Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ongoing Crisis - What's in a Yard

There are so many things to get up about, and yards seem to drive more people into a tizzy than anything. Recently I heard a report on NPR about a man who lived in a Home Owners Association (HOA) type community in New Hampshire. He was fighting to hang his laundry out in the yard and use his, ahem, solar powered dryer. The HOA reminded him that it is against the rules as are many yard "disturbances". Protecting the value of homes in the neighborhood, as always, is the reason given.

I'm afraid it may have more to do with taste and class than property values, but isn't that something we all can agree on- the value of our investment? The idea is that people who hang their laundry, have too many cars parked in the driveway (or on the grass), have kids who play basketball for too many hours, etc. are not welcome in these neighborhoods. If the HOA bans it, people inclined to have such things won't buy in or, if you are inclined but bought in, you simply won't be allowed.

But here is where it gets interesting. Values are shifting and boom! colliding into each other. The man in the NPR report wants to air dry his laundry because its good for the environment, not because he can't afford the electricity that operates his expensive dryer! Green-values people, a small but growing segment of the population, are demanding to let their clothes air dry. This is colliding with the HOA segment who wants to maintain property values over all else. We've seen the same thing when it comes to growing vegetables, wildflowers, or meadows in front yards. Also, unusual home designs in conventional neighborhoods. This is such an interesting space, where two sets of "values" are going head to head. Town ordinances (like this one) banning cars from being parked on the grass are running up against people who are promoting green driveways as a way of mitigating runoff and excess heat. To one person it is offensive, to another its forward thinking!

Offensive-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Forward Thinking

Personally, I can't stand for it when town or HOA ordinances state that I can not plant tomatoes in the front yard. These ordinances are the problem, not the decisions of any particular home owner. I say we need to learn to get along instead of legislating absurd conditions for participation in a community! I think we can all get together to discuss what's really necessary for our communities as long as we think deeply about our own decisions. Let's legislate what really matters.

Check this newspaper link:
Yards and Cars

Here is a link to an interesting defense summation in a court case regarding meadows in yards

Here is a link to an excellent page on weed ordinances.

It is impressive to me how many web hits come up that promote wildflower lawns and so on. Not long ago these searches pulled up article after article of lawsuits and fines. These are still out there, but people and government are coming around to more options in the yard.

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