01 Jun
Vive La Resistance

Dear TMH,

We live in really hot region of North Central Texas in a homeowner association-run neighborhood. We pay our dues, we follow the rules and we accept this dreary existence that is known as “planned neighborhoods.” So why is it that a member of this “governing body” has the right to bend the rules or even ignore them altogether? Imagine it, you enter a lovely neighborhood of pristine homes with manicured lawns, then you turn the corner and there it stands the home that can only be described as “trailer-parkesque.”

A flock of faded pink flamingos (many of which are now unipods with broken necks and missing beaks) stand guard over a lawn of dead tropical plants and a sample of each item from the lawn décor aisle at our neighborhood Walmart, Dollar Store AND Big Lots. To frame this hodge-podge of ugliness, this “woman” has also erected a wide variety of wrought-iron arches, trellises and other not-so-pretty pieces of bent metal and aluminum.

The neighborhood has declared war on the homeowner, but countless letters to the HOA have gone unanswered and no one dares approach this Cruella DeVil of the cul-de-sac with their woes.  I’ve offered up the suggestion of sneaking on her lawn in the middle of the night armed with bleach and wire cutters, but experience tells me that the local police department will be on me faster than I can “hobble” a flamingo. Hmmm … what to do?


Flamingo Killer

Dear Flamingo Killer,

I feel your pain because I, too, live in a Texas subdivision where the HOA writes us up for even the slightest infraction. Like the time my husband didn’t bring the trashcan in from the curb, and I was all, “Hells, I’m not doing it because Lord knows I do quite enough around this joint,” and he’s all, “Yeah, sorry, but I’m busy earning a living,” so then I’m like, “Whatever, man, but damn if I’m touching it because I don’t want my hands to smell like hot death,” so he goes, “Then wear gloves like a garbage man, you frickin’ Nancy,” and then I’m all, “OK, but only if I can buy them at Nordstrom,” and then, boom, two days later, we find a threatening note from the HOA on our front door.   Unbelievable.

Anyway, it sounds as if your neighborhood has turned into a Flamingo Republic ruled by a power-mad, white trash despot who thinks she’s above neighborhood conformity. Therefore, the time has come for you to organize a resistance front, meaning round up an angry group of suburban rebels and prepare to stage a bloodless cul-de-sac coup. (And while you certainly don’t have to do this while wearing sweaty bandanas and clenching bowie knives in your teeth, it’d be pretty awesome if you did.)

I consulted with the president of my HOA who said to carefully go over the neighborhood bylaws to confirm the violations, then file as many formal complaints as you can. If this doesn’t work, threaten legal action and actually follow through if need be. He also suggested you collect signatures from everyone concerned about Miss Tacky lowering their property values. It may be an uphill battle, but remember, rules are rules and she signed an HOA agreement to follow them.

So, good luck, sister. Fight proud. And remember,   if all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with posting a “Hey, Everybody! Free Lawn Crap!” ad on Craigslist with her address. After all, I hear that’s how a certain someone solved their problem with the neighbor’s Mickey Mouse birdbath.


Wendi, TMH

10 Responses to “Vive La Resistance”


Comment by suburbancorrespondent.

I am all for the Craigslist solution.


Comment by Marinka.

In my mind, your husband calls you “Nanci”.

And question asker? What’s wrong with pink flamingos on the lawn? It’s practically replacing apple pie in the Americana category.


Comment by Akilah Sakai.

That’s ridiculous!
I swear, some HOAs suck donkey balls! I haven’t received approval from a February lawn improvement! They can bitch and complain faster than anything else, but contact them and they go deaf.

What the hell am I paying my dues for?


Comment by Sophie, Inzaburbs.

Is it only Texas which has these Gestapo HOAs? Our last neighborhood sent us a letter a week one summer during the season when lawns need mowing every few days (but nobody does because surely once a week is already too much).
In our new neighborhood they don’t worry too much. They just make the rates so high that only the most anal would live here.

I would go for the Craigslist solution. Simple and elegant.


Comment by the mama bird diaries.

Craig’s List all the way. Crafty and effective.


Comment by MommyTime.

We got one of those “you’re bringing down our property values” letters one fall when we didn’t rake our leaves up fast enough. I had a nursing infant and a family with stomach flu that particular week. I was livid. Of course, when the house next door was abandoned for six years — and looked like it — the association did nothing. You have my sympathies.


Comment by The Laughing Idiot.

It’s not just Texas.

I live in good ole mid-america and I am ruled by a gestapo. We had a bucket of salt (obscured by a wrought iron bistro set) on our porch in the winter because of the ice. Of course, we got a letter about it so we brought it back to the garage (didn’t want the kids playing with it). The day after we took it to the garage a big ice storm hit – wouldn’t you know it!

It gets worse, the gestapo has to approve any outdoor improvement including major changes to your landscaping (trees & bushes), getting new windows, adding a patio or deck, etc. There are rules about fences too – they have to be wood or iron (no aluminum, plastic or chain link) and if you don’t put it up yourself, you have to have a member of the “Fence Guild” put it up – whatever. Needless to say, we don’t have a fence.


Comment by becky.

I would go the other direction and you all should put flamingos up in your yards. they can’t ignore everyone doing it. Or worse you could get those oh so lovely granny bending over to do her gardening signs. You know the ones that show a portly grandma’s butt in white bloomers. Embrace the tackiness to prove a point.


Comment by LISA5OF5.

I swear, I’m laughing so hard I can’t even control my mouse. I especially appreciate the blow-by-blow Wendi gives of her garbage can impasse with her man. Damn funny.

You could always spray the words “You Suck” in Round-up in Ms. Flamingo’s front yard. The best part is that by the time the sentiment is revealed, you could be on vaca in Boca. “I don’t know, officer, I wasn’t even here when it happened!”


Comment by jen.

Get a package of mint seeds and seed her lawn in the dark of night. They are simply edible weeds…and you’ll suddenly have a source of mint for your mojitos.

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