TAMPA — Is someone in Westchase leaving trash cans outside? Is a neighbor parking a pest control truck in the driveway, lamely disguised with tape over the logo?
If so, beware. This famously regulated community could become even more so.
Homeowners have been asked to vote on 23 amendments to their covenants, codes and restrictions, commonly known as the deed restrictions. If 75 percent vote yes in a process that ends on June 9, the changes become law.
The idea is to tighten rules that contradict bylaws, guidelines, state and federal law; or are just too vague, said Carlos Quiroz, president of the Westchase Community Association.
"We felt that the best thing to do is to have the rules in such a way that everyone understands what it means, and that way it is easier to enforce," Quiroz , 76, said. "This is the will of the people. If the people want to have it that way, we will. If they don't, we won't."
Some matters are procedural, such as who qualifies as a voting member or when to form a nominating committee.
Others deal with the stuff of deed restriction disputes everywhere — the unsightly lawn, the nonconforming dog run, the guy who hasn't paid dues in more than two months.
Take basketball hoops, a frequent source of friction.
Current Westchase rules require users to store them out of view between dusk and dawn. Amended rules also would prevent homeowners from building any permanent sports structure — a trampoline, bicycle ramp, or basketball backboard — onto their homes.
Aware of Westchase's reputation for exacting standards, Quiroz said he wouldn't want to live anywhere else.
"I would love it if every community were like this, because all it means is that your property values would not decrease," he said. "One home that is not properly kept ruins a whole neighborhood."
Still, the rules and their enforcement can become tiresome.
"If you would poll 10 people here, I think nine would tell you they are too strict," said homeowner Casey Wilkening. "People certainly are not getting away with things."
Wilkening said he got a letter from the association the day after a contractor left a shipment of swimming pool pavers in front of his house, awaiting an inspection. "Any reasonable person would have known that the Wilkenings were putting a pool in their yard," he said.
The rules also speak to what happens if you don't pay your dues, or abandon your house to the elements.
Already, the association suspends tennis court and pool privilege for nonpayment. But that's just custom; an amendment officially endorses that practice.
New rules also would empower the association to fix up any house whose exterior — or lawn — falls into disrepair, then bill the owner.
Loopholes would be tightened in a ban against commercial vehicles parked outside. Specifically, the owners would not be allowed to cover up the logo, or that rogue ladder rack, with magnetic panels, tarpaulins or sheeting.
And speaking of logos, there is increased protection of the Westchase brand. Clubs and businesses already need permission from the community association before they can make use of the Westchase name.
That protection will now extend to the "W."
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 269-5307 or [email protected]