Making America Safe for Stunted, Scurvied Little Kids

Tales from a Fear-Racked Country:

Dear Free-Range Kids: My 4 year old wants to play lemonade stand and my apartment complex doesn’t allow lemonade stands. I approached friends if I could use their driveways, but they are afraid of the liability. A friend suggested in front of the post office, but they said no. Then I thought of the local farmers market and I was told that I would need a health department inspection. What is the world coming to where a 4 year old can’t have a lemonade stand? live in Pompton Lakes, NJ which is a middle class town in Passaic County NJ. The condo complex I lives in also does not allow sidewalk chalk, ball playing, or sprinklers. – Mama L.

Replies Ben Miller of Common Good, the organization I’m partnering with to fight ridiculous red tape and over-the-top insurance fears: “That anyone would have reason to fear legal liability from a child’s lemonade stand shows how backwards our legal system has become. When a 4 year old has to run a legal and regulatory gauntlet just to sell cups of sugar water, is that kid likely become an entrepreneurial adult?”

Later on, Mama L. wrote back that she finally just took her daughter to a local park and let her run a lemonade stand there. A cop, rather than ticketing, Tasing or jailing them, actually bought a cup of the cold stuff! That gives me hope: If we boldly go forth and stake a claim for normalcy, maybe it’ll start looking normal again. The wild fears of lawsuits and health issues regarding a lemonade stand will melt like sugar in lemon water once we citizens assert our right to be part of the public scene without a ream of regulations and “what if??”s. – L.

levittown

Keeping suburbia safe from lemonade stands (is a bad idea).

60 Responses to Making America Safe for Stunted, Scurvied Little Kids

  1. QuicoT August 9, 2013 at 9:38 am #

    If we boldly go forth and stake a claim for normalcy, maybe it’ll start looking normal again.

    Bumpersticker! Bumpersticker!

  2. Natalie August 9, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Condo complexes can be weird sometimes. The first one we lived in didn’t allow sidewalk chalk, didn’t allow bike/scooter riding unless it was for commuting, didn’t allow digging in the dirt (that I can understand), didn’t allow the construction of snow forts.
    Luckily, everyone hated the manager. (You wonder why) the kids did those things anyway. If the manager didn’t see who did the forbidden activities, nobody vunteered the information.
    The next complex we lived at had none of those rules, and encouraged kids play.

    About the lemonade stand, I don’t understand the hysteria. Setting up shop in a park is a good idea though. My girls were next to a volleyball tournament and sold everything in 20 min. They were asked if they delivered, and so they did. It was a lot of fun.

  3. Scott Lazarowitz August 9, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    This kind of civil disobedience really gives me hope. Yes, there are risks involved in going to the park and setting up a lemonade stand. They were very lucky people to find at least 1 cop out of a thousand who didn’t “ticket, taser, or jail” them.

    Perhaps more Americans can wake up to the reality that empowering government bureaucrats to impose arbitrary regulations and restrictions on everyday harmless and innocent human behaviors is not a good idea. In fact, it’s downright immoral.

    One can only hope that the American people can extend such civil disobedience to other everyday innocent and harmless – yet unnecessarily regulated or banished activities.

    It would be nice to call America “The land of the free” again.

  4. Earth.W August 9, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Sunlight? What’s sunlight?

  5. Warren August 9, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    It sounds like condo boards have power in the states. Not so up here. Never had to deal with them myself, but my dad went to battle with them quite often.

    1. Bikes had to be stored in designated rooms, in the basement. Not allowed brought up to your unit. Fought and won.
    2. Kids not allowed to wait inside for school buses. Fought and won.

    Condo board members thought they could vebally warn, or admonish teens and kids, of anything they didn’t like. Were told in no uncertain terms to shut their yaps, and if they really felt the need to come see my dad in person.
    All stemmed from condo board members thinking they were royalty and all powerful. Dad was like me, didn’t take crap from anyone.

    Just like with the schools, and other places, they only have the power you give them. Stand up, and don’t let them get away with it.

  6. Warren August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Oh and by the way, Dad’s way of battling the board…”Sucks to be you, you don’t like it…….move.”

    Worked well for him and still serves me well to this day.

  7. Uly August 9, 2013 at 10:32 am #

    Maybe the friends just didn’t want the hassle of another kid’s lemonade stand in their driveways. Maybe the farmer’s market, understandably, doesn’t want dozens of kids taking up all the space selling lemonade.

    Maybe it might be easier to sell something else. I gotta say, basic food handling rules aren’t actually an evil blight upon the land, and nobody really should be compelled to host another person’s lemonade stand just because they’re kids.

  8. JJ August 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #

    I am so thankful we don’t have that problem here! I wish my kids were motivated to do so more often but when they do lemonade stands they make a nice profit, learn something about business ( for instance revenue v. profit, pricing strategies) and come back all smiles about the people they met. We live on the border of a college which is the perfect spot. Sometimes people ask “oh what is this for?” assuming its a charity and I tell the kids to answer proudly that it is a business.

  9. Rob August 9, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Not too long ago, a family we know had a child die of cancer. As a result, the family decided to set up an Alex’s Lemonade Stand (http://www.alexslemonade.org/) at an annual fair we have in town to raise money to fight childhood cancer. Great idea, right? Except that they were not given permission by the city to sell lemonade. Something about permits, health codes, or some other BS.

    Fortunately they were not discouraged, and came up with an idea to still make money for the organization by doing crafts at Alex’s Lemonade Stand instead of selling lemonade, and they were able to donate an impressive amount to the foundation anyway.

    I understand that this is a city sponsored event and I’m sure they have to have rules and regulations, but the whole thing smacked of “you haven’t paid us enough money yet for the privilege of selling sweetened lemon-flavored water at our event.”

  10. lollipoplover August 9, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    Little kids running lemonade stands is a normal, healthy sight in any good community. I can’t believe this 4 yo encountered so much bureaucracy, but I’ve said it before- the sight of children doing things independently in public makes the busybodies come out of the woodwork.

    My son was told to shut his *stand* down earlier this week because “he could be hit by a golfball.” So he moved it to the sidewalk. He held his ground, saying he could just as easily be hit by a golfball walking on the sidewalk to school and if it was so dangerous, maybe the golf course need to set up that expensive protective netting all along the road to save the children. He also went to his favorite golf pro on the course and told him what this ranger was saying and got permission to use his name if anyone ever gave him trouble for running his stand (they’re out again today- no problems so far…)

  11. Emily August 9, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    >>Kids not allowed to wait inside for school buses. Fought and won.<<

    Why would the condo board have such a stupid rule? Did it just apply to kids, or were adults forbidden from waiting inside for city buses or taxis to work, university, shopping, etc.? Good for you for fighting that.

  12. Natalie August 9, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    @lollipop
    Good for your son. That’s awesome.

    @JJ
    What you said made me laugh. When my daughter and her friend finished selling the lemonade, I thought they’d just split it 50/50 and be done. Her friend, much more experienced in the lemonade selling business, said we have to subtract the cost of the lemons, sugar and mint first, give that back to me, and take a portion for charity. THEN, they can split it 50/50.

    I was floored.

  13. TM August 9, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    @Uly

    Then maybe they should say that.

  14. Silver Fang August 9, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    Sometimes it seems like the powers that be do this stuff deliberately so the next generation will be more docile and dependent as adults.

  15. Dave August 9, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    This is why I don’t live in a condo. To many people telling other people how to live. Love the commetnt, ”Sucks to be you, you don’t like it…….move.”

    Could we move all the fear mongers to one place so they will leave the rest of us alone to enjoy life. Just a thought.

  16. Puzzled August 9, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Actually, yes, food handling rules are an evil blight on the land. Not because of their intent, perhaps, but because their actual impact is to make it hard/impossible for small-scale producers and sellers to compete with the big corporations – and so we wind up with big ag selling us crap – which works out just fine for big pharma and the AMA – it’s all part of the same racket.

    So, you say, why not have different rules, rules that don’t do that? Because the rules are written in a political process. Once you open that door, once you announce your intent to regulate food sales, you’re just asking the corporations to send their lobbyists and to wind up with language that does this.

    If you prefer a less public choice answer – because people are afraid of liability, and because for regulators and legislators, some errors are far worse than others. If I deny your building a permit, for no good reason, well, that sucks for you. If I give the permit, and the building collapses, I’ll lose my job, maybe be prosecuted, and if I’m elected, lose the next election. Once we start making food safety rules, the government is taking food safety into its own hands. When people get sick from food poisoning, the cry then goes out – where were the regulators? So we can’t just have a few, simple, common-sense rules, because those don’t prevent everything from going wrong, and if the government has rules but not enough to prevent everything, they suffer electoral losses.

  17. David Bernstein August 9, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    To my mind, this has less to do with over-protecting kids and more to do with a rule obsessed society trying to protect everyone and everything. The people who join condo associations and HOA and city councils often have a burning desire to make rules to make sure that nothing bad happens to their community, their kids, to their property values, etc.

  18. Donna August 9, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    TM – A lot of people don’t want to upset their friends and may think that their friends would be annoyed with them if they simply said “no, I just don’t want your kid setting up a lemonade stand on my driveway for no other reason than I just am not into that.”

  19. LadyTL August 9, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    @Puzzled, actually food handling regulations are there because some people chose to start restaurants or corner stores selling food and have no clue about food safety or don’t want to do food safety. Given the number of businesses I have worked for that could easily afford to properly handle food and Chose not to because it was easier, there is very good reasons for the regulations and inspections and fines for not meeting them.

    One cafeteria I worked with gave food poisoning to a bunch of students in college because they didn’t want to throw out a whole bag of shrimp that had thawed. If it wasn’t for food safety regulations they could just keep doing that with no consequence other than maybe losing their contract with the college (which given they didn’t lose it for the sickness they caused anyway…)

    It really is not about liability and government corruption. When a chinese food place gave me food poisoning, they took it very seriously, followed back up with me a couple times (to make sure it wasn’t one of the very dangerous types that takes a while to set in) and investigated the kitchen. This is about the safety of public health and that sometimes people would rather risk hundreds of people getting sick to save a few bucks on their bottom line.

    Also while it does impose burdens on small scale business, given the hundreds that are thriving in my city without using premade food, it’s not nearly as bad as you make it out to be.

  20. Emily August 9, 2013 at 11:56 am #

    @Lollipop–I agree with Natalie; your son is awesome.

    As for that photo, it really creeps me out. Where’s the park? Where’s the library? Where’s the swimming pool? Where’s the school? Hell, where’s the variety mart, or the grocery store? Do the people in this suburb get in their cars every time they need to pick up a loaf of bread or something?

  21. Uly August 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Maybe they thought “oh… safety!” was going to go over better than “no, I don’t want you and your kid blocking my driveway for hours, who the heck even asks something like that???”

  22. Natalie August 9, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Little boxes, on the hillside. Little boxes full of ticky-tacky. Little boxes, on the hillside, little boxes, all the same.

  23. Warren August 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    When an organization or town starts imposing the same rules and regulations to kids with a lemonade stand, I don’t care what anyone says, someone in power needs a slap upside the head.

    @Uly
    I have organizations constantly asking me if they can use my shops driveway for fundraising. If it is something I am not opposed to, they are more than welcome. And so are kids with lemonade stands. My crew would probably buy them out in no time.

    @Dave
    My highschool bus arrived at the condo about 10 mins before my brother’s bus. Dad had asked me to wait for him, as he was running errands that afternoon. While I was waiting for him in the lobby, one of the board members started ragging on me about hanging out in the lobby. I was 15, and told him to take it up with my dad. He insisted he would take it up with me, and told me to go up to our unit or wait outside. My dad came in the lobby at that time. Cleared his throat, “He lives here. He’s my son. And if you do not shut up immediately I will be happy to escort you to your doctor so he can treat your injuries.” Needless to say, that board member never hassled me or my brother again.

  24. Gary August 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    PL is not too far from me, 15-20min maybe.

    Anyone here from PL, sorry but you are going to be banned from Camp Gary, let’s just hope my town doesn’t do anything this stupid or I will have to ban myself from camp and that will be one hell of a fight.

  25. Captain America August 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Lenore, I’m going to pat myself on the back here. My kid had a lemonade stand last weekend and made over $40 net. The timing was impeccable.

  26. Natalie August 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    @captain

    $40?
    That’s a lot.

    You should look at the tax laws before the IRS audits you. ;)

  27. Gina August 9, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    @Emily…that photo looks like the standard photo of Levittown, Long Island from after WW2. It’s often used to represent the suburbs as that was the first suburb. The markets and parks are on the outside…on the main roads and yes, people do/did drive to most places as they still do in the suburbs. It’s a conundrum….If one wants to live where kids can play outside in the back/front yards and have slow speed limits and lots of families, I guess one has to be prepared to drive to the commercial places. I grew up that way and I don’t have a real issue with it….but I get your point, for sure.

  28. Natalie August 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    Completely OT, related to the hall of ridiculousness.

    My mother-in-law took my daughter school shopping and they came back with the water bottle + mister (didn’t have the attachable fan). She enjoys spraying her face, of course, but who said that kids would just go running around misting each other? Pentamom? Because that’s exactly what she does. Great toy!

  29. Puzzled August 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Again, the issue with the safety regulations is not that they aren’t well-intended, it’s that they have the actual impact of hurting the small-scale producers. If you want to say it isn’t so bad, enjoy the movie Farmaggedon, or just go to PA and ask farmers what kind of legal harassment they face for selling milk.

  30. LisaS August 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    @Dave I live in a condo, too – (without silly rules) but frankly, the subdivisions many of my friends and family live in have similar – and more stringently enforced – rules. Even better – the guy I thought was going to give me the most trouble about kid noise, sidewalk chalk, etc. grew up in a NYC high rise and is their best advocate!!

    But back the real topic … I’m all for civil disobedience of stupid laws, personally. Which is a good point of view to express the Friday before Monday Jury Duty, I think ….

  31. TaraK August 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    This summer our block got resurfaced. It involved several hours of being “homebound” because we couldn’t leave the house for the time the big machines were there. My second oldest (9) took advantage of the situation. He set up a lemonade stand for the workers! He made the sign, set up shop and made $9 hawking lemonade for a quarter a cup!

    My dad was a street repairman for 35 years. I like to think he carried quarters in his pocket for such occasions. :)

  32. jb August 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Gina,
    If you accept a smaller back yard, you can totally have walkable areas with slow speed limits and lots of families. Many suburbs of Chicago, where I live, are like that–Oak Park, Elmhurst, Evanston…I’m sure there are many others.

  33. pentamom August 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    ‘ Maybe the farmer’s market, understandably, doesn’t want dozens of kids taking up all the space selling lemonade.”

    And maybe, as a licensed and regulated entity themselves, they can’t permit anybody to use their location for unlicensed, uninspected food sales. It actually seems 100% reasonable to me — the farmer’s market is on the hook for what their vendors do, and the lemonade stand would actually be just another vendor if it were there. Do people really expect the farmer’s market to let people show up and sell food not according to the rules they have to set for everybody else? The problem is that it IS a licensed food sales venue, and you’re asking them to permit unlicensed food sales. There’s no way they can do that, and the fact that it’s kids doesn’t make it any different for their legal status. They might wish they could, but the Health Department is simply NOT going to see it that way, whereas a reasonable health department would probably not worry about a kids’ lemonade stand that is NOT part of a licensed food sales venue.

    The apartment complex is being unreasonable. The farmer’s market is not — it was kind of unreasonable request, though the OP may in all good faith not have realized why.

  34. lollipoplover August 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    JJ- my kid only works his stand to pay for his addiction: Golf. He and his friend work the stand for a few hours until they each clear a profit of $22 each. The course has a youth special for $10 a kid with a paying adult but they’d rather pay the $22 and golf without any annoying adults.

    They got rained out today but still made a nice sum of money. I asked how business was and he said “Great! Almost everyone bought the Special of the Day.” He showed me the sign (which I am keeping) and I spit out my ice tea:

    Special of The Day ($5):
    1 drink
    5 golf balls
    1 frozen candy bar
    1 soft pretzel
    Free mustard- All You Can Squirt

    While I am thrilled with his resourcefulness (and I would totally buy this special if I ever saw a kid selling this), I’m sad that he sold my secret stash of chocolate in the freezer. Damn kids keep finding my good hiding spots…

  35. pentamom August 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    lollipop — when my parents lived adjacent to a golf course, one of their neighbors picked up lost balls and put up a stand to sell them. I think it was the balls that actually left the golf course property and landed in the neighbors’ back yards.

  36. thinkbannedthoughts August 9, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    This reminds me of our 4th of July adventure. We took our girlgoyels to Fort Collins to see the fireworks there.
    We made the assumption that there would be food carts at the park since there were bands playing and hoards of people.
    We were wrong. No food carts, no close restaurants, nada.
    BUT, there was a very enterprising young lady with a little red wagon and giant dispensers full of kool-aid for 50 cents a (tiny) cup.
    We bought her last cup of koolaid and I pointed her out my kids as a representative of the true American spirit – ingenuity, entreprenuership (and cashing in on scarcity!) If she hadn’t run out of kool-aid, she probably would have been able to pay for college after that night.
    Sometimes it’s good to be the only watering hole at the park ;)

  37. JJ August 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Lollipop, I hope you charged him for the candy! Also I think I remember that he finds the golf balls?

    Your son’s “special” might give my kids some ideas about bundles of their own for the college kids that make up their core business. No golf balls for them but Philly soft pretzels for sure. They retail for 25 cents and could easily sell it as a “special” with lemonade for $5.

  38. Katie August 9, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    @JB

    I completely agree with you. Many urban areas particularly in good neighborhoods have play spaces and in some cases even play grounds. One can raise kids in an urban area and not have to drive all over. Plus, in areas like this as the number of pedestrians tends to be higher which makes most people more aware and makes it overall safer to walk around with kids. Unlike in some of the sprawling suburbs where your faced with lot s of parents speeding around in SUVs just assuming their are no pedestrians anywhere.

  39. Kimberly August 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    Last summer I saw girls manning a lemonade stand in Herman Park.

    My niece made a tidy sum with her lemonade stand in Spring Branch. A week or so later her brother was sick – sick enough to have to make a middle of the night trip to the ER. She asked her mom to take her the toy store to by him a get well present. (Toy store is the other side of I10 so not walkable/bikeable at 8 yo. and Houston doesn’t have reliable public transportation)

  40. Ray August 9, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    Seriously? In a country where people demand the right to not only own but carry guns they are afraid of a child learning life skills? Man are you screwed up.

  41. pentamom August 9, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    “Seriously? In a country where people demand the right to not only own but carry guns they are afraid of a child learning life skills? Man are you screwed up.”

    There are over 300 million people in this country. They might not be the same ones.

  42. lollipoplover August 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    @pentamom- He gets the balls for free from his *arrangement* with the neighbors where he sweeps their yards daily during the golf season so they don’t have to do it before they mow their lawns (if they hit balls it kills the blades on the mower). He wakes up early to collect balls and has thousands- he should be on hoarders.

    JJ, the “Special” idea came from his problem with not having enough change (always out of ones) so he figured he’d go for the $5 and not have to give change. He actually didn’t steal my secret stash of Snickers (phew) He sold the old Halloween candy I’d forgot about in the garage freezer! The pretzels are the big seller though- he gets the fundraising deal at our local pretzel place. Get your kids to sell pretzels and drinks!

  43. JJ August 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Lollipop, believe me we we’ll be stopping at Philly Pretzel
    Company next time! And speaking of old Halloween candy we had a bad critter problem this spring and called our guy to check it out who left this somber voice mail with me “are you aware that there are bags and baskets of candy in the back of your kids closets? That has been the source”.

  44. Gina August 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    @jb and Katie,
    Yes, you can live in a more urban area if that’s what suits you, but I still love the outer suburbs.
    I am not taking the bait about SUV drivers “driving like there are no pedestrians”. Been there, done that.

  45. Emily August 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm #

    @JJ–That’s a great idea. College and university students are always looking for a reasonably cheap snack, because on-campus food vendors charge through the teeth, and most kids would probably get a kick out of “big and important” university students buying their wares. So, it’s a win-win. :)

  46. Kathy August 10, 2013 at 1:20 am #

    Over and over my 8-year-old daughter has taught me a lesson…”It is easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.” For the last three years we’ve gone door to door (GASP!) taking orders for girl scout cookies…to date, no creepy pervs have jumped on us from the bushes, no one has answered the door naked or any of the other horror stories you hear. In fact, over and over we’ve heard how great it is that she’s still selling door to door, and how people recall that from when they were kids and miss it. We had one board member who said she thought selling cookies was door-to-door soliciting, similar to vacuum salesmen, but we consulted with our property management company and concluded it was just this one person who had a bone to pick, not the whole association. We simply avoid her house.

    We’ve held multiple lemonade and hot cider stands (depending on the season) in our condo association to raise money for various disaster relief efforts for Red Cross. We posted signs on the street for advertising. Our neighboring apartment complex asked us to remove the signs from their lawn but other than that we’ve had no problems..we just respect property boundaries and as a result, my daughter has gained entrepreneurial skills and confidence.

    This past winter we upped our cookie sales efforts and took them to the mall, asking mall workers if they wanted to order cookies. We got turned away at one mall but at the others the security guards saw us and chose to look the other way.

    Had we asked permission for any of these more than likely we would have been told “no” or that we had to fill out certain forms or whatever. But we just plunged in…we had setbacks along the way but found ways to work around them. And I strongly believe my daughter is better for it.

  47. Warren August 10, 2013 at 8:23 am #

    When it comes to condo boards, or home assoc. that want to be pains in the rears just put it to them this way.

    “The end game in all this will be going to court, because I am not going to back down. So you go back back to your secret soceity meetings and ask the board if they want to spend the money on lawyers and going to court over a lemonade stand. Because I am willing to take it all the way.”

    I highly doubt they would want to spend the time and money.

  48. Donna August 10, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    Actually they more likely than not would go to court. Happens all the time. And generally win because you signed the contract when you bought the house.

    Nor do I have sympathy for the homeowners. You buy a house KNOWING there is a homeowner’s association and what the rules are. Not sure why you think that you are special and the rules don’t apply to you. If you don’t want to deal with a homeowner’s association buy/rent someplace else.

    Now for people in places like many areas of California where it is almost impossible to find a neighborhood without a honeowner’s association, I do have some sympathy. But many could live elsewhere and simply chose to live where they do.

  49. Donna August 10, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    That said, I think rules against kids selling lemonade – chalk, etc – are stupid. But people are allowed to be stupid if they want to be stupid. That is part of being free – the freedom to be stupid. Your choice is in whether to live in a place with stupid rules or not.

  50. Papilio August 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    @Donna: Assumed the stupid rules are not nation-wide…

  51. JJ August 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    @Donna “That said, I think rules against kids selling lemonade – chalk, etc – are stupid. But people are allowed to be stupid if they want to be stupid. That is part of being free – the freedom to be stupid. Your choice is in whether to live in a place with stupid rules or not.”

    But then there are entire towns who have laws against and impose fines for drawing with sidewalk chalk like Doylestown, PA.

    http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/08/10/doylestown-teens-ticketed-for-chalk-drawings-in-parking-lot/.

  52. Donna August 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    @Papilio – Well there is some level of stupid rules everywhere in the world, but this was a complaint about a particular homeowner’s association or apartment complex (I can’t really tell which) rules. They only apply to the particular place and can be avoided by simply choosing a different house or apartment.

    Homeowner’s associations do exist nationwide. They are more prevalent in some areas than others, but they are around in various neighborhoods just about everywhere. In my opinion, homeowner’s association rules are fairly universally stupid, which is why I choose to live where there is no homeowner’s association. My realtor was told not to even bother to show me houses in neighborhoods with homeowner’s associations.

  53. Gina August 10, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    @Donna–I agree, but there are few neighborhoods in my area that don’t have HOA’s. It’s very frustrating. I never understood making rules for people in their own space….unless they are rules to protect from injury, like laws against murder and robbery. Seriously, WHO THE )@*%@A cares if there’s chalk on the sidewalk?

  54. Warren August 10, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    @Donna,
    Must be awful to think, be told and taught you live in a free country, when it is one step above a dictatorship.

    Condo boards, and homeowner’s assoc. are purely voluntary here in Ontario. They cannot force you to join, nor prevent you from buying because you do not join.

    Now in places like condo’s and some gated communties there are management fees, for landscaping, snow removal and anything to do with the grounds. They have rules, but that is dictated by the management. Up here condo boards and the few homeowner’s assoc. are just made up of other property owners, and as such have absolutely no say in what you do on or to your own property, as long as you are within the law.
    Why on earth anyone would want to have other’s dictate what they can and cannot do to their own property is beyond me.
    So many people want to be led by others, it is quite sad.

  55. Donna August 10, 2013 at 10:12 pm #

    @Warren,

    We do live in a free country. Anyone here is perfectly free to choose to live in any number of housing options. You can choose to not have a homeowner’s association like I do. Or you can choose to live where there is a homeowner’s association. Or you can choose to buy a home in a historic district where the historic preservation society has a say in what you do with your house. See we don’t actually live in a country where the government dictates where we have to live. We get to choose that. And for many, the pluses of living in places with homeowner’s associations and historic preservation societies actually outweigh the limits placed on their ability to do whatever they want with their property. I lived in a historic district for a few years. Yes, I was limited in what I could do to the exterior of my house. THAT is exactly why I moved there — because of the historic nature of the neighborhood. People who want to be able to do whatever they want with their houses don’t move into historic districts and homeowner’s association neighborhoods.

    See Warren, you actually have no concept of freedom. To you, freedom means nothing more than the world is all about Warren. To understand true freedom, you have to understand that the rest of us don’t actually have to think exactly like Warren and that is okay. We are free to make our own choices.

    And people don’t move into neighborhoods with homeowner’s associations to have people tell them what to do; they do it to tell others what to do. It increases property values to ensure that lawns are mowed, people aren’t keeping crap in their yards and everything is well-maintained and orderly. That is why people do it. So that they don’t live in a neighborhood that looks like crap.

  56. Donna August 10, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Homeowner’s associations are just made up of homeowner’s here too. The power isn’t in that their rules are enforceable as laws. It is simple contract law. When you buy your house or condo, you sign a contract to obey certain homeowner’s association rules. That contract is an enforceable contract. Just like any other contract, you suffer a penalty (fines in this case usually) if you do not uphold your end of the contract.

    See Warren freedom also includes the freedom to enter any contract that you want to enter. In the US, you can contract for just about anything under the sun, as long as it isn’t illegal, and the courts will enforce that contract because we believe strongly in the right of people to enter into any contracts that suit them even if we think they are dumb.

    My guess is that your condo boards and homeowner’s associations have the exact same power. They may not choose to assert that power, as many homeowner’s associations here also choose, but I highly doubt that Canadian courts completely ignore contracts and render them unenforceable because Warren doesn’t like them.

  57. Amanda Matthews August 11, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    MOVE and make it clear (to your kid and the apartment owners) why you are moving. “Vote with your money” is just as important of a lesson as owning a lemonade stand will teach!

    “It increases property values to ensure that lawns are mowed, people aren’t keeping crap in their yards and everything is well-maintained and orderly. That is why people do it. So that they don’t live in a neighborhood that looks like crap.”

    But increased property values means higher property taxes… It’s only beneficial if you want to SELL in the area, not LIVE there.

  58. Warren August 12, 2013 at 9:24 am #

    No Donna, the condo boards, and homeowner’s assoc. here do not have that power.

    Management companies do, in some condos and communities as you actually only own the structure and not the land it sits on. You management fees are for the maintenance of the areas surrounding you building. They can enforce certain rules, as long as they do not contradict something set down in law.

    As for the boards set up and run by other property owners, they do not have any actual power up here. They cannot force you to join, just to live in the same area with them.

    That is freedom Donna. The ability to choose where you want to live without being forced to join any group.

    We have the historical assoc. up here as well. They are becoming alot more tolerant and understanding, of reality. In the past they have had to go to court and get an order to block owner’s from doing things. They have caused people to sell and or just walk out of these buildings. Buildings have gone vacant for years, and eventually become useless. Or owners have used the rules to their advantage and just torn the old buildings down. In the end the assoc’s have realized that they are causing more loss than preventing it. The courts have even started siding with owners, as a sign of the economic times.

  59. Puzzled August 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Unencumbered deeds were one of the key factors in moving from feudalism to capitalism. HOA should do whatever they want, except be allowed by law to encumber deeds. Organizations that don’t provide any means to exit are not organizations or clubs – they’re mini-governments, and they don’t follow from free association any more than the ‘right’ to sell yourself into slavery follows from self-ownership.

  60. Warren August 14, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    HOA’s are nothing more than elitism, and bigotry wrapped in a pretty bow.

    You can only live in this area if we approve of you. Some freedom. Yes you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to live here. Just make sure you okay things thru us, before you do them. That is a joke, not freedom.

    In all reality, if you have allowed these groups to exist and have power, then you have no right to complain that oppressive rules exist. Why in the world anyone, unless they are stuck up ellitist snobs, would want a HOA, is beyond me.
    LOL, good neighbors are not really good neighbors when they are required to be by contract and assoc. For a land of the free, you sure do find all sorts of ways to give up your power and rights.