The Failed Legacy of HOAs

guest blog by Deborah Goonan
Let’s not sugar-coat the truth about so-called planned communities.
Part of the reason that HOAs move toward obsolescence is because they are not, and never have been, true communities, in the sense of being created of, by, and for the people. HOAs have always been created by Developers, to protect their narrow set of interests at a certain point in time. 
The Tuscan Villa community from the early part of this century is about as desirable as the Brady Bunch house with avocado paneling and hideous wallpaper. The difference is that Brady Bunch era houses have usually been updated several times over the past 4 – 5 decades. 
The larger difference is that older, traditional neighborhoods have evolved naturally over time.  Small children become teens, that grow up and move out. Parents grow older. Eventually they sell and move elsewhere. But new young couples and families with children move in to take their place. The neighborhood includes several generations among its residents, each younger generation breathing new life into the neighborhood and adding its personal touch to homes, both inside and out. 
While it is true that some cities have done an abysmal job of maintaining a healthy economy, leading to blight in some cases, the vast, vast majority of American cities, towns, boroughs, townships, and counties continue to survive and thrive for many decades, even more than a century. 
The same cannot be said for HOAs and Condominiums. There has never been an attempt to create planned communities with lasting legacies. The purpose has always been to create exclusive (Balkanized?) enclaves with a particular theme or lifestyle, subject to the ever-changing whims of the market. The goal has always been to squeeze the maximum number of homes and profit onto available land. The architectural and landscape standards were created to keep the HOA or Condo in a perpetual mode of being “ready to show” to buyers. Like the pages of a slick real estate brochure. Just like cars, HOAs have a limited life span: planned obsolescence.  
Ah, but that creates new opportunities for redevelopment, does it not? 

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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.

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