Sunday, November 21, 2010

Of Drums and Dumb-Dumbs

Upfront disclosure. This is a rant.

Neighborhoods are interesting places. I would imagine that, in any particular one, a person might find that 80%-90% of the folks that live there are decent people. They take pride in home ownership. Their properties are well-maintained and landscaped. They mow their laws, they rake their leaves, they plant nice trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. They put appropriate holiday decorations up and out and then promptly remove them when the holiday is passed. If they live in deed-restricted community, they abide by the covenants. Homeowner Association Dues are paid promptly. If they have children, they don't allow said children to walk across their neighbors's properties or drop wrappers from their ice cream bars or Halloween candy on the sidewalks. If they own dogs, they keep them from barking at unreasonable hours and pick up after them on walks. There might be neighborhood block parties from time to time; people getting together who, although they are not necessarily friends, genuinely like each other well enough to share a beer or two on a sunny summer Saturday afternoon while eating a variety of BBQ fare from a pitch-in picnic. Folks drive carefully and within the speed limit up and down the neighborhood streets, knowing there are children at play. Those that utilize the community pool are respectful of others doing the same; keeping an eye on their kids to ensure no horseplay or rough-housing, minding the lifeguards and not attempting to get into the pool area off-hours.

When Mr. B and I moved into our current neighborhood, we knew, since it's relatively large, that we'd likely run into some issues; the 10%-20% of people who, frankly, either just don't give a crap about anything or have a sense of entitlement that they are special and are not required to follow the rules of the neighborhood. Even before Mr. B decided to sit on the Board of Directors for the Homeowner's Association, we each had noticed several things going on within the neighborhood that ranged in the annoyance factor from slightly irritating to really driving us up the wall. Maybe this was why he made the choice to get involved; hoping to make things better.

Now that he's been on the Board going on two years, he's at his limit of tolerance of dealing with the contingent of idiots in this community. I was at mine a while back.

Maybe I'm simple, but, I believe if there are rules that you signed up for, you comply. If there is something that you find unreasonable, you challenge it, but, in a thoughtful, process-oriented fashion.

Those 10%-20% I've mentioned apparently believe otherwise.

In addition to the what I refer to "lazy-ass" syndrome (not picking up newspapers off their driveways or removing flyers adhered to their mail boxes or moving trash and recycling bins back behind their house for days after the pick-up people came through), these people seem to believe that, even though they signed at closing a document agreeing to follow all neighborhood covenants, it's ok for them to:

1. Park in the street on a regular basis. This is a big, big problem because our streets are relatively narrow in many parts of the neighborhood. There are many people who do this, and, over the past year or so, the HOA has been on a campaign to get them to stop. They've received warning letters. They've had the opportunity to come to a Board meeting and explain why they've been in violation and why they should receive a variance. Many of them don't respond to any of the communication they've received and simply continue to park in the street. Others call up the management company and threaten lawsuits. Still others have shown up to the meeting and then been thrown out for becoming disruptive. One home owner, who happens to live in a Cul-de-Sac, feels he should be able to park on the street because he's "not in anyone's way". Forgetting the fact that this isn't a viable reason for a variance, it's isn't true. From our vantage point up "on the hill" above him, I've seen how difficult it's been for delivery trucks, trash pick-up, etc., to maneuverer around his big hulking freaking SUV. Another guy down the street from us has something like six cars so, he feels it's ok for him to park them on the street because where else is he going to park them? Except, he ALWAYS has open space in his driveway. He next tried the "I've got a Handicap Sticker"; seeming to think this meant he could park the car with the sticker anywhere, even if it wasn't a legal parking space. I'm convinced that one of these "gentlemen" is our Beer Can Bandit (someone on occasion throws an empty beer can into our yard; usually, it's around the time the Board has been sending violation letters out about the parking situation). I really, really wish someone who has been complaining about people parking on the street would stand up in the open meeting and challenge these idiots. That's what it is going to take (receiving several violations of $100 each hasn't cut it, they simply don't pay it). Someone should say, "Excuse me, Joe Blow, I also live in this neighborhood and I really want to understand why you feel that you don't have to abide by the rules, but I do?" Of course, no one does. They just bitch and complain on the Yahoo Message Board.

Obviously, parking on the street is a big issue. So big, in fact, that the Board is holding a special hearing meeting in early December. After that, everyone that continues to park on the street will start to receive regular violations and fines. And, if they don't pay the fines, it will be sent to collections. Eventually, their homes can be foreclosed on by the HOA if the fines are not paid. I can only imagine the bro-ha-ha that will ensue. It seems to me it'd just be easier to stop parking on the damn street.

2. Not paying dues and fines. Obviously, Mr. B cannot (and doesn't) share with me who, exactly, is delinquent. He has, though, told me some of the excuses (all of them lame) and that several of those who refuse to pay (or even work with the Board to set up a payment plan) drive around in new BMWs or Mercedes. Oh, and another thing about the dues. Relatively speaking, they are nominal. Compared to what I was paying in California, even compared to what we pay for the townhouse we own in North Durham, they are a drop in the bucket. And yet, another thing that people bitch about is how nothing gets done in the neighborhood; the landscaping is crappy, the streets are a mess, there aren't enough pool chairs at the pool (a place I've NEVER seen crowded in the four years we've lived here, BTW) and we're paying ALL THIS MONEY in dues! Maybe we should have this group of people go after the other group of people who refuse to pay them.

3. Erect structures (sheds, fences, additions or a new mail box) or make visible changes to their property (expanded driveways, trees, extensive landscaping) without getting prior approval from the Board. Living in a planned community means there is supposed to be a certain "look" to the place. Yes, we're all individuals, this isn't Stepford, but, there are rules to be followed. More than once, Mr. B's had to get into it with a home owner who has built something without first getting the okay. These people actually have the audacity to drive by when Mr. B is out working in our yard and bitch at him because they didn't do what they were supposed to do and he called them on it. One of them was the guy who appears to be running the used car lot; he erected a shed that a) did not match the color of his house and b) the siding was vertical instead of horizontal. I told Mr. B that these folks are lucky they don't live in some of the other neighborhoods I've lived in; they'd be required to rip out/take down whatever they did, at their expense, even if it were ultimately approved. Too bad, so sad.

So, this is the dumb-dumb part.

Drums. Our next door neighbor, a guy we do genuinely like even though for the life of me, I cannot figure out his family situation, has a three year old son. A sweet little boy; when we see him, he's always friendly and smiling. The last few months or so, he must have received some drums. Many times throughout the day, I can hear him banging away on them. Our houses are close enough that, especially if it's relatively quiet, you can hear it. And, one good thing about our neighborhood, it IS usually fairly quiet.

So, anyway, a few weeks ago, we started to hear this banging at what we consider unacceptable times. Such as, after 9:00 pm. Or, very early in the morning. Once, it started at 6:30 am and lasted for an hour. The next morning, it began at FIVE THIRTY AM and again lasted for over an hour. After that, I'd had it. Upon thinking about a reasonable way to approach the matter, I decided to send his father (who is a city cop, BTW) an email and inquire as to the loud banging we'd been hearing. I phrased it in such a way as to express concern more than annoyance; hoping it'd give him the chance to save face but also take care of it.

It worked. We exchanged a few emails; he said it was his son and his drums, he was really sorry, he'd see to it.

Yey! Or, so I thought.

Last night around 10:45 pm, the freaking banging started up again. Dad wasn't home (we'd seen him leave for work earlier that afternoon), which means the child was home with either his mom, a sibling, a babysitter, who knows. Who cares? Whoever they were, they must be deaf. And, what the heck was a three year old doing up at 10:45 at night, anyway? After a bit of "discussion", Mr. B went over and rang the doorbell. No one answered so I dug out the father's phone number (which he'd given me in one of the emails). When he answered, I told him it was almost 11:00 and we were hearing that banging again. He told me he'd call the house and "take care of it". It did stop, but, it started back up around 8:30 am. I guess this was "ok", we were awake, anyway, but, who knows what's going to happen? Seriously, how hard can it be to take a drum away from a child at bedtime?

Drums. Dumb-dumbs. Drums. Dumb-dumbs.

End of rant.

Mrs. B

1 comment:

Mr. B said...

Can't dispute any of this, but as I have said, this is the last time I will serve on this HOA board.

Maybe we should buy a few Lawrence Welk CD's and play them really loud outside when the drums are being beaten. Think they would stop? Probably!