Saturday, October 7, 2006

The Neighborhood Nazis

We've all heard of them. Most of us have seen them. And some of us even live in them.

They're known as "gated communities" or "homeowner's association communities". These are the neighborhoods where, even if you own your own home or condo, the Neighborhood Nazis, aka the Homeowner's Association, regulate such trivial matters as what type of mailbox you may have, fence types and colors allowed, if any, permissible forms of landscaping, draperies, where you may or may not park your car, and so on.

Such neighborhoods always look neat and tidy, but usually have little charm, with each property having a depressingly uniform appearance, with nothing on the outside to indicate each owner's individual tastes.

I can't imagine shelling out big bucks for a nice home and being subject to a group of anal retentives with no life telling me what kind of mailbox I can use, where I can park my car, and what kind of curtains I can hang in my windows. If I wanted people micromanaging my life in that much detail, I'd have joined the Army.

Those who choose such neighborhoods cite that property values are protected when residents group together to enforce such regulations for their communities. That may be so, but I still believe people are giving up quite a bit more than they're getting. To me, freedom to live as I see fit on my own property is worth a hell of lot more than getting a few extra bucks if I ever decide to sell my house.

In recent years, many homeowners have run afoul of their local homeowners' associations for installing flagpoles and flying the American flag. These residents were ordered to remove the poles, even when no neighbors had complained, with the main objections being that the flagpoles violated the uniform appearance of the neighborhood.

In response to these cases,
President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 42 "The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005", on July 24, 2006. H.R. 42 prohibits community associations from adopting or enforcing a policy or agreement that "would restrict or prevent a member of the association from displaying the flag of the United States on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use."

I find myself in the odd position of approving of the President's actions concerning this issue.


No comments: