My husband and I are in the beginning process of living a more self-sufficient lifestyle since his retirement from the military, but since we live in a “Deed Restricted” development we are limited in the things we can. Due to living with the constant watchful eye of a Homeowners Association (HOA) I have been wondering about the development of Homeowner Associations and why have we allowed ourselves to be governed while trying to own a home. I understand the need for a management company if your home is in a gated community that provides security and outdoor maintenance. I have a hard time understanding why Homeowner Associations have become such an accepted normal in our society. In many of these communities you pay a fee to have the corner of a roadway looking nice, or the area around a community mailbox clean, but this also comes with the constant watchful eye of a management company dictating that you keep your yards weed free, or the paint on your home done, or even ensure that your driveway has no blemishes.
I attempted to do some research about where these communities that are a part of our normal life came about and discovered that the first planned community was in New York and was constructed by William Levitt. It seems he was creating a community in which military veterans could purchase a low cost home with a few restrictions, like no hanging a laundry line in your front yard. I had a hard time finding any other history related to Homeowners Associations. The only thing that I could determine is builders decided to create communities for people that had similar beliefs. Unfortunately this idea has blown up into something that has many people frustrated, but also feeling that they don’t have many options for purchasing a home unless they are willing to accept the restrictions of an HOA.
Many of the reasons that I became interested in our desire to have an HOA is because now that I would like to be more self-sufficient I can’t and I find that a bizarre choice in Americas living style. We have spent years fighting for our freedoms but yet we are willing to live in a house that we are purchasing but have an outside source dictate how our yard looks, what we can plant and encouraging the use of chemicals to maintain a pristine appearance that is unrealistic in the daily flow of life. I recently read an article in Green Living, Go Native by Adam Stone in which he reported “Last year, Texas passed a law that prevents homeowner associations from prohibiting the use of native grasses or Xeriscapes in landscaping.” I find it absolutely appalling that we have to pass a law to regulate a natural ecofriendly landscape. Seriously people isn’t the health of our planet more important than your yard looking better than the neighbors. How amazing would it be if we utilized our HOA living to create an environment of growing different vegetables to share a meal with our neighbors? Community living is suppose to create a sense of community and neighborly living, instead we have a fear of doing something wrong and offending the HOA gods. When it comes to a single family home I think HOA’s are a bad idea.