New Generation is Helpless

Sometimes you see something so stupid, you have to make time to comment on it.

The fact that no one knows how to use a map astounds me. There was a book with every street written in it in alphabetical order. You looked up the street, and it would say D 7, for example. If it was a map in the book, there would also be a page number. If it was a large wall map, the letter and number is all that you got. In later books, there would also be a “cross street” which would be the name of a large street that intersected the one you were looking for.

You would then look on the map, with letters down the side and numbers across the top. Your street was found on the map using those. As to which house number, the acronym “NEON” was useful, and it meant North and East are Odd Numbers. Meaning that the North and East side of the street is where Odd addresses were found.

Now comes the tricky part- what if you are looking for a large street that ran a long distance? Well, for that we had to memorize “address breaks.” For example, let’s say that Vine street runs the width of the town from North to South. I know that the 100 East and 100 West blocks are separated by Main Street. Going South on Main street the numbers would start at 100 South main and increase. Then I had to know that Elm was the 400/500 South Main divider. I also had to know that Pine Street was the 1000/1100 divider, etc.

You would be dispatched like this: “Rescue 14, reported seizures to a child. 1124 15th Street. Map page 27, D-14. Select tactical three for updates. Time out 1457.”

When we hired a firefighter, he would have two weeks to learn where all of the equipment on every vehicle at the station was located. The test was “where are all of the spanner wrenches found,” or perhaps “how many SCBA bottles are on the engine?” and then “Where are the nonrebreather oxygen masks on the rescue?”

At one month after hire, you were given a map book test. You had to know how to use the map book, and more importantly, you had to know where all of the major address breaks in the city were located. The test would be “You are driving west on Central Avenue, approaching Main Street. The address you are looking for is 1884 Main street. So when I reach Main, do I take a left or a right?” You better know the answer, probie.

I am sure that pizza delivery drivers, taxi drivers, cops, and even the electric company did something similar. I can’t believe that this new generation is so helplessly stupid about anything that isn’t on Tik Tok.

A response to Scotty

In comments, reader Scotty is of the opinion that the HOA has absolute power to regulate the behavior of children. I won’t quote the comment in this post because it is too long. You can read it here. His opinion essentially boils down to “the HOA can enforce whatever rules they wish” and is incredibly incorrect.

HOA’s have legal restrictions on what the covenants and bylaws can contain. The behavior of children is not among them. The HOA doesn’t have plenipotentiary power to rule over whatever they wish. Let me explain the law to you:
The HOA can only take your house under very limited circumstances. Your children playing outside isn’t one of them. HOA set rules and bylaws are for the common areas only. They cannot control what happens on private property. That has to be done in covenants.
The covenants are rules that govern private property, but they can only be changed by a vote of all of the homeowners of a community, and even then it takes a 2/3 majority of all homeowners.
Scotty’s statement about satellite dishes proves my point. HOAs can’t regulate them because they don’t have the legal authority to do so. The DO have the authority through the covenants to regulate having swing sets in the front yard.

Even the covenants don’t confer power to the HOA to regulate the behavior of anyone with whom they disapprove. HOAs aren’t above the law. They should avoid transgressing local, state, and federal laws; otherwise, they may find themselves in a legal quagmire. For example, all HOAs are subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act. To refresh your memory, the Fair Housing Act bans discrimination in housing-related transactions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. “Familial status” has been interpreted by the courts to apply to rules governing families with children.

A great example of how this is applied is the case that involved the owner and management company of The Orchards at Cherry Creek Apartments in Centennial, Colo.. They had a rule that said:

All children must be supervised by an adult at all times while playing outside. No sports activities, skateboarding, roller-blading, or general extracurricular activities are to take place in our community. If we see anyone violating any of the above activities or see any unsupervised children they will be sent home immediately.

A set of parents filed a complaint with the local HUD office. The HUD director sued the management company, and the suit was eventually settled out of court. The settlement requires the owners to, among other things, build a $10,000 playground and train all employees in the requirements of the Fair Housing Act. HUD also made this statement when announcing the settlement:

A requirement of constant parental supervision of all minors, and even teenagers, is oppressive, unnecessary, and unfairly burdensome on families with children. The Fair Housing Act protects the rights of families with children to enjoy the same housing amenities that others do. In this case, there were a number of policies that singled out and targeted children for regulation in the property. Many of those rules and policies might be designed to protect health and safety, but they’re targeted at children.

Robert Galvin, a partner at Davis, Malm & D’Agostine PC in Boston who specializes in representing HOAs, condos, and co-ops had this to say:

The interesting thing is that these laws apply in areas most people wouldn’t think they apply in. In a lot of condos, there are rules that people under a certain age, say 16, can’t go into the pool at certain times. That’s the sort of thing that makes intuitive good sense to people, but it’s potentially illegal. You can have a rule or a bylaw that on its face may look innocuous but in actual practice has the effect of discouraging families with children, and that’s illegal.

Sarah Pratt, deputy assistant secretary for enforcement and programs at HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity in Washington, D.C. had this to say on HOA rules aimed at children:

We’ve even seen a case where a property management company basically said children couldn’t play outdoors after 6 or 7 in the evening. That’s very restrictive and could be considered to be highly negative toward families with children. If you’re addressing a concrete, identified problem, make sure you identify that problem and address it for anyone, whether they’re children or adults who might be engaging in the practice. And make sure, if you have a group of policies, they don’t add up to sending a message that children aren’t welcome there, even if you address the problems to everybody.

That’s just for the Fair Housing Act. The family can issue a formal warning if an HOA acts harshly against a child. If the HOA ignores their warning, they can sue the board for discrimination and harassment. Such a lawsuit can tarnish the HOA’s reputation and result in millions of dollars in legal liability.

Who is wrong?

The woman is. She is the HOA president, so what? It isn’t the responsibility of the HOA to control the behavior of neighborhood kids. She says that she was patrolling the neighborhood? That isn’t her job, either.

If she (or anyone else in the neighborhood) has a problem with the behavior of children, you go there as a neighbor and complain to the parent. What you don’t do is go there talking about how you are the HOA president and trying to use that as some sort of show of authority to throw your weight around. The guy answering the door is a lot more polite than I would have been in that case.

However, had an adult or adults come to my door and politely complained about the kids harassing them, I would have asked the kids to tone it down. It’s all about presentation.

That’s the main reason why I am on the board of my own HOA. I am there to make sure that some authoritarian asshole doesn’t become a little dictator. I do everything that I can to tell the neighbors that the HOA can’t do (x) or (y) because that isn’t within their power.

Yes, I know that many of you will say that you won’t live in an HOA community, but that just isn’t how things are here. Half of all homes in Florida, and 85% of homes built within the last 20 years, are in communities that are controlled by an HOA. I would disband our HOA in a heartbeat if I could, but that won’t happen, so I do the next best thing. I make sure that they don’t become tyrants.