It's spring. Real estate sales are in the tank
. The fix-up hormones are ragging. The head of the House Police is bored. The snow birds will soon depart. The TAMPOA Board has little or nothing to do. The hammers and tools are out. It's the perfect time unwittingly to drive another nail into the coffin containing the perception of Truman Annex as a place where any sane down to earth person would want to call home.
So why not, in an "ongoing effort to ensure that the Truman Annex remains a premier community" conclusively demonstrate it is truly the most hoity-toidy, socially elite, snobbish, vapid place on earth by unleashing the House Police to conduct "regular inspections of individual homes." In performing their anointed duty these stealthy zealots, armed with knowledge from a largely unknown, predominately secret, book of arcane "rules" on everything trivial a Type-A-Personality conformist could possibly want to know, fan out from house to house. Everything about house fronts, colors, paint, varnish, trim, soffits, borders, gutters, overhang, nails, screws, windows, curtain-backing, shutter-trim, wood, appearance, house-makeup and snob appeal that even Martha Stewart has wisely forgotten is within their grasp, or so it seems.
At each and every house these anointed House Police "inspect" and dutifully check compliance with the Big Book. They don't carry the Big Book with them, but they know what they are looking for -- evidence of a "premier community" -- a sort of "I-know-it-when-I-see-it-but-can't-define-it" thing. Evidence that a "premier community" may not be entirely present at a particular residence is duly noted.
After that, the unsuspecting Annex resident gets a rather official looking form letter direct from the flying fingers of an underpaid female in the TAMPOA office and signed in doctor script by the Major-domo himself. The letter is addressed in a snottily familiar first name fashion; the way patients are sometimes spoken to in hospitals and doctors' offices -- a kind of disingenuously comforting familiarity. "Dear Mabel: . . . We are here to give you an enema. And you can't be wearing those earrings here." Never mind that Mabel is old enough to be their grand mother. Never mind that Mabel doesn't know them from Jack the Ripper. Never mind that Mabel may feel a certain lack of respect at this shallow familiarity. Never mind that Mabel hates their friggin' guts. The greeting is still "Dear Mabel: we're about to tell you something stupid," as if having just insulted Mabel will make what she is about to be told not seem to be so idiotic.
After this all too familiar greeting, the letter to the unsuspecting Annex resident begins: "As part of the ongoing effort to ensure that the Truman Annex remains a premier community, regular inspections of individual homes are conducted. It was recently noted that your property is in need of the following maintenance and repairs: . . . ." The resident never learns what the "it" is in the preceding sentence since English 101 is not a prerequisite for writing such letters.
Then comes a bullet point description of the rule violation. We've had a chance to look at a number of these letters. Among the more typical and trivial (but certainly not the most trivial) are several like "Your plantings are not approved" (yards are inspected too) or "The address plate on your unit is in the wrong color." (The latter "violation" refers to the approximately 8 inch by 6 inch oval plaque on which the house numbers appear.) We were waiting for a citation (similar to one issued a few years ago) about the plastic chairs on the porch or the door mat that reads "Spoiled pussy lives here." However, in recent years under the current administration, cats seem to be getting more favored treatment.
None of the letters cite an actual rule. They simply indicate what TAMPOA's Major-domo thinks is a violation. The form letter goes on to say that "The items listed . . . require your immediate attention so that your home will conform to Association standards." There is no reference as to what the "standards" are or where they might be found.
The letter then continues: "It is important that you fulfill your obligation as a homeowner so that we all can continue to take pride in the Truman Annex." One is tempted to wonder what "we" made the judgment to spend the considerable sum these letters to "ensure that the Truman Annex remains a premier community" cost, so "we" can have "pride" in the Annex, but "we" already know the answer to that one, don't "we."
If by now the surprised letter recipient isn't pissed-off, the next paragraph of the letter is sure to do it. Even though the resident, like some we know, has no vegetation to speak of in his yard, the letter continues in if-the-shoe-fits fashion: "In addition to the items listed above, it may be time to remove general overgrowth, cut back foliage, trim palm trees to a neat condition so that no fronds are touching the building [which, in the case of a house, the resident owns], remove all coconuts, and be sure that there is approximately a 50/50 ratio of plants to open space maintained in your yard [meaning get your sorry ass out there and plant some plants, but be sure they're approved]. Landscape material that extends over a sidewalk, roadway or common area more than twelve inches from the property line below a height of seven (7) feet is not permitted." Again, no reference in the letter to a rule, just the statement it "is not permitted."
The reason TAMPOA gets away with this kind of crap is that almost none of the residents of the Annex have a bleeping clue as to what all is in this Big Book because no one has an up to date copy. That fact is not an accident. By limiting knowledge the power of the few with knowledge is increased. Annex residents are forced to depend on the Chief of the House Police, who will always, in turn, refer you to the Major-domo for a belated reference to chapter and verse residing somewhere in the bowels of the rather outdated record archive TAMPOA "maintains." (In retrospect, "maintains" may be a misnomer because it was from a similar record-keeping endeavor that TAMPOA did not discover that it already had a title insurance policy that included Southard Street before allowing its lawyers to rack up a small fortune in legal bills researching its apparently already existing title to Southard Street. But that's another story.)
So if you want the correct information, you are doomed if you think you can figure it out for yourself. Instead you must call or write the Major-domo and ask whether he is serious or is this just an April Fool thing. Of course he's going to tell you he's damned serious. And even though he can't at that moment, or any other moment nearby, cite chapter and verse to you, he'll tell you, in a way that only Major-domos and Assistant City Managers can, that any thought of resistance is futile. That's because if you don't comply, TAMPOA can effectively block the sale of your house, and you will not be able to sell it until you comply. If you weren't thinking of selling, by the time you get off the phone you will want to do so immediately.
The final paragraph of the form letter suggests that the TAMPOA website
"is very helpful." Like a true believer in the tooth fairy and the Easter Pussy you trot on over to the website
to look for the code that supports the breach of "premier community-dom" that you have allegedly committed. You are not there long before you realize you've been wasting your time, and the rules you were looking for are not there. So you go away realizing there is probably noting you can do.
And then you happen run into someone who asks you what its like living in Truman Annex. "How much time have you got," you ask? "Did you know the Annex wants to remain a premier community?"