Stupid, Stupid HOA Board Members! Just Stupid!

The four board members of the Twin Creek South Estate Homeowners Association may be among the stupidest people on Planet Earth. These knuckle dragging hominids in San Ramon, California might even qualify for the infamous annual “Darwin Award.” Their collective IQ points could easily be totaled up on one hand.

California is in the midst of a drought so bad that smaller communities are now running completely out of water. Many Californians are paying big sums of money for water brought in by truck from other states. Reservoirs are bone dry. Aquifers are drying up or becoming too saline to use. The collective weight of trillions of gallons of missing water has actually caused land along the San Andreas Fault to rise significantly triggering swarms of thousands of mini-earthquakes. The Legislature and Governor have had to enact a law forbidding Homeowners Associations from fining residents who don’t keep their lawns green. More food crops are grown in California than in any other state, but those crops are no longer being shipped to the nation’s grocery stores. That’s why you’re seeing record prices on store shelves across the country.

Yet the Twin Creek South HOA board members have the unmitigated gall to assess monthly fines against a homeowner who tried to create a drought resistant lawn.

When a KGO-ABC news crew tried to talk to these board members they refused to comment.

Of course they did. They’re too stupid to put three words together in a coherent sentence.

“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” -Robert A. Heinlein

(link to KGO news story on HOA fines)

 

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About

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.

14 thoughts on “Stupid, Stupid HOA Board Members! Just Stupid!

  1. robert

    > Their collective IQ points could
    > easily be totaled up on one hand.

    You’re giving them way too much credit, because you can count to 31 on one hand using binary math.

    Reply
  2. Deborah Goonan

    This is another case where the HOA has picky but arbitrary rules about landscaping. What is their rationale that 25% of the front landscape has to be green grass?

    The sad part is that the owner, because she intentionally blew off the 25% green requirement, will probably not prevail in this case.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Neighbors At War | Madison Hill H.O.A.

  4. Deborah Goonan

    California is the exception in this instance. For once, the state government took action to override a harmful HOA policy. That does not happen often enough.

    What I cannot understand is why there are so many politicians and talking heads that deem it OK for HOAs to make up rules — no matter how arbitrary, how unjust, or how unreasonable — under the premise that owners who don’t like the rules can either easily change them or move out?

    HUH?

    Neither option- changing the rules or moving out — is easy! Moving out may be easier than changing the rules in your mandatory HOA, but if you’re under water — as many are– or if you are not in a position to move because of your health, your employment, or other personal reasons, you’re stuck.

    But that misses the point. Why should a person have to MOVE to escape tyranny, abuse, or abject stupidity?

    Is American society saying that HOAs need not be obliged to adhere to the rule of law, bound by our Constitution?

    Are HOAs not expected to have any moral conscience? Must they merely function as faceless corporate cogs in the real estate industry?

    Why do our State officials support the “rights” of HOA Boards — the face of the corporate interests — to enact policy that strips Americans of THEIR rights?

    How many of these Legislators, Governors, Judges that “craft,” enact, enforce, and adjudicate the HOA and related corporate statutes actually LIVE in a mandatory HOA? Have they ever? Will they ever?

    And how many of our elected officials, and the CAI lobbyists, OWN properties in HOAs and Condominiums as investments?

    I think the answers are obvious.

    Let’s hope that we see more State Governors and Attorney Generals stand up for the rights of the People instead of HOA Special Interests.

    Reply
    1. HollyHOA

      Deborah’s comment “But that misses the point. Why should a person have to MOVE to escape tyranny, abuse, or abject stupidity?” hits very close to home. Even when you know what the documents say, and you follow them, the owner-bullies force you to follow the documents the way the owner-bullies interpret them. There is no easy, low cost method to refute them or fight them. You’re stuck. Live it with, move, or spend tons of money defending yourself. Once you go the route of spending tons of money, you will never be left alone. How could anyone in the justice system think that this is okay?

      I believe there are more HOA’s with owner-bullies than developer-bullies. Most developers want to build their homes and communities, make money, and get the #$%* out of their development. A homeowner has a much better chance of doing want they want to do with their home when a developer is in control.

      Even when you know what the HOA documents say, it’s much easier to reason with a developer than the owner-bullies. The developer wants to keep making money and doesn’t need the bad press. The owner-bullies don’t care: they are in the positions they have because they want to be, and not usually for profit motives.

      Reply
      1. Deborah Goonan

        Holly, there are some very controlling, unreasonable developers. Google “Metrowest Orlando” for one example. Owners just paid over $2 Million to buy out Developer’s interest.

        There are also cases where the developer remains in control even after turnover. Golf communities or Mixed Use communities are prime examples, where the Developer retains financial interests in the amenities or commercial business, and also retains special rights as business owner in the CC&Rs. Often the manager of the country club or a restaurant remain on the Board, as a way to convince the Board to enact policies or allocate funds in ways that promote the for-profit businesses.

        Sometimes the developer arranges for an affiliate to remain on the Board post turnover, in order to shield the developer from construction defect claims. I recently blogged about this circumstance, and referenced a specific case. (Conflicts of Interest Abound in HOAs)

        Golf communities in Florida are notorious for very strict enforcement of aesthetic and architectural standards. Many CC&Rs state that even BACK yards viewable from the golf course must adhere to rules of appearance. I am aware of cases where the developer would not allow certain types of play structures for children IN THE BACK YARD, and where another developer-country club owner fined an owner for displaying a Wounded Warrior flag in the back yard. The recent Florida story about the HOA reversing itself on display of religious statues also involved a Developer-controlled Association, as does the Larry Murphree case of the flag in the flower pot by Del Webb.

        I hear what you are saying about post-turnover owner Boards on power trips. That can be a problem, too, and usually very personal. But Developers are not necessarily more reasonable.

        Reply
  5. robert

    > Are HOAs not expected to have any moral conscience?

    No, they are not.

    There is an entire ideology that celebrates “corporate sociopathy” as a virtue; i.e., it’s a good thing that corporations have the rights of persons, but do not (and should not) have any sense of conscience, empathy, or morality. The corporation’s only moral obligation, they say, is to return maximum value to the shareholders.

    In the case of non-profit H.O.A. corporations, the “shareholders” are not the home owners (who are the corporation’s product), but the for-profit property management companies and for-profit law firms.

    Reply
    1. Deborah Goonan

      Or the “shareholders” may be the developer, affiliates of the developer, or a small group of investors that own a substantial share of the units.

      Every horror story or troubling case summary I review shows a high correlation between Associations with a small number of members that own multiple units OR where one or more Board members have a financial interest in the recreational amenities or commercial property.

      That is part and parcel of corporate culture: acquire as many shares as possible to gain control or at least a bigger piece of the pie.

      Reply
      1. robert

        > Every horror story or troubling case summary
        > I review shows a high correlation between
        > Associations with a small number of members
        > that own multiple units OR where one or more
        > Board members have a financial interest in
        > the recreational amenities or commercial property.

        Really? I’m surprised to see you say that. Because I can think of a lot of horror stories that have nothing to do with “with a small number of members that own multiple units OR where one or more Board members have a financial interest in the recreational amenities or commercial property.” I would even go so far to say that most of them don’t involve the financial interest of board members, but rather the financial interests of the management companies and attorneys, who profit by creating strife and conflict, charging junk fines and junk fees to the home owners.

        As Evan McKenzie told ABC’s 20/20 back on April 19 2002 :

        “What’s really driving this is the dynamics of these collection lawyers who are just out to generate fees and to sell these houses off as fast as they can.”

        I don’t think that motive has changed in the past 12 years.

        Reply
        1. Deborah Goonan

          Robert, I do not disagree with you and McKenzie regarding legal practices of collection lawyers, or, for that matter, Managers who routinely refer accounts for collection.

          But is it not the Board that signs contracts with Management companies and attorneys? The Board can either hand over carte blanche operational control to these professionals, or they can take an active role in either promoting or moderating rule enforcement and collection processes. The Board is ultimately responsible for oversight of Management services and Attorneys, although at times, unscrupulous professionals can dupe Board members with their “expertise.”

          Quite often, Board members just so happen to own many units or a financial interest in privately-owned club amenities or commercial businesses tied to the HOA. Next time I blog on such an example, I will be sure to point out that red flag in the news report. Of course, the most egregious example of this is playing out in FL right now, with bulk buyers acquiring multiple condo units for the express purpose of taking control of the Board and voting for dissolution and redevelopment – all on terms advantageous to investors, of course.

          CAI estimates 30-40% of Associations are self-managed, meaning they may or may not hire bookkeeping or legal services as needed. I have read of more than a few instances where one Board member appoints him or herself as the manager of the purse strings, writing all the checks, with no other member checking the bank statements. In one FL HOA, a husband and wife developer team made up two thirds of the post-turnover Board (a relative was the third Board member) and self-managed. Big surprise, lots of money went missing, and owners grew suspicious. It took a few years to launch a formal criminal investigation, remove and replace the Board. Most of the money siphoned off to the developer/Board shell corporations will never be recovered.

          Reply
    2. robert

      In 2007 — seven years ago — Robert Metlcalf, who was the Treasurer of the Concord Crossing H.O.A. corproation in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, wrote “Position Statement On Common Interest Developments” (PDF). In it, he described H.O.A. corporations as

      a systematic infusion of corporate culture and governance into the domestic lives of an ever larger share of the American population. Who wants to live at work?”

      (emphasis in original)

      See also Jane Morris’s “Help! I’ve Been Colonized And Can’t Get Up…“, originally published in the Earth First! Journal back in 1998. Whether or not you agree with her tree-huggin’ hippy agenda, the entire article — which is about the structure of law which favors corporations — is applicable to H.O.A. home owner activism.

      Our campaigns follow the gambling addiction model. The last bet didn’t pay off but the next one might if… if… if we just had a new, improved tripod, three more experts, more labor or church support, ten more elected officials on our side, a hundred more people at the demo, or a thousand more letters in the mail…. Who are we kidding? We are just doing the “same old thing” over and over again and fooling ourselves that it might work next time.

      We are stuck in a feedback loop where our failures are interpreted as signs that we should repeat our failed tactics, but try harder. This is what it is to be colonized. The telltale sign is not that we’re failing, but that we’re fooling ourselves, and don’t see it as a feedback loop.
      . . .
      Corporate strategy aims to increase the power that corporations have over people. That means that when a single corporation gets a victory, it helps all other corporations, too. They are all stronger, they all have more power, and the people have less.
      . . .
      I’m pretty tired of working on campaigns that will not only fail, but fail in predictable ways.
      . . .
      So what do people do while hiding behind the corporate shield? The short version is that they write a script for us, and we follow it. Then they write a script for themselves, and we don’t even read it.

      A big part of the script written for us involves Regulatory Law (including environmental and administrative law). It assumes that corporations have the rights of constitutional “persons.”

      It outlines procedures for what We the People can do (not much); what government can do (a little more); and what corporations can do (a lot).

      At regulatory agencies, corporate “persons” (that is, corporations) have constitutional rights to due process and equal protection that human persons, affected citizens, do not have. For non-corporate human citizens there’s a “Democracy Theme Park” where we can pull levers on voting machines and talk into microphones at hearings. But don’t worry, they’re not connected to anything and nobody’s listening ‘cept us.

      What Regulatory Law regulates is citizen input, not corporate behavior. So when we cooperate in regulatory law proceedings, we are following the script that corporation representatives wrote for us. We’re either colonized, or we’re collaborators. That the regulatory agencies fail to protect the public is clear. Why they fail is another matter.

      Reply
  6. Cynthia

    Thank you, Deborah. I could not have said it better! the sad part is that some judges, I believe, know exactly what they are doing when ignoring the laws in favor of the abuses and criminality of these despots. Denying one’s rights and due process due to gender, and/or favoritism of a “friend,” to continue the abuses and generation of legal fees, fines and whatever else they can make up, “payable,” of these HOA board members and their associates!
    It is despicable!

    Reply

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