Chalk it up to HOA Stupidity

Everybody else has reported on this already, but I should at least get my take on the record. So here it is:

In Aurora, Colorado, a Homeowners Association is threatening to ruin the family of a three year old girl who uses colored chalk to draw flowers and hearts on the sidewalks in front of her home.

Seems that some wicked witch in the cul-de-sac complained that the chalk drawings were against the covenants and destroying the value of the neighborhood. The child, Emerson Cohen, is mystified at the dispute, but her mother is furious.

The Stapleton Master Association is furious because the HOA was originally identified as being a Stapleton Homeowners Association. They’re working overtime to lobby the media to say, “It’s not Stapleton, is an HOA within Stapleton. Additionally, Stapleton is saying “We have no rules against sidewalk chalk drawings by children. And the Master Association is pointing its collective finger/fingers? at a member HOA called ”the Innovations and Courtyard Traditions at Stapleton Homeowners Association.”

Still, you’d think that Stapleton Master Association could show some leadership and throttle a few complainers by the necks. This little Nazi-like neighborhood is now in the national news for beating down a three-year-old girl whose artistic efforts were all going to be washed away in the first rain, anyway.

Yes, some people hate little children. Even worse, some people move into HOAs because they hate little children. They realize that a single complaint to the HOA board can shut down chalk drawings, lemonade stands, kids playing hopscotch on the sidewalk. Incredibly, a number of HOAs have even enacted rules that mandate that no children are allowed to play outside!

The hatred of little children is a serious disease. Sadly, when a diseased mind moves into an HOA, that hatred is toxic and communicable.


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

3 thoughts on “Chalk it up to HOA Stupidity

  1. Annonymous

    “Since HOAs are very local and small, participants are often neighbors and hence have incentive to settle disagreements in a civil manner.”

    – “Free-Market Alternatives To Zoning”
    The Independence Institute (“Colorado’s Free Market Think Tank”)
    February 28, 2009

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      You can repeat that line as often as you want, but I’ll always respond with this: give a human being unrestricted power to inflict fatal damage to another human being (for no reason whatsoever!), and the fatal shock will almost always be administered. (experiments by Prof. Stanley Milgram, Yale)

  2. Seashell

    Update for Anonymous: Brian Schwartz added a correction later concerning that very comment.
    Since writing this I have learned that HOAs often do not settle disputes with homeowners in a civil manner. For examples of this, see
    The guy Schwartz channeled in that post, Prof. Robert Nelson, admitted last year in the Public Administration Review’s Mini HOA Symposium that Privatopia is not glitch free, even in the eyes of the most ardent libertarian.
    HOAs both expanded and curbed individual freedoms. They expanded the range of opportunity for a group of people to join with others to live together in a neighborhood community grounded in common concerns and values. Within any given private neighborhood, however, individual freedom of action was limited more tightly than by typical local public governments. A trade-off is posed among different forms of freedom that is not resolvable according to the normal lines of political opinion in the United States.
    It’s hard to argue with either insight. Freedom in an HOA is ‘just another word for nothing left to lose’


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