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Bad news in the Mueller HOA

Thanks to Marcus Sanford, I now have copies of two of the Mueller Homeowners' Association documents and they're not a pretty sight. Supposedly they're available through the Travis County Clerk Public Records site (search for instrument # 2004238007) but I don't see a link to downloadable copies, so I've mirrored them.

I've only looked through them briefly, but so far I've found the following probably contentious points in Exhibit X:

Section 2.11 Signs (PDF p. 14)
"No sign of any kind may be displayed to the public view on any Unit without the prior written approval of the New Construction Council" except for legal notices, for sale and for rent signs, and a "No Soliciting" sign no larger than 25 square inches. There is no exception for political signs, religious signs, or even yard sale signs.
Section 2.07: Maintenance (PDF pp. 11-12)
Requires "keeping lawn and garden areas alive, free of weeds, and in an attractive condition," a matter which is in the eye of the beholder, but which as interpreted by most suburban HOAs effectively bans wildflower meadows and a lot of vegetable gardening and xeriscaping techniques. Section 2.06 could easily be interpreted to prohibit composting as well.
Section 2.05 Animals (PDF p. 11)
Effectively bans outdoor cats.

I suspect there are many more. Matters like paint colors seem to be deferred to the "Design Guidelines". I can't tell whether that is the same as the Mueller Design Book prepared by Roma and dated November, 2004. The Mueller Design Book doesn't read like a set of hard rules (see disclaimers on its PDF p. 4) and defers specific choices about materials and treatments to the New Construction Committee (see PDF pp. 52-53). Does that mean that residents would get a list of approved paint colors from the NCC which would carry the force of law?

Beside the banning of signage and the vague language throughout Exhibit X requiring an "attractive condition", I don't see any references to other forms of expression such as art and flags. (A friend in Katy tells me that people there are circulating a petition door to door banning rainbow flags. I thought that couldn't possibly fly until I realized that perhaps they're asking the HOA to classify them as "signs".)

I couldn't find any reference to unmarried non-relatives living together (which would ban gay couples as well as straight people living in sin). I wouldn't be surprised if it's in there somewhere.

Jim Walker has made the point that how this all plays out will depend on what the community makes of it. Nevertheless, I'd be wary of building in harsh rules and trusting the community not to enforce them.

Where to go from here? Obviously we need to get these documents reviewed by as many people as possible as soon as possible. Then we need to figure out how to get Catellus to put them on hold while prospective residents can get organized to propose changes. The only forum I see for discussing this (other than the comments in my little blog!) is the Mueller Redevelopment group at Yahoo. I encourage anyone with an interest these issues or in Mueller in general to join that list.

Does anyone know a good dirt lawyer interested in pro bono neighborhood work? Or a city council member who might raise a fuss?

causes 2007.03.13 link