Last week Able helped me untangle all the glitches with my Constant Contact account, and as soon as my message went out, I got a call from my good friend Jan Bergemann with more support. I love all the help we get from each other. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all will work with no problem today. And there is an excellent reason for that because you see this show with my good friend Dr. Wes Rocki is all about working together.
Dr. Wes Rocki joins us On The Commons this week, and he continues educating us on how to use our resources and inner energy to heal ourselves and keep us well. Conversations with Wes are always fascinating. This one is no exception. He says things like we are social creatures. Hard to argue with that. But then he adds, “We are all walking each other home.” By this, I understand that we are all in this together, and we need each other’s help.
Although we didn’t discuss how this affects HOA residents, the message is the same. We should be walking each other home, looking out for each other, and making sure our neighbors are OK. During a pandemic like this, we should be making sure our neighbors are OK and not worrying about how long they left their garage doors open or when they put their trash cans out. That is not a healthy way to live. Thank you, Wes, for teaching us to “walk each other home.” That is a great way to go back to a kinder, gentler lifestyle.
Is it just me, or do you agree that life would be so much easier if we managed to remember to keep things simple? I hope Constant Contact is reading this because their “improvements” have made things much more complicated for me! But that’s not why you are reading this promo; my message has more to do with your life in your own homes and neighborhoods than my frustrations with getting my promo out.
Caroline George joins us in a brand new show today, On The Commons. One of the things I love most about my friend, Caroline, is her ability to clearly and succinctly see the big picture and how she manages to fit the insanity that seems so unique to residential associations into everything else going on around us. Caroline explains just how R.A.s fit into the big picture. We also talk about some of the problems we face and some ideas on handling them without going to court. I share some actual stories to support her thoughts. It is always good to learn from those who went before us and succeeded brilliantly. I have some stories that will make you cheer.
Is it all about power or is money really at the root of all evil? Or is it a combination of both? I am of course taking about this notion of a fourth layer of government or, as they are more commonly referred to, mandatory membership homeowner associations. Whatever the reason for their proliferation, consumer choice is not one of them and consumer acceptance is a myth. Municipal mandates ensure a steady stream of tax free dollars flowing into the public coffers while power hungry board members are always on hand to enforce alleged rules and regulations. Let’s not forget the special interests behind the scenes orchestrating everything. For them it is definitely power, money and greed. So what is a homeowner to do once the honeymoon with their new house is over? They usually hit the internet and start searching for a friendly voice out there and the they do, they are like to find my guest.
Ward Lucas joins us On The Commons. Ward is an award winning TV anchor from Denver, Colorado who has the wonderful ability to see the humor in so many things including his own battles with his HOA. Now retired as an anchor, the heart of a journalist still beats hard in him. He first wrote a book called “Neighbors at War; The creepy case against your homeowners association. That was followed by a blog by the same name where he talks about some of the daily disasters in associations to grab the headlines. His second book is more of a personal story that allows the reader to glimpse the family life that has to be the reason for his wonderful sense of humor. Even the title is fun, “Get this Mother Published. The wacky world of a recovering army brat family”. And for all his fans, stay tuned because book 3 is in the works. We’ll talk about the books, his web site, some of the stories from his Neighbors at War book but mostly about what is happening in HOA land across the country. Tune in as we wander around the whacky world of controlled living, American Style.
Sometimes I think that anyone wanting to talk about HOAs or any association-controlled residential dwelling must learn to speak an entirely new language. And the saddest part is that we are dealing with our most basic needs, our home. No longer is it just four walls and a door, but now you have a whole series of legalize that has become part of your everyday life. Is this really necessary? Whatever happened to KISS? Keep it simple stupid? I got an email recently from a listener who wanted to know what a super-priority lien was. Fortunately for all of us, my guest is an attorney and someone who is more than able to help us understand liens and super-priority liens and all the other legal mumbo jumbo that’s become part and parcel of our homes.
Bill Davis, a Texas attorney and one of a few attorneys who will represent homeowners against their HOAs, joins us On The Commons. Knowing that Bill is probably one of the best people to explain what a super-priority lien is, I gladly toss the question to Bill and ask him to explain super-priority liens. Without blinking an eyelid, he not only explains it but expands on it, so we get the big picture of what’s going on. You need to listen to this show; it is your home and your money we are talking about.
They told us time and time again that residential associations, no matter what form, whether HOA, Condo or, coop, are there to protect our property values. By preventing our neighbor from doing something obscene like choosing the wrong shade of white for their window shades or keeping a garden hose in the front yard or, heaven forbid, having a red front door, we and our property values will be safe. Is it true? DO red front doors strip away our property values?
Nila Ridings, a former homeowner who bought a townhouse in a homeowners association for all the reasons one might voluntarily choose such a home, joins us On The Commons. Nila talks about all the reasons she chose the house she did and then takes us on a journey through her nightmare and fills us in on what went wrong. We’ll find out just how well her HOA-controlled property did when they foreclosed on her mortgage-free house and her retirement and savings accounts were depleted. She has made it her mission to warn other homeowners about the dangers lurking around every corner and tucked between every blade of grass in the uniformly cut and manicured lawns. Hear her story in her own words.
In a Kinder, gentler age neighbors knew and cared for each other. They formed what was known as a “community”. People could always count on their neighbors to lend a hand when needed.
And then along came homeowner associations and the focus shifted from being friends and neighbors to really strange and bizarre notions of protecting property values. Neighbors were taken out of neighborhoods leaving only the hoodlums roaming around looking for some reason to punish the “guy next door.” “Protecting property values” was the only justification they had. The hysteria about what would devalue property grew every year to the point that some legislators agreed to sponsor bills that would strip homeowners of the few property and personal rights they still had.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Frank Short. Frank, an attorney and staunch advocate for individual property rights tracks three of the worst of the terrible bills Virginia legislators agreed to carry for the special interests. The third bill, HB 791 (LeMunyon – Sickles) is currently being discussed in a specially appointed committee. The House appointees are the co-sponsors of the bill and one Del. who voted against it. The Senate appointees are equally lop sided with two pro and only Senator Chap Petersen who opposes the bill. Fairness doesn’t seem to be part of the equation. Let’s hope good prevails.
That there are problems in HOAs is a given, ask anyone, even some of the most ardent of HOA proponents will agree, there really and truly are problems. OK, so what next? Maybe starting at the begging. What if you were to ask 100 people what the problems are, experience has shown that you will get 200 very different answers. The reason is that everyone sees it from their personal perspective and their personal problem. This is an incredibly complex problem with so many moving parts to it that ” fixing” it has to start with a list of exactly what needs to be fixed, and that in and of itself will be a long list. But you have to start somewhere and the best starting point is discussing the issues openly, freely, honestly and fearlessly. Without that you’ll never get out of the starting gate.
Samuel Pilli joins us On The Commons. Sam and his colleagues have developed a website called Zonzon which allows homeowners in HOAs, condos, coops and other closed groups to communicate freely with each other. Sam believes this is the answer to all that ails HOAs. We will talk about his secure communication idea, discuss some of the other mitigating factors involved and find out how Zonzon might play a role in evening out the playing field.
A house is just a house, four walls and a door to keep the outside out and the inside in. It is simply a place where people live. A home, on the other hand, is a place where our affections are centered, where, to use an old cliché, the heart is. Sadly, we have gone from acquiring a house and making it our home to living in what is now known as a “unit”. The Dictionary defines a unit as “one of many”. There is nothing special about a “unit”. Nothing unique, nothing to distinguish it from all the others.
Notwithstanding the outer changes of our dwelling units, we still need to have a nesting place, a place all our own, a place that reflects who we are, a place that is safe and a place where we escape the outside world, even if just for a short while. In the homeowner association world that is taking over residential America, the concept of a home is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We now live in corporations where every aspect of daily life is kontrolled, where threats and sanctions are the norm and where fear seems to rule the day. Joining us On The Commons this week is Harry Flagle. Harry is a multi talented gent with a heart as big as they come. A composer and song writer, Harry wrote the lyrics and the music to our theme song, “One Way Ticket to Hell” and donated the song to the homeowners striving to maintain some semblance of sanity in their neighborhoods. He owns several patents and is an Emmy Award winner for some of his contributions to the film industry. We’ll ask Harry why he wrote One Way Ticket to Hell and what the reaction to the song has been and then we’ll join Harry on a delightful stroll down memory lane to a time when life was simpler and the unimaginable was possible.
Due to Inclement Weather, the Fairfax Public Access Offices have been closed this past week. This Show was first aired on MARCH 7, 2020.
Just when I thought that nothing in the condo/HOA world could ever shock or surprise me someone comes up with something that leaves me scratching my head and wondering if the entire world has gone stark raving mad. Is this just the latest out of the CAI book of allowing their members to increase their income without having to do much? Is it something that is happening just locally or is it more widespread than I realize? Where do condos/managers get their authority or is this a new trend that you should watch out for? I’d like to hear from you on this.
Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons. Caroline is a non practicing attorney, author of the book “The Dark Side” and a popular guest on the show. As usual Caroline likes to look at the big picture, see what is going on nationally, analyze the underlying reasons and causes and to provide us with a scenario that ties many aspects together. Today we talk about choirs, songs and general incivility and focus on the big picture. But we also talk about parking in condos and something that I have learned about 2 condos in Northern Virginia 20 miles apart. My daughter and grandson who recently moved back up from Florida rent condos, both have Florida license plates on their cars and both have been denied parking permits in their respective condos because of it. I have yet to find the authority for this practice. Have they been tasked by the State to enforce state statutes? County ordinances? What difference does it make to the condo where their license plates are from? They rent, pay exorbitant monthly rents but yet they are denied parking passes. In one case for the tenant, my grandson whose car was towed to the tune of $350. In my daughter’s case, she can park in her driveway but no permits for guests. I have not been able to visit either one of them because of the draconian parking rules and practices. Caroline and I talk about this and Caroline shares her thoughts on this situation.
What is in it for me? That is a question we often hear and in the case of mandatory membership HOAs, the answer depends on who is asking the question. In the case of local municipalities, the answer is “free tax dollars” by shunting their responsibilities onto the private sector they don’t have to maintain the infrastructure. For developers, they won’t have to satisfy local municipal building codes since municipalities will not be assuming maintenance of the infrastructure so can cut corners. For the homeowners? Absolutely Nothing! Nothing at all. However, the ever-helpful attorneys, for a fee, of course, make sure that the board members and the managers and committee members and whoever else has a position of power has plenty of enabling legislation to back them up and allow them to do pretty much as they please. And then the homeowners try to wrestle back some of the rights they once had and so the annual shuffle continues. This year is no exception.
Jan Bergemann, founder and president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice joins us On The Commons to discuss this year’s legislative agenda he is working on for Florida. It is always worth listening to what different states have done or are doing as the issues, problems and new bills magically seem to get duplicated around the country. (I wonder how that happens??) In a way this is the closest thing we have to a national homeowners’ organization. There have been some worthwhile ideas that have come out of Florida in the past and we look forward to following their lead in the future.