By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Multiple news sources report a tragic murder-suicide at an upscale condominium complex on Aladdin Drive near Huntington Harbor Bay Club (CA). Several residents in the community say the man and woman involved in the incident have had an ongoing neighbor feud, perhaps over landscape preferences, according to one report by KABC.
The Orange County Register identifies the man as Michael Busenburg, 78, and the woman as Realtor Liz Noriega, 62. A firearm belonging to Busenburg was recovered at the scene. According to the report, in addition to an ongoing neighbor dispute, Busenburg’s sister says her brother was in a lot of pain following recent abdominal surgery.
Neighbors say that the condo association had decided to not get involved in the long-running neighbor-to-neighbor dispute. But the condo board and manager may be able to provide clues as to the exact nature of Busenburg’s or Noriega’s grievances.
Although a police investigation is still in progress, it certainly appears that Busenburg and Noriega were unable to amicably resolve their differences.
Huntington Beach murder-suicide stemmed from dispute over landscaping, neighbors say
By Greg Lee
Saturday, December 16, 2017
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Huntington Beach police are investigating the shooting deaths of an elderly man and woman as a possible murder-suicide — one that neighbors said happened after a yearslong dispute over landscaping.
Investigators received a call around 8 a.m. Friday about a possible shooting at a condominium complex in the 4100 block of Aladdin Drive, said police Lt. Tim Martin.
Responding officers found two people with gunshot wounds — one male and one female. Authorities described both as elderly.
The man was deceased at the scene. The woman was transported to an area hospital, where she died. Investigators, who declined to disclose which person was the shooter, said both died of gunshot wounds.
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Could complaints over minor issues really be the cause of a violent neighborhood assault?
Perhaps. But why?
What is it about the appearance of a neighbor’s yard or home that would explain an outburst of anger and aggression so intense as to result in murder or suicide?
The answer, I suspect, goes far deeper than one neighbor judging another neighbor’s idea of good taste.
In association-governed communities (HOAs), it’s more about control. It’s about the sense of entitlement that some owners have — the idea that they somehow deserve to live in a picture-perfect, “show-ready,” HGTV-esque neighborhood.
It’s about status.
It’s about a misguided, but popularly held belief that architectural restrictions, covenants, and rules somehow maximize property values.
The mere existence of restrictive covenants and HOA rules provides fuel for the fire, a legal and perceived economic basis for controlling one’s neighbors.
Of course, most neighbors don’t obsess about the exact height of your lawn or the color of your front door. They don’t care how your decorate your front entry. They don’t make your home their business.
But a significant minority of homeowners in these restrictive communities care a great deal about keeping up appearances, and about keeping you in line.
Federal housing policy, state laws, and private covenants legitimize the neighborhood control freak, the HOA bully, the condo Commando, and, sometimes, the overbearing community association manager, to the point where they feel justified – even self-righteous – about enforcing the rules No Matter What.
Perhaps it’s time for policy makers to consider evidence based research in the social and political sciences, to better understand why human conflict is escalating among neighbors in common interest developments and association-governed communities.
Because how do you place a value on neighborhood harmony and human life?