Homeowners' associations:

fair rules & regulations?

I read with interest the Oct. 14 article "The backlash against homeowners' groups" and was surprised to note several omissions about the way communities that use this form of self-governance operate. First, the article leaves the impression that individuals who have disputes with their homeowners' associations are subject to arbitrary or undisclosed rules and regulations. In fact, residents and new buyers in these types of communities must all agree to covenants, codes, and restrictions in majority numbers before they are considered "law."

Second, the article leaves the impression that a homeowners' association seeking reimbursement for legal fees is imposing an unfair fine on the plaintiff. Should everyone else in the community foot the bill for the disgruntled homeowner who decided he didn't like the rules after he agreed to them?

Finally, individuals within these associations agree to maintain joint assets at the time that they join. Savvy real estate agents will request specific information regarding anticipated future repairs and funding.

With increasing pressures on high-density housing, homeowners' associations offer a civil and practical means for settling neighborly disputes and maintaining mutual assets in good repair. They are not a perfect solution, but they are also not as grim as your article implies.
Elizabeth Holmes
Healdsburg, Calif.

My homeowners' association denied my garage on the grounds of aesthetics, even after I met the requirements of making the outside of the garage look like my house. The chairman of the architectural committee told me I could not have a garage because I didn't have a wooded lot and also suggested that I should move to where there was no homeowners' association.

The chairman also has the nerve to authorize some things without even asking the committee's approval and in other cases, like mine, he did a survey of only the neighbors who don't like me. He didn't even ask all of the neighbors their opinions.
Pat Anderson
Yanceyville, N.C.

Comic books a gateway to learning

The Oct. 12 article " 'Hamlet' too hard? Try a comic book" on the current popularity of comics brought to mind the way I learned many classics of literature. Growing up in the 1950s and '60s, one could joyfully take in the great stories of Dickens, Scott, Stevenson, and others with the 15-cent Classics Illustrated Comics, or the great fairy tales of Andersen and others in Classic Illustrated Junior. I am saddened that these are mainly available today only at the outrageous prices collectors are willing to pay.
Steven Deedon
New Haven, Conn.

When I was in eleventh grade (in 1977), my vocational plumbing teacher encouraged the weak readers in the class to begin reading anything that interested them, including comic books. Never one to do well in school, I heeded his advice and began reading Archie and other nonviolent comics. To make a long story short, I returned to school after many years of unpleasant employment experiences and I can now proudly say that I am working on my degree from the University of Virginia.
Jay Kaufman
Virginia Beach, Va.

Appreciation of 'genuine praise'

Regarding the Oct. 12 article "Time on the sofa for good behavior": Mary Hendra's Friday Sofa Award, and the earnest way she presents it to her high school pupils, wins my admiration and respect. She clearly loves her work and cares for more than merely "getting the students through the semester." By honoring creativity and the value of genuine praise, she sets a rich example of adulthood for her charges.
Beverly Scott
Camden, Maine

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