By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
In one San Antonio planned community, residents rebel against the HOA’s holiday decor rules.
According to several reports, which went viral over the weekend, Nick Simonis Jr. and his son decided to start decorating for Christmas a bit early this year.
You see, Nick’s wife, Claudia, is pregnant with their second child, with a due date of December 25th. Claudia says they’re planning ahead this year, in case the new baby arrives ahead of schedule.
Babies have been known to ignore the calendar from time to time.
This year, the family’s whimsical holiday decor includes a life-size lighted snowman and several holiday inflatables, including Santa and some reindeer.
Ho, ho, ho! Happiness and good cheer. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Enter the HOA Grinch
Not so fast. Nick and Claudia live in an HOA-governed community.
And Lakeside at Canyon Springs HOA appears to be a bit hostile toward personal expression through holiday decor.
Several news stations report that Diamond Association Management and Consulting (DAMC) sent the Simonis family a letter saying it’s “too soon” to decorate for Christmas. The homeowners were instructed to take down their decorations and wait until it’s “closer to the holiday” to put them back up.
Instead of getting angry, Claudia posted a copy of the HOA’s it’s-too-early-to-put-up-decorations-letter on her neighborhood Facebook group, for all 230 members to see.
Here’s what happened.
Owners expressed their support of the Simonis family to keep their decorations up. In fact, a bunch of other residents put up their own holiday decor, in solidarity against the HOA.
Now that’s an example of a true sense of community.
To add to the humor, Simonises added an inflatable Grinch to their diplay, holding a sign that reads. “This is the HOA.”
I have a hunch this isn’t the response the HOA expected.
Copycat HOA Grinches?
Meanwhile, over in East Naples, Florida, another HOA insists that a homeowner unplug her single string of lights.
Crown Pointe neighborhood in East Naples (Florida) only allows lights and decorations for three weeks before Christmas, no earlier.
Once again, when the news hit social media in the neighborhood, quite a few residents started calling their HOA “the Grinch.”
The unidentified homeowner plans to keep her decorations up, and is prepared to pay a fine.
Not to be undone, in sunny Arizona, the Ahwatukee Foothills Reserve HOA sent out a reminder to all of its residents that they must not put up holiday decorations more than 30 days before the holiday.
Residents and homeowners are not impressed by this Bah, Humbug message from their HOA.
Trade group rolls out its usual PR in defense of HOAs
Have you ever noticed that, every time there’s a major national uproar over stupid HOA rules, the HOA-industry trade group, Community Associations Institute (CAI), goes straight to the mainstream national press to defend the increasing unpopularity of HOAs?
One typical example — the New York Times quotes two CAI spokespersons, both regurgitating standard CAI propaganda:
Last year, 63 percent of residents in community associations said they had a positive experience, and 62 percent said the rules enhanced their property values, according to the 2018 Homeowner Satisfaction Survey.
Source: A Texas couple thought Nov. 1 was as good a time as any for a giant snowman in their front yard. The homeowners’ association poured hot water on the idea. (New York Times) By Mariel Padilla | Nov. 17, 2019
Well, first of all, CAI holds a vested interest in spreading the myth that most Americans love their HOA.
Who can blame them? After all, the majority of their members are community association managers and attorneys representing HOA-governed communities. Each year, CAI professional members reap billions in revenue from their captive consumers — millions of homeowners who are required to pay HOA fees, whether they’re happy with their HOA or not.
Is this all they’ve got to “prove” HOAs are popular?
And here’s another little known fact. A portion of CAI membership dues pays for the organization’s spin-off research foundation to conduct surveys every other year. These “Homeowner Satisfaction Surveys” aren’t conducted by consumer advocacy groups or research universities.
The wise housing consumer must take these reported survey results, cherry-picked by CAI, with a grain of salt.
And, even if you were to accept as the Gospel Truth CAI’s claim that 62% of residents think HOA rules enhance property values, then you must also accept that 38% of residents don’t see any value in HOA rules.
Here’s another little fact that’s never highlighted by the trade group. CAI’s self-funded survey results show a declining faith in HOA rules.
According to CAI’s own reported survey data, in 2005, 78% of residents said that HOA rules enhance property values.
The rules are the rules?
So, at best, the industry trade group supports a tyranny of the majority in HOA-ville. CAI seems to imply that it’s okay for 62% (fewer than two-thirds) of your neighbors to tell the other 38% how to behave.
In this case, CAI insists that HOAs should enact specific rules about holiday decor to avoid conflict.
In the real world, more often than not, HOAs create way too many rules, most of which serve no real purpose.
That usually creates more conflict, not less.
HOA governing boards get in trouble when they try to represent the interests of that mythical majority of HOA-lovers, dictating to you when they think it’s the “right” time to decorate for the holidays.
No wonder there’s so much pushback against the Grinch HOA. ♦
Too soon? Festive family told to take down Christmas decorations
by ROBERT PRICE | WOAI Staff | Tuesday, November 12th 2019 (News 4 San Antonio)
Neighbor at East Naples community told to take Christmas lights down
Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein WINK News
Published:November 15, 2019 10:55 PM EST
Updated:November 15, 2019 11:27 PM EST
How Early Is Too Early to Put Up Holiday Decorations?
A Texas couple thought Nov. 1 was as good a time as any for a giant snowman in their front yard. The homeowners’ association poured hot water on the idea. (New York Times) By Mariel Padilla | Nov. 17, 2019
With a baby due Christmas, they decorated early. They were told to take the snowman down
Joshua Bote | USA TODAY
Ahwatukee HOA’s ‘friendly reminder’ to residents: It’s too early for Christmas decorations
Lindsey Reiser, azfamily.com | Nov. 18, 2019