Bayport HOA: Too Militant?

I will admit, from the very early days the concept of an HOA has always concerned me. Not because they are inherently bad, but because their boards tend to attract people who want to control their neighbors lives. To dictate what people can and cannot do with their own homes. For the first 10 years we were in the house, the HOA was, for the most part, not acting unreasonably. Their main focus was on improving the landscaping to make it more economical to maintain, especially in light of water shortages and the rapidly increasing cost of water. Then came the parking disputes and the more militant board members.

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HOA Nonsense

To be fair, this is more specifically about the companies that are paid to manage HOA affairs by larger associations, like the one we are part of at Bayport in Alameda.

Sadly, I have yet to experience any of these firms that actually care enough to use some common sense, or even to act in a way that is in the best interest of the members that they work for. That said, I doubt any of them see themselves as working for the home owners. I sometimes suspect they don't even see themselves as working for the board of directors of the HOA (who represent the members).

Or perhaps their own performance is measured in some way based on the number of these notices they send out. As if that was some indication that they were doing their job.

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HOAs and the Environment

Those who follow my Twitter feed might have seen that we received a snarky letter from our HOA here at Bayport in Alameda this week complaining about our front lawn. The complaint itself was not specific (it said something along the lines of the lawn needing “weeding, edging, mowing and/or fertilizing”).

Now, my opinion of HOAs in general is pretty low (and of the particular management company used here, Vierra Moore, even lower), since most of what I have seen from them has been silly time wasting nonsense. At our expense since our monthly dues pay for these time wasters. To highlight just how much nonsense Vierra Moore believes in, one of last year’s “straw polls” for potential new rules they could impose on residents included whether home owners should be allowed to fly flags, and if so what sizes and types of flag. Pathetic people. Learn how to live and let live. Let’s take away all the rules that are not ensuring safety and deal with it.

But, complaints about lawn condition have a much larger implication. By requiring that lawns be kept ‘green’ they are essentially requiring a massive, and unacceptable, waste of water. And the houses here in Bayport do not include grey water systems (a shame in newly built homes). Currently water is a precious resource here in northern California, with a serious drought entering its third year now. Why are we wasting it watering grass?

Unusually for me, I honestly think there needs to be a change in the law to prevent HOAs from requiring their members to run irrigation at all. If grass can’t survive naturally in the climate, then it is simply the wrong thing to plant. That said, even when it is burnt badly in hot summers, it usually comes back unaided when the rain returns in the winter months (as the many un-irrigated hillsides in the bay area demonstrate every year). Of course, it doesn’t look green all summer, but really people, is having a green lawn more important than having water to drink? Perhaps this year we can make brown the new green.

I do think it is time that cities and/or states stepped in here to prevent these pathetic, bullying organisations from being able to require their “members” to waste precious resources. So, I am going to be sending this post to a number of places, including local and state politicians, to see if anything can be done to knock some common sense into these HOA management company bullies.

Cindarella Bicycle

BicycleA grey, and relatively cold Memorial Day weekend here in Alameda. It actually rained a little on Saturday, was blustery and cold on Sunday and only a little better for Monday.

Today, of course, was back to blue skies and sunshine.

The photo was taken in the small playground area attached to the Ruby Bridges Elementary School here in Bayport, Alameda (even though Flickr still thinks that all the photos I take in Alameda are actually from Oakland).

Blossom’s Out

BlossomWell, on Ansel Avenue here in Alameda it is anyway. Our own tree has not flowered yet (it was later last year too).

As ever when trying to get photos of flowers, the second I get the camera out (in this case the Nokia N95), the wind picks up making it much harder to get good macro shots. Still, given the wind and the fact that I was only using a mobile phone camera, this came out OK I thought.

First Stones Laid

Yard Day ThreeSo, completely off the topic of the iPhone, Nokia N95 or anything technical at all, here’s a photo of the first few stones of our new back yard patio, laid today.

Today was actually day three of the job. The first two days were about getting the irrigation system laid, raising the drains up to the right level for the patio and generally preparing things.

Bayport Blossom

Bayport BlossomThe tree in front of our house, that had been totally bare since we moved in, has suddenly burst into a mass of blossom. I guess that answers both the questions we had about it: (a) is it even alive, and (b) what kind of tree is it?

There’s a few more shots of the blossom in my Flickr stream.

Moved In!

Don’t have any photos available yet (still need to unpack the PowerBook and get the photos out of the camera), but I’ve moved in to the new house. Was a busy new year’s weekend with all the moving (thanks those who helped us move all the stuff from my apartment), and it is still busy getting everything unpacked and dealing with getting appliances delivered, utilities accounts setup or transferred etc.

Added to that, Devicescape is busy with lots of updates to the hotspot login service we launched at the end of last year (if you use Wi-Fi hotspots anywhere, check it out, and if your favourite ones aren’t listed, tell us about them and we’ll get them added).

House Update: Friday, December 15

Friday, December 15Landscaping out front is done. We have plants, grass and our tree, although the latter looks a little sorry for itself at the moment. Still seems to be lots to be done though before it is ready for us.

It is also getting harder to get photos now without things blocking the view. Lots of activity in the street, both from the builders on our side, and folks moving in and getting work done opposite.