State senators voted Wednesday to ensure that if you like to hang your clothes out on the line you have a choice of new homes to buy.
Ditto parking your car on the street all night -- or even painting your house chartreuse.
The legislation prohibits cities and counties from requiring home builders to establish "planned communities'' as a condition of getting the requisite permits and zoning for a new development. Instead, that would be an option decided solely by the developer.
Nothing would preclude a requirement to ensure that residents in a subdivision contribute to maintaining common areas, walls or even privately owned streets.
But it would bar any mandate to set up homeowners associations with all of their rules about everything from parking to the size of flagpoles. More to the point, it means no one getting cited for putting the trash out too soon or leaving the garage door open all night.
The issue, according to Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, is choice -- a choice she said does not exist in some rapidly growing cities.
Nothing in what is now HB 2518 would preclude a developer from establishing a planned community, complete with an HOA board -- and all of the rules and regulations -- for buyers who want that kind of structure.
But Griffin said there have been complaints from would-be home buyers that many new developments have HOAs. That, she said, means those who want a new home in some communities have to accept the HOA or instead purchase an existing home in a development which does not have one.
"They just want the choice to live in an area without an HOA and live under those rules,'' she said.
Griffin said she and other lawmakers get complaints from those who have purchased a new home in a development with an HMO.
She said there are many people "who are not fully aware of what HOAs do, or can do.'' And they are surprised to find out when suddenly they're being cited for violating some rule.
"Some people have called and said, 'We have too many people that have too much time on their hands,' '' Griffin said, writing up citations and imposing fines.
"We've had complaints about people parking along the street or even in their driveways,'' she said, as some HOAs don't allow vehicles to be parked outside a garage.
"Some get tickets when they leave their garbage can out too long or they put it out too early,'' Griffin continued. "Or they have clothes hanging on a clothesline out in the backyard that other people can see.''
Griffin said if individuals have choices to buy homes in developments without HOAs that could eliminate what has been a pretty much perennial need of lawmakers to get involved in the fights between HOA boards and their members.
For example, it took state legislation more than a decade ago to rule that individual homeowners can fly the U.S. flag even if HOA rules preclude flagpoles. Then in 2006 the list was expanded to also permit flying a flag representing a branch of the military service, the state flag, a POW/MIA flag and the flag of any Arizona tribe.
And two years ago they added the Gadsden flag, the 18th century black-on-yellow flag with a coiled rattlesnake with the words "Don't Tread on Me,'' which has become a favorite tea party symbol.
Lawmakers also have been asked to wade in to other restrictions on everything from "for sale'' and political signs to whether a resident who works for a utility can leave his or her truck parked outside.