By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities Blog
I grew up in suburban eastern Pennsylvania, in a Levittown-esque neighborhood of modest one-story homes. Back in those days, the 1950s-era homes were built with asbestos siding and our house was a drab gray for several years, while our family resided as tenants.
All of the houses had big picture windows in the living room, and a carport on one side. You could go into any one of the neighboring houses and see the exact same layout, or perhaps a mirror image. But no one ever heard of a homeowners association.
Over the years, each homeowner decorated, landscaped, and added onto these homes. It was an organic process based upon personal preference and lifestyle. When I was about eight years old, my parents purchased the home we had been renting, and one of the first personal touches we added was to paint the house blue.
It was the only house that shade of blue in the whole neighborhood. And it was ours. And no one complained.
Gone are those days, I suppose. The latest controversy in HOA-Land is that a Texas couple, Keely and Peter Dubrova, recently purchased a home and decided to paint it teal blue.
KHOU.com (Houston, TX)
According to the homeowners, the HOA did approve the paint colors. But after the job was complete, a local real estate agent (that wishes to remain anonymous) decided to post a photo of the newly painted blue Victorian style house on social media.
Immediately, the nasty comments appeared, and even some direct threats to the homeowners. Now the HOA is backtracking, and telling the homeowners they must repaint the house.
Below is a copy of the original post – on a website bearing the HOA’s name – that started the Blue House controversy. I won’t include a link to the comments, because I don’t want to generate any more publicity. Some of them are nasty. But there are also a few supporters of the freedom to paint your house any color you like.
As my 24-year-old son would say, this is a First World Problem.
Why in the world do some people obsess about the color of their neighbor’s house, and whether or not it “fits in” with the other houses in the neighborhood? What is it about non-conformity that stirs such angst and vitriol? Who has the time and inclination to hurl anonymous insults at one’s neighbor on social media?
Over a blue house.
And some fear-mongering over its threat to property values. Enough fear to put the Blue House issue on the board meeting agenda for October 26.
Let’s put the matter into perspective. One blue house will not have an adverse effect on property values. But the negative publicity for the HOA, and the way the neighbors treat one another on a public forum, will probably discourage buyers from purchasing a home in a neighborhood where they might not feel welcome.
Two neighbors were interviewed by KHOU, and at least one said she does not think the Dubrovas should be “punished” over their choice of paint color. Good for her.
Let’s hope most of the owners are willing to identify themselves, and agree to welcome their new neighbors, blue house and all.