August 18, 2018

Don’t Blame it on British Petroleum!

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How clever you are, my dear. You never mean a single word you say. –Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Icebergs melting, polar bears drowning, desert city air dirtier by the day, peak oil here or near, and so the people bombard their political representatives demanding pollution-free renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Happily the state of Arizona responded to public outcries and is committed to achieving higher levels of renewable energy-powered electric power–up to 15 percent by 2025.

Predictably, crusaders for such breakthroughs are overjoyed. Daily, they tell members of the suspicious press that more and more leaders realize that the day of reckoning is at hand.

WAIT JUST A MINUTE!

After some midnight wanderings, a special Excentric Task Force has discovered a fly in the wine; an unexpected obstacle looms. It’s not Big Oil, but our own Homeowners Associations, the people who run them and the lawyers that create the CC&Rs.

Surely it comes as no news to all sophisticated Excentric readers that once you’ve moved into a development glued together by a homeowner’s association, you may run into people who, though they may be your neighbors, will enforce all sorts of cockamamie rules with the enthusiasm of a U.S. Marine Drill Sergeant. Some CC&Rs, for example, require that garages facing the street be painted white, and that drying laundry on an outdoor line is forbidden.

Truth be told, when Sedonans gripe about friction in the community, often it is caused not by the new mayor, but by fascistic acts between homeowners wrapped in the blanket of antiquated CC&Rs and enforced by stringy, weirdly-shaped, bored retirees who claim to be the so-called “architectural control committee.” Not long ago, here in our self-styled progressive village, one homeowner sued a neighbor who installed solar panels on his roof. He accused the neighbor of an unsightly practice which violated the CC&Rs. A lengthy litigation ensued.

Consider the tale of a friend of mine in a development not far away whose architectural control committee decided that she couldn’t have a wind turbine or solar panels.

She found her neighbors “beyond ignorant and closed minded. The future of this country and the world depends on forward thinking people willing to take risks needed to ensure a future existence for the generations to come.” Taking a deep breath she went on to say,  “We live in a desert state with limited water supplies…do my fellow homeowners understand that their electricity is mostly generated from WATER??? Wind and solar are the ways to go and we as a nation are quite retarded in this fact.”

Up and down the town she wandered, wondering whether she was a bit loony, being the only one actually becoming an agent of change. Amazingly, the city where my friend lives is mostly behind her, but some other lot-owners are against her.

As she asked in our secluded interview, “Who are the intelligent ones here? Is a wind turbine so ugly when you think of the good it does?” Her anger rising like dark monsoonal clouds about the Mogollon Rim she yelped into my tape recorder, “Shame on all of them! Are looks so important that they can overlook common sense? Why can’t they think about the good solar panels and wind towers can do? And one of the homeowners teaches environmental studies. Who are these people who say one thing and do another?”

As to the worry over the solar panels being seen from the road, she swears that her house impacts almost no one, being on a hill. Cries she, “I am sick and tired of being questioned when no one makes the owners of the old house nearby take their garbage cans in. And my new neighbors call themselves concerned citizens. Some even call themselves conservationists. How could they be so blind and ignorant?” Enraged, she engaged the services of a lawyer in the Salt River Valley. His advice: Do what you want. CC&Rs lack the power to stop you. The governor signed a law last year making that clear.

As for the solar panel lawsuit, the judge threw the case out and ordered restitution for legal fees and court costs of the solar man. Turns out CC&Rs are worth less than the paper they’re written on when it comes to creating a safer, cleaner future.

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