Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Makes HOAs look good…

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…almost. There’s one in every neighborhood, of course: the nutcase or the malcontent who makes life a pain for everyone around him. Check out the story of this winner! How would you like to have him living next door?

HOAs have their drawbacks. But at least they can keep this kind of lunacy under control, simply by foreclosing on the lunatic.

In my experience, though, HOAs don’t head off every problem — and in some cases they cause the problems. Have you ever known anyone who served on an HOA board to say they liked the experience? Two of my friends have had endless headaches with neighbors who let hordes of cats run loose, in direct violation of the HOA rules. Nothing has been done to stop them, and in fact the violators have loaded the board with people who resent the rules and want to get rid of them — all of them, not just the loose pets thing. Kill-the-Beasters on the extremely local level, we might say.

Another couple lives next door to a woman who is batsh!t crazy and who does all sorts of stupid little things to annoy and harass them. She threatens to drive over residents who are walking in front of their homes (like much of Phoenix, the place has no sidewalks). She went a little overboard when she menaced a city councilwoman. But nothing came of it. With one exception — her boyfriend, who lives in the same development — all of the residents want her to subside or be forced to subside, to little avail. Fortunately, though, this one doesn’t paint her house in crazy colors.

HOAs are not for me. I don’t need another layer of government lording it over me and picking my pocket. So that lets out virtually all new construction: all the recent developments in the Valley are organized as HOAs, even though if you look at the real estate listings around the state, you’ll see NO HOA! all caps bold face featured in ads as a hot selling point for central city houses. A lot of people don’t want to live in an HOA. But the choices are slim, unless you’re willing to buy an older house in an urban area, or get a large plot of land in the boondocks and build your own.

I feel exceptionally lucky in having come to rest in this part of the ’hood. With one minor exception, all the immediate neighbors are quiet, and they all keep up their property. Those who are mentally ill are discreetly so.

The Perp owns two houses, one catty-corner across the street and one two houses down, in which he lodges his daughters. One, whom he used to call his Pretty Daughter, seems to have decamped — she was managing a fly-by-night nursing home he installed in another part of the ’hood, and it is generally believed she lives on the premises. Two young men, allegedly her “nephews” but more likely renters, live in Pretty Daughter’s house. They make a fair amount of racket with a couple of noisy three-wheelers that they like to tool around on, but not often and never for very long. Other Daughter dwells in the second house. Her schizophrenic husband moved out, and so the occasional dramas that would take place there have ceased.  Like her ex, whom she met while she was on an extended “vacation” to parts that her father would not name, she also lives on disability, and so most of us figure she also suffers from mental illness that precludes a steady job. She’s an exceptionally sweet woman…you wonder how she could have sprung from the loins of the Perp.

At any rate, both of those two houses are quiet and kept tidy. The other neighbors are very pleasant people who fit into just two categories: Couples who have lived here upwards of a two decades, raised their kids, and are aging in place; and young people who don’t want to commute, delighted to have found one of the only moderately priced tracts in North Central in which to raise a new flock of kids.

The part of the ’hood where my last house stood was not so perfect. The neighbors were an immediate cause of my desire to move.

The bunch across the street consisted of a young working divorcee who was trying to support her aged parents and a very difficult teenaged boy. They would park their cars all over the street — I got into the habit of backing into the garage because it I couldn’t back out of the driveway without risk of hitting some of the rolling stock. As the boy got older, he got nastier: he beat up on a girlfriend and I believe he also abused the old folks.

Then the couple next door to them, who were exceptionally nice people, sold to a violent nut case, given to throwing furniture through the front window. The day he got into a screaming fistfight with a contractor on his driveway was the day I decided to put the house on the market.

But there was also the “pastor” and his wife who liked to go off on months-long “missions” to convert the heathen overseas, during which they would rent out their house. One time they rented it to a clan of Gypsies (real Gypsies, according to the police), who turned it into a used car lot — parked used cars  with “FOR SALE” painted on them all over the yard and up and down the streets. Even though he evicted them when one of the neighbors found an address through his church and reported the happenings, it still was an annoying, property-degrading mess.

And there were the Russians whose teenaged boys could NOT be taught how to use a garbage can. The alley behind their house was always…interesting.

And the widow of the lovely man who died…he had taken care of her, as it develops, just as he had taken meticulous care of their home. She was bipolar, severely so, and couldn’t care either for herself or for the property. The place rotted away until finally she left — probably foreclosed. She was much liked by the neighbors, and so that was pretty heartbreaking.

And the “Contractor”: a self-employed loser who let the house where he was living go to rack & ruin. WHAT a mess. He had a dog that would come over the fence and attack my German shepherd whenever I walked anywhere near the place. As it developed, the former owner had stupidly carried back the mortgage when she sold to him. It took her almost two years to evict him, during which of course he lived there for free.

And the settlement house for indigent adults. They at least were quiet, and the proprietors sort of kept up the property.

And the couple who painted their house lime green. Hubby did this one day while the wife was at work. She told a neighbor that she was shocked…but she never did get him to repaint it to her taste. Fortunately, the front yard had a lot of shrubbery that blocked the view of the place.

LOL! All that local color has moved on, lhudly sing huzzah.

But the ultimate reason I moved — construction of the damned lightrail — stayed.

The city bulldozed an entire row of homes along Conduit of Blight Blvd — including one of the prettiest homes in the tract. The racket, dirt, and chaos that ensued went on for several years, and now, as we see, we have a wonderful train that freights drug-addicted bums straight into the ’hood. Because people in Richistan have money and concommitant political clout, the City built a rather attractive buffer zone, complete with a ten-foot-high decorative wall, along Conduit of Blight. But you still get the bums and the BONG BONG HONK HONK of drivers trying to clear the drunks and the stoners off the rails as the train bears down on them.

At the time, I actually wanted to move out of the hood: get as far away from the ill-advised train as I could. But I simply couldn’t afford anyplace comparable in an area where I wanted to live. Ticky-tacky suburbs are not my cup of tea, and Yarnell was just too far away and too ill-supplied with daily amenities (like, say, a grocery store and a gas station?). Then as now, a comparable house east of Seventh Avenue — anywhere east — would cost at least a hundred grand more than I could get from my house.

Satan and Proserpine had done a lot of upgrades to this house, and the cost was essentially an even trade. They did, it is true, misrepresent some of the things they’d done, so pulling out their DIY efforts, replacing them, installing xeric landscaping, and bringing the wiring to code added another $40,000 to the house’s price. But today, thanks to gentrification by the younger generation, the house is worth over $110,000 more than I paid for it.

And today, also thanks to a major recession that led to a spate of evictions followed by the present wave of gentrification, the neighbors are a LOT fancier. 😀

 

 

 

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