I recently did something so heinous, I can’t believe that I didn’t get a single comment on my blog about it. That’s right, I dared to build a Japanese rock garden in the raised flowerbed that wraps my porch. My porch. That’s attached to my house. The house that I bought.
I should have known it would be against the HOA rules. The Japanese have the dubious distinction of being one of the few races to be rounded up and relocated in this great country where all men are created equal. My neighbors recently brought to my attention an article in our local paper about rocks in the yard signifying the homes of swingers. I have to admit, I didn’t realize that signing the HOA paperwork when I moved into the neighborhood meant that I would not be allowed to flaunt my offensive heritage – or, apparently, engage in an alternative lifestyle. I now realize that it is the duty of my HOA to discriminate based on race and sexual preference.
I am a little hurt that not one of my neighbors stepped forward to let me know what a hideous eyesore I had created. On the contrary, I had many people stop by to compliment me on it. They even dared to call it beautiful. And to think that I used to call some of them friends! I won’t make that mistake again.
After getting a not-exactly-friendly letter letting me know of my offense against the neighborhood, I was quite shocked. I was informed that I had 10 days to remove the garden, put mulch in the flowerbed, and plant things. When I sent an email (the HOA does NOT take phone calls – you can leave a message, but they WILL NOT return it) to the HOA Enforcement Squad, requesting mercy, I was informed that I could submit an Exterior Alteration Application. (In the email chain, the HOA-ES insisted on addressing me as ‘Mr.’, even after I started signing my emails with with a very deliberate ‘Mrs.’)
The Exterior Alteration Application is necessary when making changes to the exterior of your house. Like if you want to change the paint color. Or build a fence. Or build a deck. Or cut down a tree. Or, it would seem, put things in your flowerbed. That aren’t visible from the street.
The application requires signatures from your 4 most affected neighbors. And would you believe it, they all signed it without hesitation, and even feigned shock that I would be required to do such a thing.
I received notification of my application disapproval, delivered by certified mail, at 1 pm on Saturday. I was told I had 48 hours to verbally request an appeal. Which meant I had to make my request by 1 pm on Monday. The Monday I was going to be out of town until 4 pm. There are no HOA hours on the weekend. So, I had from 9 am on Monday to 1 pm on Monday to request my appeal. Needless to say, I missed that deadline. The disapproval letter also said that I had to attend the next ARB meeting to discuss my appeal. The next meeting that is happening while I am going to be in San Diego.
So, that is what brought me to tear up my garden yesterday evening. (Well, that, and the mood that always comes during a certain phase of the month.) And place it in 15 paper yard waste bags (because, per HOA rules, you can only throw yard waste away in paper yard waste bags). These bags are now on my porch, until 6 pm on Wednesday, because that is when I can put trash out for Thursday morning.
When the fall comes around, and I’ve had some time to forget about my rage against the establishment, I will try again. I will start over with the HOA, and find out what, exactly, I can do to my flowerbed to both celebrate my sliver of Japanese-ness, and not offend the sensibilities of the HOA-ES.