Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Dumbest Rule I've Ever HOA'd of

Smack dab in the middle of our summer of endless road trips, bookended by two very long drives, we had a magical week of not getting in the car very much when we stayed at a rental house in Sunriver, Oregon. If you have never been to Sunriver, you should really go. And if you have been to Sunriver, chances are you’re still trapped there, because it is an insane maze of roundabouts and bike paths that looks like the planner’s three-year-old just scribbled all over the blueprints five minutes before the deadline.

It is a wonderful place to visit, nestled alongside the Deschutes River, with golf courses, waterfalls, hiking, biking, and some of the world’s finest microbreweries just down the road in Bend (if you can find your way out to get there).

All that being said, I don’t think I’d ever want to actually live in Sunriver. It has nothing to do with the area. Like I said, it’s fantastic, and I’m sure I would eventually figure out the road system. It’s just that I don’t think I would get along with the homeowner’s association very well.

If you have an HOA where you live, chances are Sunriver’s HOA makes yours look like a Libertarian convention. You are allowed to walk or ride a bike on the Sunriver paths, but never ever should you even think about riding a scooter or a pair of rollerblades. You can keep your overpowered e-bike in the garage and don’t even get me started if you think you’ll be riding a skateboard anywhere around here.

If you think you are going to have an RV or a boat, you’d better start planning your fully-enclosed structure in which to hold it now. And when you are done planning that structure, you can just shoot those plans over to the design committee, where we will completely change them to our liking. And don’t even thing about trying to build that structure yourself. All contractors must be registered with the HOA. None of those “outside” bozos.

Thinking of trimming your tree? Think again. You need a permit for that. Did one of your trees fall down? Don’t touch it until you talk to us and we see fit to grant you a permit to do so.

If you are planning to have firewood, you had damned well better stack it in a rectangular fashion. No linear stacking! This is not a third-world nation.

Paint color. Exterior light diffusing. How long the refrigerator repair guy can park at your house (four hours max). The list goes on and on.

Like I said, it’s a great spot to vacation, but if you’re going to try to fine me for cutting a branch off my own tree near my linearly-stacked firewood, we’re not going to be friends.

My absolute favorite of all the Sunriver HOA rules, however, came to light when we planned our patriotic three-hour Fourth of July tube float down the Deschutes. Our rental house was close to the river, and I scouted out (on my traditionally leg-powered bicycle) the perfect spot to get out of the river and walk about forty yards down the path back to our house.

When I went down to inspect the perfect little disembarking beach, it had a sign that said No River Float Take-Out Here. The sign went on to helpfully explain that no one on a tube is allowed to get out of the river anywhere in Sunriver, except at the marina (which is a private, members-only club and therefore off limits to you) and a public canoe take-out area four river miles further down.

You are more than welcome to enter the river here and swim, and then get out of the river here. You are welcome to enter the river here with a tube, and splash around right here, and then get out here. You are forbidden, however, from floating down river from anywhere else on a tube and getting out here.

Hmm… that’s pretty funny. I think we’ll just get out here.

Of all the crazy HOA rules – or just rules in general – that I’ve ever heard of, this one seems to be the least enforceable. This could actually be the world’s most unenforceable rule.

“You aren’t allowed to get out of the moving river.”

That is so stupid it’s humorous. I’m having real trouble trying to imagine anything as asinine as someone standing on the shore of a lake, river, or the ocean, and trying to tell someone else that they aren’t allowed to get out of the water.

We went ahead with our delightful float and got out of the river where we wanted to, because we’re logical American humans. I was actually hoping some HOA-loving homeowner, or better yet, a member of the board, would be there when we got out of the river next to their nice sign. I was really looking forward to someone trying to explain to me how attempted murder was one of their sacred bylaws. But alas, our river extrication was uneventful.

One of my goals in life is to never be involved in a lawsuit, but if someone tried to sue me because my family got out of a river, it would totally be worth it. I would have the time of my life tearfully explaining how my emotional support river otter (that I met that fateful day) can’t even curb the nightmares from the PTSD of my wife and children almost drowning at the hands of an evil HOA.

The only problem would be that I’d end up owning one or more Sunriver houses in the court settlement and then I’d have to follow all their other crazy rules.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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