Michele has an interesting rant about suburbia today:

In the past few years there has been a surge of people who draw up petitions at the blink of an eye. They don’t want the ice cream man in their neighborhood because the music he plays wakes up their kid. They don’t want you to skateboard or rollerblade or be able to play on the school playground when school is not in session. They want to regulate how loud you can play your stereo, what color you can paint your house, where you can park your car and how many wildflowers you can grow in your own garden.

* * *
Mayberry? Not me, thanks. I always thought Andy was bit on the weird side.

I dunno. I kind of like Mayberry.

I’m no fan of government regulation but don’t really see much problem with gated communities that have community covenants as a condition for living there. Since most of us don’t know our neighbors anymore and because the actions of others affect us greatly, it’s not entirely unreasonable. If some yahoo moves in next door and paints his house purple with lime green trim, it detracts from everyone else’s enjoyment of their homes. And lowers their property value and makes it harder to sell their houses if they move.

There shouldn’t be any need to regulate things like how loud people play their stereos, when people cut their grass, and the like. But, unfortunately, there is a large chunk of society that just don’t give a damn about the impact they have on their neighbors. If I’m trying to enjoy my Sunday paper and cup of Joe, I don’t want to listen to some yahoo playing Iron Maiden at the maximum capacity of his car stereo system. And I like Iron Maiden.

Getting back to Mayberry: While Ernest T. Bass is an amusing character on television, I wouldn’t want him living next to me throwing rocks and just generally acting like a nut whenever he felt like it.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Steven says:

    Really, given that there is a great variety of places in which to live, one could live in places that have lots of rules, and places that do not.

    And I agree with James–there is a substantial difference between government regulating such behavior, and very local neighborhood associations doing so.

  2. joy says:

    I actually live in a neighborhood with houses painted purple and pink. Yes, I like it that way. (The houses are old and in various stages of renovation and are from the early 1900s to the 1950s with a few newer infill built ones.) Point is that funky house colors fit my older neighborhood. In McMansionville, I’m sure they would not.

    Anyway, about covenants, I ran into them when looking for a house, but they didn’t cover behavior as much as they covered rules about shared property (driveways, etc.)

    Personally, I would think long and hard about buying a house that is restricted by a covenant (a townhouse/condo would be another thing altogether though). I just think that having a covenant in and of itself scares away buyers.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Joy: I guess I would be scared away by a covenant that interfered with me but be enticed by one that worked to my advantage. Limited number of external house colors, no junk cars on the lawn, dogs on leash = good. Having to go to some community advisory board for permission to do anything = bad.