Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Save Jane's Chickens (Home-owners' association vs. neighborhood association)

Jane Johnson has the horror stories to beat all of local neighborhood organizations gone bad. I'm glad she shared it (treat yourself, read the entire thing):

His latest complaint was that my 2 hens -- Lucy and Ethel, kept in a coop in my backyard, out of sight of everyone, was in violation of the covenants that says homeowners in the subdivision can only have "dogs, cats, and 2 caged birds in the dwelling". Well he's got me there. I don't keep the chickens in my home. The Association inspected and informed me that I was in violation and said I have to get rid of my pets. So last night I went to the annual homeowners association meeting to try to appeal or change the covenant to allow for caged birds to be in the yard. I was ridiculed and marginalized. He and the Board had enough proxies to block my attempt to change the covenant. I brought up that other homeowners had fish tanks (visible from the street), hamsters, a snake, and other unallowed pets. They informed me that since there were no complaints about the other homeowners, they had no intention of taking any action on them but since there was a complaint about me they "had" to take action. I have to get rid of my chickens immediately.

The harasser wins. He has succeeded in using the power of the homeowners association to exert control and mess with me.
In Olympia, there are also a dozen or so neighborhood associations. Instead of enforcing seemingly variable rules regarding how one keeps their house (to preserve values, I assume) they help build community by building the neighborhood. Its a very different dynamic than one neighborhood using a civic organization to harass a neighbor.

Here's the site of the Olympia Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. Not only to our city neighborhood groups work with the city, they work with each other to build a stronger voice for citizens and build better neighborhoods.


Mark Derricott said...

I've yet to hear a positive story about a homeowners' association. A neighborhood association on the other hand, tend to be good things. Unlike the HOA, the NA's don't usually have any grant of authority that can be used to oppress and harass.


Elaine said...

Yes, SO glad to be involved with an NA vs an HOA. Jane, move over here, there's lots of chicken farmers on the Eastside! :)

Not that there's not people who would LIKE to get up in people's grills, they just can't do anything unless it's against city code. I had a lovely conversation at last year's picnic with a guy who lives up the street. He and I had very different opinions of our across the street neighbors, who have their (gorgeous) veggie garden in their front yard. Thankfully, neither of our opinions have a whole lot of force outside of, well, opinion.

Although IIRC, both Neighborhood and Homeowner Associations are (or can be) included in the city's listing. I have a vague recollection about sensing the difference at the one Coalition meeting I went to.