HOA’s, or Home Owner’s Associations, are not very prevalent in LA except in condo communities, or further south in Orange County. In Atlanta, you can’t escape the tentacles of the HOA. Gated communities, non-gated communities, it doesn’t matter; you will pay to play.

When we moved into our new Atlanta home we were kind of glad we’d have a group to turn to if we had neighbors doing things that neighbors shouldn’t be doing. In LA, we had a neighbor who ran an energy bar distribution center out of his house. There were large trucks coming and going at all hours. Finally, enough people were bothered by this that the city answered the calls to shut him down. Unfortunately, that just ticked the guy off and he started to deliberately make his place look like a dump.

The problem is that our HOA in Atlanta doesn’t seem to do much beyond approving paint colors and trimming the common grass and trees…. Oh, and harassing good citizens.

The nasty-gram we got when our pine straw started to turn a little gray was our first run-in with this entity. There were no weeds, just some gray-tinted pine-straw. You’d think we had cars on blocks and trash in the front yard the way the note was worded. I called to try to talk some sense into these people, but couldn’t cut through the bureaucracy.

I don’t know how all HOA’s operate, but ours seems to always have too much money. They throw different themed parties throughout the year to spend this excess. They overpay for landscaping, pool-cleaning, and even bill-collecting. I’d rather have a lower HOA bill.

The parties were not really our thing, but since we were paying for them anyway, we tried a few. There was the Christmas party, where someone offered up their house in exchange for free decorating, catering, and after-party cleaning—lots of after-party cleaning; the Easter Egg Hunt, where our nephew got pushed around by little spoiled kids in designer onesies; the Spring Fling with 5-piece band where Alex got hit on by more than one sweaty middle-aged divorcee (and some not-so-divorcees); and the Chili Cook-Off with catering from the local BBQ joint (just in case the chilies weren’t good enough, I guess).

For the Chili Cook-Off, Alex spent days preparing smoked garlic and roasted peppers of different kinds. She simmered the sauce and added just the right mix of beef to bean. Unfortunately, the HOA had hired the local fire department to judge the event (and probably overpaid them to do it). Unfortunate because Alex’s chili was a study in tastes and textures, not a 4-alarm fire. She didn’t win from the judge’s perspective, but the true winner could be determined better by the amount of chili left in each contestant’s pot. See, throughout the night neighbors were free to take samples out of each pot as they pleased. By night’s end, Alex’s pot looked like it was licked clean, where the others were still half-full of congealed red sauce with dry cayenne powder caked to the sides.

That was our last HOA sponsored party. We decided it was better to host our own parties than leave everything up to an overfunded, underqualified board.





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