Have It Your Way

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

Moving towards a sustainable lifestyle is becoming more of the norm. Folks are using solar clothes dryers (clotheslines), growing vegetables in their backyard and landscaping with native plants. With the upswing in gas prices, we are seeing more bicycles and scooters on city streets and for sale signs in the windows of SUVs. This is a good thing.

But there are still places where clotheslines, tomato plants and native plantings (weeds?) are not OK. According to a recent article “Let’s Handcuff the Property Cops,” published by the Land Institute in Kansas, “Twenty percent of Americans now live in homes subject to rules set by homeowner associations, or HOAs. These private imitation governments have sweeping powers to dictate almost any aspect of a member’s property, from the size of the residence down to changes in trim color and the placement of a basketball hoop.”

Many of the HOA rules extend to clotheslines, vegetable gardens and solar panels. So beware: If you are planning a move, check whether the community you’ve chosen has a homeowners association in place and what that might mean to your sustainable living practices.