Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The worst of condo living

I've lived in two different high rise condominium buildings over the last ten years and one thing that never seems to change is the snob factor. Every building in this area likes to think of itself as a "high end building" and I'm all for that to a certain extent because it helps support the price of our homes. But, as you can imagine, this concept can be taken too far and how far it goes depends on the snob factor in the building.

I found out tonight that we live in a VERY snobby building. Apparently having children around the front of the building on occasion doing awful things like, oh, PLAYING and (horror of horrors) RIDING THEIR TRICYCLES is anathema to the concept of a high end building. God forbid we should have happy children around, it might *gasp* detract from our property values! I'm not talking about unruly, unsupervised children posing a danger to themselves and others. Our building is set back from the street and we have a huge covered walkway that is one block long and is the width of three regular sidewalks. There is a normal size "public" sidewalk between our covered walkway and the street.

(Oh, I'm sorry, did I call it a covered walkway? One of my snotty neighbors said "It's a PORTICO, not a PLAYGROUND." Oh sorry gay guy neighbor with a yippy dog and no kids, I should have known that high end buildings don't have something as common as covered walkways, they have PORTICOs! And I wasn't aware that there is a rule against using PORTICOs as places to play. Apparently block-long PORTICOs are supposed to be huge empty spaces that shall not be used, under any circumstances, for any fun purpose.) But I digress . . . I have been down there with other parents while our children play happily, without running into anyone or getting hurt. When they get out of hand, as children sometimes do, we give them time outs or take them home. They are better behaved than some of the adults that live here!

We have a new management company running the building. The woman assigned to our building has reprimanded the babysitters of two families for allowing the children to play in front. The babysitters (and some parents) were apparently told that children aren't allowed to play in the "common areas" of the building. For those of you who don't have to deal with condo-speak, the common areas are areas of the building that we all own together. Although the condo board hasn't adopted any such rule against children playing in the common areas, this snob of a woman has taken it upon herself to rid the common areas of the scourge of happy children. At a condo board meeting tonight, the board members said that they will be proposing a rule that will be put out for comment by the residents. If not enough residents OBJECT, the board will pass the rule. There is one board member (the only young one) who seems to be on our side. He said he'd work with us to try to get the rule drafted in a way we can live with. My guess is that he'll be overruled by the older men on the board who are well past their child rearing days and don't give a shit about the kids in the building.

I understand that living in the city involves certain inconveniences with respect to getting your kids outside play time. I've always had to bundle everyone up and take them several blocks to the park to do that. However, in this building we're blessed with this SPACE - it's huge and it's perfect as a place for the kids to play. It doesn't happen every day and it's not for more than an hour or so when it does happen. I find it to be a huge waste of space and just generally . . . well, curmudgeonly to say that kids can't play out there. Are they going to tell the cranky guy in the wheelchair that he can't do his physical therapy out there? Will they tell people that they can't stand around talking out front while their dogs pull on their leashes and yap ceaselessly? Doubt it.

When we lived at our old building, I was on the condo board. Once Big D brought A Girl to a meeting when she was about 2 1/2. He's entitled to come to the meeting and we shouldn't have to get a babysitter just to be able to participate in the governance of our building. They came after the meeting started and she ran up to me and sat on my lap for a little while. Then she ran back to dad. After the meeting, a cranky old man came up to me and said "You're daughter is very cute but it isn't appropriate to have her at a meeting. It's distracting." Once I picked my jaw up off of the floor I said "If you were distracted, I'm sorry but she has just as much right to be here as you do. If you don't want to be around kids, move into a senior community."

Ok, I'm going to get off my soapbox soon. But I'm really pissed off. It was bad enough that they passed a rule that kids under 12 are not allowed in the work out room. My kids are really unhappy about that. They loved coming to exercise with me and Big D. They would stretch and do sit ups while we did the stair master and treadmill. Sometimes they just sat and watched the tv in there. Maybe people objected to having the Disney Channel on - but I objected to having Fox News on. So what? We live in a community that includes people of all ages. I wish people would stop feeling that it's appropriate to treat the children in this building worse than they treat the dogs.


landismom said...

Wow, that is really outrageous and would piss me off tremendously. Can you get up a petition of other parents (and reasonable people) in the building to present to the condo board? Email me if you want tips.

Jen said...

Good luck with that, that would make me angry, too!

MetroDad said...

Check your bylaws carefully. A "rules" amendment may necessitate a change to the bylaws, in which case, this might require a building-wide vote. Hard to help without knowing all the details but if you could post up some more info, I'd be glad to proffer some advice. Good luck! (By the way...sound like your neighbors are assholes!)

The Scarlett said...

Amazing that having happy children is considered a financial liability.

You might want to do some research. Compare the property values of housing nearby considered 'adult only' versus property values of housing without such designation. My guess is that your building wasn't considered 'adult only' for a reason. However, they can't have it both ways; they can't have families to make their values increase and then pretend they don't exist.

Not only check the values but check the bylaws. They may be trying to enforce something that isn't on the books.

Comfort Addict said...

Hello. I came from Landismom's blog. I think that it's horrible that your condo board is so snobbish and uptight. Kids need to play and, personally, I think that playing kids enhance the value of a neighborhood. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately it does matter what I think or you for that matter. it's what's in the Condo Act, the declarant document and the by-laws. You can try to get on the board (you'll have to do some work...not easy when you have children to raise) to make changes. Try to find others of like minds. I understand your frustration. I actually like children having had two of my own and (fingers crossed) hope to have a grandchild in April. Another option (you want to avoid paying an attorney to interpret those by-laws) take your issues to small claims court. That way you can at least get some satisfaction or at least make a point to the board. What do you have to lose? It seems you have already made some enemies. I'm not critizing...just stating the obvious. Go for it or make them change the by-laws (not so eay to do).

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