New Outrage! Homeowners Assn. Proposes Ban on Kids Playing

Hi Readers — Just be glad you don’t live in the Persimmon Place subdivision in Edgewater, Fla. The Homeowners Association (HOA) there is considering new rules that will ban children from playing outside.

I KNOW this sounds like a fantasy plot from one of the umpteen dystopian young adult novels out there, so let me quote from this report on

The HOA board said the proposed rule, which will carry a $100 fine for every violation, is all about safety. …

The proposal states that “minor children will be under the direct control of a responsible adult at all times,” and it would also ban the game of tag, skateboarding, Big Wheels, loud or obnoxious toys on “common property.” …

For now, the children can play outside without restriction, but the HOA board will meet with an attorney on Thursday, and the final rules and bylaws will be given to every resident before the April 27 vote.

The problem, defined by the Homeowners Assn., is a lack of open space in the 48-townhouse subdivision. So the kids  play on the driveways (oh! the horror!) and in the parking lot (which could be a fine or terrible idea, depending on its size and the number of cars there, etc. etc.). The point is: Kids DESERVE to play outside. It doesn’t even seem like it should be LEGAL to ban this, anymore than banning eating or sleeping.

But of course, it’s all about “safety,” the word that sneaks into so many debates, legitimately or not, and often stuns all common sense.

I hope the kids storm this meeting in their roller skates. It is time for a revolution. — L.

All these kids needed was a RAILING to play on.

Ho Ho HOA! A Happy Kids ‘n Homeowners Story!

Hi Readers! Here’s a nice story for a Sunday. Enjoy!

Dear Free-Range Kids: Due to a recent bankruptcy and divorce my four children (ages 6-14) and I moved from our home of 10 years (great neighborhood) into a small group of very upscale townhomes. We are renting. I didn’t see much evidence of children around the small complex and felt a little nervous that maybe my children’s rambunctious ways (truly just normal children) wouldn’t be appreciated.

You can imagine my delight when last week we had a beautiful, warm, sunny day and my three younger children (6, 9, 11) were outside in the common area making forts out of our old moving boxes, using sidewalk chalk, *and* using scissors (gasp!) to make “doors” and “windows” in the boxes so that they could build cardboard box houses.

They were having a great time, and a bunch of other children from this small community showed up to play with them.  I was a little nervous when the HOA president (no children by choice) and secretary (has children but is older & retired) happened by, but all they said was “looks like they’re having a great time!” and continued on their way.

My children & the neighborhood kids played like this for several days in a row.  Other than asking them to make sure they put the boxes back in the garage when they were finished, I gave them no specific instructions.

They had a BALL and met lots of new friends.  The best part? They spent hours & hours outside playing, running around and actually being CHILDREN.

I don’t know if we have a rare HOA that just happens to be child-friendly, but I did want to share a positive story about organized, mostly adult communities. Thank you for an amazing website & resource for those of us that want to allow children to be children for as long as they can. — Ms. A