Yes, it is true. I've requested membership in the dreaded CC&R Committee. After five years of receiving their mystic 'courtesy letters', this year we received 'da bomb': conform or pay a fine of between $10 to $40 per day, to be registered as a lien against your property.
The Committee wrote, "Yards need to be neatly landscaped, mowed, edged, weeded, watered and maintained in good condition on a regular basis. The standard this committee uses is the area around the School House." (FYI the School House is an historical reproduction, and is actually the community center of our neighborhood).
Every year, we weeded and trimmed. Evidently, not enough. This year, after "The Letter", we hired a landscape architect to redesign the the front yard. They removed two large, open trailer loads of debris after a crew spent two days trimming our trees, bushes and grounds. Hmmm. I guess we did let things get a bit out of hand. O.K. - so we were busy -- paint the house, install a new fence, weddings, funerals -- that sort of thing. And some back injuries and illnesses. But doesn't everyone.
So in another week, Landservices, Inc. (delightful and professional - highly recommend) will have completed our yard renovation. In the next couple of days I will find out if I'm the newest member of the CC&R Committee (or not). Among some of the things I hope to accomplish as a member of the committee: make a list of acceptable wild flowers for landscaping, and a list of those not acceptable (noxious spreading weeds), with pictures, to add to the currently somewhat vague guidelines. We tore out all our wildflowers, since we had no guidelines as to which were acceptable or not.
Property liens are very serious indeed. Community Associations across the country have foreclosed on homeowners who defied their guidelines on landscaping, and wildflowers have been a consistent point of dispute. Our property had the appearance of a natural forest setting, and every year people walking by complimented us on it. Our neighbors had not registered complaints, but the Committee let their voice be heard, and we have attempted to conform. Now our yard looks more like a manicured park than a forest. It is still an unusual landscape for our neighborhood, however it goes well with our house, which also has an unusual architecture.
We have reveled in the peace, quiet and security of this neighborhood for twenty-two years, and enjoyed the amenities of jogging paths, swimming pools and tennis courts. I wouldn't trade our location for absolute freedom to do whatever landscape I felt like doing, and if we ever move, we'll probably look for a similar community association.