Meet Dennis Kocher, a Vietnam veteran and skilled craftsman who makes furniture for military families in need at the nearby Beale U.S. Air Force base. Unfortunately, CBS13 reports, his snotty homeowners association told him to close shop or face $100.00 to $1,000.00 fines.
“Here I am, a Vietnam veteran doing something for the military, building furniture and donating it, and Lake of the Pines wants to close me down.”
Kocher lives in Lake of the Pines, a gated community outside of Sacramento, Calif. in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Here, most homes have three or more bedrooms and list for $250,000 and up — cheap for California but pricey for the area. And people who sink that much money into their homes are less likely to tolerate anything that annoys them.
In 2012, the HOA demanded that Kocher get a business permit, and he got one. But that wasn’t enough, he tells CBS 13.
“Now they’ve come back to me and said I’m producing odors and noxious fumes.”
“I may not paint, sand, cut wood or screw on the property at anytime.”
The last item on this list of prohibitions seems a tad invasive even by insane California standards, which SFGate‘s “Surreal Estate” columnist Carol Lloyd once called “BANANAs (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near ANYthing).”
Has the HOA given Kocher a fair hearing or attempted to compromise? Perhaps they could restrict his use of power tools to daytime hours, and perhaps Kocher could find more environmentally-friendly finishing materials.
How important is Kocher’s work?
How important is Kocher’s work? A member of the military starts at a scant $1,467.00 per month. When they’re married, their spouses often have trouble finding and keeping a job because they frequently have to pick up and move. Think Progress reports that 30 percent of young military spouses lack employment and that over $100 million in food stamps were spent on military bases in 2013.
As anyone who has ever attempted to assemble cheap shelves from Ikea surely knows, Kocher’s beautiful, space-saving, heirloom-quality drawers and cabinets are sure to brighten homes and increase the quality of life for the lucky military families who receive them.
CBS 13’s Rob McAllister explains that these kind of complaints usually come from neighbors. But Kocher also has his share of supporters: 12 neighbors wrote letters of support, and folks from Beale Airforce Base sent Kocher a framed photograph with their signatures to thank him. When Kocher appeals the HOA at an upcoming meeting on August 5th, the senior master sergeant from Beale will join him.
There goes the neighborhood… and the “American Dream.”
Yet, increasingly powerful and restrictive homeowners associations are creating and enforcing stricter rules. Paul Bannister from Business Insider writes that one in five Americans live in communities governed by these homeowners associations — which are supposed to be nonprofits that represent homeowners, but in practice, are created by the developers and designed to maintain home values.
And when you sign that lease or purchase agreement, you may be signing away a huge chunk of your rights.
So, on the one hand, you won’t wind up with herds of rusting cars and trucks grazing on your neighbor’s weed-infested lawn… but on the other hand, you can’t do cool stuff in your garage, plant a vegetable garden, or hang your laundry on a clothesline (though, thankfully, 19 states have voided HOA clothesline bans).
Here’s the news report from CBS 13:
h/t CBS 13.