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.