A bad apple ruins the neighborhood the neighborhood


Published: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 22, 2006 at 10:11 p.m.

In response to "Homeowners associations are a three ring circus" (Jan. 16) by Angela Woodhull: Woodhull must be living in a fantasyland if she expects local authority to keep her neighborhood in order.

After 30 years in what was one of Gainesville's nicer northwest developments, we were finally forced to move by the deterioration of the neighborhood.

Yes, we were able to get codes enforcement to address a vacant house that had become a haven for vagrants and drug activity, and they did finally take action and fill in the unfenced swimming pool that had become a slime pond for mosquito breeding (as well as a hazard to any small child who didn't realize you could not walk on the slime).

And it only took them seven years to condemn the place. It was put up for public auction and was grabbed up for a rental, along with the house next to it - the one with Halloween decorations up until Christmas, which stayed up until Easter, which lasted until the 4th of July.

The police were very prompt in responding to loud parties and drunken brawls that left neighboring lawns cluttered with beer cans and our shrubbery "watered" frequently by partygoers. They came nearly every weekend when called.

The decrepit boats and travel trailers in full view were not considered a breach of any codes and enjoyed immunity as the grass grew around them. The untended lawns did give the neighborhood a "natural" look, as did poorly maintained houses acquired by nothing down and interest only payments or by out-of-town owners as a refuge for their children while attending the University of Florida or Santa Fe Community College. Why take in trash cans when you just have to put them out next week?

You worry about lawyers or developers teaming up and taking over a homeowners association? Have you ever heard of block busting? It doesn't take that many bad apples in a neighborhood to cause property values to dive. A creative realtor can put the right people in the right place and have a field day selling adjacent homes to people that can't afford a lawn mower or home repairs.

You have to ask the simple question: Why are property values increasing faster in developments where there are strong homeowners associations. People just don't buy into these places for the three ring circus Woodhull has proclaimed. Apparantly there are some people who feel taking care of their neighborhood is their responsibility, not the government's.

C. L. Scholefield is an active member of the Patio Homes of WestEnd Community Association in Newberry.

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