If you’re like the majority of US homeowners, you use your garage for much more than parking your car. For some homes, the garage is a smorgasbord of tinkering space, storage closet, workshop, parking spot, and playroom. The garage is a useful middle-ground between an interior room and the world outside, perfect for messy work or bulky storage. You wouldn’t want to bring your bike inside every day, or to leave your table saw in the kitchen, but you also wouldn’t put either of those outside. Leaving your things inside and closing the garage door lets you protect them, from the elements and from thieves. But for an unfortunate development in Auburn, California, this wasn’t an option.
The Auburn Green’s community HOA instituted a new policy in November that required homeowners to leave their garage door’s open from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM on weekdays, and homeowners were livid. By leaving the garage door open, they argued, they were almost inviting thieves in to their homes. Anyone who kept sports equipment, tools, or other possessions in the garage would have to reveal those items to the world, and because the bizarre policy stretched across business hours, most homeowners would be away and unable to watch their home.
Why did the HOA institute such a ridiculous policy? They wanted the garage doors left open after finding out that a homes had an illegal tenet living in the garage space. This squatter was living with their friends or “landlords” against the policies of the development, but because they simply slipped in or out through a side door, it was hard to prove their rule-breaking ways. By telling homeowners to leave the doors open, the HOA hoped to catch any illicit visitors – and they threatened any home that didn’t comply with a $200 fine.
Homeowners disagreed vehemently with this new policy. They felt like having their homes open all day long was ridiculous, and some flatly refused to do it. Others, resigned to their fate, started theft-proofing their garages, installing locking cabinets or metal ties to attach their bikes to. These pessimistic precautions got them ready for the HOA’s unmovable stance, but they underestimated the power of bad press. As word of this story circulated, many news outlets covered the tale of the HOA-gone-mad, and soon the negative news built up.
Although the policy is a little ridiculous, the situation is slightly more complex than it might seem to the casual observer. Most homes in Auburn Green don’t have residential garage doors at all – they have carports. The previous management didn’t have any rules about modifying the carports, so some of the renters decided to have garage doors installed. These doors are technically not allowed by the modern management, but existing doors were grandfathered in – no renter would want their garage door ripped out, after all! The current HOA policy states that the carports are community property which the HOA will maintain. Now that some of them are enclosed, illegal tenets or transients can slip in and spend the night. Some homeowners in the area approved of this policy as a means to an end, as the HOA has cleaned up the area and put a stop to rising crime rates.
The rule came about after the HOA discovered that one renter had allowed a guest to stay in their garage, so they decided to put a stop to it once and for all. This response might have been over-the-top, however, and in the wave of negative press, the HOA did decide to back down on the policy. You have to wonder how the homeowners who had already modified their garages in anticipation feel, but at least now they have some nice new cabinets! Now, homeowners in this development can open or close their garage doors as they wish, instead of having to adhere to the whims of the HOA.
Only time will tell if illegal tenets continue to be a problem, but one wonders if the renters wouldn’t just move inside the home if their illicit garage antics are revealed. Homeowners are glad to no longer be exposing their garages to the world, and hopefully now they can rest easy knowing that their residential garage door is protecting their home and property.