When Did Bureaucracy Replace Common Sense?

I’m new to the world of Homeowners Associations. I don’t know of a single person who belongs to one back in Illinois, save a couple people who reside in retirement communities. I’m not saying there aren’t any there, but I don’t know of any personally. But here in Florida? Well, pretty much everyone lives in a community with an HOA. I understand fundamentally why HOAs are in place. It only takes a short drive down the street, past the houses with waist-high grass, old appliances in the yard, broken shutters, peeling paint, and giant rebel flags to understand why HOAs exist.

However, much like any organization with a modicum of power, some HOAs go stark-raving, power hungrya little overboard. And I tend to be a little contrary. I don’t mean to be so adverse, but in all honesty, if there’s a rule to be broken (especially if it’s an asinine one), I feel the need to break it. Therein lies the problem.

For Christmas, my kids got a portable basketball hoop. There are no parks, tennis courts, pools, or other play areas or amenities in my little community. We have a tiny back yard, so my kids were thrilled with the new toy and immediately began playing outside, shooting hoops, making friends with the neighbor kids, and just hanging out having fun. However, a few weeks later, I started getting notices that basketball hoops weren’t allowed in my neighborhood. The notices got increasingly threatening, promising to take me to court if I didn’t remove the basketball hoop. I, however, thought the rule was stupid so I left the portable backboard on my driveway.

So, (skipping ahead a few months) I have found myself as part of a committee to get the verbiage in the homeowners convenant revised so the residents can vote to adopt the new covenant allowing portable basketball hoops. At a meeting the other night, this is what we discussed. For real.

Original verbiage:

…Basketball structures, either permanently mounted to¬†dwelling above the garage or mounted to a permanent pole, will not be allowed in front of rear wall of the home. No portable basketball poles and backboards will be allowed in front of the rear wall of the home.

Proposed verbiage:

…Basketball structures, either permanently mounted to dwelling above the garage or mounted to a permanent pole, will not be allowed in front of rear wall of the home. Portable basketball poles and backboards will be allowed in front of the rear wall of the home only if they are located in the driveway, or on the lawn directly adjacent to the driveway, and are in good general repair and safe working order.

One would think this was satisfactory, no? One would think this new verbiage could be sent to the lawyer for further inspection. One would think. And one would be wrong.

The committee members were handed papers with additional points to ponder.

“How do we determine what ‘portable’ is?”

“Isn’t ‘portable’ kind of self-explanatory?” I offered.

“Well, what if someone has a backboard mounted to their garage and they grab a screwdriver and take it apart and pull it down? Could they call it ‘portable’?”

“I could take apart my house brick by brick. Does that make it portable? Disassembling something does not make it ‘portable.” I laughed a little, thinking the whole thing was a joke. “Oooo, maybe we should add that you need to be able to move it in five minutes or less. That will eliminate anyone claiming to have a portable unit just by disassembling their fixed unit.” I knew I was being a smart-butt, but I was powerless to stop at this point.

“But then someone will have to stand out there with a timer to make sure it can be taken down in five minutes and that’s not feasible.”

Oh my gosh, it’s not a joke. They’re actually serious about discussing this, I thought to myself.

“Let’s move on to the next point. Owners who have flat, wide driveways suitable for basketball play are encouraged to use the driveway instead of the street, it is safer.”

“Gee, ya think?” I snorted, laughing at the ludicrousness of it all.

“That’s a good point. We don’t want basketball hoops out in the street, even if they are portable.”

“How about this point? Basketball hoops must be kept in good shape. The structure must be sound. No broken backboards or large visible patches of corrosion. There must be a net and the net should be in good shape and not torn.

“Doesn’t ‘good general repair and safe working order’ pretty much cover that?” I asked.

“That’s good, but it doesn’t specify what kind of net. Someone could put a fishing net up there.”

I sat there blinking, dumbfounded at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.

“The next point is The owner is responsible for keeping up the landscape around the basketball hoop’s base.”

“Aren’t we responsible for maintaining our yards and landscaping anyway? Isn’t this just another unnecessary, redundant rule?” I asked. After this one, I think I ran out of things to say. I simply sat there blinking, choking back the urge to slap people. This went on through seven more redundant points.

“Here’s another one. Players must yield the street to any autos or bicycles. Similarly, autos should proceed with caution when approaching children in the street.”

“Do you really think this needs to be included? If we don’t add this, do you think there will be an abundance of children playing ball in the middle of the street and cars running over them? Really??? Are you serious?! Are you really, honest-to-God serious? Don’t you people have jobs? Families? Lives? Anything, anything at all to do? Are we really going to sit here all night discussing these asinine, inane, repetitive, ridiculous, superfluous rules? Look! Now you’ve got me doing it! I sound like a thesaurus!” I shouted angrily.

Well, I said all those things in my head anyway. Outwardly, I settled for impatiently tapping my keys on the table, counting down the minutes until I could leave so I could go home and tear down the basketball hoop because it’s not, quite frankly, worth the torture of another HOA meeting.

Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!

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