Thursday, February 21, 2008

Starving the beast: A case history

I'm not a fan of homeowners' associations. To my eyes, they seem to include all of the bad aspects of government -- nosiness, intrusiveness, arbitrary rules, authoritarian leadership -- with even less of the already slight accountability and restraints on power that apply to formal government bodies. The last time we went house-hunting, my wife and I specified that we would not consider any property encumbered by an HOA, and we've set the same condition for our current house search.

But nobody makes you buy into an HOA. And, unlike governments, HOAs can't annex land and acquire unwilling new subjects the way governments can.

But that still leaves many people unhappy with the HOAs under which they live, just as many people are unhappy with local governments (which are much more difficult to escape). The Verde Village Property Owners Association, in Yavapai County, just outside Cottonwood, Arizona, is one somewhat typical HOA, in that many of its residents are unhappy with the rules it imposes on homeowners' enjoyment of their own property.

Unlike many HOAs, though, and completely unlike formal governments, the Verde Village Property Owners Association is an organization in which participation is voluntary. That doesn't mean mean obedience to the rules is voluntary; but payment of the annual dues that go to sustain the HOA, pay for the upkeep of common property and enable the organization to enforce rules is purely a matter of personal choice. And most people are opting out. Says the Verde Independent:

Only 200 families of the 3,800 property owners pay the meager $25 annual dues. That is not enough revenue to allow a large association to operate. ...

The organization also enforces the codes, covenants and restrictions. "The county doesn't have the time or money to do that. It is frustrating because people don't seem to want to be part of a community any more. More people are interested in avoiding their obligations than participating in the community," said Otterson. ...

But, as the regular income to the association dries up, so does the enforcement. The covenants will also expire in 2018.

Interesting ... So, when given the opportunity to choose whether to support their closest government body, the vast majority of people subject to its rule opt to starve it to death. That would be my choice, too, but I've never thought my views were representative of majority sentiment. On this one issue, anyway, apparently I'm more typical than I thought in my desire to put government out of my misery.

Wouldn't it be nice if the choice being exercised by most Verde Village Property Owners Association members was available to subjects of HOAs and formal governments everywhere?

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Blogger Jan said...

Yes, it would be exceeding nice if "the choice being exercised by most Verde Village Property Owners Association members was available to subjects of HOAs and formal governments everywhere?"

What we are all living in right now, all over the United States, is little dictatorships called "HOAs" or "common interest communities" (dictatorships by any other name are still dictatorships). It's time to get rid of HOA/common interest communities.

I hope to do that this year with a state of Colorado constitutional amendment abolishing all HOAs and common interest communities.

February 21, 2008 12:44 PM  
Blogger Ned Netterville said...

Render unto Caesar, you say?

Jesus, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but render unto God what is God's.

Inquisitor: "But Jesus, what is God's and what is Caesar's?"

Jesus, "What do the Scriptures say?"

IQ, "Ah, Psalms 24:1 says, "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it."

Jesus, "You have answered well my child."

IQ, "But what then is Caesar's?"

Jesus, "The rest is his."

IQ, "I don't get it."

Jesus, "Neither does Caesar. But don't feel bad, Christian-church scholars have misinterpreted these explicit words of mine for 17 centuries, ever since their church was enthralled by Rome and they began to receive a share in the booty. I told them they could only serve one master, but, nooo, they were loyal, patriotic citizens of the State. Even when their other master turned them into tax slaves they remained loyal subjects, if rather subjugated ones. There's just no accounting for the depth of stupidity among those who try to serve two masters."

February 29, 2008 9:51 PM  

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