By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
HOA-industry trade groups promote housing development governed by homeowners and condominium associations as sustainable communities. But don’t be fooled.
Those claims are nothing more than public relations and marketing hype.
The truth is, most “community associations” succumb to a variety of problems and crises that lead to their slow, painful decline and ultimate death.
Today I’ll highlight two examples.
Camelot burns to the ground, but HOA still collects its fees
The November 2018 Camp Fire destroyed every home in the Camelot community in the small town of Concow, Butte County, California. Although many escaped the raging wildfire, some residents did not survive.
Today, there’s nothing left of the small Camelot community but ashes and rubble. Dozens of owners have no plans to return and rebuild.
In fact, the entire surrounding rural town of Concow, population of about 700 at last count, stands devastated in the wake of last year’s Camp Fire.
Yet KHSL Action News Now reports that Camelot Property Owners Association is still collecting its annual dues of $235. And, believe if or not, the HOA is threatening to foreclose on liens for nonpayment.
Under the circumstances, fomer homeowners want to dissolve Camelot HOA. But California law, known as the Davis-Stirling Act, reportedly requires each and every property owner to agree to a dissolution of the association.
Camelot lost some of its owners in the fire, so it’s impossible to obtain written approval of 100% of members to officially get rid of the HOA.
A former property owner, Art Castile says that, before the wild fires, the HOA didn’t bother to clean up pine needles and other flammable materials that fed the Camp Fire as it tore through their small community. He wonders why anyone should have to pay the Owner’s Association even one penny, now that there’s no community left to take care of.
A few remaining homeowners plan to consult an attorney, and ask a court to intervene. Everyone wants to move on with their lives, free from the burden of caring for a scorched piece of wooded common property that no one wants.
This example vividly illustrates that an HOA is a legal entity, separate and apart from the community it is intended to govern.
Just as a community can exist without an HOA, and HOA can exist without a livable community, until it’s legally dissolved. Unfortunately, that legal process can be complicated, expensive, and slow.
6 Months after the Camp Fire: property fees remain despite destruction
Posted: May. 8, 2019 4:01 PM
Updated: May. 10, 2019 3:26 PM
Posted By: Hayley Watts
After many years of decline and blight, dozens of Brannon Hill condos demolished
Three years ago, I published several posts about the ‘worst neighborhood in America,’ Brannon Hill condominiums in DeKalb County, Georgia.
The 369-unit condominium association was once an affordable but livable option for Somalian refugees in the 1980s.
The condos were so inexpensive that buyers were able to pay cash and avoid having to obtain mortgages. These modest dwellings were their piece of the American Dream.
But, as profiled by Vice in 2015, a corrupt condo association board collected fees from owners, while neglecting maintenance of the property. Then a fire destroyed part of the complex in the early 2000s, that crisis was followed by the recession in 2008.
As the property fell into further disrepair, many owners abandoned their units. Squatters and drug dealers moved in.
By 2016, a few owners, though living in poverty, expressed an interest in cleaning up Brannon Hill. Several local nonprofit groups attempted to help them. But the property was far too dilapidated and unsafe. Owners could not afford the high cost to rehabilitate their condominium complex.
A new condo association board tried to fix problems, but very few owners paid the fees. So nothing changed.
Starting in 2017, DeKalb County began evacuating the worst buildings, tearing down 28 units. This month dozens more units were demolished.
It could take years to completely level Brannon Hill, and redevelop the area. The County has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to eliminate blight at the site, yet it has barely scratched the surface.
Since 2017, about one-third of units have been demolished. Poor refugees and immigrants continue to live in remaining condo units at Brannon Hill.
Incredibly, the condo association still exists, and condo units are selling ‘as is’ for $24,000 – $27,000.
Failure of “affordable housing” for purchase
Brannon Hill is just one example of a failed condominium association, established with the intent of providing affordable housing for purchase rather than for rent.
A noble intent is not always realistic or practical.
Because condo associations rely solely on collection of assessments and fees, when owners stop paying, the association cannot properly keep up the property. A poorly maintained condominium shows signs of blight within a few years.
And since most owners of low-priced condos lack formal education and practical money-management skills, unethical or criminal condo board members and managers can and do easily exploit them for personal gain.
When negligent landlords take over most of the units in the community, living conditions decline more quickly. Buildings burn down. Residents abandon the units. Criminals and squatters move in.
It’s a predictable pattern of dysfunction repeated in cities and towns across America. ♦
Brannon Hill to be demolished (VIDEO)
Posted Mar 7, 2019
DeKalb County to demolish 56 units at Brannon Hill condominiums
By FOX 5 News
Posted May 07 2019 10:42PM EDT | Video Posted May 07 2019 11:05PM EDT | Updated May 07 2019 11:18PM EDT