Should This Purple Playground Structure Result in Jail Time?

Missouri parents are squaring off against their homeowners association.



Courtesy of John Ekdahl of Ace of Spades HQ comes this charming little story from a simpler America. An America in which people have nothing better to do than harass their neighbors for poor color choices.

Via UPI:

Marla Stout of Lee's Summit said her family put up a playset for their young daughters about two years ago and she painted the equipment purple to comply with requirements of the Raintree Lake Neighborhood Homeowner's Association [(HOA)].

"There's nothing in the rules about color," Stout told WDAF-TV. "What it says is it has to be harmonious with the community and with nature and there is nothing that dictates the color of the swing set."

Stout said she considered the purple color to be "harmonious" because it matches the color of the trees in the fall, but the homeowner's association disagreed.

Stout said she received a notice from the HOA last year saying they were being fined for not having the playground equipment and its color pre-approved, but they successfully appealed and had the fine thrown out.

However, the HOA sent further letters demanding the purple playground's removal.

"[The letters said] that if we didn't remove the swing set from the subdivision in a couple of weeks, we go to jail," Stout told KMBC-TV.

Another letter pledged the HOA's lawsuit would cost the family "greater than any principle you are trying to prove."

She said the HOA ignored a petition signed by more than a dozen neighbors saying they were not bothered by the equipment.

Indeed, a KNBC report features a neighbor who says he doesn't give a shit (I'm paraphrasing, watch below) about the structure or its color.

OK, by now all good libertarians are readying a logical and somewhat-convincing response to the Stout's troubles: You can just move. You agreed to live under the authoritah of the HOA when you moved into the neighborhood. So shaddup already.

There's more than a little truth to all that, but as Ekdahl wrote on Twitter in response to just that sort of response, "The 'rules' in this case are very vague and don't justify jail time." Things get even cloudier given that the Stouts apparently successfully appealed fines related to the construction of the swingset.

So where do you stand—or swing, in this case—dear Reason reader? If this was a regular city issuing such an order, I presume close to 100 percent agreement with the Stouts.

Given that this is an HOA that the family willingly bought into, does the dickish behavior of the authorities get more slack?

Or is this exactly the sort of sloppy push-pull by which change and revision happens at all levels of governance and contract?

Is this worthy of being considered for a Nanny of the Month? Speaking of which, enjoy: