Monday, March 06, 2017

HOA critics: Proposed Missouri legislation won’t protect homeowners | The Kansas City Star

HOA critics: Proposed Missouri legislation won’t protect homeowners | The Kansas City Star: "Missouri homeowners longing for more accountability in their homeowners associations and protection from overzealous HOA boards may not find the answers they want in legislation recently proposed in the state House and Senate.

While proponents say the measures will safeguard homeowners and ensure that they know what they’re getting into when buying a home in an HOA, some homeowner advocates say the proposals — one is called the Missouri Homeowners’ Bill of Rights — are so watered down that they instead protect the $85 billion HOA industry."

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Toward the bottom the article notes that there is pending legislation in a number of states now. So are we in the middle of a new wave of attempts at HOA/condo reform?  There is a certain predictability to this. The people who identify themselves as "homeowner advocates" are opposed to anything CAI is for, but they don't have a well-defined counter-agenda of their own. They are divided between abolitionists who want to destroy the entire institution of common interest housing and reformers who think it can be made to work better.  That's why the outcome of these struggles is are almost always either CAI-backed bills that pass, or nothing at all passes.




29 comments:

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

“The people who identify themselves as ‘homeowner advocates’. . .don't have a well-defined counter-agenda of their own.”

They do have an agenda:

- promote their book
- talk about Area 21. Or is that Agenda 51? I can never keep my conspiracy theories straight.
- channel their inner Thomas Paine
- crow about their alleged accomplishments; such as promoting a “Homeowner Bill of Rights”, while demonstrating they have no idea what a “bill of rights” is.
- blog, Tweet, and like on F*c*book as though that’s going to change anything
- channel their inner Neville Chamberlain, and proclaim “We’ve achieved H.O.A. reform in our time” while home owners become more powerless than ever
- gaze at the lint in their navels

It's just no a constructive agenda. To this day, I’m still have no idea -- absolutely no idea! -- what it is these people want to accomplish. If there have been any concrete proposals put forth, their signal got lost in the noise.

I recall you saying, many years ago, something like “past efforts at H.O.A. reform failed because the people involved were more concerned with promoting themselves and making sure that they received credit rather than accomplishing any meaningful reform”. Unfortunately, that did not change the last time around, during the Housing Crisis and Great Recession. Nor will it change the next time around.

The war is over. We lost.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

“The people who identify themselves as ‘homeowner advocates’ are opposed to anything CAI is for, but they don't have a well-defined counter-agenda of their own.”

There’s an important lesson for whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement in the current efforts to repeal ObamaCare — regardless of one’s opinions about ObamaCare itself. Unfortunately, if there's one thing that whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement is good at, it's failing to learn lessons.

For the past seven years, Republicans complained about ObamaCare and called for its repeal. Now that they are in a position to do so, they are forced to hastily cobble together something that nobody likes, because they did’t have an alternative ready. They had seven years to plan for this moment! Even staunch ObamaCare opponents are calling the situation a “debacle”.

If your elected representative called you up today and asked “What do you want me to do about this H.O.A. situation? No, don’t give ma platitudes like ‘empower home owners’ or ’end abuse by HOAs’. Those are worthy goals, but I need a concrete proposal(s). Don’t worry about the legal language, I can have my staff fix that. Just give me something, an idea, that I can introduce as legislation”, what would your answer be?

Deborah Goonan said...

I fail to see how beating down consumer advocates is helpful. It's more like gloating for the industry that has billions of dollars and decades of a head start on institutionalizing their self-serving agenda.

Evan, with all due respect, I have yet to figure out what your agenda is. You seem to be opposed to privatization in general. Does that mean you would lean toward abolition of what you call "private governments?"

Association governance cannot be improved by so-called reform. Common interest communities are, by their nature, undemocratic. The basic structure is more akin to Communism, Fascism, or a dictatorship, depending on the size, location, and general demographics of the community.

The concept is socially and politically flawed. Instead of reform, what is needed is restructuring. The balance of power needs to shift to individual residents - property does not have rights, people have rights. And corporate entities are not real persons, though some legal and political experts seem to claim that to be the case. The rights of the people must override the rights of corporations! Consumers are supposed to drive markets, not the other way around.

By the way, this is not to say that some of the architectural and environmentally sustainable innovations in residential and community development are not worthwhile or beneficial. It is the governance and management of these built environments that does not work for the people or for the public interest, at least not with any stability or longevity.

And that is not to say that the folks who are OK with HOAs/condos/co-ops/mixed use, etc. should be forced to abandon them. Live and let live, so long as these communities do not inflict harm on their non-HOA neighbors. (and that sometimes occurs) Even CAI's own research indicates that only about one third of folks actively seek out community associations.

Therefore the rest of us should not be force fed this community lifestyle just to accommodate the insatiable needs industry and politicians for profit, a larger tax base, and power.

As for the self-promotion remarks made by Colorado HOA, no organization promotes itself more than CAI. In fact, you can add ULI to the list of self-promotion organizations. They are, after all, marketing their product, services, and political agendas on a daily basis. Many of the power houses on both of these board of trustees are CEOs of lucrative businesses and have become millionaires selling common interest and association governed communities to the consumer-taxpayer as well as our government officials at all levels.

Why is it OK for these industry organizations to promote themselves all day long, but yet none of those speaking for housing consumers are supposed to sell a book now and then? When CAI or ULI publish a book, it is viewed as creating legitimacy for their agenda. Why the double standard?

Most of us do not earn one thin dime in this endeavor.

Evan McKenzie said...

I am not a policy advocate. I am an academic. Sometimes I have an opinion on some fairly specific issue that is based on my research, and I state it, especially if somebody asks me what my opinion is. But I have never claimed to speak for anybody else. I have absolutely never claimed to speak for the nation's CID unit owners, although I certainly want to make things better for them. That's why,for example, I want to see association finances become more transparent and better regulated, so they will not become insolvent and wreck the personal finances of every owner. For those so-called advocates who want existing associations to fail financially, please don't claim that you care about the well-being of owners, because you don't. You have some other agenda going on. Poll the owners you claim to represent. Ask them if they want their association to become insolvent and see what they say.

There are two big problems with people making the claim to represent owners of HOA and condo units. First, the people who claim to be consumer advocates for HOA and condo owners are all self-appointed. There are tens of millions of people living in these units all over the country. How many of them are sending you membership dues in your HOA rights group? How do you compare with AARP, the Sierra Club, or the NRA, please?

Second, the core problem--the main reason your list of paying members is so small--is that the people who live in the nation's CIDs seem, so far, not to see themselves as a group with common economic or political interests. In other words, the people who comprise the group you claim to represent don't see themselves as members of any such group. I wish they did see themselves as a group, and I wish many more of them would join organizations that could be more effective in the policy process. Then we would presumably have a more robust discussion about public and private policies that affect CID owners and associations. That would probably be better for CID owners, vendors, and everybody else.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Deborah Goonan said… “corporate entities are not real persons, though some legal and political experts seem to claim that to be the case. The rights of the people must override the rights of corporations!”

The law says otherwise.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund did an excellent job of explaining this in their “Democracy School Online” videos, available at celdf.org/how-we-work/education/democracy-school/democracy-school-online/ . Even if you don’t agree with their tree-huggin’ hippy agenda, there are important lessons for whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement. But instead of learning from their mistakes, you seem hell-bent on repeating them.

In 2011 - 2012, the “Occupy” movement was able to mobilize thousands (tens of thousands? more?) in numerous cities across the U.S. over a period of several months. One of their primary grievances was the concept of “corporate personhood”. How did that work out for them?

How many home owners has whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement been able to mobilize?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie said… “There are tens of millions of people living in these units all over the country. How many of them are sending you membership dues in your HOA rights group? How do you compare with AARP, the Sierra Club, or the NRA, please?”

That’s a damn good point.

I’m a life member of both the National Rifle Association and its state affiliate, the Colorado State Shooting Association. Whenever there is proposed legislation affecting the rights of gun owners, I receive notice well ahead of time. Those groups do a very good job of keeping us up-to-date, including when and where the bills will be heard in committee and on the floor of the legislature. Should we wish to contact our representatives, or even appear in person to testify before the legislative committees, we know the who, what, when, where and how to do so.

By contrast, whenever there is legislation affecting owners and residents of H.O.A-burdened property, I usually have no idea until after it has been voted upon. Because there is no organization keeping us informed. Sure, I can scour through and decipher the publicly available legislative agenda, but I really don't have time for that. It's a lot of effort for very little (if any) return. I did spent several election cycles meeting my elected representatives -- my congress-critter now knows who I am, see twitter.com/jaredpolis/status/574659043995820034 -- to take some type of action (and hopefully take the lead), obviously without success.

Consider the following chart, which shows the percentage of Americans that are members of a particular group or demographic

00% member of NAACP (less than 1%)
01% * transgender
01% * bisexual
02% ** unauthorized foreigner (low est.)
02% ** gay or lesbian
02% ** member of National Rifle Association
04% **** LGBT (total) (Eugene Volokh, 07/15/2014) (Wikipedia)
05% ***** member of a labor union
06% ****** unauthorized foreigner (high est.)
12% ************ member of AARP
13% ************* black
14% ************** age 65 and over
15% *************** gun owner (low est.)
16% **************** Hispanic
20% ******************** governed by some type of H.O.A. corporation
23% *********************** baby boomers (b. 1946 - 1964, ages 53 - 71)
24% ************************ millennials (b. 1976 - 1994, ages 23 - 41)
25% ************************* gun owner (Washington Post, 10/15/2015)
25% ************************* perception of LGBT (Gallup, 05/21/2015)
26% ************************** age 55 and over
30% ****************************** gun owner (high est.)

Except for one, all of these groups have some type of collective representation among our public policy makers. It's worth noting that the LGBT rights movement has been so successful that Americans think 25% of the population is LGBT, when the actual figure is less than 4%. By contrast, whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement has been an utter failure.

Deborah Goonan said...

Well, Evan, like you, I am an educator or a watch dog, if you prefer. I do post blogs about various legislative proposals and critique those. I want my readers to see how selected HOA legislative proposals fare from start to finish. I want them to learn how to read between the lines, to see the issues from a consumer-homeowner perspective rather than with the spin crafted by the industry. I insert some common sense. I want readers to view HOA legislation with a critical eye -- who wrote the bill? What do the authors of the bill know about the issues? Are they savvy industry lobbyists with special interests or are they naive legislators writing legislation as a knee jerk reaction to complaints? Whose interests do the bill's authors and sponsors represent?


I cannot speak for other advocates, but as administrator of my blog, although I consider myself a consumer advocate, I have never claimed that I am representing or speaking for others. Rather, I seek to inform and provide analysis. I am promoting awareness where little currently exists. I seek to provoke thought and debate on the political and social issues affecting CIDs, and that is occurring on multiple forums.

Like you, I am not actively involved in an HOA rights group at this time.

I wish there were a viable group with leaders capable of organizing something along the lines of AARP for CID residents.

If you follow my blog, you will see that I am also in favor of increased transparency and fiscal responsibility in CIDs. I point out countless of examples of what happens when transparency and accountability are lacking. Again, the public is only starting to become aware that CIDs are not utopias, nor are they all sheltered havens for the rich and privileged class. Far from it.

I am not aware of any advocates that are actively hoping that CIDs will fail financially. That is certainly not my stance, nor the stance of any colleagues with whom I regularly communicate.

In fact, quite a few of us believe that many a community - and its owners and inhabitants - would be more financially stable with public governance vs. private governance, public-private partnerships, or collective governance. In other words, governed by rule of law under our Constitutional Republic vs. contract law, where the contracts are written primarily for the benefit of developers and other special interests that share in the profits from real estate development and management.

Expecting HOAs to engage in ethical and prudent collections processes, and not to abuse board or management powers to charge fines and fees is a matter of common sense, ultimately serving the greater public interest. Where are the caps on attorney fees and collection costs? Where are the limitations on the right to foreclose and even wipe out a first mortgage, over petty HOA restrictions or very small assessment delinquencies? There are virtually no limitations on the rules or the process, and that is by design of industry trade groups who make a great deal of money -- often more than they recover for the association.

I think that in order for existing CIDs to improve, there needs to be robust competition from alternative housing-community models that do NOT involve common interest, special development districts, or association governance. Without competition and a free market where buyers and owners can choose to avoid the liabilities of CIDs, there is no incentive for the industry that builds and promotes CIDs to make life better for homeowners and residents.

I DO agree with your observation that not many people see themselves as a constituent group with common interest - yet. But as more people find themselves in the crosshairs of their CID's overreach of power, and as more owners become embroiled in conflict with their neighbors over how to spend the money in their maturing or struggling CID, I expect that to change. None of these problems are going away. They are getting worse.




robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie said...“those so-called advocates who want existing associations to fail financially”

Who are these people you speak of?

Or, if you don’t want to name names, what policies are they advocating that would cause H.O.A. corporation to "become insolvent" and/or “wreck the personal finances of every owner”?

Shelly Marshall said...

Dr. McKenzie, I recently purchased your new book "Beyond Privatopia" and find it interesting and informative reading. I bought it as part of my literature search for an HOA case study I'm working on. You have been one of my heroes in the HOA industry because I read your work from the beginning of my HOA journey. Your work helped me understand the issues. I, like many "self-proclaimed" advocates, became interested in this dysfunctional industry after it invaded my life, property, and peace.

Although not an academic, I am a published researcher, and decidedly do want to help the CID people I "claim" to advocate for. I sent you an email a month or so ago regarding this and did not receive an answer. My email probably began with something like, "I am Shelly Marshall, an advocate for homeowners" and now I can see why you might not have wanted to bother to respond. But as an advocate, I am not "making the claim to represent owners" as you imply--nor does Deborah, or George, or David or Nila or Ward--some of the more well known advocates. We, well at least myself, "support or promote the interests of a cause or group" (Merriam-Webster on advocates) even though the group generally doesn't know it.

I'm surprised at your seeming disdain for the person attempting to improve the plight of the CID member. There is no Grand Poobah to anoint advocates, and by default we, who want to help, must be self-proclaimed.

I originally joined the CAI and their legislative action committee in order to gain information about being caught in an HOA nightmare. At first, I thought they were there to help owners. After some involvement, I began to see they were not for the owner at all (I could write another book about this and I just might)and that they were/are for making more money for their vendors, which is their job, after all. At that time I realized that the CAI was almost an enemy to the property owner and that began my journey as a self-proclaimed advocate.

In order to make a difference, someone has to begin somewhere. Even the CAI had humble beginnings. Dr. Gary Solomon was courageous in beginning his non-profit in Nevada. Marjorie Murray with the "Center for California Homeowner Association Law" has made the biggest strides--but the failure to cultivate dues paying members is something you are well familiar with--owners don't see themselves as a united group, for indeed they are not. This is a group of people that by the time they know they need us advocates (or by proxy some group to represent them) it's too late! They thought they were protected by the law, by the attorneys general, by some agency somewhere to enforce the constitutional rights they never realized they gave up when buying into an association.

(part two follows)

Shelly Marshall said...

These homeowners are shocked to find out there are precious few who will or can help them beyond breaking the bank in lawsuits (encouraged by the CAI vendors BTW). Even when they see their neighbors unfairly treated, they often remain silent, the "free riders" is what you call them. People move into Associations because they are sold a bill of goods that the Association will protect them and their property. It seldom occurs to them that they might need protection from their association.

Dues paying members? Once most people find out what an association really is, they sell, move and forget the whole damn thing. People won't support an industry they don't know they need. Seniors know they need an advocate (AARP) and gun owners (NRA) know there are people trying to shut them down. Homeowners? They think the association is their protection so why would they join another organization?

Dr. McKenzie--it's unfair to accuse those trying to help as not having a "well-defined counter-agenda of their own." I'm sorry but we do have well defined agendas and put much time, effort and money into implementing what we can. Dr. Solomon began putting up billboards coupled with copious information on the web trying to wake up owners; Dave Russell and George Staropoli have been actively engaged in challenging association laws in court that were and are unconstitutional; others have tried doing surveys for homeowners (taking into account how limited a survey can be); Marjorie helps write laws protecting California homeowner rights and gives workshops and lectures for interested parties. Advocates in Utah and Kansas go up against the CAI written legislation with little to no funds or resources--but they work at it--against David-vs-Goliath odds making tiny inroads here and there.

There are blogs, and books, meetings, and discussions, videos, workshops, along with semi-organized attempts to stop ineffective legislation and educate lobby-influenced representatives who haven't a clue.

Besides disseminating as much information as I can that may help the owner understand the crisis they are involved in, I have begun research so that it can be used to help legislators comprehend the state of affairs within these quasi governments. It's an uphill battle. I don't sit in an ivory tower and judge others who don't get something done in an industry that serves itself and not the ill-informed consumer.

It's discouraging to see someone of your stature look down on self-proclaimed homeowner advocates and belittle the cause. I am an advocate and I proudly proclaim it. Self-proclaim, no less. I am involved even though my platforms are limited. That doesn't make me less-than. You're viewed by some as an HOA icon. I had hoped for your support. I had hoped for your encouragement and if that is not forthcoming, I don't want your judgment on my humble but nonetheless qualified efforts to help.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Shelly Marshall said…but we do have well defined agendas”

Really? Because after having spent seven-or-so years involved in this issue, I still have no idea what that agenda is. After all that time, I never figured out exactly what people like you, Ward Lucas, George Staropoli, Shu Bartholomew, Nila Ridings, Deborah Goonan, Dave Russell, Gary Solomon, other names I’ve long since forgotten, etc., were actually trying to accomplish — if anything.


Dr. Solomon began putting up billboards coupled with copious information on the web trying to wake up owners

Yeah, I could write “copious” amounts of information about H.O.A. corporations. I’ve done it, too. But along the way, I learned that people’s attention spans are limited. I don’t mean this as a criticism of people, but simply a statement of fact. Unfortunately, activists (of all stripes, not just this issue) tend to look down upon “the people” for not being as well-informed and passionate about “the cause” as the activists are.

If all anybody wants to do is produce copious amounts of information to demonstrate how clever we are, then Mission Accomplished.

If you are trying to educate or persuade others, think about that scene in the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where Steve Martin tells John Candy “Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!” It was sound advice then, and still is.

But if you’re actually trying to influence public policy and effect meaningful change, then we failed. And are still failing. And will always continue to fail. If you want a picture of the future of housing in America, imagine the C.A.I.’s boot stamping on a home owner’s face — forever.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Deborah Goonan said…As for the self-promotion remarks made by Colorado HOA, no organization promotes itself more than CAI.” … “Why is it OK for these industry organizations to promote themselves all day long” … “Why the double standard?

Here’s an example of what’s wrong with a lot of H.O.A. reform blogging (emphasis added):

Research Proves HOA, Condo Fees Have Outpaced Rise In Home Prices. Why?
posted on March 16, 2017 by Deborah Goonan

I admit it. I am a bit of a research study wonk. So when I see a new study involving association governed communities, I read it carefully and with great interest.

I look at the methodology. I consult other research studies, as well as literally thousands of anecdotal reports archived on various media platforms.

Then I analyze all of that information and boil it down to the most important points to make it easy for the average reader to understand.


Notice that the first three paragraphs are about you. I don’t mean to single you out, as Ward Lucas, George Staropoli, and others, do this a lot, too. It’s just a recent example relevant to this discussion.

H.O.A reform advocates seem intent on making the issue more about themselves, or at least centered around themselves, than effecting any meaningful change. Perhaps Evan can chime in about whether or not this is the type of thing he's seen in past H.O.A. reform "movements".

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Shelly Marshall said…Dave Russell and George Staropoli have been actively engaged in challenging association laws in court that were and are unconstitutional

One of the points brought up by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund in their “Democracy School Online” videos was that although they were winning court cases, and being recognized and awarded by advocacy groups for doing so, the situation “on the ground’ continued to get worse. This was in part because their court victories were about procedural justice, rather than substantive justice.

It’s an important lesson that whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement seems intent on not learning.

Do you think owners and residents of H.O.A.-burdened property are better off today than they were, say, five years ago? How about ten or twenty years ago?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie said…There are tens of millions of people living in these units all over the country. How many of them are sending you membership dues in your HOA rights group?

You once told Shu something like, “There are sixty million people living in H.O.A.s. If every single one of them donated just one dollar per year, they could fund an organization that would dwarf C.A.I.” [“On the Commons”, about six or seven years ago].

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie posted…Toward the bottom the article notes that there is pending legislation in a number of states now. So are we in the middle of a new wave of attempts at HOA/condo reform? There is a certain predictability to this.” . . . “the outcome of these struggles is are almost always either CAI-backed bills that pass, or nothing at all passes.

In January 2017, Beanie Adolph wrote in an “Open Letter to Texas Legislators and Texas Homeowners” that Every legislative session, Texas legislators have to consider new HOA laws and work through numerous
committee meetings and panels. Why does this keep happening? Why has past legislation not resolved the HOA issue?
( hoareformcoalition.org ).

Think about that. "Every". "Legislative". "Session". ... and ... "Past". "Legislation". "Not". "Resolved". Why does anyone think that it is going to be different this time around? Or the next? In Texas or in any state?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Shelly Marshall said…It's discouraging to see someone of your stature look down on self-proclaimed homeowner advocates and belittle the cause”.

Maybe we should be discouraged. What did he say that is not true?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Shelly Marshall said…It's discouraging to see someone of your stature look down on self-proclaimed homeowner advocates and belittle the cause”.

Maybe we should be discouraged. What did he say that is not true?

Deborah Goonan said...

I don't know what your problem is, robet @ colorado. Your comments add nothing to the conversation, other than to offend and insult others for continuing to spread awareness and to educate readers and listeners. I will not waste my time responding directly to ad hominem attacks, because clearly, you do not appreciate or understand the purpose and communication style of blogging. That's ok. Plenty of others do.

Your goal seems to be to shift the discussion off course, by putting people on the defensive.

Deborah Goonan said...

Getting back to the subject of legislation and Reformers vs. Abolitionists....

It seems clear that adding MORE legislation is not the answer. That is especially true because we have an industry led by CAI and home builders-developers with millions of dollars to throw at lobbyists, to donate to political campaigns, and to pay for PR and advertising, including their own version of "news" releases. These special intersest organizations have government affairs committees and legislation action committees that monitor any and all legislative action, and they seek to kill or amend anything that they have not written themselves for their trade group's benefit.

Instead, perhaps we should be seeking to repeal some of the most harmful legislation - for example, how about repealing legislation that enables associations to fine and otherwise penalize owners following an unchecked kangaroo court process internal to the corporation board's whims? Or why not repeal the super priority lien for HOAs? Those are two obvious examples. These and other suggestions have been discussed.

I agree with Evan's comments elsewhere that there needs to be far more transparency in these corporate associations, and, for that matter, quite a few Developement Districts. Although, in my observation and experience living in Florida, there was generally more transparency with CDDs than HOAs, simply because CDDs are required to operate as any other unit of local government -- meetings and financial information open to the general public -- not just to the association members. The fact that local press and TV media can attend these meetings goes a long way to helping people behave. If Florida would stop granting unilateral control over CDDs to developers for 7-10 years, they would more closely resemble small town governments.

What's needed is structural change -- shifing governance of common interest communities from corporate-contract law suitable for private organizations to good old fashioned public government. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, just open everything up to public scrutiny. That is what has separated our traditionally Constitutional Republic from Communist, Fascist, and Dictatorial regimes for more than two centuries.

It appears that, in the eyes of some industry proponents, shifting from private to public equates to Abolition of the institution.

Can common interest communities ever work in conjunction with a public government? Yes, for some, but not without challenges. And this collective lifestyle does not suit all people. One can argue it does not even suit a majority of people, at least not in the US. And it might work only for a few years of a person's life.

Deborah Goonan said...

The most promising example I am aware of is cohousing - something proponents of cohousing refer to as "intentional living." That is because the community is relatively small (perhaps 30 homes), centered on the needs of the homeowners and residents (instead of the desires of the developer or the community association industry). They operate on consensus, without a board of directors, so there is no formal hierarchy. http://www.cohousing.org

It would not work for me personally, but I see no problem with allowing people to freely choose to live this way. Even the Amish do not force their children to remain with the community. When they are adolescents, they are free to explore the world outside their community and some do choose to leave permanently. Many do choose to remain Amish. It works for them because they were born into and raised in a self-sustaining, collective community AND because the people in the community make their own decisions -- no outside corporate real estate interests are pulling the strings and/or exploiting the most vulnerable among them.

Neither cohousing residents or members of the Amish community give one whit about property values. They are more concerned about community values or social values.

The problem with housing in the US now is that there is diminishing choice for homebuyers - and even tenants - to avoid collective, common interest living and the corporate association governance that almost always comes with the package. You want to reduce the number of problems and conflict in association governed and common interest communities -- then do not force feed this housing and community model to people who do not want it and are not suited for it. Give consumers REAL choices that are NOT condos, attached properties, and detached homes shoehorned into planned communities. Convince local planning board to approve modestly sized detached housing or attached townhouses that do not share common infrastructure. Build duplexes and fourplex housing, where one owner can become a small investor-landlord or provide affordable housing for extended family members. These are the kinds of things that need to be seriously discussed on a policy level.

Shelly Marshall said...

..." imagine the C.A.I.’s boot stamping on a home owner’s face — forever."

nuff said.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie wrote…They are divided between abolitionists who want to destroy the entire institution of common interest housing and reformers who think it can be made to work better”.

Since you are not an abolitionist, do you believe that “it can be made to work better”?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie wrote…They are divided between abolitionists who want to destroy the entire institution of common interest housing and reformers who think it can be made to work better”.


Robert Metcalf was the Treasurer of the Concord Crossing H.O.A. corporation (Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania) when he wrote his “Position Statement On Common Interest Developments” (PDF) about 10 years ago:

. . . “In my opinion because of the ‘Fatal Flaw’ the only true cure for the HOA epidemic is to completely abolish them. While this is certainly the most radical approach, actions like this are not unheard of. The Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s comes to mind.” . . .

. . . “Just as the brave people who were instrumental in the civil rights movement started as a small group of discontents, so it is with the anti CID movement. All one has to do is peruse the Internet to find an ever growing population of citizens who are tired of being subjected to this fraud. Make no mistake; this is as much a battle for civil rights as what occurred in the 1950s and 1960s. Most likely, events will occur in much the same manner, with relief initially coming primarily from the courts, as illustrated by the Twin Rivers decision. Ultimately however, legislation is the final solution, as it always has been. This is an important issue, affecting the quality of life for many on a day-to-day basis. ” (emphasis in original) . . .

Do you believe that Mr. Metcalf wanted “existing associations to fail financially” and “wreck the personal finances of every owner”?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Deborah Goonan said…how about repealing legislation that enables associations to fine and otherwise penalize owners following an unchecked kangaroo court process internal to the corporation board's whims?

Which accomplishes nothing if an H.O.A. corporation’s power to fine home owners derives from governing documents enforced as a contract, rather than from statute.

What is needed is legislation that prohibits an H.O.A. corporation’s power to fine home owners -- regardless of what the corporate documents say -- which is a different thing.

“Repeal” does not equal “prohibit”; a distinction that whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement often fails to grasp.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Deborah Goonan said…Neither cohousing residents or members of the Amish community give one whit about property values. They are more concerned about community values or social values.

So if your elected representative called you up and said, “Hey, we need to do something about this H.O.A. problem. I hear you’ve been thinking about this for a lot longer than I have. Do you have any ideas for legislation you want me to introduce?”, your answer would be a law to make everybody Amish?

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie wrote …The people who identify themselves as ‘homeowner advocates’ . . . don't have a well-defined counter-agenda of their own.

Here’s an exercise for the reader : Try to fit whatever it is you want to convey onto a single 8 1/2“ x 11” page. It can be background information, description of the problem, proposals for change, or a combination thereof. It doesn’t matter. Just try to fit it onto one page.

Why fit your sales pitch onto a single page? Because until you can hook people’s attention, they aren’t going to read your web site, nor give a damn about your really long (and often rambling and pointless) essays. Also, a single-page summary is useful for handing out at political functions (which is what I was doing at the time) and other events. My last attempt — three years ago — was two pages long. And that was with small print, small margins, and small spacing (you can read it here, 400 KB PDF). So I’m the first to admit that I failed my own litmus test.

While you can publish your single-page summary as an HTML web page, I also recommend saving and posting it as a PDF file, so it can be printed with original formatting. If you don’t have your own web site, upload the PDF document to Google Docs, Drop Box, or some other file sharing service and post a link to it here. Or maybe the good professor can create a separate post on this blog to collect these submissions?

PREDICTION: Writing this comment was a waste of time. Nobody will actually summarize their agenda onto a single page. I doubt they could if they tried.

Deborah Goonan said...

Robert, you must have a whole freezer full of red herrings.


Deborah Goonan said… “Neither cohousing residents or members of the Amish community give one whit about property values. They are more concerned about community values or social values.”


robeert @ colorado HOA said:
So if your elected representative called you up and said, “Hey, we need to do something about this H.O.A. problem. I hear you’ve been thinking about this for a lot longer than I have. Do you have any ideas for legislation you want me to introduce?”, your answer would be a law to make everybody Amish?

The point is that the values are all wrong. Instead of placing value on property, we need to be placing value on the people who reside in communities.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Evan McKenzie wrote …The people who identify themselves as ‘homeowner advocates’ . . . don't have a well-defined counter-agenda of their own.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said …Here’s an exercise for the reader : Try to fit whatever it is you want to convey onto a single 8 1/2” x 11” page. It can be background information, description of the problem, proposals for change, or a combination thereof. It doesn’t matter. Just try to fit it onto one page.

Here’s another suggestion: Imagine you’ve been invited to give a TED (or more likely, TEDx) talk on the subject. “What is a TEDx Talk? TEDx Talks are a showcase for speakers presenting well-formed ideas in under 18 minutes. If you haven’t seen a TEDx Talk, go to TED.com and watch at least one.” Film your talk and post it to YouTube, or some other web site.

PREDICTION: Whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement is incapable of “presenting well-formed ideas”. Nor producing and publishing any type of such presentation for viewing by a broader audience outside of their echo chamber.

robert @ colorado hoa . com said...

Deborah Goonan said…The point is that the values are all wrong. Instead of placing value on property, we need to be placing value on the people who reside in communities.

That’s a nice platitude, and I actually agree with you. But that’s not a well-defined agenda; it’s a vague and nebulous one.

Consider the current political climate; the Republican Party is openly pro-corporate and hostile to consumers, while the Democrat Party has become an amalgamation of grievance groups a lot more concerned with allowing men into women’s public restrooms than protecting the interests of owners and residents of H.O.A.-burdened housing.

Here in Colorado, the Legislative Declaration of the so-called "Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act" (C.C.I.O.A.) (H.B. 91-1292) (C.R.S. § 38-33.3-101 et seq) (see here) states

That the continuation of the economic prosperity of Colorado is dependent upon the strengthening of homeowner associations in common interest communities financially through the setting of budget guidelines, the creation of statutory assessment liens, the granting of six months’ lien priority, the facilitation of borrowing, and more certain powers in the association to sue on behalf of the owners and through enhancing the financial stability of associations by increasing the association’s powers to collect delinquent assessments, late charges, fines, and enforcement costs” [ C.R.S. § 38-33.3-102(1)(b) ].

It’s probably no coincidence that one of the prime sponsors of this law — way back in 1991 — was State Representative Mike Coffman (Republican, now a Congressman), who at the time also owned a property management company. Twenty-one years later, State Senator Morgan Carroll (Democrat) was quoted in the Denver Post saying that “touching HOA law is always a bit dicey around here,’ Carroll said of the vested interests surrounding the state’s HOA laws” (February 12, 2012. emphasis added).

What should whatever it is that calls itself an H.O.A. reform movement do to counter the entrenched interests of the H.O.A. industry? Simply gripe to our elected representatives about how “the values are all wrong”? I’ve been there and done that; it doesn’t work.