A New York family got a nasty surprise in the form of a letter sent by their homeowners association, threatening to fine them hundreds of dollars for letting their son play outside their condominium. ABC News in Cleveland reported,
“We understand that the weather has gotten nice out but unfortunately, there are rules and regulations in the By-laws,” the letter read. “That it is not safe for kids to play on common area grounds. Please take this as a precaution measure so that we would not have to enforce the fine that is association with this. It is $150 per violation.”
The Parkers looked through 38 pages of the association’s by-laws, but didn’t see any prohibiting kids from playing outside. They asked Dellafranca to show it to them. She couldn’t.
The Parkers decided that this decision was based on their son’s race because other families with children who play outside did not get the letter and they are the only Hispanic family in the building. “He also happens to be the only Latino child. So that raises questions about the possible motive for something like that,” said the child’s father.
The problem with this conclusion is that it’s probably wrong. HOAs are notorious for arbitrary and nonsensical rules that target some people and not others based on nothing other than the mood of whoever is in control that day. For an in-depth and hilarious peek into the inner workings of your standard HOA, John Nampion’s article on the subject is a must read. Whenever I need a good laugh, I pull up “John Nampion vs. the Hometown Community Homeowners Association” on PJ Media. While describing the homeowners association spy that was regularly staring at him from a golf cart, Nampion wrote,
Of course the left chest of his Polo, the cap, and the side of the cart were emblazoned with the moniker of the “homeowners association” (HOA) that regulates every nuance of my domestic life, from the color of the rubbish receptacles I use (Terracotta Canyon Red for the recyclables, Santan Village Adobe for the regular stuff), to their positioning on trash day (“Association member must take care to securely fasten lid on all repositories, and place them no more than three feet to the right of member driveway, on the surface abutting the Association common curb” — which I think means “the street” — I haven’t asked), to the number and type of plants that populate the front, back, and side yards of each member’s property.
What follows is a hilarious fight between one home owner and a power-mad association determined to put him in his place. It also illustrates that most HOA fights start and continue because of a desire to control people that has nothing to do with race. While the Parkers may have more luck in accusing the HOA of racism in NY, where city officials are probably scared to appear racist in any way, their real problem is that they bought a home governed by tiny tyrants, who love making and enforcing rules they invented on residents. Do yourself a favor and never buy a home with an HOA.
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo.” Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter