Ah, carefree condo living.
I could tell you about the condominium building that allows two dogs per unit, a rule neatly circumvented by a guy who walks his four pit bulls one pair at a time, denying that he's got a pack of the critters in his 600-square-foot studio. Or the woman who hangs her lingerie to dry on her balcony – which happens to be the one located smack over the building's front door. For every proud owner of one of Portland or Seattle's zillion new condos, there's one with a horror story.
Oregonian reporter Jeff Manning stands out in this state for his steady coverage of this issue in recent years, and his latest condo article is appropriately headlined: "If these walls could talk, they would quarrel." (The region's best writer on the subject is veteran Seattle Times writer Elizabeth Rhodes, who should be required reading for anyone even daydreaming about a home sale or purchase.)
Manning, in his usual no-nonsense style, zeroes in on the two big reasons condo life is so often contentious – short-sighted reluctance by residents to spend money beyond their purchase prices and no experience with communal living. He quotes two of the sharpest local experts:"The classic case of heartburn for any board is facing economic reality," said Rich Vial, a Tigard lawyer who for years has represented condo boards. "Everybody wants the services, but nobody wants to pay for them, whether it's building repairs, or keeping the lawns green, or having adequate security, or heating the lobby." Sharing walls "is a relatively new experience for a lot of Oregonians," said Jeff Belluschi, whose management firm helps run several area condo associations. "They're used to being lord of their castle and being able to do what they want to do. And, surprise, you can't do that anymore."
Manning's coverage again patiently reveals the key issue in all this condo combat–state regulations do not prescribe integrity for developers; logic, manners, intelligence or forward-thinking attitudes for owners.