The color of paint to use on the exterior of the building is actually one of the more benign issues the condo board deals with. “The Rules and Regulations of Building 51 of Harbor View Condominiums” (hereafter referred to as “The Rules and Regs.”) encompasses 237 pages of fine print, as well as a 68-page addendum. When combined, it covers all of the critical and not-so-critical issues for which the condo board has control. (The rules for conduct in the Clubhouse is a separate, but equally colossal, document.) When Mom and Dad were in the process of purchasing their condo, they received “The Rules and Regs.” at their home one weekend while I was visiting.
“What is that – the new phone book?” I asked Dad when he carried in a massive book with the morning mail.
“No, apparently it’s the rules we have to abide by once we become residents of Harbor View.”
“You’re kidding – how can they have that many rules for just 800 square feet of space?”
“I don’t know, but they do. And, wow, are these rules particular,” Dad said, skimming through the document. “Here’s one example – You shall not decorate the outside of your condo door with any ornaments or signs without the written permission of at least two members of the condo board. Exceptions to this rule include seasonal decorations under the size of 12 inches square which may be hung on your door for 30 days or less.”
“Better bring your measuring tape with you,” I replied.
That rule actually seemed to be one of the more lenient ones, as it allowed for an exception. The rules in and around the condo unit and the swimming pool area alone composed a full 105 pages of “The Rules and Regs.” These rules ranged from the maximum decibel level of your speaking voice outside the condo units to the length of the grass in the common area. Some of the more notable “Rules and Regs.” went something like this (as I remember them, anyway):
--You may not eat outside your condominium unit unless it is when you are in transit to another location. For example, you cannot hold a picnic outside your unit, but you may eat a sandwich if you are in the process of walking to another location, such as your car.
--When you are walking on the condo pathways, please keep a minimum speed of 2 miles per hour. If people walking at a faster pace are behind you, you must step to the right and let them pass. This rule only applies to those people walking without the aid of canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. Those using the above devices only need to keep up a speed of 1 mile per hour.
--You must be 55 to live in this development. If you are at least 55, and you have plastic surgery that makes you look younger than 55, it may result in the investigation of your qualifications to live in the development. If you are so vain enough to not be able to provide proof of your year of birth, you may be evicted from the condominium.
--You may not hang a clothesline or have a drying rack on the balcony or patio of your condo. If you must put clothes outside to dry, please hang undergarments out of the public’s view.
--No guests are permitted to use your unit while you are not there unless they have a signed and notarized written permission slip from you. Said guests must carry this permission slip on their person at all times while occupying the unit.
--If you use the swimming pool, you can swim laps or just relax in the pool. However, all splashes in and around the pool must be kept to a maximum of one foot high.
--If you have guests who are children, they may use the swimming pool. Exceptions include children who are wearing diapers. Children in diapers can be in the pool area but are not allowed in the swimming pool itself. If a Harbor View resident wears an adult diaper, he/she, however, is allowed to use the pool.
--All music played inside a unit must be turned down so that residents and guests outside the unit cannot hear it when they walk by. Unless that music is Frank Sinatra, in which case you can keep it at a volume loud enough for outsiders to enjoy, but not so loud as to disturb residents inside their units.
--When walking outside of your unit, even if it is just a quick trip to the mailbox, you must be fully clothed with outer garments. Bathing suits are only permitted if you are on the way to the pool. Pajamas, nightgowns, and housedresses are never permitted outside the condo unit.
--When you pass another resident in the street, be kind and say hello. This is a community of elderly folks, and there is a chance it might be that person’s last day in this world.
--Any sightings of any of the above violations will result in a $25 fine from the Building 51 Condo Board Association. If the fee is not paid within 30 days of violation…”
And so the list went on and on.
“Wow, it sounds like you’re going to be living in an occupied country,” I said to Dad.
“Yeah, and from what I’ve heard, some of the residents think it’s the last chance they will have to rule a country before they depart this earth,” Dad replied.