Knock, knock. Who’s there? Rage. Indescribable rage for another misguided Home Owner’s Association (HOA) over-stepping and trampling a gearhead’s rights in the process.
Look, we are all a group of ridiculous hoarders. I can admit it. I moved recently and when the cost of moving a good deal of the contents of my garage was way more than the worth of said items, I had to make some hard decisions and started to realize the extent of my problem. And here I thought I was doing good (until I actually took a close look at all the stuff hiding in there.)
HOA rules are created because no one (aside from gearheads) want to live next to the Sanford & Son junkyard, and it decreases their property value. And the rules are created because someone pushed things too far. I totally get it. But the enforcement of said rules are (on average) wildly inconsistent and lack any sort of logical backbone.
Case in point, at my last house I received a warning for having my ’83 Buick Regal T-type and ’68 GTO in the driveway. The Regal was a running and restored, the GTO in process, and either car was worth way more than the ’90s Honda Accord with three flat tires with a wrecked front-end in my neighbors driveway. But I didn’t see a yellow slip on their front door. Yet that pales in comparison to what happened to Andy Lipka of Chesterfield, MO.
His beloved patina ’65 Ford F-250 drew the ire of the Woodfield Homes Association who was trying to hold him accountable to a bylaw that prohibited “vehicles with moderately severe body damage from being parked in the driveway” according to CBS.
“It’s not damaged, it’s the way the finish has evolved over the years.” Lipka said. “Its original Ford paint from 1965, it’s sought after now.”
Unrestored paint and patina are indeed well sought-after in the car community (prime examples can fetch six figures at auction), but to those ignorant of the hobby it’s just an eye soar apparently. Moreover, what’s most infuriating is that these sort of HOA laws are designed to protect neighbors from someone parking a bunch of crashed vehicles in the driveway. But that’s clearly not the case. This is a running and driving vehicle, along with the two in his garage.
The consequences of the HOA’s actions include $3,000 of penalties and fines along with a lawsuit that could have caused the house to be foreclosed on. Thankfully Andy won in the end. In 2020 the case was dismissed and Lipka was simply out some lawyer and court fees. It’s unclear what has happened to the HOA, but there is a series of comically terrible Google reviews online and the phone number is disconnected.
If you belong to an HOA, I urge you to work with (or on) the board to establish:
- The intent of these sort of rules in the first place
- The measurable standards for things like “vehicle damage”
- Who will be making said judgements – in this case someone didn’t know the difference between damage and patina
I asked SEMA for any advice on protecting your rights and they concurred… (If you didn’t know, SEMA is our biggest advocate in protecting our right to enjoy this hobby in both state and federal government. I highly recommend joining to help support the fight.)
“I understand the frustration that can arise when homeowner associations (HOAs) implement rules that restrict our ability to enjoy our cars,” stated Christian Robinson, Senior Director, State Government Affairs & Grassroots. “Taking the time to educate ourselves on our communities’ policies and enforcement is crucial to ensuring that our rights as car owners are protected. Additionally, enthusiasts should consider running for HOA Boards or proposing amendments to the community’s bylaws to advocate for change from within. By engaging in open dialogue with HOAs, seeking legal counsel when necessary, and actively participating in community governance, we can work towards finding common ground that respects both the interests of car enthusiasts and the well-being of our communities.”
It’s a shame that something like this had to waste the time of both the court and a law abiding citizen (and Marine veteran). The HOA is made up of people (and directed by people), who are inherently biased and must be held accountable to fair practices.