mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Of neighbors and HOA's...

Virginia Postrel has an interesting article about homeowner's associations - HOA's - and the fine balance between keeping neighborhoods nice and not overly restricting the people who live in them from doing what they want to do.

I live in a townhouse that is under a homeowner's association. Every three months, I send them $90, and in return they send me a badly-edited newsletter a couple times a year. Actually, they do a decent job of keeping the public areas of the townhouse courts and do things like pay for insurance and water bills. But for the most part they are pretty passive. When I moved in 14 months ago, they noted that I was supposed to have shutters around my door that the previous owner removed. I never installed them, and they haven't said anything to me since. And the dues are pretty reasonable compared to other places I looked at.

We do, however, have a very limited list of colors we can paint houses - the HOA rule book actually lists the specific colors, as well as what corresponding colors the trim can be painted. I don't really care though since 1) I like the color of my house b) I'm too lazy and cheap to do anything about it and 3) my house has vinyl siding, so it would be pretty expensive to change it. They also have other restrictions on things I don't do, like owning campers and boats.

So to me, it's not really a big deal, but I guess it's good that I don't have a more restrictive HOA. Although I wish it had something against drunken neighbors.

(do you like that segway? I've been meaning to write the following part of the post for a while, but I saw the HOA article and wanted to cover that post too - so now I can do two segments at once...)

See, before I bought my house, I did think to drive around the neighborhood a few times, but I made the mistake of doing that during the day, during the week. I was worried that I would be the bad neighbor - after all, most of the people in my neighborhood are older, mostly with families. Would a young, single, twenty-something fit in with all these older homeowners? But I managed to find a townhouse that was next to the only other people younger and more immature than me.

The townhouse on one side of me has a couple with a young kid who calls me "the guy with the yellow truck". The house on the other side of me is inhabited by, as far as I can tell, two recent college grads and their girlfriends, and three dogs of various sizes.

I figured it was a bad sign when I was moving in and my neighbor who lives behind me commented about the loud parties that they had. And they do - it seems like, in decent weather, their favorite weekend activity is going in their backyard, getting drunk, and screaming and cursing with twenty or so of their closest friends.

Now, I'm probably player-hating more than anything - I'm envious that they are sitting around having fun while I'm sitting alone on my couch eating ice cream straight out of the carton and watching Flip This House. But it seems like they manage to have their parties 1)when it's warm enough that I have the windows open but not warm enough to have the AC on, so I hear them yelling and 2)on a night when I either have to get up early for a hamfest the next day or when I have to work the next day, and I really need to get to sleep.

There are some other associated annoyances - every now and then, I find empty beer bottles in my backyard. I also regularly find dog poop on my front yard, and I'm pretty sure it's them, since I've seen their dogs on my lawn pretty frequently.

Now, on the scale of bad neighbors, they could be far worse - they aren't selling drugs or committing crimes, and they don't have a car or refrigerator on the lawn. And it's good that if I ever have a loud party, they won't call the cops on me - however, I don't really have loud parties - the couple I've had have been pretty tame. Still, it amazes me that out of 94 townhouses, I managed to buy the one with probably the worst neighbors in the complex. They, on the other hand, lucked out - I'm not the kind of person who would ever confront them or call the cops on them, because I'm a giant pussy. I can only imagine if they lived next to someone like, say, my parents. I also think it shows a certain amount of disrespect to neighbors (especially the ones with kids). I curse all the f-ing time, but rarely so anyone who doesn't know me can hear me, and I for the most part try to live my life so it has as little impact on other people as possible - the right to my fist ends where your nose begins. I wish other people - especially those living next door to me - thought the same way.


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