Black’s Law Dictionary defines property in part as “…that which belongs exclusively to one.” It goes on to say; “In the strict legal sense, an aggregate of rights which are guaranteed and protected by the government.”
Oh baby, have we strayed a long way from that concept. In this brave new world of controlled living we appear to have turned the notion of rights guaranteed and protected by the government on its head.
On this show we normally focus on those rights as they pertain to involuntary membership HOAs and enabling legislation nibbling away at what little is left. But perhaps enemy #1 is the very entity charged with protecting those “aggregate rights” Black’s Law Dictionary talks about.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Martha Boneta. Martha is a farmer in Fauquier County, Virginia where she tends to her animals and grows vegetables, produces honey and shares her passion for farming and her love of the land with anyone and everyone who is willing to listen. It is no surprise then to learn that when a friend asked if she could host her daughter’s 10th birthday on the farm that Martha willingly agreed. The birthday girl and 7 of her best friends enjoyed a day playing with animals, making soap and picking fresh vegetables. But apparently not everyone thought this was such a wonderful idea because Martha soon heard from the county government, you know, the ones charged with protecting her “aggregate rights”. And that was the start of a 2 year nightmare. Not one to back down, Martha put the issues on the skyline, got the Martha Boneta Bill signed into law and had a lullaby written for her. You can hear it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKli-sieOi0&sns=em To hear her full story and the unbelievable abuses she endured, tune in.
Times they are a changing. Some of you may remember leaving your house or car unlocked, confident in the knowledge that when you returned, everything would be just as you left it. In this wonderful, brave new world of controlled living, barricading your doors, windows and vehicles is no guarantee that you won’t be fleeced, especially if you live in one the nation’s 325,000 HOAs where expenses, charges, assessments, fines, fees and dues just keep rolling in.
One such “expense” is called a transfer fee. A transfer fee is a fee, usually charged by the management company to “transfer” the sellers name out of their computer system and replace it with the buyers name when a house sells in the development. This is the same management company that has been hired by the association to manage the affairs of the association, maintain the books and records and oversee the contracts.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Stan Hrincevich. Stan lives in Colorado in an HOA and when he ran across something called a transfer fee, he did some research and what he discovered did not please him in the least so he decided to do something about it. He spent the last couple of years working on legislation to ban them, or at least cap them in Colorado. He set up a web site, www.coloradohoaforum.com , found some sympathetic legislators to carry his bill, rallied the homeowners in his State and could almost taste the bubbles in his Champaign glass. He was so close to victory – or so he thought. Before you pop the cork on your bottle to help Stan and his fellow Coloradans celebrate, tune to find out what happened.
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.
Homeowners in the country’s almost 325,000 HOA controlled developments have been getting “threat letters” for years from the association or the association lawyers regarding some of the stupidest complaints. How on earth does a dusty mailbox, a cracked flower pot, one rose bush too many, a pudgy pooch or cream colored window coverings instead of eggshell white ones adversely affect property values? The greatest value one derives from being a homeowner is the ability to do as one pleases in one’s own home. But for 63 million American homeowners who live in controlled kommunities , it is a value that is nonexistent.
Being on the receiving end of such ridiculous violation notices causes stress, which, as we all know can lead to serious illnesses. Dr Gary Solomon has coined the phrase “The HOA Syndrome” to describe this set of illnesses.
However, I am told that laughter is the best medicine so this week we take a break from the horrors and have some fun.
Joining us On The Commons this week is Greg Dorchak. The multitalented Greg is an award winning actor, a film producer and director, a cartoonist, a stand-up comedian and writer from Austin, Texas. When Greg had his first run in with his HOA, he took care of the complaint then started talking to his neighbors. Being naturally funny, he found the humor in all of the HOA lunacy and the idea for “The Code Enforcer” was born. You can watch the teaser here: vimeo.com/79266134 . Greg’s website is www.classclownpictures.com Be sure to check it out.