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It is a personal vendetta that inspired Rep. Paul Hollis bill, but there is good arguement for reining in HOAs authority


It is a personal vendetta that inspired Rep. Paul Hollis bill, but there is good arguement for reining in HOAs authority

As a rule, I have nothing but disdain for legislators who file bills because of a personal grudge or a bad experience.

Every so often, for example, some lawmaker will get a speeding ticket while driving through some small town on his way to or from Baton Rouge to conduct important state business. Whenever that happens, you can count on a bill being introduced to rein in or even outlaw those small-town speed traps.

Never mind the fact that speeding tickets provide the major source of revenue for some of those towns. And it never seems to occur to a legislator to curtail the speed trap activity until he becomes a victim.

And while on the subject of speed traps, if you ever head down to Grand Isle, you have to go through a little town called Golden Meadow. The speed limit in Golden Meadow, if I recall correctly, is 25 mph and if you do 26, you’ll get a ticket.

One man I talked to even made it a point to explain to his son that you have to be very careful in Golden Meadow. But he still got a speeding ticket – for going 38 and he swears he was going under 25. The officer showed him his radar gun and it showed 38 on the display. The victim suspects the officer got someone doing 38 earlier and never reset his radar gun so that it would register 38 on anyone he subsequently chose to stop.

“He told me I could come to court and contest it,” he said, “but I’m not going back down there just to go up against a stacked deck. I paid the damn ticket but I didn’t like it.

But like I said, I generally hold self-serving legislation by lawmakers in contempt and, to be honest, I ain’t too enamored with most legislation offered up by the Republicans these days even though I am a recovering Republican.

But Rep. Paul Hollis (R-Mandeville) has filed such a “personal” bill and I have to say I can see where he’s coming from and I hope his bill passes.

I know he doesn’t need my blessings on his legislation but when he tries to put a damper on the HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION Nazis, I gotta pull for him.

And make no mistake, it’s personal. Hollis, it seems got into a squabble with a neighbor over the neighbor’s barking dog (dog do that, you know). Anyway, one thing led to another and the neighbor installed a surveillance camera and apparently aimed it in the Hollis home’s direction. So, he erected an 8-foot fence to block the video camera and to baffle the dog’s barking.

He did so only after complaining to the HOC about the barking dog and the HOC did nothing. Nothing, that is, until he erected that fence. Then the association swung into action, imposing a fine of $25 per day and threatening Hollis with a lien on his property. Why? Because the fence exceeded the allowable 6-foot height.

It’s on now.

Hollis has filed a bill that would nullify any prohibition that infringes on the constitutional rights of a lot owner. He’s also considering filing a companion bill that would allow homeowners to opt out of existing HOAs because of what he calls “the horror stories” that impose “selective enforcement on what is covered in the covenants” and which complaints will be ignored and which ones enforced.

We’ve all heard the stories of how HOA types stalk neighborhoods to see whose garage door is left open, whose grass is a quarter-inch too long, whose mail box doesn’t comply with the approved neighborhood motif, whose house is painted the wrong color, and whose kid is not allowed to operate a lemonade stand in her parents’ front yard. It just seems to me that some people have far too much time on their hands.

Give these people enough rope and they’ll be dictating what kind and what color vehicle you’re allowed to have.

NOLA.com published the story about Hollis’ predicament and quoted Robert Phillips, president of GNO Property Management, a New Orleans company that manages homeowner associations (you mean there’s someone all the way across Lake Pontchartrain that dictates what local HOAs say and do?).

Phillips said folks have a fondness for gates and rules as a means of protecting their property. “People who buy into HOAs and condos do it with the idea they aren’t going to have someone with a trailer next door or broken-down cars in the front yard,” he said, adding that if they didn’t want the restrictions, “they’d go to Folsom and buy five acres.”

As for keeping a mobile home from going in next door, I thought that was what local zoning laws were for.

Phillips continued: “The majority of the people appreciate the work we do. The ones who don’t appreciate it are the ones who et letters.”

Not subject to an HOA, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I know people who do and I’m hoping Hollis can bring some sort of uniformity – and sanity – with his personal vendetta bill.

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