Ever noticed how one little hot button issue can turn the most well-meaning, civil adults into a room full of wild animals? I see this happen every time I go to my Homeowner’s Association (HOA) meeting.
In fact, purchasing a home in the South OC area often includes being a part of an HOA. The amicable neighbors who smile and give a slight nod as they walk past one another on a daily basis completely change one evening a month in my residence. As the board meets, the residents all gather outside stewing and brooding about “their” issue while those pearly whites shown in that neighborhly smile on Monday transform into a more carnal snarl on Tuesday.
Once inside the meeting, you find nothing but tension. I’ve experienced everything from neighbors griping on their evening walks to flat out yelling matches. I’ve seen lawyers pulled in, read about lawsuits from homeowners, lawsuits from the HOA and lawsuits from builders. Have I mentioned that I’ve only been here two years and from what I hear, this is pretty par for the course?
So what do you do when your neighbor refuses to pick up his dog’s “treats” from the public area, the resident anarchist wants to change the parking rules in a way that will negatively affect your ability to actually get a parking spot within three blocks of your home or you just want that tree in a public area trimmed and no one will listen?
Kelly Richardson of the OC Register offers some great tips. How to summarize her suggestions: listen & be respectful.
She offers up a variety of suggestions for the governing board, as well as the community members. I actually found the points pretty ironic because they sound a lot like basic parenting rules! Can you imagine how much more pleasant our HOA meetings would be if we all showed up ready to listen to all sides of the story (instead of seething), followed some basic rules of courtesy and respect (don’t interrupt, don’t threaten, etc.), and realized that someone wouldn’t forgo watching CSI just to go listen to everyone complain at a meeting because it’s more fun, but instead because no matter how horribly they behave, they are obviously upset about something.
So next time, let’s try not to bear our teeth (spelling error and pun fully intended) and treat each other as respectfully and civilly as we would on the morning after the meetings are over and we might actually see some change in our communities rather than just arguing.