Update: Osceola delegation denies HOA residents’ third request to make Poinciana a city

guest blog by Deborah Goonan

A few months ago I blogged about a very large Florida HOA with over 45,000 residents, and the fact that a homeowner’s group (PINCHOS) has been trying for three years to incorporate as a city. In all, Poinciana has nearly 60,000 residents. Under the latest proposal, roughly 47,000 live within boundaries that were to create a new municipality.

News reports indicate that Osceola County Legislative Delegation vote was split 2-2, along party lines on the matter, with two representatives not present at the time the vote was taken. A Department of Revenue report, based on a feasibility study, has concluded that Poinciana meets the financial requirements of a city, and stands to take in millions in revenue if it incorporates as a municipality.

At the hearing conducted last month, the delegation reportedly heard from residents both in favor of the proposal and opposed. Those opposed fear that becoming a city would lead to a tax increase, despite a feasibility study’s conclusion to the contrary.  Debate on the finer points has been put on hold for yet another year.

One of the reasons PINCHOS is in favor of municipal incorporation: typical of large HOAs, Poinciana is divided into 9 Villages, and the President of each Village Board serves on the Master HOA. Property owners elect the Master Board, but many of those owners are not actually residents of Poinciana. Meanwhile tenants have no voting rights to elect their leaders. That’s equivalent to taxation without representation! Predictably, the HOA Developer and the Board spoke against Poinciana becoming a city at the Delegation meeting.

According to another recent television news report, Poinciana has been struggling with crime and vandalism. Because they don’t have City status, they cannot have their own police department. Therefore the HOA has decided to spend $100,000 on increasing security staff and adding security cameras.

Keith Laytham, spokesperson for the owners’ group in favor of municipal incorporation says his group will continue to work with State Rep. John Cortes to put Poinciana on the map as a city in its own right.

(Bay News 9 article on controversy) 

(Orlando Sentinel article on Poinciana)

(Letter to Ledger.com from a Keith Laytham)

(WFTV video, Poinciana HOA to spend $100,000 on increased security)

(Previous blog about Poinciana, and why many residents want to create their own city)

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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.

4 thoughts on “Update: Osceola delegation denies HOA residents’ third request to make Poinciana a city

  1. Tom Dee

    One has no rights today. If they get city status they get the courts judges as employees. Think of traffic court with the ability to fine you for everything. One solution to crime in Hoa is to require board members actually live in the development.

    1. Ward Lucas Post author

      Hi Tom. There are some other things we should think about. A board member gets only one two year term every ten years. Or how about this? All board members and property managers must agree in writing that they will proactively accept a ten year prison term if they’re ever caught taking kickbacks, being involved in bribery, or embezzling? Too radical? We need to radically change the HOA system.

      1. Deborah Goonan

        Ward, I think those are good ideas.

        Here’s another. Remove the HOA’s right to fine, lien, and foreclose. If an owner becomes a problem, let the HOA file a formal complaint in the appropriate court and ask a Judge to decide if a penalty is warranted based upon local ordinances, and what that penalty should be. Institute penalties against the HOA and/or Board members that bring frivolous claims to the court. I guarantee we would see very little nonsense with this system in place.

        How about a state review of all CC&Rs and Board-enacted Rules?

        Or allowing HOA membership to be Voluntary rather than Mandatory?

        Better yet — just avoid creating HOAs in the first place.

        In the case of Poinciana, if Florida ever allows the creation of a municipality (it’s just a matter of time), the HOA will still exist until the members vote to dissolve it. However, with a city government in place to handle maintenance of infrastructure and police protection, the HOA would have little true purpose to exist. It would fade into the sunset.

    2. Deborah Goonan

      There are financial benefits to municipality status, such as access to a portion of sales tax and gasoline tax revenues, and ability to apply for state grants, just for starters.

      And a city government is required to have division of powers, so you have built-in checks and balances compared to Secret HOA Kangaroo Court where the same small clique (the Board and their appointed committee of allies) decides if you’ve violated and rule and what the penalty will be. If you want to defend your rights, you have to file a civil suit, even for trivial matters that should be cut and dry. In several states, you are forced into mediation or arbitration before you can even get to small claims court or civil court.

      By comparison, consider this. We had a city in FL (Ocala) that recently passed an ordinance against wearing “saggy pants” in public. (the kind that the young men wear hanging down low with their boxer shorts appearing above the pants up to the waist) They wanted to fine $500 and even have possible jail time for this “offense.” OK, you may find it in bad taste, but since when does America have a dress code?

      Well, it was reported in the local press (they still cover city council meetings), and there was a huge public outcry over this draconian law. The NAACP and other citizens of Ocala attended the next meeting to object to the new ordinance. A motion was made, and City Council voted to repeal it. Problem solved without stepping inside a courtroom and spending $100,000+ on legal fees. It took less than a month to resolve, as opposed to HOA cases that drag on for years, draining the HOA members and affected homeowners’ bank accounts dry.

      HOAs currently have more power and authority than City Council, combined with very little accountability. So it comes as no surprise that power is often abused.


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