Eric's Homeowner's Association Page

Our first complaint letter from our Homeowner's Association. Now I feel at-home in our new neighborhood. Don't get me wrong -- I don't share the common hatred of homeowner's associations. While I don't like being told how to live, I honestly feel associations improve the neighborhood.

When we were shopping for a new house, we looked at homes with no homeowner's associations (and therefore no association dues). The bottom line is that these neighborhoods weren't where I'd want to live. They had unkempt lawns, RVs and boats parked in front, those damn portable basketball hoops in the street, and kid's toys littering the lawns and streets.

Our Association is a middle-of-the-road association. Overall, I actually like it. They have just enough Nazis to write restrictive regulations, but the board members are realistic. I read their governing regulations thoroughly prior to purchasing our house, and agreed with 98% of the rules. Some were laughable -- There are rules that you can't place shampoo bottles in the bathroom window if they're visible from the street; Your driveway cannot have oil stains and you cannot park vehicle on the street that leaks oil; No wind chimes outside. I'm not a shampoo-bottle-in-the-window oil-stain kinda guy, my car is on my driveway, so no harm (although I do like wind chimes). There's also a rule that you can't have satellite TV antennas (even in your own backyard). With the new smaller DSS antennas, this rule is clearly outdated -- But again -- I neither have, nor desire a satellite TV dish.

But here's a new rule that gets me:

Commercial Vehicles may not be visibly parked or stored within the La Terraza area, except temporarily while providing a delivery or service to the Association or an Owner. Commercial vehicles are defined as any type of vehicle (car, truck, van, etc.) that meets any one of the following items:
--   equipped with external racks
--   having visible work equipment stored in or on the vehicle
--   having logos, signs, phone number or any designation which advertises a business.

I took a walk around the neighborhood and found that about 25% of the vehicles were "Commercial Vehicles" by that definition, including my own Ford Explorer Sport Utility Vehicle which has a luggage rack. Also, about half of the pickup trucks have a tool box mounted in the bed. Who writes this crap, anyway? If they're going to have ridiculous rules that they have no intention of enforcing, I wish they'd provide a list of which rules we can ignore. Also, I wish the board member who writes these would sign his or her name to them so we'd know to never vote for that person again.

Here's another: "The storage of flammable materials is prohibited except in approved containers." Well, almost everything is flammable -- Paper, rags, cardboard boxes... What are they really referring to? Open vats of gasoline?

In spite of these rules, I think our association is blessed with a good management company, or at least an excellent property manager. Loraine Grove with Total Property Management has been particularly responsive and professional (with the notable exception of their towing my wife's car by mistake -- but that's a subject for another page).

May 28, 1997 Eric Newman [Address] [Address] May 30, 1997 Re: Non-Compliance of Governing Documents Dear Mr. Newman: We would like to bring to your attention an infraction which you might not be aware is in violation of the Association's governing documents. Please understand that these rules were established by the Association in order to preserve, protect, and enhance your community. It has been brought to our attention that sand, gravel and dirt are being stored on your driveway. The Architectural Review Committee (ARC) has allowed you to do your landscaping in phases but feel that these items need to be removed and stored in a manner that is not visible from the street. Please take the appropriate step to correct removing these items upon receipt of this letter. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter. If you wish to respond, send your correspondence to the Board of Directors at the above address. Sincerely, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS LA TERREZA HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION cc: files

An interesting paradox is that while most homeowner's associations are so hate-able, it makes your neighbors more lovable.  Take this complaint letter for example.  The neighbors who complained are likable and friendly -- They wave and always have kind words when you see them getting their mail.  You only see their good side.  If they have a problem with you, they don't need to confront you -- Just call the Association and complain.  The bottom line is that the relationships between neighbors are less strained, except you probably know who they are.

  Eric Newman

  May 30, 1997

  The Board of Directors
  La Terraza Homeowners Association

  Re: Non-Compliance of Governing Documents

  Dear Board of Directors:

  I am in receipt of your letter dated May 28 and share your concern for 
  the beauty of our community.  I have made every effort to minimize the 
  appearance of the materials as viewed from the street.   Most of the 
  materials have been used up in the ongoing backyard construction, and 
  the remaining materials have been consolidated to the rear of the 
  driveway.  Additionally, I have recently moved three pallets of materials 
  to my rear yard.  Only piles of sand and gravel remain.  I am unable to 
  move additional material as the backyard is currently filled with 12 
  yards of dirt, four pallets of blocks and bricks, two pallets of cement, 
  and of course the large planter and rear retaining wall construction.  
  The driveway presently has sufficient room to park three vehicles, 
  Although we only have two.  Please contact me if you would like to visit 
  my backyard and take a look.  

  I am curious to understand your position on limiting the duration that 
  construction may take place to only a few months.  I have been working 
  on the backyard construction 8 to 11 hours per day, every weekend, 
  without exception since the materials were delivered.  I also typically 
  work on the backyard three weeknights each week, and have also solicited 
  the help of contracted labor on six occasions.  Is it the Board's 
  position that backyard planning should be kept simple so that it can be 
  completed in a few weeks?  Or are shortcuts encouraged that would 
  expedite the construction at the expense of meeting building codes 
  and Association guidelines?  Or is it simply that you discourage 
  homeowners from performing construction in their own backyards?

  In light of the lengthy and ongoing new home construction in the front 
  of the housing track, the violation of my sandpiles seems petty.  For 
  many months, new home construction has been a major disruption in our 
  neighborhood.  There are typically one or two large tractors parked 
  on the street, at least two trash dumpsters, as well as several huge 
  piles of lumber.  The street is often completely closed due to 
  construction, and there is considerable noise and dust.  And let's 
  not forget that fragrant outhouse placed in the street.  What a 
  delight it is to walk downwind of it.  I don't think we're even 
  in the same ballpark when discussing construction affecting our 

  I have every intention of complying with Association regulations and 
  being a good neighbor in my community.  I can't imagine a homeowner 
  working more diligently on construction than I have.  Unless I hear 
  differently from you, I will continue construction and deplete the 
  materials in my driveway.


  Eric Newman

  cc: Neighbors:

I'm really not upset about the Association's complaint letter.  The Board of Directors was just efficiently doing its job, and the weasel neighbors, like me, just have a lot of time on our hands.  Several neighbors (with the notable exception of one) have come up to me and applauded my letter and views.

As of August 30, all the materials on the driveway have been used up or moved to the backyard.  I never heard from the Association or any Board members.  The backyard turned out beautifully.  HGTV contacted us and wanted to showcase it on their program.

I've received a few letters about Associations and CC&Rs since I posted this page.  I'll post some of them below.


I myself am shocked at the intrusive restrictions of many CC&Rs. One development we are looking at has a complete restriction of any type of TV antenna. But this is what I found out...

1) The FCC has ruled against any such restriction of broadcast or receive antennas for radio or television in a finding dated 10/5/96.

2) California has backed up that position with a law. Section 1376 of the California Civil Code states that any restriction for satellite dishes, placed anywhere, that are 24" or less, or hidden that are 36" or less, is revoked and unenforceable by law. Anyone trying to enforce such a restriction will by liable for up to $1000 in damages.

I would be interested to know if any other law has been written against intrusive CC&Rs.

Good luck on your sand-in-the-driveway problem!

-Jerry O.


Here's one for you. The CCR's forbid any new construction of any kind without prior approval from the board. In my case however, I have a leaky shake roof and had to replace it. Shake is no longer legal here so I chose composite. No less then 4 members of the board tried to intervene with the work. The last one had it in writing.

The don't spell out what I can use they just want to make the decision. I now have a plywood roof with no shingle, while I wait for them to make a decision. I told them they will need to make it in 48 hours.

Any other cases on this that you've heard about? I'm not sure what my next step will be. But the mortgage company and insurance company will be notified.

Bob Rasmison

Okay Eric, I generally agree with your comments on the petty qualities of Associations and CC&Rs. The fact is that Associations often do make a neighborhood more desirable. Now, however, I'm faced with a Board that's actually (I feel) preventing me from leaving this desirable neighborhood.

To whit: House is for sale, we accept buyer's offer and hand over the CC&Rs which happen to say homeowners can only have two pets. Buyers have four indoor cats. Their real estate agent asks the Board for a variance, which the Board won't grant. We lose the buyers. Interesting to note: the Board realizes that there are other homeowners who are out of compliance, but they haven't enforced the CC&Rs because no one has complained. Their uneven enforcement of the CC&Rs results in our loss of sale.

We're looking for an attorney.

Rusty Eddy
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Eric Newman * Revised 6/12/2017