Why Can’t Homeowner’s Associations Let Kids Be Kids?

homeowner's associationWe moved to Ponte Vedra Beach three years ago and since day one, we feel like we have been targeted by our homeowner’s association because we have children and are the minority among older homeowners.

When we first moved in, we got a tree saucer swing that all the kids on the street loved to use. It was so nice to hear all the giggles and the friendships being made since we were new to the street, and our then 3-year-old wanted nothing more than friends to play with outside. Fast forward a few months, and our first HOA letter arrived in the mail telling us to take down the swing. We thought it was a joke… who would care that we have a swing in our yard for the kids to play on? Well, apparently someone did — someone who doesn’t have anything better to do with their time. I guess they forget what it’s like to have a family. The second and third letters arrived a few weeks later, and it said they would fine us if we didn’t remove it immediately.

Both of our boys play soccer, so we got a recreational goal to put up near the bushes for them to practice. They used it daily, taking turns kicking shots and playing goalkeeper. They were in our yard, not bothering anyone. They are kids, after all. As expected, we received another letter and another two letters after that telling us to remove the sporting equipment because it’s not allowed. Basketball hoops are allowed, however. Once again, we were forced to remove the soccer goal.

The kids were upset, and so were we. I should add there is no playground or open area in our neighborhood, so our yard is the only safe place to play that isn’t in the street. We love to be outdoors — anything we can do to be active and in the fresh air. We have a golf cart and ride to the beach or to school, and we get dirty looks sometimes when we ride around our own neighborhood. We aren’t speeding; we are just driving around having fun.

Fast forward a year or two, and we decided to get a trampoline. We knew we were in for a big fight with this one. We jumped through all the hoops filling out the paperwork and the application. At first, it was denied, and we fully expected that. We appealed the decision and it went to the architectural committee — another group of long-time residents who no longer had young children around. They reviewed our appeal and said it would be approved, but only if we planted bushes to partially block the view of the structure to other homes on the other side of the pond. We obliged, purchased, and planted a few bushes that would eventually grow in and provide some privacy. We were told the bushes were planted incorrectly even though we drew on the follow-up application where they would go and it was approved.

Finally, we had something for the kids to play on without getting a threatening letter every few weeks. And it gets used daily; it’s not just rotting away. The neighborhood kids come over every single day. And I love it when they are in our backyard with popsicles bouncing away.

We like most of our neighbors and the area we live in, but we discuss moving often because of the bad taste in our mouths after dealing with the homeowner’s association over things that should not be what they are cracking down on, in my opinion. Yet, there are still houses with unkept yards, etc.

Some of you reading this will suggest I join the homeowner’s association board so I can take a stand for other families and make a difference. It goes without saying that we’ve made a few enemies during our HOA interactions, and I honestly want nothing to do with the people currently on the board. Maybe if, and when, they ever roll off and turn over their reign, I will reconsider it, but I doubt we will ever see eye to eye based on our experience so far.

Kerry Schicker
Boy mom. Household CEO. Corporate leader. Outdoor lover. Social seeker. Sun worshipper. Curious traveler. Champagne enthusiast. These words describe me, Kerry Schicker, and contributor for Jacksonville Mom. I first approached founders Vicky and Megan after a heartbreaking miscarriage a few years ago. I had a very unpleasant experience with my OB at the time and I needed to get it off my chest so I wrote an anonymous blog that resonated with some of our readers. I have since written dozens of blogs mostly about motherhood. I have a passion for writing. My 20-year career has grown through some form of writing including TV news reporting and producing, magazine publishing, public relations, advertising, marketing, blogging and my current day job doing HR and employee communications for a Fortune 300 FinTech company. I am thankful that Jacksonville has such a supportive community for moms like me, and I can't imagine raising my two boys anywhere else.


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