Where we live, we have a Homeowners Association. If you’ve ever heard of them, you know they can be nasty pieces of work. Many HoA greatly overstep their authority and do so at the risk of alienating their own community residents. Many States in the Americas have enacted laws that supersede the HoA “laws” to limit what they can’t do.
In my opinion, because I forgot to take out my trash one week (for example), no HoA should be able to fine my home to the point where they can lien it and even kick me out.
Fortunately, we don’t live in a neighborhood like this. Our HoA, while it’s there, is not the kind of Nazi-like HoA that enforces wild rules such as limiting the length of your grass or says we can’t have a mailbox that looks like a dolphin. (Spoiler, we don’t have one, but we could if we wanted!)
Unfortunately however, we live on a property that backs up to a (fairly large and incredibly deep) retention pond. The other unfortunate side effect is the people who live around me and in our neighborhood thought it would be fun to put fish into the pond so they can fish in it. This activity, fishing in the pond, is explicitly forbidden by the HoA. The waterline around the pond is actually their property.
For those who live along the water, like ourselves, our backyard and property ownership only extends to a tree line which circles the pond. After that tree line, the property (the ground, in this case) which runs from the tree to the waterline belongs to the Homeowners Association and their people. I’m not exactly sure how the title or deed works on it, but for those who live here that’s our understanding of it.
Fishing is an ancient practice that dates back to at least the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period (about 40,000 years ago). An Isotopic analysis of the remains of the Tianyuan man, a 40,000 year old modern-human from Eastern Asia showed he regularly consumed freshwater fish. To date, humans enjoy the sport of fishing and the career-choice of fishing, as many countries still heavily rely on harvesting food from Earth’s oceans.
In the beginning, the HoA asked residents who lived on the water to notify the Baker County Sheriff’s Office here in Macclenny, Florida if someone was on the HoA property fishing because of the immense safety and liability reasons. The pond is actually slightly over 100 feet deep. It slopes off REAL quick and not everyone knows how to swim. It would be a shame if a small child died and is truly an accident waiting to happen.
My family and I have continued this practice over the years. As the spring and summer ebb, so does the flow of people who have nothing better to do than fish in other people’s property. And we would notify the police.
That brings me to a week or so ago when there was a teenager out there fishing. I notified the police and was informed, “per the Captain, we don’t respond to people fishing in retention ponds unless the HoA itself calls and the individuals are committing a criminal act.” Okay, fine. They’re littering as well, and leaving their garbage in what is effectively our backyard.
Littering is illegal under Florida Statutes 403.413 – Florida Litter Law.
403.413 Florida Litter Law.
(4) DUMPING LITTER PROHIBITED.–Unless otherwise authorized by law or permit, it is unlawful for any person to dump litter in any manner or amount:
(a) In or on any public highway, road, street, alley, or thoroughfare, including any portion of the right-of-way thereof, or any other public lands, except in containers or areas lawfully provided therefor. When any litter is thrown or discarded from a motor vehicle, the operator or owner of the motor vehicle, or both, shall be deemed in violation of this section;
(b) In or on any freshwater lake, river, canal, or stream or tidal or coastal water of the state, including canals. When any litter is thrown or discarded from a boat, the operator or owner of the boat, or both, shall be deemed in violation of this section; or
(c) In or on any private property, unless prior consent of the owner has been given and unless the dumping of such litter by such person will not cause a public nuisance or otherwise be in violation of any other state or local law, rule, or regulation.
If you don’t believe me or think I’ve altered the text of the law, click here and open the text of the Law from the State Statutes.
Now, I won’t name any names on whom I spoke to at the Sheriff’s Office, but I did inform the Deputy they were leaving the garbage on private property and we are the ones who have to go out there and clean it up or face a fine from the HoA. Suffice to say, he didn’t care. Now, how “criminal” littering and trespassing are depends on your definition of criminal. Is it a felony? No. It’s still against the law though.
Fast forward a week or so. It’s 4:30 in the morning or something and our security cameras pickup someone in the driveway checking our vehicles and possibly looking to break in and burglarize/vandalize our property. Daytime comes and a Deputy turns up at our home requesting video footage from our cameras to help him/our local police agency as it turns out this suspect may have also broke into some other cars and stolen some stuff.
Normally, I don’t mind helping the police with their investigations. However, in this case, I had a bone to pick because I had to go outside, walk down a steep slope, and pickup someone else’s garbage a week or so ago because they didn’t wanna come out and do their job, which is to maintain the peace by enforcing laws on the books in Florida. In that case, ask people who are clearly on property that doesn’t belong to them and littering on said property, to kindly depart. Let me remind people, I’m physically disabled due to a back injury I suffered after a near death experience on a Cruise. Most days, I can barely walk to and from my home office, let alone to the mailbox. I’m in the process of getting a disabled tag for my vehicle because my condition is worsening so much.
So, I refused to give over the video footage and informed the Deputy by email because his agency did not respond to my request for aid, I will not respond to their request for aid. I believe in the fair exchange of services for goods, most of Earth’s major countries have an economy that is based on this principle, and they did not perform an adequate level of “service” for me on the day I phoned for help.
I figured I’d get a snarky reply, but not one that was literally an attempt at an insult to my intelligence. And from his superior, no less.
Since Florida also has a State Statue governing public records and the use of their Agency email to communicate with private citizens, such as myself, leaves them subject to the Public Record Statutes. I present to you, a partially redacted version of the individual’s message to me.
Why redacted? Well, in Florida, per the redaction guidelines from Florida’s DMS, you can’t publish email addresses or phone numbers, so I blurred them them out.
Below, my response:
Congrats Captain Crews! I’m pretty sure you would consider yourself to be a Christian, a “Man of God”. Is this how Jesus would want you to treat other people? Surely not.
Instead of attempting to attack the intelligence of people who are mentally, physically and emotionally disabled, such as myself, maybe you should defer your words and comments to the parts of to Bible about not casting the first stone and leaving it for God to judge people and just do your job.
My soul is clean Captain. Is yours?
This Fruit Loop