By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
A few weeks ago, when I first viewed a report on Rock Hill HOA’s denial of a little girl’s back yard playhouse, I published an article that included a Google Maps satellite image of the community.
The HOA calls the quaint chilren’s cottage, pictured above, a shed, even though it is quite clearly a play structure.
Shortly after my post went live, I heard from homeowner Bobbie Goolsby, little Emma’s grandmother, who told me that, upon closer examination of Google maps, it appears that several of her neighbors have play structures and sheds in their yards that violate Rock Hill HOA’s rules.
Yet the Goolsby family seems to have been singled out for selective enforcement over an 8-ft. by 8-ft. playhouse.
And, of course, anyone who has ever lived in a homeowners’ association, or who has followed this blog, knows that selective enforcement is very common in association-governed communities.
Children are often an easy target of overbearing HOAs. After all, they are among the association-governed community’s most vulnerable residents. It’s as if some HOA board members – and the minority of residents who support them – cannot bear the sight of children at play. And they appear even less tolerant of a sick child or any disabled resident, for that matter.
Let’s face it. Some people lack compassion, do not know how to be kind, and can never be happy. But why do we allow antisocial, obsessive personality types to rule over entire neighborhoods, to threaten and launch costly legal battles using someone else’s money, over truly petty matters?
The industry will tell you it’s all about following the rules that you “agreed” to follow, to protect property values.
And if a homeowner or resident is outspoken enough to object to petty rules, or misapplication of neighborhood regulations, the HOA moves swiftly to silence any dissent.
Goolsby family banned from HOA FB page
According to Bobbie Goolsby:
We have a community Facebook page ….we’ve been kicked out of there they are selectively choosing who is allowed to be on their Facebook page to know and be informed of what’s going on.
This kind of response is nothing new for HOAs. I hear the same story all the time.
You see, HOA board members are often encouraged by a community manager or attorney to treat the Association as if it were a business. A Facebook page, if one exists for the HOA organization, must be closely monitored to convey a positive image for the community at all times. In other words, to the HOA, an official website or Facebook Page is mainly a marketing tool, an advertisement of sweetness and light, meant to showcase the neighborhood enclave as a desirable place to live.
Homeowners and residents, on the other hand, may view Facebook, Nextdoor, and similar social media platforms as places for open community discussion.
The outspoken resident quickly discovers, this is not the case.
Think about any website or Facebook Page administered by your local, state, or federal government. None of these platforms ever serves as an open discussion forum.
But what about First Amendment rights to free speech?
That’s where media outlets step in – be they mainstream, independent media, or social media.
Show me a conflicted homeowners, condo or co-op association, and I will show you the unofficial HOA website or blog created by one or more residents. And as long as the opposition or truth-seeking website does not represent itself as the “official” association website, and avoids making libelous (untrue) statements, there is not much to stop the flow of free speech.
And in the case of Rock Hill HOA, the controversy of a little pink playhouse began with one local Missouri television report, and then took on a life of its own, gaining nationwide, even worldwide attention.
So much for the HOA’s attempt to protect property values by insisting upon the removal of a sick child’s playhouse.
Here’s a sampling of media coverage:
Kansas City Star
This playhouse is an ailing little girl’s quiet place. The HOA wants it gone
BY MATT CAMPBELL
SEPTEMBER 28, 2017 2:01 PM
You can see the bright pink playhouse from Missouri 7, across a soybean field on the edge of a neighborhood called Rockhill, near the border of Blue Springs and Independence.
The 8-by-8-foot house has a porch with real flowers in pots and bird feeders. It has shingles and windows with screens. Inside is a chalkboard, stuffed animals and a reading nook.
Coverage by Channel 41 news
Blue Springs HOA denies child’s playhouse, says it violates ‘no shed policy’
Cat Reid, Dia Wall
10:39 PM, Sep 15, 2017
5:41 PM, Sep 18, 2017
BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. – A tiny house sits at the center of a huge controversy in the Rockhill neighborhood of Blue Springs, Missouri.
The pink playhouse belongs to Bobbie Goolsby, who bought the structure for her six-year-old granddaughter, Emma.
“Ask anybody, they’ll tell you. She’s everything to our family,” Goolsby said.
The family almost lost Emma to a serious autoimmune disorder. Now, because of her illness, Emma goes to her playhouse each day for breathing treatments.
“It’s my world,” she said of the tiny pink house.
But Emma’s world is at risk of being taken away.
Read more (Video):
Daily Mail (UK)
Homeowners association tries to ban a sick six-year-old girl’s pink playhouse over a no shed policy
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4893398/Homeowners-association-bans-little-girl-s-playhouse.html#ixzz4uG8rZWEy
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Listen to Bobbie Goolsby’s Story in her own words On the Commons with Shu Bartholomew