HOA reduces property values. It does for me. When I do shop for a house, any house with an HOA will immediately be dropped way down my list.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Thank you, SP. For others, I assure you that every example I used is based on a true story, just as I assume your horror stories about nice neighborhoods turning into crack dens and trailer parks are.

        As for trying to change the HOA from within, that works as long as 1) you have the spare time to make that kind of commitment, and 2) as long as the developer doesn’t still hold a large plurality of the vote because he hasn’t sold all the houses yet.

        In any case, I’m not saying that an HOA is always bad, but if you’re looking at a place and the neighborhood looks a little too Stepford-ish, with not a hedge untrimmed, not a garage door open, not a single grill uncovered, and not a single piece of lawn furniture left outside on the whole block, that should be ringing all kinds of internal alarm bells, too. Balance in all things, and all that.

        I do find it ironic how the “keep that government out of my property and my life” crowd is totally cool with HOAs, though. Big government taxing your property and dictating what kind of guns you can legally own? “Tyranny!” HOA levying a mandatory “fee” and keeping your neighbor from painting their house bright pink? “Well, now, we all live in a society where externalities like the decrease in neighbors’ property values need to be taken into account, etc. etc.”

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        I wonder if anyone thinks of the negative externalities of the HOAs?

        You know, all those redneck emissions that float out and disperse into surrounding, poorer areas.

        ;)

    • 0 avatar
      CarPerson

      The HOA “constitution” is titled “COVENANTS, CONDITIONS, & RESTRICTIONS” or CC&Rs.

      How do you tell the HOA president?

      He’s the one digging up the frigging sprinkler system year after year fixing the leaks, tamping down battles between homeowners, collecting dues two months late, informing a homeowner that parking an RV on the lawn nearly all summer is not permitted, not bringing the garbage can and 3 recyclers in off the street weekly because it’s handy to just leave them there is not permitted, trimming the trees so the City will stop bitching the limbs are breaking the street sweeper mirrors off, cleaning out the retention pond because the City says too many cattails kill the fish five miles away in the lake into which it drains, begging homeowners to authorize paying $250 per tree to remove 12 because they are lifting the sidewalk panels and that costs $575 each to fix, replacing the address placards on all the mailboxes because they have faded, pressing the landscaper to do all, not just half, the things on the contract, weekly battling the sprinkler controllers, and more.

      That’s just the first 6 months of this year…

      You never get even a “thank you” for what you do.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Well…

        On behalf of your constituents, “Thank you” for the good things you have done in your neighborhood. It sounds like you reflect well on those affiliated with HOAs. Sorry to hear a bunch of lowlifes are out there giving you a bad name by running their HOAs like banana republics.

        I am confused by some of the stuff you have to do.

        Neighborhood sprinkler system? That sounds like a vanity – if the residents want it, they should be willing to pay for it. I wouldn’t pay for that.

        Replacing address placards on mailboxes? If the mailboxes are separate, people will start doing it themselves once their mail stops showing up. If the mailboxes are clustered, then I guess the developer cheaped out on you and it’s tough luck.

        The trees along the street were presumably planted by the developer as a condition of the development – so the town shouldn’t complain too much about them being in the street. (Not that they will stop.)

        I guess it could get interesting if you have to justify to the town why you removed some of the street trees, if they were in fact planted as a condition of development.

        I think it would be interesting to see how the residents would do without you cleaning things up. Sort of like that show “Life After People,” only “Life After the HOA”.

      • 0 avatar
        CarPerson

        Two common areas have sprinklers to keep them looking presentable. If it isn’t the plumbing, it’s the controllers. We only have to keep them going 3 months out of the year. Call a sprinkler repair company lately? They want more than a brain surgeon. Doing the work myself saves quite a bit of money, same with pruning the cat tails and limbs.

        Did I mention when a limb busts a street sweeper mirror, the street sweeper is sure NOT to clean that up. Did I mention who does?

        This is America were the Post Office now requires all mailboxes to be one big stack covering 50 homes or more. The addresses last about 10 years then fade. Did I mention who washes all the dust and dirt off the mailboxes?

        You end up having to host half the meetings, which is an outlay of $150 for food and beverage.

        Its a lot of work to make the job look invisible.

    • 0 avatar
      mopar4wd

      My house is reasonably well kept but I have had my share of junk cars and boats in my driveway. One of my neighbors has a small fleet of lawn tractors surrounding his house and a Javelin on blocks around back. But somehow the prices of sold homes in our neighbor hood are not that much different then any where else in town. Now I do live in a Blue collar neighbor hood so that may be part of it. If you look at the discussions on website like the garage journal you will find there are thousands of people with real hatred of HOA’s they like me will often look at a neighborhood and get concerned that the place looks tidy and there may be trouble when they try to bring home that awesome project K-car.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I’m sure the HOA will be forced to act once he parks a Pontiac Aztek in that drive…

  • avatar

    Who need’s HOAs to get hassled? A friend of mine was facing 93 days in jail for growing a vegetable garden, a really nice one too.
    http://oakparkhatesveggies.wordpress.com/

  • avatar
    turtletop

    Bah… that’s nothing. Take the house next door to me: no less than EIGHT non-registered, non-operable cars on a 50′X100′ lot, and another clapped-out junkbox parked on the street in front. No one has lived in the house for nearly 8 years now, so it’s effectively a permanent open air junkyard in a residential area. Add to this the charm of the owner starting up parts his collection every few months (for what reason I’ve yet to determine) fouling the air in my house with exhaust fumes, and then ignoring me when I complain.

    I’m about as easy going as they come and I’ve tried to be patient, but the situation never improves. I finally got fed up and called the city and filed complaints for the numerous ordinance violations at this property, and they were all assigned a “level 3″, which translates to no enforcement action whatsoever. The inspection office has had to drop employees due to budget cuts over the last several years, so unless there’s a fire or lives are at risk, they refuse to do anything about it. Case closed in every instance. I don’t have the resources to take any civil action. What to do?

    You know, I like to work on my cars as much as the next guy, and I loathe the idea of the city or an HOA sticking its nose up my posterior at every turn, to say the very least. But can we have a happy medium here? A little common sense applied? What the hell good are ordinances if the most chronic, over-the-top violators never see any enforcement action taken?

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      A V8 4wd pickup and a heavy chain would solve most of that problem. It’s a lot harder for the city to just ignore dead cars when they’re sitting in the middle of the street…

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Guess you should donate extra taxes to your township so they can afford to hire a code enforcement officer.

      Or just buy the house next door.

      • 0 avatar
        turtletop

        Steve65: Yeah, I like it! But, I’m really trying to take the high road, although I’m not sure that there’s any reward for doing so.

        SP: Township? Actually, I live in a major west coast city. Right smack in the middle of it, in fact. Hint: there was a mini-series all about it on IFC recently.

        As it is, my property taxes are quite enough of a “donation”, already nearly half of what my mortgage costs me each year. Frankly, I don’t mind paying taxes, even relatively high ones, if I’m getting good service and solid infrastructure in exchange… I really wish that was the case in this instance. Hmpf.

        And, I’d love to buy the house next door… just for the privilege of personally bulldozing it.

  • avatar
    Steve65

    Are you equally thrilled by the SUV blocking the sidewalk?

    Everything about that picture screams “resident is an oblivious self-centered asshole. Move in at your own risk.”


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