In A Million Years, Never Thought I’d See This Happen

Colorado is a ‘cool’ state. The University of Colorado was named by Newsweek Magazine as the nation’s ultimate party school. People are healthy, alcohol abuse is low, but this is the first state that legalized recreational marijuana. There are hundreds of ‘maryjane’ stores all over the state.

In Colorado politics, as you can imagine, the heavy population centers are solid blue, the agricultural areas are red. And about the only thing that causes riots and tear gas battles is when crowds of young people are celebrating an end-of-season victory by the Broncos, the Nuggets or the Avalanche. On those nights, damage to store windows and police cars can run into the millions. A ‘cool’ state with an edge.

Our early history had an ugly side, it was the second home of the reconstituted KKK back when the Klan promised it was no longer opposed to the presence of the Negro race. Our history is checkered with 156 lynchings. Interestingly, the Klan only lasted about five or six years here before being run out of the state in the late 20s. And most of the lynchings were of white gold miners who’d gotten involved in fatal confrontations over bar girls, or the ownership of gold claims.

These days, Colorado is racially diverse and probably more tolerant than most other states. Here, we really recognize only two races, those who ski and those who don’t.

Oh, I should tell you there’s lots of population growth and private homes are being built by the hundreds of thousands. For many years, all new development has been in mandatory Homeowners Associations. As a result, we are the de facto “Homeowner Association Central” for the Western Plains. And HOA abuses here are legendary. Everything you see happening in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Texas is happening right here in Colorado. Some of the largest embezzlements from HOAs in history were right here in the Denver area. In fact, it was here that I first started to write my book, Neighbors At War!

Since our gun laws are pretty loose, and since HOA neighborhoods are so angry, we keep waiting for the first gun violence to break out during the annual HOA meeting. It hasn’t happened yet. With our cowboy mentality, it’s only a matter of time, I suppose.

Meanwhile, I was really stunned to see a new group arise which is trying to get some common sense laws past a legislature that can sometimes do some pretty stupid things. A press release on a proposed HOA law is linked below. The proposal makes so much sense that I predict another eruption from the folks at CAI (Community Associations Institute). The CAI knows our state well, and in the past they’ve screwed up some pretty good proposed legislation.

But see if you don’t think this proposal is based on common sense.

(link to HOA proposal in Colorado)


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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.

3 thoughts on “In A Million Years, Never Thought I’d See This Happen

  1. Deborah Goonan

    Yes, these sound like common sense policies. BUT…

    FL and other states that have judicial foreclosure and majority (or super majority) approval for amendments STILL HAVE PROBLEMS.

    That’s because there are so many ways to game the system. In FL we have the priority of payment schemes, robo-signing and foreclosure legal factories, representative and/or Master HOA voting schemes that put direct voting rights in the hands of a few, and the entire process of bulk-buying/developers retaining majority ownership in order to control a majority of votes!

    The parking issues and approvals for “minor” modifications are also problems here. FL is the poster child for how to operate abusive vehicle towing – inside and outside of the HOA setting.

    How will CO legislature define “minor modifications?” The devil is in the details!

    CAI will fight tooth and nail.

    1. S. Xavier

      Yes Deborah, I am glad you pointed that out because the devil is definitely in the details. When we started this campaign here in Colorado I don’t think anyone understood the true scope of HOA power and abuse. We have recently come to find out that in some common interest communities that residents are paying the HOA as well as the metropolitan district and the lines are very blurred as to who is providing what services. The metro district claims to have authority but they aren’t even subject to the CCIOA that we’re trying to amend to give homeowners more rights. To make a long story short we will never win this David vs. Goliath battle if everyone simply says that it cannot be done and will not support the front lines in any way. That being said, since this is a nationwide problem, we are now joining with other states and other homeowner advocates that have more knowledge, ideas, skills and weapons to bring to the fight. The CAI WILL fight tooth and nail and I’m sure you know that we don’t have a chance against them unless we unite into one massive front line, with the same objective in mind against a common enemy. Colorado voters wanted marijuana and they finally got what they wanted because in a free and democratic society the voter has all of the power. Other states took that blueprint and started to follow suit. I believe we can and will get this HOA thing fixed here in Colorado – it simply can’t be done by one person or one group however. With the firepower and support we are starting to get from other groups and other states we can mount one hell of an offensive that can give other states the hope they need to start to do the same – and you don’t even need to live in Colorado to support that offensive 🙂

      1. Deborah Goonan

        Good points! There is power in numbers, but also in learning from what works or does not work in other states.

        One obvious flaw with HOAs is allocating votes by property owned – the more you own, the more control you have. I have yet to find one advocate group that will push one vote per RESIDENT vs. one vote per unit. (Or proportional voting) They all say it’s a non-starter!

        The other obvious missing link is consistently enforceable accountability for Board, manager, or attorney misconduct or failure to adhere to fiduciary duty. Laws need to be upheld and enforced or they serve no purpose.

        And, of course, as you point out, there must be widespread support for reducing the authority of HOAs over the lives of its owners and residents.


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