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To My Homeowners Association: Please Don’t Break My Daughter’s Heart

This is my front yard.

When you first look at this photo, what comes to your mind? A family lives here? Yes. It’s a nice safe neighborhood? Very much so. The landscaping needs a little work? Definitely. And, most importantly, do you imagine there are young children living in this house who take unbelievable joy in the simple luxury of playing outside in their yard? Well, you would be right.

Eight years ago, when my husband and I were newlyweds looking for a home in which to raise our future family, this vision of a front yard is exactly what we looked for. We studied neighborhoods in search of bikes and wagons and signs of young children at play. We analyzed front lawns for the perfect tree to which we could attach a future wooden swing. These were the types of front yards upon which our fondest childhood memories were built and we only hoped to provide our own children with the same innocent, unadulterated fun.

I now have two beautiful daughters; an eighteen-month-old and a kindergartner at Abby Reinke Elementary. Every day, after I pick up my eldest from school, I can barely pull the car in the driveway before she’s hopping out of the backseat, dropping her backpack, and running to her beloved swing. It’s just a piece of wood with a few drilled holes, suspended from a tree by some Home Depot rope but, to her, it’s the place where she spends most of her time. It’s where she waits for her friends to pull up in their own driveways, drop their backpacks and come running to get in line for their own chance to take a ride. It’s her meeting place, her clubhouse, of sorts, and now someone wants to take that all away.

Recently, my husband and I received a letter from the Paseo del Sol Homeowners Association Board of Directors, dated January 9th, 2015, stating that there was a vote held on December 1st and a new rule was adopted regarding “play equipment.” The rule reads as follows:

“Play equipment, including toys or bicycles, may not be stored in front yards, front porches, driveways, front sidewalks, or front patios. Swings of any kind are not permitted in front of the house, including hanging from tree branches. Swings must be removed when not in use.”

My heart sank. The very thought of explaining to my daughter that her most valued plaything, that homemade wooden swing, had to be removed. This isn’t something that can be easily clipped to a branch and removed at a moment’s notice. It is a permanent fixture of our home and if it comes down, it’s down for good.

Now, I realize it’s the job of the HOA to keep the neighborhood looking its best, but to issue this rule insinuates that they think our children’s playthings make us look somehow trashy and undesirable to future homebuyers whose opinions, I can only assume, are what the board is concerned with.

And I have no problem with the first part of the new rule. I can have my kids park their Power Wheels in the garage and I’ll make sure the bike helmets are absent from the middle of the yard when nobody is outside to use them. But that swing, the symbol of my daughter’s happiness, well, that’s not going anywhere.

I’m not trying to publicly shame the Paseo del Sol HOA Board of Directors but I am asking them to reconsider their decision on the swings. It was the wrong decision on behalf of all the young families, their neighbors, for whom they are expected to represent. Asking us to remove our swings is like asking us to remove everything those swings symbolize in our lives. In a world saturated with iPads, video games and childhood obesity, shouldn’t an HOA be fighting to preserve an outdoor lifestyle for our children?

For my readers, whether you live in Paseo del Sol, elsewhere in Temecula, or just feel that the board is in the wrong, I ask for your support in showing the Paseo del Sol Board of Directors that the family atmosphere that this photo represents is a coveted treasure; one that so many others envy and so wish to be a part of.

I am using this column as a form of online petition. If you agree with me that the swings should stay, please leave us a comment, sharing your thoughts, or just simply say “save the swings!” You can also post on our Facebook Page. No need to contact the HOA directly and I am definitely not looking to cause any chaos or concern. I will simply use your support to plead my case to the board. All I want to do is save the swing that means so much to my little girl.

Now, look at the picture of my front yard again and imagine it without the swings and the bike on the lawn. What happens to your view of the neighborhood now? What happens to those kids? The core family values that the City of Temecula has built itself upon seems to be stripped away, leaving nothing but a hollow, cookie-cutter tract house without warmth, without soul, and without children. Do you see what the HOA sees; undesirability or disarray? Neither do I.

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Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

Holly has been covering arts & entertainment in the Temecula Valley for as long as she has been a part of the community. She loves San Diego sports almost as much as she loves her family.

38 Comments

  1. leslie
    January 28, 2015 at 2:10 pm — Reply

    I think HOA’s can get very rediculous… While on one hand I see what areas we live in.. California cookie cutter homes which are closely watched by people that money gets paid to them on a monthly basis. They will very quickly tell you when THEY think you are out of line, and it’s just because there are a million and one rules to follow. They know all of them to a tea.
    On the other hand- If you were to live in a rural community or a country like atmosphere… you can do as you please on your own property with no one to tell you ANYTHING There would be no problem with the swing.
    The main reason why I always said I would do everything in my power to stay away from HOA’s is because I do not want to be told what to do and when and or how.
    So with that being said, do I think that it’s is bs that they want the swing to come down…yes.
    So ‘SAVE THE SWINGS’!
    Regards,
    Leslie

  2. Crystal Byrd
    January 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    I live in Paseo Del Sol, and while my youngest is now a teenager, the sight of that swing brings nothing but a smile to my face as I remember how much my own “babies” loved their swing when they were little! There is nothing ugly, distracting, trashy, or undesirable about that swing in your front yard. The HOA has the job of keeping the neighborhood looking well-manicured and of a certain caliber, but they’ve taken it a step too far and it’s going to end up looking sterile and non-inviting, like a home that looks model-home-perfect, but lacks the “lived-in” look that represents the love and life of the family raising their babies and pets in it. As a resident of Paseo Del Sol, I’d gladly sign my name to a petition that goes in front of the board.

  3. Heather Ahlberg
    January 28, 2015 at 2:27 pm — Reply

    I love it when I see kids play equipment spread all over the neighborhood! It brings happiness knowing that these kids are making memories as I did as a kid! They are not causing damage around the neighborhood they are enjoying life! I would rather live next door to you and open my door to a swing rather than the old beat up piece of junk car I get to open my door to everyday! So I say…Save the Swing!

  4. Tracey Bennett
    January 28, 2015 at 2:38 pm — Reply

    Very well written, and I agree with all of your points! Please Paseo HOA, SAVE THE SWINGS!!!

  5. Jessie Lawrence-Paugh
    January 28, 2015 at 3:15 pm — Reply

    Save the swings

  6. Julie Bussey
    January 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm — Reply

    I wholeheartedly agree!! Save the Swings!!

  7. Kalyn Gonzales
    January 28, 2015 at 4:24 pm — Reply

    I really do hope and pray you get to keep those swings up for your daughters you’ve got my vote

  8. Sarah
    January 28, 2015 at 4:41 pm — Reply

    Save the swings! It’s absolutely ridiculous that a swing fastened to a tree cannot remain in the front yard. Bikes? Helmets? Riding toys? Sure, when not in use they should be stored in the garage or back yard but it’s ludicrous to say a tree swing cannot remain. Good Luck to you!!!

  9. Brooke
    January 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm — Reply

    SAVE THE SWINGS!!!

  10. Veronica Simmons
    January 28, 2015 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    The rule actually contradicts itself. Saying you can’t swings in the front yard of any kind but then states remove when not in use.

  11. Saskia
    January 28, 2015 at 5:25 pm — Reply

    Great writing as always, Holly. Every child should have the opportunity to enjoy such a simple pleasure. Save the swings!!

  12. Amanda DiCianni
    January 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm — Reply

    Save the swings! We live in Paseo del Solaras well and hope you are successful. Please keep us updated!

  13. Grant
    January 28, 2015 at 6:44 pm — Reply

    We’ve lived in Paseo del Sol for over 10 years now. The HOA is the absolute worst part of the neighborhood. We went round and round with them for months over our home business b/c… gasp…. the fed ex truck came everyday (no joke). What cracks me up the most is that if you ever go to any of these vaunted HOA board members homes, you will find they themselves have multiple violations. But of course there’s different rules for them or so it seems.

    Keep that swing… it looks great! Oh and maybe run for the board next time?? Be great to have a real person on the board for a change!

  14. Yolanda
    January 28, 2015 at 7:17 pm — Reply

    Agreed!! Save the Swings!!

  15. Eric
    January 28, 2015 at 7:20 pm — Reply

    Save the swings!!!

  16. Nancy Coleman
    January 28, 2015 at 8:03 pm — Reply

    So they wouldn’t allow a hanging porch swing. Save the swings. And shame on them. It would be very sad if they don’t change the rules. Good luck to you and your neighbors.

  17. Jeremy
    January 28, 2015 at 8:24 pm — Reply

    Save the swings!

  18. Kat Pierce
    January 28, 2015 at 8:49 pm — Reply

    Thank you for writing this column Holly!!! We recently had a similar situation that first baffled me, then frustrated me and now just infuriates me! My children love nothing more than to play with their friends on our cul-de-sac. My husband and I go out every day after school to ride bikes, play games, and just enjoy the beautiful city in which we live. A few months ago we put a basketball hoop out in the driveway and every kid on our street was out there for hours laughing and playing. They couldn’t get enough of it! Every car the drove past slowed to a crawl with a smile on their face. After two, very fun, weeks we received a letter from the Redhawk HAO stating that portable hoops are not allowed to be placed in the front yards. I was shocked! None of our neighbors disapproved, the kids weren’t causing any harm or causing a disruption. Why? That is what I continue to ask myself. Why are we taking away the opportunity for our children to play, to be outside and to enjoy being kid! Kudos to you for taking a stand and for fighting for our kids!!!
    SAVE THE SWINGS!!!

    • Paula Maniscalco
      January 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm — Reply

      Sixteen years ago, an agent showed me eight homes for sale. I purchased one in Paloma del Sol because there were children playing in the street – basketball hoops and baseballs being thrown one to the other. I loved that sight. We are elderly owners who enjoy watching the children play in their own yards and the street where it is safe. I would vote to leave the swings in place.

  19. Deborah Cox Shields Uemura
    January 28, 2015 at 9:07 pm — Reply

    Before new rules are adopted or changed, the entire membership (home owners), are to be advised of changes and cast their vote on those changes. Boards may select how monies are used and approved for repairs, etc;
    But to add new rules on their own?

  20. Damon
    January 28, 2015 at 9:11 pm — Reply

    Very well written….

    Save the swings!

  21. Bradley Hyman
    January 28, 2015 at 10:06 pm — Reply

    I feel your emotion and don’t disagree with your thoughts.
    However, there is usually discussion period prior to new HOA rules being implemented and notifications sent out. Then there are forums within HOA meetings for homeowners to bring up concerns for discussion.
    Did you and your husband voice your concerns prior to the rule change, either at an HOA meeting or by contacting Board members or tour propert management?
    I have no connection to any HOA but I try to stay active and informed in my community, and it is often lamented that the HOA is unable to respond to homeowner concerns if they have never been made aware of those concerns.

  22. January 28, 2015 at 10:23 pm — Reply

    I agree as a Real Estate professional Paseo del Sol and the new HOA rules are just not in keeping with what makes Paseo Del Sol what it is……I show that neighborhood to young families with kids….Kids are safe here. Swings or kid’s toys in the front yard means kids are safe to play outside, in the front where other children can interact with them……that is what a community is. I’m sorry but kids are not always neat and tidy. if you want neat and tidy, There are plenty of gated communities that you could move to. Making families pretend that no one lives there is not in Paseo Del Sol’s best interest. This needs to change

  23. Jamie Kristine Enfield
    January 29, 2015 at 9:34 am — Reply

    save the swings! The homeowners from whom we bought our house chopped down the tree that was in our front yard but if it was still there you can bet there would be a swing in it!

  24. Jamie Kristine Enfield
    January 29, 2015 at 9:34 am — Reply

    save the swings! The homeowners from whom we bought our house chopped down the tree that was in our front yard but if it was still there you can bet there would be a swing in it!

  25. Nancy Spaulding
    January 29, 2015 at 10:00 am — Reply

    Save the Swing!

  26. Nancy Spaulding
    January 29, 2015 at 10:00 am — Reply

    Save the Swing!

  27. Sarah
    January 29, 2015 at 11:48 am — Reply

    I live in Paseo Del Sol and we received this letter. We have three kids that love to keep their bikes and scooters on the front porch because if they are in the garage ” they are too hard to get “. We always bring them up to the front door and tucked away at night. This rule is almost a personal assault to families! SAVE THE SWING!!!

  28. Karen Dorame
    January 29, 2015 at 4:18 pm — Reply

    I am planning to move to Temecula from Utah, where families are a priority. I will certainly avoid relocating to any area where the HOA has misguided concepts about family values, traditions and children that take delight in the simple joy of a front yard swing. Banning a swing only encourages spending hours inside on computer games or long excursions to the mall.

  29. January 30, 2015 at 9:04 am — Reply

    I think the Paseo Del Sol’s decision to outlaw swings and white wash (de-personalize) the neighborhoods is byproduct of our culture in general.

    One complaint (the minority) and everyone jumps to accomodate the minority who are offended.

    I’m a local mortgage lender (11 years) and also live in Paseo Del Sol as well. Personally, I have not had any major issues here….just minor things like wishing the doggy waste bag containers actually had bags in them.

    However, I can’t tell you how many people buy homes in the Temecula & Murrieta Valley without a full understanding of how much power an HOA can have over their life.

    I always advise my homebuyers to learn more about the HOA, but most get so caught up in the actual process of buying that it becomes an afterthought.

    I wish the HOA could put this issue to a vote for all the residents to voice an opinion.

  30. January 30, 2015 at 11:12 am — Reply

    Save the swings!

  31. Rodeena Ruby
    January 30, 2015 at 3:08 pm — Reply

    Save the swings. Let children enjoy their childhood.

  32. Dana
    February 20, 2015 at 4:39 pm — Reply

    save the swings

  33. Evan
    February 20, 2015 at 5:42 pm — Reply

    Save the swings!

  34. Stacey
    February 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm — Reply

    Save the swing

  35. Robin Timmons
    February 28, 2015 at 4:08 pm — Reply

    I don’t think the HOA is in compliance with by laws. You have rights they don’t want you to know about. Save the swings!

  36. Katie
    August 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm — Reply

    Hello-

    I would love to know what happened with this situation. My husband and I are facing the EXACT SAME issue at the moment. Please let me know how the outcome worked out!!! I am praying you were able to keep your swing!

    • August 3, 2017 at 12:45 pm — Reply

      I wish I had better news for you, Katie. We got so many responses from readers, both supportive and not-so-much (some extremely judgmental and cruel), but unfortunately we lost this fight. I hope you have better results and please keep us posted!

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