Texas man: HOA declared my pickup truck not fancy enough for neighborhood


by By IAN HAMILTON / dallasnews.com


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 20 at 10:53 AM

Jim Greenwood is parking his 2007 Ford F-150 in the garage, but he's not through battling the Frisco homeowners' association. He says the association has declared the iconic Texas truck not upscale enough to leave in his driveway.

"I'm hoping that based on all the activity and noise that they might change their tune," he said Monday. "These people [with the association] are in a position of leadership, ideally to serve their constituency."

Earlier this year, the Concentra Inc. CEO began getting notices from the Stonebriar HOA threatening to fine him for parking his truck in his driveway. They say pickup trucks are not allowed in the driveway - although other luxury vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Mark LT, pass muster.

Bill Osborn, a board member with the association, had explained that those vehicles are "fancier," "plush with amenities" and do not look like pickups. Most domestic pickups are banned.

Mr. Osborn said this rule has been in place for decades and the fine would be $50 per violation.

"From our inception in 1989 until this spring our restrictive covenants excluded all trucks from overnight parking in the street or driveway," Mr. Osborn said in an e-mail. "Mr. Greenwood felt his Ford F-150 should be allowed. The HOA Board denied his appeal as he has garage space and a(n) F-150 did not fit the criteria."

However, Mr. Osborn said Monday that the issue may be revisited.

Mr. Greenwood said his family has a car, a Suburban and his teenage son's truck, but only a two-car garage.

"I don't want to mess with the logistics with what's in the garage and what's not," he said.

Since WFAA-TV (Channel 8) publicized Mr. Greenwood's story this weekend, the controversy has sparked hundreds of comments on dallasnews.com and other sites from people sharing HOA complaints and criticizing the associations' operations.

"I think it's past time for HOAs to be declared unconstitutional! Bad enough the government dictates our lives ... now homeowners' associations dictate what type of vehicle you own! I recommend the Ford company sue the heck out of them!" wrote one dallasnews.com reader.

Others, however, suggested that Mr. Greenwood should have understood the rules when he moved into the gated community.

This is not the first time the Stonebriar HOA has fought with homeowners about their vehicles.

John Allen, another resident, said he was told last year that his Chevrolet Avalanche qualified as a pickup and had to be moved inside. After hiring a lawyer and arguing his case, he said, the association added the Avalanche to the list of vehicles approved for outside parking.

"I'm all for keeping the place nice, but when it gets to the point of onerous living, that's no good," he said. "The whole pompous attitude of it is amazing."

Disagreements with homeowners' associations - about additions, shrubbery, fencing and other issues - are not new.

State Rep. Burt Solomon, R-Carrollton, has introduced legislation to provide homeowners more recourse in their battles against the associations, arguing that they can be abusive and overbearing. He said he has won small battles about limited issues, but no comprehensive reform, and he intends to take up the legislation again in January.

"Why would you do that to your neighbor? There needs to be more transparency. There needs to be more accountability," he said. " There needs to be more fiduciary responsibility in how boards conduct their business with the membership."

Other HOA disputes

MAY A dispute between the Frisco Fairways Homeowners Association and some residents ends when three of the five board members are voted out and one is removed. The fifth board member resigned the next day. The association had sued three residents, accusing them of libel in online postings about the board.

APRIL Rockwall City Council member Matt Scott launched a campaign against HOAs, drafting an ordinance to standardize rules governing new HOAs in Rockwall. Mr. Scott and his wife had sued their HOA in the Oaks of Buffalo Way subdivision after their board voted to block some homeowners from participating in the election of officers.

APRIL 2006 Ibia and Gene Loye were locked in a costly dispute with the Stonebriar HOA over a 2,800-square-foot addition to their home. The Loyes said they had gotten verbal permission from a previous HOA management company and some HOA members before starting the work, but a new HOA management company objected to some of the addition after the work was done.

FEBRUARY 2006 High-speed Internet access caused a rift in Meadowwood Park Ranch Estates in rural Kaufman County when the HOA board sued to tear down a 90-foot tower that residents Mark and Melissa Smith had built on their property and were using to provide broadband service to some neighbors. About 70 percent of Meadowwood Park's residents had petitioned for high-speed wireless service in 2005, but rules adopted in 1984 prohibited structures like the Smiths' tower.

MAY 2004 Garland resident Linda Jones was evicted from her home in the SpringPark neighborhood. Ms. Jones said that when she was late with her $500 payment in 2002, the HOA secured a judgment against her that tacked on $1,600 in attorneys' fees. She said $30,000 in hail damage to her home derailed a payment plan she had arranged.

JANUARY 2003 Confusion reigned in Flower Mound's Stone Hill Farms neighborhood as residents received separate dues bills from competing HOA boards. A few months earlier, a group of dissatisfied residents circulated a recall petition and held a special election and picked a new three-member board.

JANUARY 2003 Eleven homeowners in Arlington's Creekside Park subdivision found themselves facing foreclosure by their homeowners' association after they fell behind on quarterly dues.

OCTOBER 2002 Lochwood homeowners sued to prevent the completion of a factory-built duplex, enforcing neighborhood deed restrictions. A judge urged mediation, but an "architecture control committee" in charge of enforcing the rules said it wouldn't approve the construction without serious changes, labeling the home a "doublewide."

MAY 2001 The Champions Community Improvement Association in Houston foreclosed on the home of 82-year-old Wenonah Blevins because of $814.50 in unpaid dues. Mrs. Blevins said she tried to pay the fees by putting a check in the association's mail slot but didn't learn that the HOA wouldn't accept a partial payment until she received an eviction notice.