When Contacting 311 Backfires: HOA & Gasoline Spill Turn a Resident Into a Pariah

One resident’s decision to call the non-emergency line for a gasoline spill spirals into a neighborhood feud, revealing the dark side of living in a Homeowners Association (HOA) community.

This tale unfolds the drama, backlash, and ethical dilemmas that come with community living, making you question the role of HOAs and the responsibilities and ethics of its residents.

Historic Building Amidst a Heatwave

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Image Credit: Sergey Maksimov/Shutterstock.

Imagine living in a historic building that’s been divided into eight units.

Now, add record-breaking temperatures to the mix, so high that even your air conditioning struggles to keep the indoors bearable.

This was the backdrop for a gasoline spill incident that spiraled into a neighborhood feud.

Gasoline Spill in Hallway

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Image Credit: SOORACHET KHEAWHOM/Shutterstock.

The smell of automobile-grade gasoline began to permeate the air.

A pressure washer and a can of gasoline were found in the common hallway, right under the only stairwell that serves as an exit.

To make matters worse, someone had tried to cover up the spill with two mattresses.

311 Call Fiasco

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Illustration. Image Credit: shurkin_son/Shutterstock.

Concerned about safety, a resident decided to call 311 for advice on cleaning up the gasoline spill.

The fire department arrived, not at the resident’s request but following the operator’s instructions. This led to a confrontation with a neighbor, who physically shoved the resident and demanded that the fire department leave.

The Pariah of the Building

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Shortly after, the HOA president chimed in, blaming the resident for potentially raising insurance rates if the Fire Marshall got involved.

The irony? The building’s fire extinguishers had expired, and no one seemed to care.

The resident who made the call was treated like a pariah. Despite trying to clarify that the call was made to seek advice and not to get anyone in trouble, the community chose to ignore them.

Ongoing Constructions

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Interestingly, the new condo owners, who were at the center of the incident, had been conducting construction for over seven months, despite only being licensed for drywall work. This adds another layer to the already complex ethical landscape.

Gasoline Leak Protocol: Safety, Legal, and Insurance Guidelines

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For a gasoline spill in a shared building, immediate action is crucial to ensure the safety of all residents and prevent potential hazards. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:

Control the Flow

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Depending on the severity of the spill, control the flow of gasoline. For minor spills, it might be as simple as shutting off a valve. In more severe cases, use the emergency shut-off switch to stop the flow of fuel to the affected area.

Ensure Safety

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Before attempting any cleanup, ensure your safety. Wear personal protection equipment (PPE) such as gloves, goggles, and a safety vest. Avoid any direct contact with the spilled gasoline.

Isolate the Area

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Use cones or tape to mark the affected area, keeping people and vehicles away. This step is crucial to prevent any accidental ignition sources from coming into contact with the gasoline.

Contain the Spill

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Use booms, blankets, or “pigs” from a spill kit to contain the gasoline and prevent it from spreading further, especially into drains or landscaping.

Clean Up

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Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Use absorbent materials from a spill kit to soak up the gasoline. Follow the instructions on the kit regarding how long to leave the absorbent in place. Once the spill is absorbed, collect the material and dispose of it properly.

Communicate

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Inform the necessary authorities, including the building management and, if required, local environmental agencies. It’s also essential to communicate with neighbors and other residents about the incident and the steps taken to address it.

Document the Incident

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Keep a record of the spill, including photographs, the actions taken, and any communications. This documentation can be crucial for insurance claims or if there are any disputes later on.

Responsibility for Repairs

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Image Credit: Yevhen Prozhyrko/Shutterstock.

Determining who is responsible for the repairs can be complex. It often depends on the condo association’s bylaws and local laws. For example, if you live in California, the Civil Code §4775[1] states that the owner is responsible for maintaining the “exclusive common area” while the Association is responsible for repairing and replacing the “exclusive common area.”

This means that if the gas pipes service only one unit, they belong to the unit exclusively, and the owner is responsible for maintenance.

However, the Association is responsible for repairs if the pipes are in a common area or service more than one unit.

Legal Action

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Image Credit: Virrage Images/Shutterstock.

If there is a dispute between the owner and the Association regarding the responsibility for repairs, it may be necessary to take legal action.

In some cases, the Association’s bylaws may require arbitration, while in others, it may be possible to sue the Association in court to enforce the bylaws.

Homeowner’s Insurance

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It is also advisable to check with your homeowner’s insurance to see if they cover the repairs and if they will fight the Association to pay what they are liable for.

It is always recommended to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities in such situations.

Living in an HOA community comes with its own set of challenges, as illustrated by this incident of a resident facing backlash for calling 311 during a gasoline leak. This highlights the importance of understanding one’s rights and responsibilities in a shared living space.

Additionally, being aware of the legal and insurance considerations when dealing with such emergencies is crucial.

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Sources

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Image Credit: Krakenimages.com/DepositPhotos.
  1. davis-stirling.com/HOME/Statutes/Civil-Code-4775#axzz2CR2ljirY

This article was produced and syndicated by Viral Chatter. It was inspired by this Reddit thread.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.