Monday, November 14, 2011

Does charity start at home or in the community next door that doesn't have a No Solicitation Rule?

Differences of opinion can and do arise when trying to interpret what territory rules really cover, particularly in light of a recent decision by a central Florida HOA to prohibit a resident Boy Scout from conducting the Scouts' annual food drive inside his own neighborhood. The HOA president opined that allowing the food drive, which would entail only leaving bags for nonperishables on people's doorsteps with no phone calls, knocks or really any human interaction, would violate the community's "No Solicitation" rule.

"If we open the door to one, we open the door to everything" the president is quoted as saying. "We take a very firm stance." However, not all owners in this 278-lot community agree and many are quite disturbed that a Boy Scout and his troop members living in the community cannot pursue a charitable purpose in the place they know best: home.

The first question that comes to mind is whether or not every resident sees a food drive as being a solicitation in the same vein as someone with a catalogue attempting to sell you something at your home. What about a child who is selling wrapping paper or candy for school? Most of us have gotten those knocks on our doors. Does it make a difference if it is a salesman who does not live in your community intruding on your otherwise peaceful day with a commercial pitch or the neighbor's child next door trying to fulfill a sales quota for a school fundraiser?

Like most other things in life, there is a sliding scale for nuisance so rules should be crafted with that in mind. Thankfully, many folks these days are still very charitable and there is no easier way to fulfill that obligation than inside their own communities by helping their neighbors. A "carve out" under the no solicitation rule for events like a food drive or school fundraisers might solve the problem. In fact, pass enough rules that have a disproportionate impact on families with young children who engage in these types of fundraisers and events and you might wind up with another problem: being seen as a not family-friendly neighborhood and possibly discriminatory in your intentions.

At the end of the day, boards must listen to their community needs. If I lived in this particular community, I'd like to see the board and members discuss at the next board or membership meeting whether the No Solicitation rule needs revising in light of divided community opinion over the food drive. As for the Board President who was standing firm, he advised the reporters who interviewed him that if the community didn't like his stance, they could "fire him".

What do you think? You can see the full video interview below, or by clicking on this link:

1 comment:

  1. I am of the opinion that president was a bit harsh of the boy scout.He should have been allowed to have event in his vicinity.If the association rules do not allow it then president is right but if its opposite he must authorize for this annual function.