Are Cities Exploiting HOA Owners?

guest blog by Robert Frank, Colonel, USAF (Ret.)

Will Over-Taxing & Under-Maintaining Infrastructures Lead To Disasters?

Many cities claim to promote long-run ‘sustainability objectives’ following U.N. Agenda 21 policies. But, Homeowners Associations, CICs, CIDs, Condo Associations, acting as ‘private, quasi-governments’ wind up being over-taxed and under-maintained by cities.

The predicted results are windfall profits for industry and government, and failed CIDs. Is this yet another reason the HOA industry and local government is so hostile to those who question their policies and frequent overreaches?

We know that cities or counties charge the same property tax rates for all home owners. But, the costs to support HOA/Condo private property is much less than non-CIDs. This is particularly true in gated HOAs.

So, it can be reasonably argued that the local government organizations who dictate the requirements for CIDs and profit from receiving excessive taxes should either refund the surpluses to unit owners, or reserve the surpluses for future bailouts of failed CIDs.

Spending the surpluses for such unjustified things as vastly increased government worker salaries and pensions while the older CIDs are heading towards failure is unwise, selfish and immoral. This failing CID infrastructure situation for developments over 20 years old is well known.

Professor Evan McKenzie and others offer advice on CIDs to local governments and the industry. IMO those who create and highly profit from the terms, conditions and taxes created through the CID’s master plans cannot shed all responsibilities for helping to bail out failing CIDs.

We all want to avoid the kind of urban blight that happened (for somewhat different reasons) in Detroit, Michigan. But, CID common property structures seem to be designed to fail or require major (unaffordable) renovations within 20 to 50 years. This seems particularly true for gated CIDs and Condos. it seems that inventors and profiteers of such CID plans should be held at least partially responsible for enabling CIDs to sustain themselves over the long-run.

Is it not unreasonable, or at least unrealistic, to dump the total costs of common property replacement infrastructure on the backs of future unit owners using the almost unlimited power of CC&Rs during the last decades of structural life? What will that do to unit values in cities during those final decades?

As industry leaders have written, the future of CIDs is a predictable train wreck. If the HOA/Condo market is to be sustained, major changes are needed NOW in the master plans.

And, community planning is required NOW to build a balance of non-CIDs units where owners are individually responsible for their long-range planning?

Where are the better options? Industry and government demands for maintaining the “CID status quo” appears to be a formula for home owner disasters in our lifetimes!

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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

1 thought on “Are Cities Exploiting HOA Owners?

  1. Deborah Goonan

    It seems that the only “sustainability objective” is to maintain enough political power to continue to flow of tax dollars AND assessment dollars into the coffers of local government AND CID “leaders.”

    City and County officials insist that private CIDs pay for services in their own communities, yet they are more than happy to collect equivalent property taxes for services in non-CID parts. (Only in NJ do local governments offset property tax bills of CID owners that pay for road maintenance through assessments. But taxes in NJ remain among the highest in the nation.) CID Boards insist on keeping assessments low and thrive on denial. I just love it when the HOA engages in “window dressing,” such as planting new flowers at the entry, while the infrastructure crumbles. Then, when a major repair MUST be done, owners are hit with a special assessment.

    My grandmother used to describe this kind of behavior as “penny wise but pound foolish.”

    The irony is that, local governments who helped build this CID house of cards are increasingly forced to step in and clean up the mess, if they want to maintain any kind of tax revenue base.

    It is time for CID owners and residents to defend their rights and their bank accounts, by electing new leaders in all levels of government (starting with local and state officials) that truly represent the best interests of their constituents. We the people have to help ourselves by standing up to special corporate interests and political cronies.


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