By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
With a contentious election season and the big day only one week from today, the following CBS report from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania caught my attention. Be sure to watch the entire 3-minute video, because, at the end, reporter Iannotti informs the viewer about a fundamental difference between living in a homeowners association (HOA) vs. living in Any Town in America, without the extra layer of HOA governance.
Unsigned Postcards Ask Homeowners To Take Down Campaign Signs
November 2, 2016 12:24 AM By Ralph Iannotti
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some homeowners in the quiet Murdoch Farms section of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood are angry after getting postcards in the mail asking them to take down campaign signs in their yards.
The cards say in part, “If you feel strongly about your candidates, then talk to your neighbors, use other channels, like the Internet, and consider taking down the signs that are distracting from our beautiful neighborhood.”
Steve Schwartz is one of the residents that got a postcard.
He enlarged it and posted it in his front yard, alongside the political signs.
“We wanted people to know, who didn’t get this card, that this attitude is out there,” Schwartz said, “and [to] be careful because you might have something in your yard that somebody doesn’t like, and you’ll be next to get a postcard.”
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Pennsylvania is my home state, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence. It’s a state with the motto: “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence.”
Pennsylvanians don’t take kindly to neighbors that seek to squelch our First Amendment rights. So it doesn’t surprise me that residents of Squirrel Hill, a desirable, historic neighborhood in Pittsburgh, took this story straight to their local news station.
Judging by their comments, not a single homeowner interviewed by the CBS affiliate would be interested in purchasing property in a homeowners association, where your neighbors can impose their preferences upon you, while restricting your personal rights and civil liberties.
Thankfully, HOAs in the state tend to be concentrated in a few counties with newer subdivisions (mostly suburban areas outside of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown), as well as resort and bedroom communities in the Pocono Mountains region (Monroe and Pike County). In Pennsylvania there are still plenty of non-HOA housing options, if you can avoid those counties and opt for older neighborhoods.
But a word of caution to my fellow Pennsylvanians: don’t allow the Keystone State to become like many states in the South and West (think Florida, California, Arizona, Northern Virginia, and Texas), where nearly all housing on the market is burdened with some kind of mandatory association. If we allow local land and residential planners to approve construction of nothing but planned communities and condominium associations as part of city redevelopment, in a generation, our children and grandchildren will be left with no free neighborhoods where their First Amendment rights will be valued and upheld.
In the home state of “Virtue, Liberty, and Independence,” we can’t let that happen.