I know not everyone agrees with this, but as far as I can tell, life can be interesting, and the purpose of a Homeowners’ Association is to prevent any evidence of that fact from being demonstrated. At least that’s what I’m taking away from the situation with Tony Buzbee, his authentic WWII Sherman tank, and the HOA in his Houston, Texas neighborhood.
Buzbee is a well-to-do attorney with the sort of knocking-around money that allows him to spend $600,000 on one of the American tanks that landed at Normandy, and went on to liberate Paris and then roll in into Berlin to help end the European part of WWII. The tank is a significant piece of history, and appears to have been restored to a very high standard.
That tank that once helped to free Paris is now street-parked in front of his house on River Oaks Blvd. The neighborhood is very wealthy, and it’s not really that surprising that the HOA has a problem with a tank being parked on the street.
Though there’s no specific ordinance against the tank—which, to be fair, is fairly compact as far as tanks go and not a bad choice for a general-use city tank—the HOA is not having it and sent a stern letter to Buzbee to remove it.
The letter from the River Oaks Property Owners’ group calls the tank a “safety issue,” and suggests it “impedes traffic” and causes “serious concerns for neighbors.”
Let’s just think about these concerns really quickly here. As far as the tank being a ‘safety issue,’ I guess that’s possible in the sense that any obstacle near a road, like a tree or a parked car or a hydrant can be a ‘safety issue.’ But it’s not roaming the streets firing its main gun or anything like that.
As far as impeding traffic, it’s not really physically any different than a parked car on the road, which seems to be allowed, and the road has four lanes, with the different directions divided by a large median area, so at worst it’s bringing two lanes of same-direction traffic to one, for a bit, like any parked car.
Because it’s a tank, there may be some extra traffic from people coming to look at it, too. But it’s not causing a roadblock or anything like that. And, as far as the ‘serious concerns for neighbors,’ I’d just like to know what those are. Are they afraid this will open a floodgate and every neighbor will start to park WWII battle vehicles in front of their homes?
Are they concerned some local Nazis may be offended? Or that the Fourth Reich Lunar Base will spot the tank through their telescopes and decide that the River Oaks area is now a primary target for the particle beam they’ve been developing for all these decades?
Really, the problem is it’s a novel thing, and HOAs hate novelty. Neighborhood kids seem to like playing on it, and local news reports have found mostly positive responses to the tank from neighbors. Eventually, the tank will end up at Buzbee’s ranch, so it’s not even permanent.
Local TV station KHOU talked to Buzbee, who is remaining defiant, saying
“The problem is there is no action they can take. They can ticket it or they can try to tow it, but the truth is unless I decide to move it, it’s not going anywhere.”
I know all the usual arguments about property value and as a homeowner, I understand them in theory, but come on. This is a fascinating thing to have in a neighborhood, and as far as property value losses, I’m crying my eyes out for these poor million-and-billionaires just scraping by in that filthy Royal Oaks wealth-hole. I hope somehow they can make it through this national nightmare of having a well-maintained historical artifact nearby!
If only people would quit being distracted by whatever’s happening in Puerto Rico and somehow think about these poor bastards who occasionally have to see a perfectly-restored tank, we’d be much better off.
Look, fuck the HOA. If there’s anything less sympathetic than a regular HOA, it’s a very wealthy HOA, and that tank isn’t hurting anyone. Let the man have his tank for a while. You’ll get through this, HOA.