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Now and then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Sunday, Mar 16, 2014

darrylmanzer021014I must have struck a chord with some folks in HOA neighborhoods in one of my last columns. You know, those neighborhoods where you pay anywhere from $20 to $400 per month to the Home Owners Association so they can tell you how treat you own property.

I’ve lived in such a place. In Virginia. Nice brick house. Great neighbors. An HOA managed by a company that couldn’t listen to the people who paid them.

Case in point. I had built a cedar fence and wanted to build a garden shed to match the fence. So I got the cedar materials for the shed and built it. The HOA had approved the location on my lot; it also approved the fence location.

I continued with the landscaping, and wouldn’t you know? A letter comes, telling me my shed is in violation of the rules that say it must match the house color. I asked them: Which color in the brick it should be painted? They replied, “The color of the shed must match the house color.”

We argued via letter until I finally painted the shed a light yellow to match the siding that was in the peaks of the roof of the house. Painted the trim white. Now that shed isn’t an eyesore to the community.

hoa_shedI took this picture when I was painting the shed for the second time.

Anyway, if you go look at that house today in Suffolk, Va., you cannot see the shed from the street in front of the house or on a cross street and not from the yard and street in back. The trees have grown so much, you cannot see the shed. It could be painted any color now, and nobody would know. It still does not match the house.

I go back to the neighborhood of Happy Valley in Newhall. Driving up Valley or Apple or on Maple and Cross. Obviously an HOA is needed. Can’t the people walking at night see the blight? OMG! Look at that huge RV parked in that driveway. An HOA would take care of that.

The various colors on the homes and the fence lines that seem to wander all over various properties are just appalling. Why don’t those people want an HOA to rein in such errors in judgment on the part of the property owners? How can they live in such a neighborhood? Don’t they know property values will go down if such blight remains?

You know that if folks put in half as much time and no money on working with whatever local government entity they are in, there wouldn’t be a need for an HOA. The county and the city of Santa Clarita have plenty of laws and regulations to counter suburban blight.

But I can make this promise and it will be kept. (Unlike the promises the president makes on just about any subject). If you like your HOA you can keep your HOA. Period. If you like your house looking like all the others in the neighborhood, keep it that way. Period.

There is another example of a neighborhood without an HOA not far from the SCV. It is located in Woodland Hills. IF you can find a place for sale there, you had best bring a lot of money. Homes that sold for $32,000 in 1972 are now listed for $1.5 million. If they have a view, the price nearly doubles. No HOA. A place, like Happy Valley, where you can say, “… and after you turn it is the green house with the black trim on the right and there is a little orange bridge in the front yard, too.”

In the 1950s in Castaic, we had a community swimming pool – as did Val Verde and Newhall. All operated by Los Angeles County. Paid for by taxes, but great places to spend summer days. Are you paying for a pool and tennis courts and park-like setting in your neighborhood? You want to feel you live in an “exclusive” neighborhood? Go ahead and keep your HOA. I, for one, will not buy is such a neighborhood. I want the freedom to see what my neighbors would say if I painted my house a nice fire-engine red. I want to see what they say to a desert landscape of cacti and mesquite, rocks and sand.

I wouldn’t exercise that “freedom,” but I sure as hell wouldn’t leave it to some group of people that might not like me.

Let me paraphrase the great, Groucho Marx: “I wouldn’t live in a neighborhood that would accept me as a neighbor … unless they accepted me ‘as-is’ without considering the color of my house and the trees I do or don’t plant.”

“Exlusive” usually means some will be excluded. I prefer that be decided by market values and not some HOA.

By the way, I hope this answers one of the comments I got via email. I will exercise my opinion about HOAs, and I will not darken the streets where you live. You might not like my kind there. Are your gate guards on post? No worry. I’m not coming there.

 

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com and his commentaries, published on Tuesdays and Sundays, are archived at DManzer.com. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

 

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17 Comments

  1. Carole Hunt Carole Hunt says:

    Couldn’t agree more!

  2. I always imagined those who run an HOA as a bunch of bored people desperately seeking some kind of authority. Luckily my fee is on the low end.

  3. Agreed on mostly all fronts. Always fight the HOA stepford mentality, it’s such a boring waste of childlike “power”. It’s your house, do what you want.

  4. John Gilbert John Gilbert says:

    The City is our new Homeowners Assoc.; When I met my Wife, she was at Princessa Estates. The HOE there are a bunch of Jack Booted Thugs. So when we got married, we decided to live in my house in old “North Oaks” in Cyn Ctry. Lo and behold, our neighbor across the street (who had been at war with his next door neighbors, and using the City as the stick) turns me into the City of SCV because my lawn wasn’t green enough in July. So, we were threatened with fines and time limits to comply. The City Rep came out and proceeded to point out the building and beautification code violations visible at all my neighbors houses (He even told me his Dad’s house ovr in Bouquet Cyn had a non permitted back patio cover!). I asked him why he didn’t report and cite them and he said, “Oh…WE don’t do that. We’re reactive, not proactive. But, if YOU call us and complain, we’ll come out to do it.” WTF ???? So, $1,500 and one vacation week later, we got off the City’s S— list. But, the illegal walls, dead & overgrown lawns, park strips, & trees, metal framed car covers in driveways, cars parked on lawns and on the streets unmoved for weeks, buckled sidewalks all over the neighborhood…that’s okay. Btw, I was also told that the City wouldn’t do any landscaping and improvements on Whites Canyon between Soledad Cyn Rd and Nadal St Because so many of the homes were under Prop 13, that we would have to agree to raise out taxes to have the improvements that the City had done on Soledad in the middle of nowhere between Bouquet and Reuther. They treat us like we’re a Barrio.

  5. Thank God I don’t live in HOA!!! Don’t want people to tell me how I should live or where should I put my trash CAN!

  6. brian says:

    I live in an area in scv- my boa is pathetic my house is listed right now. I’ve see the lady that works for the hoa walking on the common area hill where my backyard fence is looking in and taking notes….. ridiculous

    The spa is off all winter and on in the summer? Seems backwards… I could go on and on

  7. Megan Roy Megan Roy says:

    Where I live the HOA fees (condo complex) have just gone up and up and I remember once getting a fine for something i left on my balcony during a remodel. But now, the lawn directly in front of my condo is about a third gone, with no plans to fix it, we constantly have people dumping mattresses and couches into our dumpsters. which is another story. each building in the complex has 2 dumpsters. except mine, the top part o the complex has 1 and its meant to serve 12 condos, but we have the lower neighbors, another 16 condos, using our trash when they have their own 2 dumpsters. also, if i have a friend watching my place for a weekend, and they park in guest parking, they get a ticket but any other time, the guest parking is filled with residents and our “security” said they don’t care. GRRRRR. HOAs!

  8. Come to Colorado in a non-hoa neighborhood. Weeds as tall as your shoulders. Trash sitting in yards for months at a time. Houses operating as businesses with neon “Open” signs in the windows. Yeah, HOA can get on your nerves. But you will never appreciate it until it’s gone. My house would easily be worth tens of thousands more if we had an H.O.A.

    • Classic, you move away from California (probably because you said you were “tired of Californians”) and then you complain about pointless, idiotic things like “weeds” which are probably just natural landscape. Here’s a clue, you are what is ruining neighboring states. I moved to AZ, many people I know moved to Colorado, Utah, etc to get away from HOAs, weed smoking, hippies, yuppies, liberals, and all you idiots try to make every state ran like broke California. No wonder locals in these states hate when Californians move in. If I buy land, in a rural area, I really dont care if my neighbor has a trailer on *their* property. I dont care if they live like a slob, I dont care if they drive a crappy car. You know why? It doesn’t affect me. Say what you want about property values hoss, but you are free to go back to the left coast. Take all your like minded friends with you.

    • Everything I said was true. Yeah, if you want to insert “rural” into the equation than go ahead and leave trash wherever you please. I never said anything about living in a rural area. If you live in a neighborhood, it’s nice to have H.O.A to keep everyone in check. Of course some can get out of hand, or charge too much money. You assumed I’m “tired of Californians”, when I never said that. You talked about weeds in “natural landscape” when I said some people let them get to shoulder length, which I am serious about and not exaggerating, shoulder length which is not only hideous but a fire hazard as well. You tell me to go back to the left coast, when the entire point I was making is no one wants to buy a house in a neighborhood that is run down by people letting their houses go to crap. Here is a perfect example from yesterday. Please explain how this is good for a neighborhood. http://www.krdo.com/news/toilets-and-sink-hanging-around-tree-in-front-yard/24997508

  9. Chris Davis says:

    I live in an HOA neighborhood and I LOVE IT!!!
    20 years ago when I lived in the valley, I had a dumbass neighbor who thought nothing of parking his 32 ft RV in front of my home ( he didn’t want to block his view, so that’s why he parked in in front of my house), blocking my views of the neighborhood and access to my driveway. LAPD wouldn’t come out and ticket, it was a constant issue with this lunkhead. My HOA is GREAT…fees haven’t been raised in the entire time that I have lived here. They don’t jump down your throat for every minor issue and my neighborhood looks great! I would rather not have someone park their boats, rv’s and misc crap in the driveways or on the streets for months at a time. But see that’s why living in SCV is so great…those of us who want a set tone for the properties move to HOA’s those who don’t live in NON_HOA’s. As an after thought on the condo’s/townhomes…yes I have owned a couple where the HOA gestapo did their weekly walks and ticketed you for such minor infractions as having a small wind decoration on your “not acceptable colored” umbrella. Seriously, those people need to run the prisons.

    • Joan Kelly says:

      Chris, you don’t need an HOA to enforce RV parking in Santa Clarita. The city has its own rules regarding this AND enforces them. I know. I have called in many RV violations and they are taken care of immediately.

      But you are correct in your view of the “HOA gestapo”. These people are ridiculous and are normally retired people who nothing better to do than walk around the neighborhood and notice things that no one else cares about.

  10. Jayne saporito says:

    Our HOA dues are $230 a month now, and still rising. We have one pool and a tennis court. It is the slope area that is wasting all the money. Constant gardening, 500k a year on it, ridiculous.

  11. Joan Kelly says:

    Jayne, the same is true in our HOA. We have nothing except slopes. We pay $132 a month and this will rise soon. Our HOA does not listen to the membership and makes decisions based on their own opinions and what they want. Our landscaping company gets over $150k a year for dead slopes.

  12. SunshineCortes says:

    Practical article , Apropos , if your business is searching for a SC DoR SC1120 , my business filled out and faxed a sample document here http://goo.gl/j7FY3H

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