... this house is in an HOA.

In honor of my newfound dictator status, here’s a vehicle fit for a dictator. Idi Amin, to be specific.

So we had this note stuck in our door about a month ago informing us of an HOA meeting in a few days. We had never heard anything from them before this aside from pulling teeth to get the CC&Rs and Bylaws, because the listing agent was a tool, the former owner never received a copy, and the Escrow company didn’t even get a copy for their documents. Ridiculous.

Anyhow, we go down to meet this shadowy group at the local library, where we encounter two couples we know and a lot of people we’ve never met. Not really surprising, most of us work for a living so we’re barely there. 8 properties are represented out of 30, which constitutes a quorum and therefore we were allowed to make votes that were binding. Bonus.

The first order of business was that the former president had moved and appointed a replacement, but the treasurer that had been in the remaining three positions on the board was tired of doing it (he’d been doing it since the developer handed off control to the association). So we had to either confirm the appointed president or choose another one. We chose to simply confirm her. We then found a new treasurer, a lady reluctantly accepted the post of secretary, and my wife ended up vice president.

Sweet.

So then we get into all kinds of stupid stuff going on. You see, aside from the treasurer quitting, the main cause for this meeting was an event that happened sometime after we purchased our house, but prior to moving in. We’ll call this event “the painting” or “for a second I thought this was East LA, until I noticed moss on everything”.

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One day a homeowner decided that they needed to paint their house. Doesn’t exactly sound unreasonable, right? They even went to the appointed president to tell them that they planned to paint their house, but couldn’t find guidelines on what colors were permissible. The president chatted with them for a bit and the homeowner said, “I’m thinking a nice neutral earth tone”, and the president agreed with, “as long as it’s a similar color to the rest of the houses or the color it is now, I’m sure it’ll be fine”.

The homeowner hired a painter and selected a color.

After the painting, the house is now a bright light blue color with bright red shutters, dark grey accents, and white trim.

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We discussed the painting at length and reviewed all the documents, but there was absolutely nothing we could do. You see, to stop this we would have needed a committee that didn’t exist and would consist of between one and 3 members that are not elected members of the board, but appointed by the board. 4 of the 11 people there were now board members...

So the president looked around and asked for volunteers. Nobody was interested. It went on for a bit and she threatened to assign it to someone, so I finally offered, “I’ll be on the Architectural Control Committee”. She asks for others and another guy offers to join, then a lady that has a grievance about the trees in the yard of the house behind her chimes in just before the Board agreed to appoint the first two of us, so there are three of us.

I really didn’t know exactly what I was signing up for. I assumed when I first read the documents that these people already existed and only really concerned myself with what they can/will do and what the board can/will do. As I re-read it today, it became clear that I’m one of the three faultless dictators of the neighborhood. We can basically make any decision we like and nobody can really do anything about it, short of deposing us. Not only that, but we’re not responsible for our decisions, good or bad. Basically, we have absolute power over any/all external changes to all houses, fences, landscaping, window coverings, the vegetation on all corner lots, exterior paint, any added structures, any external modifications, any ornamental items, etc.

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I do look forward to keeping this neighborhood a little more unified than it is today, but the risk involved in giving people this much power over others is a little terrifying.