Lookie Lose…Squid’s Great Aunt Eloise (a Dumbo Squid, they’re connected from Squid’s dad’s side of the family and only by marriage) had summoned the extended Squid clan to her annual meeting roughly on the theme of, “Let’s Celebrate Daylight Saving Time and Here’s Who’s Been Cut Out of My Will as of Today.” Aunt Eloise puts out a great spread, with a to-die-for nut crusted cheese ball, ample chilled shrimp and a clam chowder so thick a spoon will stand up in it, all served with a hefty dose of guilt.
Aunt Eloise moved from her expansive Carmel Valley ranch to Las Palmas a few years back because she wanted to live somewhere low-maintenance, closer to her doctor’s office and with a community pool. When Squid finally made it through the gate on Sunday and arrived at Eloise’s house, Squid was confronted by a photographer hiding in the bushes. “Is this real?” Squid wondered. “Has Eloise’s annual fete finally become the stuff of paparazzi?”
Not even close. Because when Squid queried Aunt Eloise about it, she handed Squid the Las Palmas newsletter. Here’s what it said:
“Smile—It’s Picture Time
The Las Palmas Ranch Master Association No. 2 has arranged to have a local photographer take a picture of the front view of every home in the Association. These photos will be used as a baseline to determine if exterior changes have been done to the property with/without approval from the Architectural Review Committee. This project is expected to be completed within the next 60 days.”
So wait, big brother is watching you? And using your homeowner association fees to assist in watching you?
Aunt Eloise directed Squid to a discussion on Nextdoor, the online platform with the tagline, “When neighbors start talking, good things happen,” and which Squid uses to learn which neighbors should be avoided at all costs. In discussing the photographer situation, neighbors were feeling their feelings.
“Wouldn’t this be considered trespassing for residents who have longer driveways?” asked one. In response, someone stated, “Cannot come on your driveway. Only from street. Also it’s a private community so in fact any photos for this purpose may be violation.”
And this: “Perhaps the HOA board is anticipating fines to homeowners not in compliance. And the money spent on photographer reimbursed by such. Which if true, the HOA ill intention feels more like it’s punishing homeowners who have made improvements. Homeowners (don’t forget renters too) that were perhaps unaware of the architectural review process.”
Another neighbor chimed in: “I must be missing something here? How much of our dues is being spent on this project and what is this to accomplish? Will there be comparisons to original home designs? Otherwise, this is money ill spent. Perhaps these photos can be put to better use; to assess which homeowners are not keeping up their properties. Example, storing trash cans in front yard, overgrown unkept landscaping, parking RVs and cars on other areas not intended for parking, etc. I don't know who has or has not gone thru ‘approval’ for changes, all I know is that I am grateful for members of our LP neighborhood that continue to improve their homes and show pride of ownership.”
While Squid’s own HOA dictates front door colors (no purple allowed) and foliage (honeysuckle is a big yes), Squid can’t imagine they’d ever use fees to hire a photographer for the purposes of spying on and fining residents. As one Las Palmas commenter put it, how about instead of spending money on this, a few board members just drive around and note how things are looking, spend fees to fix a few fences and maybe send cautionary letters out to people who aren’t maintaining their yards to standard.
Nah. That would make too much sense.
So as Squid swipes a Chicken-Bisket cracker through the last of the cheese ball and graciously accepts the crystal candlesticks Aunt Eloise wanted to offload, Squid plans on going home to the lair, removing the purple paint from the front door of the lair and keeping Squid’s eyes out for photographers creeping around the property.