In the coming months we will debate whether we should allow dogs in our parks, and motorcycles in the community. There have already been many letters about motorcycles, and now we are seeing letters about letting dogs in the parks.
In the letters to the editor against both changes members of our community bring up the risks of allowing either in our community or parks. These members bring up issues like noise by motorcycles, or irresponsible dog owners who do not clean up after their hounds. If we let dogs in the park, there is the possibility that an owner will not pick up their dogs feces. If we let motorcycles in there may be the possibility that someone will thoughtlessly rev up its engine making noise. Clearly the concern is over the exceptions and not the majority of motorcycle and dog owners. It is an interesting issue, because for some reason our community is very inconsistent in how it applies its rules. Some rules ban all, others just specific violations.
If we let boats on the lake, then someone may drive it in the wrong direction, or may speed in a no wake zone. We let boats in, and have rules for use. If we let kids live in Lake Wildwood, they might use skateboards in the street. We let kids live here but have rules for skateboard use. If we let new golfers on the course, they might play very slow. We have marshals to keep the pace up. If we let cars in the community they might speed. We have security patrols to enforce speed limits. Hopefully you see a consistent trend. In most case rules are put in place to manage exceptions and risks so that we might have a pleasant and safe community. So why are we treating people with dogs and motorcycles differently? Why are we punishing the responsible many for the careless few? We don’t do that with anything else.
Banning rather than managing exceptions hurts our community. At its worst it negatively impacts our home values because we are sometimes perceived as a community of rule mongers, or worse yet non-inclusive narrow thinkers. This is especially apparent from those who state “it’s the rule and always has been” argument. CC&Rs need to support current reality, not a community of rules stuck forty years in the past.
We have had several Bay Area friends not buy here because of that reputation. It is reflected in lower per square foot valuations inside the gate versus outside.
The ban versus manage approach also hurts our culture. The approach ends up pitting one group against another. Creating a culture of divisiveness rather than working together. It is publically apparent in our letters to the editor. So regardless of what your opinion is about dogs or motorcycles, perhaps you should start thinking about calling for rules that manage the exceptions (which most of our rules are today) and not all out bans. It is a more common sense and consistent approach that does not punish the majority of people who follow the rules.
Allow dogs in the parks, but create fines for those who do not clean-up. Allow motorcycles in but put in place a noise ordinance (for all vehicles!) in which must be test for before issuing a sticker. Treat the issues like everything else in our HOA, create rules for the exception, rather than punishing many because of a few potential violators.
By thinking this way we will have a better community, eventually higher values and hopefully a different mindset in the future. Vote against bans, vote for managing exceptions just like everything else.