Yesterday in the mail, we received this gem from the City of Austin:
You will note, I hope, the helpful definitions of front yard, side yard, and motor vehicle, and the specific mention of operable AND non-operable vehicles. The same text was provided in Spanish on the other side of the page, because Austin is equal opportunity like that.
My reaction to this letter was, chronologically, the following:
1. We have a neighborhood association?
2. Jesus. People need to chill about their property values.
3. Are there really that many cars in yards in my neighborhood? Is this perhaps a "problem" I just don't notice when I am walking the dogs or driving around?
4. Why specifically call out panel trucks? What's a panel truck, anyway?
5. Who is on our neighborhood association?
6. Can I get on our neighborhood association and push through legislation disallowing cutting your grass?
7. How far into the suburbs does this mandate extend?
8. Mostly, motor vehicles that are parked on lawns are not going anywhere on a day-to-day basis. Is the fine per day?
9. Doesn't the City have anything better to do than this?
10. Haha. Annie Pennie is a funny name.
However, I couldn't just toss the page in the recycling and not think anything else of it. It bugs the shit out of me. I'm irritated both by the idea that the neighborhood association, whomever they are, and the city, think they need to tell people what they can and cannot have on their lawns and by the condescending and irritating tone of the missive. It has no effect on me specifically, as we only have one motor vehicle and it's generally parked in our garage (although it's in our driveway at present, due to the garage being my red chair painting zone). But it will effect some of my neighbors, including the retired mechanic neighbors directly behind us who have a small travel trailer parked in their side yard, which I suspect they take on trips with their Boston Terrier, Red. (I noticed this when walking the dogs last night, after reading the letter. I had not noticed it in the previous 18 months.) And why should it? Because some fuss budget is afraid of what their trailer will do to his property values? Good Lord. It seems almost certain they'll be after the old milk separator that serves as a planter in my front yard next. I think it's cool, old school industrial lawn art. But you'll notice they never asked me to be on the committee.
One of the things I really love about my neighborhood is the increasing diversity of people and households. What was once clearly a semi-suburban white bread neighborhood, with all of the three-bed-two-bath houses built in the same ten year period and with very similar guidelines on largish, "child friendly" lots is becoming a really interesting mix of older folks who have lived there for years, young people in their first homes, renters, families entering the home-owning middle class, college students, people who drive, people who take the bus, people who have dogs, people who have cars in their lawns. That's a good thing. Good for our quality of life. And I don't give a damn what it does to property values.