Monday, January 04, 2010

The HOA/CID Volunteer Fallacy

George K. Staropoli Author of Establishing the New HOA-land America - http://starman. com/starpub HOAGOV videos: http://youtube. com/hoagov Responds to the Berlind | Weil post titled “Why Won’t They Serve? Homeowners won’t volunteer for boards of directors of community associations another nail in the coffin? (

Berlind | Weil apologizing for the failures of the HOA legal scheme — as I read this article. There does appear to be some descent from the lofty ivory towers where the “philosopher kings” wear rose colored glasses. More and more of these legal-academic aristocrats are forced to admit to the reality before them.

Let me reply to a few of his 5 reasons:

Reason 1. Lack of awareness. “Many owners of property in common interest developments have little knowledge of the operation of the homeowners’ association. ” And why is that? Could it be the unclean hands of misrepresentation? The cooperation of state governments not to warn consumers of the dangers of HOA governance?

“They simply do not connect the operation of the association with anything in which they have a personal interest.” Perhaps because they were led to believe that they were just buying a home, not a stake in a corporation, as is now the trend in describing HOAs by their supporters, no more “care-free living” in a healthy and harmonious community”.

Reason 4. “Us vs. them.” Now, where did I hear that before? “They do not see a board member as simply a fellow owner volunteering his or her time, but rather an incompetent bureaucrat.” First, is “volunteers” a valid excuse for incompetence, or is it a defect in the legal scheme? Second, their incompetence speaks for itself. The Berlind answer: “But this should open the door to challenging an existing board member at the next election–not to providing more reasons for no one to run.” Oh, somewhere a competent persons will surface to make the HOA function as intended? And what about the adhesion contract covenants that do not make the HOA a true democracy, but a pretend democracy? When has a corporate form of governance, as admitted by the author, ever been described as democratic?

Then, the scare tactics follow in his discussion. “If the corporation cannot function because it has no members willing to be directors, the alternative is to seek assistance from the courts, often by petitioning the court for the appointment of a receiver, a very expensive proposition. . . . There is also an argument that the entire scheme of association operation and management—by volunteer owners—is essentially flawed . . . .”

And here comes a far-out rationalization in order to convince oneself that HOAs are democratic. Democracy needs volunteers! Say what? “I call these, and similar ideas the ‘de-democratization ‘ of community associations. That sounds bad, but what good is representative democracy if there is no representative? For the democratic volunteer management system to work, there have to be volunteers.”

Well, you need to descent further out of the ivory tower and face the world as it is, and then maybe you can supply workable solutions to solve the problems with HOAs over the past 45 years (since the publication of the HOA “bible, the Homes Association Handbook).

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