That cute bike I mentioned last week got me in trouble with the Home Owner's Association. Their rules are like commandments, except they exceed God's basic ten, and judgement comes more swiftly.
To reach the community garden I must pass through a gate. A long gravel path leads to the raised beds. I rode on the completely empty path leading to the empty garden as one of the garden board members pulled up in her car. I was 20' away when she yelled. "Pam, if you don't get off that path I'll have to call the Community Response Office. " (Think minor league law enforcement in small white cars without sirens or fire arms.)
It's not as if I were leader of a pack of serious cyclists descending on hoards of helpless old people who had to scatter to safety.
Surely she wasn't serious. But I got off the bike. I hollered "Go ahead, it'll be their excitement for today."
"I mean it," she threatened. "I'll call them. You have to obey the rules. Do you think you're better than everybody else?"
"I think I'm pretty special." The unconciliatory tone fired her up.
She must have had CRO (Community Response Office) on speed dial.
I parked my bike, ignored her, and focused on watering my dehydrated tomatoes. While chatting with another plot holder the chubby community responder walked our direction. He hitched up his belt. He planted his feet apart and put his fists on his hips. I really expected him to give me some body language, a wink maybe or tiny grin, to indicate how ridiculous this was. But he didn't. I guess he was serious too.
"Did you ride your bike on the path?"
"Yeah, for about 6 feet and I got off when Martha Sue told me to. It's better to use a bike than drive here." My concern for the environment didn't strike him as virtuous.
"Well," he pulled out his little pad of forms "you can bring the bike into the garden, just don't ride it. What unit do you live in?"
I told him and he filled out the brief form. To his credit, he was polite, and he was making the nitpicker happy for sure. (Ooh, I wish I'd known her information to give him instead of mine.)
As he walked away the neighboring gardener looked at me in disbelief. "I can't believe that. It makes me wonder why I live here." Yeah, me too.
It's my opinion that the HOA is trying to recreate paradise by committee.
Or perhaps they distend their limited control to compensate for the dwindling influence aging can cause. Although the HOA deals with some weighty issues, they deviate when control is about where a bike is ridden or a flower is planted.
I knew I'd run afoul of the HOA eventually. There are other written rules I am breaking.
|ajuga I planted in an empty space|
And #129 "Do not dead head the flowers." I held my breath when two staff gardeners stopped in front of the rose bush I've been trimming for two months. A few fading flowers and hips remained on the bush so it wouldn't be obviously pruned.
The elder gardener said to his trainee, "This is a lovely rose." Yep, I've taken good care of it. It is full of new growth and I'll have the only bush with a second flush of blooms later this summer.
Runamuck HOAs are common complaints elsewhere too. Online testimonies include one man who walked his dog in a "covenant" community although he didn't live in it. A control freak accosted him, called the police, and they ended up citing her and towing away her golf cart which wasn't licensed for the roads. Ah, justice.
Not so for the senior citizen who planted unauthorized purple flowers and was fined $50.00.
Every month people in this complex rack up more than three thousand calls to the CRO (more than one per unit.) They call for emergency medical assistance (which isn't provided.) Garage door violations make up a fair number of calls, as do "suspicious" people. There are noise complaints, odor complaints, and family disturbances. Alleged burglaries must not bear up under investigation because they always number 0 in the final report. This month there were 41 warning tickets, including mine.
And just to protect myself from the whistleblowers, Pam Glover is only my pen name.