California HOA Forces Residents to Keep Garage Doors Open to Deter Squatters

a view of suburbs from above

In a couple of years, my wife and I will be looking to buy a house. There are a few things we want, such as a fireplace, lots of kitchen storage, and an office for me. These are important things, but for the right house, we may be flexible on some of these.

One thing we're not budging on is no homeowners associations. Why? Well, stuff like what is taking place with one HOA in California, for one.

The HOA in the Auburn Greens community of Auburn, California, found out that someone in the neighborhood had allowed someone else to live in their garage. This went against the HOA's rules, you see. While I don't see where it's any of their business, I can at least get that it's the rule.

So what scheme did they come up with to combat this?

Everyone in Auburn Greens is required to keep their garage doors up from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. You know, the hours when most people are at work and can't keep an eye on their stuff.

"I don’t think it’s a good idea because they are going to steal my bike," said one 9-year-old boy, who seems to have a better sense of reality than the entire HOA. "I’ve got an electric scooter, I've got an electric wheelchair, I’ve got all kinds of stuff. So, I just don’t think it’s very good to have it open."

Yet keep it up they must. Either that or face a $200 fine.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with HOAs.

While the purpose behind an HOA — to keep the neighborhoods neat and orderly — sounds great, it's important to remember that HOA membership basically means that your neighbors get a say in what you do with your property. It's not enough to have federal, state, and local governments issuing rules over what you can and can't do. No, we had to create these petty tyrannies to stick their noses in as well.

Different HOAs have different rules, to be sure, but they all focus on the mundane, trivial stuff. That's because the people who are attracted to rules like HOA boards and elected offices are people who are often attracted to power in general. However, what good is power unless you use it, right?

Since HOAs are so low on the totem pole of power, they focus on trivial matters. They tell you how often you need to cut your grass or where you can park your cars. Or, of course, that you have to leave your garage door open during the workday.

Because that's all they can do, it's what they do.

Oh, I suspect some folks will pop up and tell me how great their HOA is, which is fine. I have no doubt they exist, and the good ones may outnumber the bad ones.

But the fact remains that they all have the authority to dictate to you about what you can and can't do with your own property. If you're fine with that, that's on you. I'm more of a "live free or die" kind of guy myself.