HOA Common Sense, No. 9: HOA governments in fact

HOA Governments in fact, No. 9

I believe all HOAs should be required to have a sign at the main entrances to the subdivision that clearly states: “You are now leaving the American Zone.”[1]

De facto governments.

Is the HOA a mini or quasi government?  Is it a state actor? Or is it just another business with special privileges?  I believe we all can agree that the status of HOAs is that they are de facto – they exist — governments, not recognized by the state under municipality statutes just as Cuba is a de facto government not recognized by the US. 

What is the uniquely defining attribute of a government that distinguishes it from a business or non-profit charity?  Understand that all the functions that the CAI lawyers claim to make the HOA a business can also be used to claim that businesses are governments. Think about it.  Yes, they share the same functions – taxes/assessments, fines/penalties, courts/hearings, ordinance/rules and regs, etc. But the basic criterion is that “modern states are territorial, their governing body exercise control over the persons and things within their frontiers.[2]  This alone singles distinguishes a government from a business or charity.

Black’s Law[3] attempts to clarify what is commonly accepted as a political government: A government is “The principles and rules determining how a state is regulated.”  A nation is “a community of people inhabiting a defined territory and organized under an independent government; a sovereign political state.” And politics is “The science of the organization and administration of the state.” The general understanding uses the terms ‘people,’ ‘territory’, ‘regulation,’ and ‘state/nation’. 

Now, I know the above may be confusing, but the skilled HOA attorneys will do their parsing and word game analysis (depends on what the meaning of ‘is,’ is) of these definitions seeking to create reasonable doubt as to what the people know to mean as “government.”  You know, such as the argumentative asinine statement that, is the owner of a football stadium that regulates the people in the stadium a government?  

I prefer the simpler, down to earth answer given by Justice Stewart regarding what is pornography,

“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it . . . .”[4]

It is interesting to note that David Wolfe, a founder of CAI back in 1973, had the following to say in 1978 when CAI debated the status of HOAs as a government.

One legal opinion offered in support of construing CAs [HOAs] as a government noted that the Supreme Court had required constitutional procedures in a ‘company town’ and with ‘political parties’; from this view CA actions were ‘public’ in a constitutional sense. . . . Wolfe concluded that a new definition of a CA as a government was needed to bring about Lewis Mumford’s vision of a democracy.[5]

And long ago in 1994 Prof. McKenzie wrote, “HOAs currently engage in many activities that would be prohibited if they were viewed by the courts as the equivalent of local governments.[6]

The defective legal scheme

Please understand that all substantive (as opposed to changes to laws affecting HOA operating methods and procedures) reform legislation is an attempt to restore your rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens.  They were taken away by the HOA biased laws that granted the HOA power to deny or did not prohibit the HOA from denying your constitutional rights.  Yet, even the most independent local control over people found in a state’s home rule statutes requires allegiance to the US and state constitutions.[7]  Why do HOAs get special laws?  Why are they exempt from the Constitution?  It doesn’t add up!

You may ask, What for?  The answer is obvious: for the survival and acceptance of a defective legal scheme that seeks to impose authoritarian governments on unsuspecting people. If boards and officers are to be held accountable, who would volunteer?  Well, why not pay them a salary so accountability can be demanded?  WHAT!!!  If they are going to be paid and held accountable, then members have a right to demand qualified board members and not any ole body who would like to be on the board.

Wait!  Wait! I can see readers recoiling in horror.  “The horror . . . the horror . . .” (from the movie Apocalypse Now!).   So, boards are generally not paid and are volunteers, without any special training.  At least the legislature and city councils have tradition and long established rules and procedures with staff to assist the law makers, but HOAs are “on the fly” – on the job,  decide as you go.  No wonder we have all these problems with capable governance.  And the volunteers and the special interests lament, “but we are volunteers helping to make a better community. You can’t hold us responsible and accountable. We need a free reign.”  Yeah!  Right!  Free to create havoc!

All because the mass merchandising of the HOA concept could not be sold under such conditions that demanded prudent accountability.

And, the concept could not fly without mandatory members and compulsory dues.  The founders of the HOA scheme who wrote the HOA “bible” in 1964 well knew this. And in order for the HOA to legally bind subsequent home owners the founders had to resort to servitudes running with the land, or equitable servitudes/covenants.[8]  

But, the equitable servitudes doctrine brought a host of ills detrimental to the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which very disappointedly the courts have held superior to the supreme law of the land.[9]  They have allowed for the establishment of the New America of HOA-Land with communities governed by de facto authoritarian, private government regimes known as HOAs.

HOA member Declaration of US and State citizenship

All that is needed to have HOAs rejoin the Union is for state legislatures to pass a bill that states:

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the governing documents, or other laws to the contrary,

Wherefore, the members of the association, having not waived or surrendered their rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and as citizens of the state within which they reside, the CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community, condominium association or homeowners association shall state, or be amended to comply, that, “The association hereby waives and surrenders any rights or claims it may have under law and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees 1) to be bound by the US and State Constitutions, and laws of the State within which it is located as if it were a subdivision of the state and a local public government entity, and 2) that constitutional law shall prevail as the supreme law of the land including over conflicting laws and legal doctrines of equitable servitudes.

PS.  I apologize for the intrusion by WordPress to have added underlines to certain words.

References


[1] As contained on the On The Commons website, Shu Bartholomew, Producer and Host (http://onthecommons.us).

[2] “State”, Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th Ed.

[3] Id.

[4] Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 US 184 (1964).

[5] Quoted in Community Associations: The Emergence and Acceptance of a Quiet Innovation in Housing, Donald R. Stabile (Greenwood Press, 2000), pp. 164 -167. Lewis Mumford was a 1920s utopian community promoter.

[6] Evan McKenzie, Privatopia: Homeowners Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Governments, Yale Univ. Press, 1994.

[7] A legislature’s grant of autonomy for local government to act without legislative approval on acceptance of certain terms (Blacks’ Law Dictionary, 7th Ed.); “as long as they obey the state and federal constitutions” (Home Rule, Wikipedia (http://tinyurl.com/nyqpd2a).

[8] The Homes Association Handbook, Urban Land Institute Technical Bulletin #50 (1964); See my analysis at Analysis of The Homes Association Handbook.

[9] Most notable are: Inwood v. Harris, 736 S.W.2d 632 (Tex. 1987) (Texas Constitution overridden by covenants running with the land); Villa de Las Palmas v. Terifaj, 90 P.3d 1223 (CAL. 2004) (amended restrictions are binding on all in violation of ex post facto prohibition doctrine); Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers, 929 A.2d 1060 (NJ 2007) (fundamental rights denied and business judgment rule is sufficient protection of homeowner rights).

 

 

 

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  1. […] [4] For a discussion see, HOA Common Sense, No. 9: HOA governments in fact. […]

  2. […] HOA Common Sense, No. 9: HOA governments in fact […]

  3. John J Carona is the founder and CEO of the nationwide HOA management conglomerate, Associa, Inc. He is also a Texas Senator.

    In the news release, “What If… There Were No HOAs?” (http://www.hoa-usa.com/article_what_if_there_were_no_hoas.aspx), its VP for Government Affairs had this to say, “Common ownership communities provide the most effective form of local governance.”

    So guys, accept the reality that CAI and its management firm true believers have accepted the fact that HOAs are private local governments. They now find the need to defend their denial and rejection of the Constitution. Associa argues that the benefits of an alleged “more effective government” justifies the denial of your rights.

  4. All that is needed to have HOAs rejoin the Union is for state legislatures to pass a bill that states:

    Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the governing documents, or other laws to the contrary,

    Wherefore, the members of the association, having not waived or surrendered their rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and as citizens of the state within which they reside, the CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community

    I stopped reading at that point, because my eyes had glazed over.

    Let me know how it works out.

    • That’s too bad. You know, if people don’t like living under the US Constitution they can just move out! Some people just don’t know how to live in a democracy.

  5. I think HOA corporations are “just another business with special privileges”. These privileges should be revoked when the adhesion contract expires, and only allowed to be reinstated by an agreement of at least 75% of the then owners. The adhesion contracts (also known as CC&Rs that the developer’s lawyers wrote) should be valid only thru the period of “developer control” and void as a matter of consumer protection law if they “automatically renew”.

    The renewal of CC&Rs should be a democratic process, universal and consistent across the USA.

    Put it to a vote, or we’ll have to put some dictators to the sword!

    I just want the truth to this question- put it to a private ballot vote and compell all owners to answer: “Do you want to renew your HOA service contract to protect your property values?” YES or NO.

    Non Respondents automatically answered “NO”.

    Seems like a Uniform Community Associations Act is in order on this one point to me. What say you?


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