The American dream is often described as a house in the suburbs, surrounded by a white picket fence, where the kids and pets play safely on a privately owned lawn instead of having to trek across town to go to a public park to kick a ball around. It was the personal and private space that people who lived in cramped urban centers craved. That dream was soon spoiled by the involuntary imposition of a homeowner association, where board members and managers spent their time watching every move, measuring every blade of grass, counting every plant and timing how long garage doors are left open. But in the early days, homeowners at least had the space they so desperately wanted. Well, things are changing, now homeowners are being herded like cattle into densely developed, shoddily built, dwelling units. No more space, no more autonomy, no more privately owned blades of grass or flowers and the HOA is ever present. This is what is referred to as “smart growth”. But just how well is it working for the residents? How does being packed in, one on top the other, contribute to a healthy and happy lifestyle?
Neil Brooks joins us On The Commons this week. Neil has experienced it all. The photo in this promo is an aerial view of the rooftops of Neil’s house and his three closest neighbors, built just a few years ago. This is what “smart growth” looks like. As you can see, there is next to no private space, and is as far from the notion of the American Dream as one can get. We’ll talk to Neil, find out how living in such close proximity to his neighbors has affected him and his health and we’ll learn how responsive the police have been when it came to enforcing local ordinances. Of course you will not be surprised to find out that the HOA isolated him instead of trying to help, while all his neighbors stood idly by, too afraid to come to his defense or say a word lest they get targeted. We’ve also heard about the physical violence that seems to be present every time someone makes a ripple in the status quo in HOAs. But that is not all there is to Neil’s story. Not by a long shot. There is so much more to his story and when you listen to his interview you will no doubt agree that he is the poster child of Dr. Gary Solomon’s dire predictions in his new book, hoacrisisinamerica.com . You can read Neil’s story on his web site The View from the Gulag here http://nbeener.blogspot.com