HOAs. Sometimes they can be reasonable, but I have a special little meat locker in my heart where I keep my burning hate-fucking passion for the ones that aren't.
I gave one of my stories in reply to that article, but I totally forgot about this one:
I live in San Diego, and as you may have seen on the news, we like to catch fire and burn down every half-decade or so, just to keep things interesting. So during the last bad one in 2007, quite a few houses in my neighborhood burned down (I got lucky), and naturally, the owners went and rebuilt after it was all done. That seems pretty reasonable, I mean, smoldering ash just doesn't have the same home-y feel, you know?
So they got their insurance money, had some plans drafted up, and built themselves some very nice looking homes. Some had balconies and sundecks, some had big gorgeous windows, some had beautiful awnings for fun summer (read: year round) barbecues, it was great. They were able to take the insurance money, and add some of their own savings to really get the home they always wanted.
Until the complaints started rolling in.
So while these people lost everything they owned, and got the opportunity to from scratch, everyone else in the neighborhood was stuck with their tract house design, and 1980's stucco walls. That pissed them off big time. The HOA finally stepped in, after all the houses were either being built or were finished in some cases, and said that you can't use a new design for your home, you have to stick with one of the 5-6 existing tract housing floorplans so that you don't disturb the "flow" of the neighborhood. It's just not fair to everyone else, right?
So what ensued was a long, and ridiculously painful legal battle, which the HOA eventually lost after 4-5 years, which is great for the home owners... except for the fact that construction on many of the homes was halted during this time, and some of the people went bankrupt after they couldn't pay the legal fees on top of what they just shelled out to contractors, materials, and building licenses after dreaming up a bigger and better home for themselves.
As you can see in the pictures, some of those were bulldozed, and just sit as empty lots now, or in the case of my old neighbor right across the street (pictured above), their house is sitting there with a big ugly chain link fence around it, with half of the house burned down. First they were battling with their insurance who didn't want to pay for their house because it only "partially burned", and then when they finally agreed to pay out, the HOA restricted what they could do. So now it just sits there with a big fence around it and boards over the windows. Their kitchen burned out in 2007, and the house still sits like this after 7 years.
It's a good thing the HOA was there, otherwise all those nice, new houses (sometimes an entire streets worth), would have really brought down the property values in the area. Vacant lots and empty, half burned out buildings are really much better. Most of the houses that burned (there were many) were finished and this whole thing is behind them, but there are still those that are just sitting as vacant lots, raising property value, apparently.
Images courtesy of Google Maps