Neil Brooks

Years ago, I asked Linc Cummins why he and his colleagues pushed the idea of HOAs so hard.  What was their incentive and what were they thinking?  Linc is one of the three founders of CAI so he has been involved with building HOAs from the very beginning.  His answer surprised me.  He explained that we were becoming a more transient society and as we moved from one place to the next, we left behind friends and family and in the process lost our support systems.  He said he envisioned creating a “community” where people worked together, helped each other, became a family and formed that support network.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, the exact opposite seems to have happened.  Far from working together as a community, the HOA has created different classes of people, those with power and authority and those without.  Rather than community, we have “war zones” and instead of a network of support, we have a divided group of people living in a dysfunctional development.  

Neil Brooks joins us On the Commons.  Neil could be the poster child of what happens when this gang of neighborhood thugs band together against one of their neighbors.  Except Neil is one of many poster children across the country who have suffered unspeakable harm in a system with no checks and balances.  Instead of creating a sense of family who would support each other, Neil’s neighbors ganged up against him.  We learn about Neil’s disability and find out why he was not able to find the peace and quiet he needed to recuperate.  The problems with his neighbors exacerbated his medical problems.  He is currently facing a fairly grim future.  We talk about his experiences in particular and the problems in HOAs in general.  Can HOAs ever become the nurturing extended community Linc and friends envisioned all those years ago or are they destined to be dysfunctional enclaves to be avoided at all costs?  

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Dr. Bonner Cohen

Gone are the days when being a property owner meant having dominion over your property.  With the imposition of mandatory membership residential associations and the restrictive covenants that are attached to the deed,  homeowners have lost some of the most basic and fundamental rights of the use and enjoyment of their homes. Those restrictions range from something as basic and mundane as a choice of plants, to the approved shade of white for the interior window blinds to something a little more serious like having a fence to keep children and pets safe and even to having children and pets at all.  

Are restrictive covenants and neighborhood Nazis the only threat to a property owner’s right to ownership?

Dr. Bonner Cohen joins us On The Commons this week.  Dr. Cohen is a Senior Fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has had since 2002.  He is also a Senior Policy Analyst with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow;  and the author of The Green Wave.  Dr. Cohen takes us on a trip down memory lane and reminds us of the advantages and opportunities we enjoyed in the past and compares them to the way we live today. He explains how and why, slowly, very slowly,  rights,  education, health, wealth and the way we live have been adversely affected.  He very clearly helps us follow the laws, regulations and policies that have stripped us of things we once enjoyed and took for granted.  The changes were gradual, the results were by design and we never noticed them until they were here.  Is it too late or can we wrest control of our world back from the special interests?  

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