The perils of the suburbs

So as you know …. we bought our house in THE SUBURBS. The “boonies of the boonies” as one of my friends described it.

This town is …. fairly white bread, vanilla, isolated in the grand scheme of Los-Angeles-area cities.

It’s safe, sure. And it’s affordable for us. But when every single 30-something woman owns a minivan with a kids’ soccer-league bumper sticker on the back you know what you’re in for, right?

So this house ….. is in a nice neighborhood. Nicer than we could afford, except this particular house was *apparently* a weed-growing facility, and then it was a rental, and then it was vacant for a year or so while the owner tried to short-sell it.

We bought it KNOWING it needed help (although, there were hidden issues that didn’t come up in the inspection, but that’s a different story altogether). We knew we’d have to redo the kitchen. We knew we’d have to replace all the flooring. We knew we’d have to landscape the front yard before 6 months passed.

We knew all that.

We also knew that our suburban town is very appearances-driven and a lot of the neighborhoods around here have ridiculously strict HOAs (we’re actually pretty lucky ours is low-key)….

But we were still surprised when, on May 23 – about 10 weeks after moving in to a house that had been vacant for a year, neglected and in need of some serious rehab – we got a letter from the city alleging we are a “public nuisance” for not having a landscaped front yard.

More or less.


First of all, that’s just rude. The value of this house can only go up, and us just living in it and making it decent has already helped out the home-value of the neighborhood and is not in any way a public nuisance.

What the letter from the city ACTUALLY said was we were being fined $50 for not having “permanently thriving and healthy vegetation” … hahahaha! Who even has that?

Reminder: This is what the front of our house looked like? Public nuisance, you think?

yardwork  009

So …. all that to say … on top of everything else we’ve had to deal with to make this place livable and help keep this neighborhood from falling into a downward spiral of foreclosed homes… we Andrew has to deal with this complaint against us with the city*

But, I guess that’s just one of the perils of living in the suburbs.

*Resolution: Andrew called and said there was no way we were paying the fine.
The guy assigned to our case was very understanding, but of course he needs to resolve this somehow.
Apparently the complaint originated from more than a year ago,
probably around when the previous owner just gave up on the house.

Since we did the landscaping we haven’t seen any other letters or threats-of-fining.

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  • Kim September 9, 2012, 7:36 pm

    We’re in ‘that kind’ of neighborhood too. Our neighbors are nice but they are the mini van, five kids type of people. We’re in a cul de sac, sandwiched in between two such households. I’m so grateful for our vanilla house but I get tired of it a lot. Our house has a similar history as yours. We’ve done a lot of work on it but it still needs a ton more.

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