Ask the HOA Expert: Solicitation And Trespassing

Written by Richard Thompson Posted On Wednesday, 14 July 2021 00:00

Question: Our HOA entrance is posted with signs that prohibit both solicitation and trespassing. However, we frequently have people wandering through the community leaving coupons and flyers on the doors. This prompts owner complaints why this is "allowed". The greatest concern is security because many units are second homes and vacant much of the year.

Answer: Solicitation is usually construed to be door to door person to person selling, not leaving advertising material on the door. The advertising is hand delivered, of course, because it's much cheaper than mailing it. Usually a phone call to frequent offenders stops it. But it is an ongoing process since anyone that wants to sell something can use this technique. This is just another form of junk mail and one of life's little irritations. It sounds like the HOA has done what is reasonable to stop it by posting signs. Periodic calls to the worst offenders may lessen the frequency but until the HOA has controlled access to the grounds, stopping it altogether will be next to impossible.

Question: Do you have any information about "Victory Gardens"? Our HOA pays over $100K in water bills for unit, pool and landscaping needs. I would like to turn some of the vast lawn areas we have into gardens.

Answer: Victory gardens were also called "war gardens" or "food gardens for defense". They were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia during World Wars I and II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown.

Victory gardens are a historical fact but what you are suggesting is a mechanism for converting unproductive and costly to maintain common area into productive crop gardens. This concept is particularly relevant in older HOAs that often have vast lawn areas that require mowing, maintenance and irrigating. Due to ever increasing costs for large landscapes, most new HOAs have much less common area and what they do have has less lawn (if any) and more planting beds.

"Xeriscaping" (xeros is Greek for dry) is a word coined to describe a form of landscaping featuring drought tolerant native species that require little water, pest control or maintenance. With proper plant selection, an HOA can convert a resource hogging lawn to a resource miserly oasis.

The downside of your garden proposal is curb appeal. HOA landscaping is typically maintained by professional landscape contractors. Your proposal to turn maintained common area over to individual owners assumes that each owner will adequately and consistently maintain their garden plot. Such experiments are usually hit and miss at best with many plots turning into unsightly weed patches.

However, if the garden plots are properly screened or in areas that would not detract from curb appeal, it could work. And if it doesn't, the area could be converted to a xeriscape design which the landscape contractor could reasonably maintain. The idea has merit in the right setting.

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