Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

back row home-owner

Tonight at the elementary school down the street our local homeowner's association had its first "real" meeting. For the first two years we owned our home, the association was controlled by the real estate developer. When enough homes were sold, governance reverts to the home owners themselves. Tonight was the first meeting to pick our neighborhood board's elected officials. I am in general allergic to home-owner's associations, finding that they give people not suited to power the power to make other people's lives difficult. I am in favor of keeping trucks off lawns, and in keeping kids on skateboards off the streets and on the school parking lot. But I do not wish to live in a neighborhood that sends out form letters about grass incursion in flower beds.

My wife and I decided to go to the meeting. My concern in such matters really amounts to trying, as best as I can, to ensure that I vote against anyone who says the phrases "I want to enforce every darn rule in the common covenants, no exceptions", "we need to stop people from daring to park their cars in front of their own homes" or "grass in the flowerbeds must be stopped at all costs!".

We sat on the very back row. I found myself, to my surprise, inclined to scowl more than once. I have a low tolerance for euphemism and corporate speak. When the attorney hired by the developer to draft the association documents discussed their "flexibility", I thought instead of the way in which rights of the developer were emphasized and made sacrosanct and the protections of the individual home-owners from the board were minimized. When the management company hired by the developer sought to emphasize her company's independence from the developer, I thought to myself that this independence never seemed so manifest in the days before the company wanted to be hired by the new board of directors. Note to self: have dinner before attending meetings, and always wear either a smile or a blank, quiet expression.

I flirted with the idea of running for the five member board of directors on a platform of moderation and "protection from government", but the ten people who did run seemed so earnest about it that I decided not to throw my hat into the ring. Each candidate got three minutes. I kept a tally. Any candidate who used the words "enforce all the rules" got the word "no" written beside his or her name. Each candidate who said "we should work together" got an "okay" by his or her name. My wife kept a similar tally, and in most things, our tallies agreed. So we voted our ballots. Afterwards, the questions droned on and on, so we left.

My issues are all askew, I suppose. I am eager for the city to put in better sunfish in the park pond next door, and to figure out how to reduce the green algae. But that issue isn't even in the board's charge.

Small time democracy is a good thing, I suppose. But I must have a conservative streak--I firmly believe that those home-owners govern best who try to govern each other's lives least.

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