By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
Ah, yes! Sometimes a quote or two from the typical overreaching HOA Board leader or one of their apologists just says it all. HOA lovers will come right out and admit that living peacefully in one of these common interest communities is all about one thing: submitting to HOA control.
For some great quotes to illustrate that point, check out this recent article in the Kansas City Star. I also recommend you watch both videos embedded within the story.
Olathe man’s war with HOA over landscaping: $400,000 at stake
Judy L. Thomas
Four years ago, Jim Hildenbrand was ready for a change.
His kids were grown, his father had died, and he wanted to be closer to his mother. So he shut down his architectural consulting business in the Quad Cities in Iowa and bought a three-bedroom home in the Avignon Villas subdivision in Olathe.
But instead of settling into paradise, he says, he landed in purgatory.
For months, he fought the homeowners association over the placement of his satellite dish. He accrued tens of thousands of dollars in fines for parking his cars in the driveway too long and placing a ceramic flower pot and a St. Francis statue in his front-yard landscaping. And what started as a dispute with the HOA over a landscaping project that featured a long, low accent wall has cost Hildenbrand more than $200,000 in legal fees.
The case went to trial in Johnson County District Court earlier this year. Hildenbrand lost that round, and the HOA wants the wall taken down. Now, he awaits a decision by the Kansas Court of Appeals.
Here are the prize-winning quotes from the same article:
“We’re not the Gestapo,” said Kevin Drake, who was on the board when the lawsuit went to trial. “We try to work with everybody in this neighborhood. But we have to enforce our deed restrictions.
“This individual was not going to stop with just putting in the wall. Next would have been a koi pond, or he would have put some playground structure or something up. We had to say no. You knew the rules when you moved in. If you don’t like it, you’re free to move someplace else.”
…current board president Trish Jacobs said. “We just want him to comply. All we want is to have the case be over and for him to be like 150 other people in the community,” she said.
“We are not bullies. We are anything but.”
Homeowner Steve Salem said restrictions are necessary for an HOA to be successful.
“When you have 153 homes in an area, if you allow everybody to pick out one guideline that they don’t agree with and ignore it, you’d have anarchy,” he said.
Is this the kind of living environment most Americans truly want?
Looking at these quotes and the two embedded videos, you can clearly see the “us vs. them” mentality so typical of homeowners’, condominium, and cooperative associations.
And did you happen to notice that the HOA Board President’s clique is a homogenous group of sameness — for crying out loud, these folks all look the same, dress the same. They appear to be mostly white and all of the same age range. Furthermore, the description of the “in” crowd in the article tells you who fits the HOA mold – the club members and Bible study group. Everyone else is apparently considered a renegade or a malcontent.
The Board President says that Avignon is “very conservative,” and I get the impression that philosohy goes beyond their idea of uniform landscape design. Perhaps if you’re a Democrat, you’d better not consider purchasing a home there. If you have any sense of individuality or a creative side, steer clear. If you bristle at the thought of rigidly following arbitrary rules, you will not be happy at Avignon.
To me, this is not much different from high school. You’re either part of the popular group or you’re not. The very nature of HOAs as designed by real estate developers – in response to Civil Rights legislation – is exclusive, not inclusive. But unlike high school, your HOA “in” crowd wields corporate power and controls your money, without any political checks and balances. And an out-of-conrol Board can use the CC&Rs as a tool to make you pay up and shut up. If you resist they will use the power of HOA attorneys paid for with your money to break you financially, physically, and emotionally, hoping you’ll give up and move out.
That is the unstated goal – to expel anyone who doesn’t fit in! Just re-read the quotes above.
Frankly, it takes a special kind of obsessive, controlling personality type to object to a decorative landscape tier wall. Reasonable people just don’t concern themselves with that kind of minutia, let alone bully and harass their neighbors with fines and sanctions through HOA attorneys.
Nothing about that kind of behavior can be described as “loving.”