Fundamental government functions: public or private HOA

Last month I commented on The Goldwater Institute’s Local Liberty Charter by Nick Dranias, its Director of the Center for Constitutional Government. The title asked the following question: Whither goest local government? Restrictive HOAs or responsible public government? A “follow-up” question that was not raised is:

Disregarding the knee-jerk reaction by those opposed to government involvement, “private enterprise can do the job better than government”, why, in the face of the serious problems surrounding the restrictive covenant, private government HOAs, does The Institute believe that restrictive covenants will provide for a better government?

It must be understood that we are not talking about providing services, such as trash, utilities, etc., but the basic functions of a government itself. What then becomes of public local government? In essence, the very concept of public government becomes an anachronism, replaced by myriads of independent local “principalities” since our now antiquated concept of government does not permit it to interfere with these private arrangements. What becomes of that initial contract between the people and its government, commonly known and referred to as the US Constitution? What becomes of the protections of individual freedoms and liberties protected by the Constitution?

Are these the concerns of the homeowners living in HOAs — those people whom we are told actually prefer and “love” HOAs? Definitely yes! Just look at the HOA reform legislation of substance, other than those dealing with the day-to-day operations. You will see legislation that attempts to restore fundamental rights and freedoms and “equal justice under the law” to homeowners living in HOAs, that were taken away by special interest influenced legislation.

I congratulate Mr. Dranias, and Shu Bartholomew, for keeping HOA issues before the general public: the basic issue is private or public local government. However, I was disappointed that Mr. Dranias’ appearance on the On The Commons internet talk radio show this past Saturday did not address these important HOA constitutional concerns.

There was, though, a brief mention of a loss of constitutional protections in HOAs. In response to Shu’s concern for private security use of radar guns and the absence of constitutional protections found in the public domain (32 – 35 minute mark), Mr. Dranias gave a response that might have been missed by most listeners. He referred to the city “spinning out or spitting out” a private entity to handle functions that it wanted to unload that such an entity was an agent of the city and was “bound by the same responsibilities of the city.” He added that, “the city cannot avoid its constitutional restrictions by contracting.” He spoke of “if this is an inherent function of government and they chose to contract it out . . . that person would be subject to constitutional law.”

The key point here is that the state did not establish the HOA (court rulings so hold) and, therefore, these private governments are not subject to constitutional protections. Again, this is the reason why there is a strong visceral reaction by CAI to any mention that HOAs are de facto governments.

In response to my email to Mr. Dranias, I was told that he will be addressing the issue in a future report. I eagerly await this report, and I await his return to On The Commons to speak of these concerns.

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Published in: on April 19, 2009 at 10:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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