Banned in the USA

This essay for Cabinet's "Inventory" column inventories things that have been banned by homeowner associations in the US.



Project Team: 

Tobias Armborst, Daniel D'Oca, Georgeen Theodore, Riley Gold, Kathryn Sonnabend

Odds are, the people you live near are a little like you. In many ways, this is explainable by the fact that what’s comfortable is often what’s familiar; to the extent that you had a choice about where to live, it’s hardly surprising that you would chose to live where you thought you’d fit in in some way.

Normative implications aside, one question that interests us is: how does like-minded clustering happen? It’s one thing to desire to live near people like you, quite another to have the means to fulfil this desire. This article / illustration / poem, which was commissioned by the magazine Cabinet, looks at one too for creating like-minded communities, namely, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs): rules meant to protect the property values of units in a “Common Interest Development,” primarily through regulating the behavior of their residents (for example, by requiring them to cut their grass, or forbidding them from painting their houses green, or, to return to our earlier examples, by banning bright lights, the use of certain chemicals, or dogs).

The image and poem is composed of things that have been banned by CC&Rs in the United States. In order to see the strange obsessions and pet peeves of various communities, each stanza of the poem represents a different community.