HOA survival: too many cows and too few members


The CAI College of Community Assn Lawyers member, by Scott B. Carpenter, had cows on his mind when he wrote about The Tragedy of the Common Elements.  Somehow  he stumbled upon a 1968 article about one herder’s cows damaging the common grazing area used for the benefit of all the herders, making an analogy to some “grazing amenity.”  He then jumps to HOAs with their common areas, basically the amenities.  Could Carpenter be confusing people with cows, and in following his herder story, that the overuse of the amenities by a lot owner’s family ruins it for the other members? 

He is concerned about Arizona law, ARS 33-1255(c)(2) that defers to the CC&Rs as to whether or not the homeowner affected by a damaged roof should alone pay for the cost of repairs, and that there should be no recourse to having the HOA pay out of its common funds.  He seeks to extend this statute to planned communities.

The “tragedy” he speaks of appears to be a question of scarce money in a tight economy.  However, there is no discussion of  past failures to provide for adequate reserves, or to raise assessments to cover these contingencies, although this is occurring today with respect to foreclosures.

Carpenter then makes the argument that the very philosophy of condo living with its communal structure is itself  “the very philosophy that feeds the Tragedy.”     Say what??  He  had defined the tragedy as “a dilemma in which individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest.”  

It appears then that CAI is heading to the Legislature to make this systemic alteration in the HOA legal scheme a law, a law that mandates that the individual “take the hit” and pay out of his own funds, and not from the collective “social security” common funds of the HOA.  In the tradition of pro-HOA attorney lobbyists,  reaching way out to make a weak case, Carpenter then asserts an unsubstantiated claim that those homeowners can’t be trusted and that they are out to get us!  He writes, This would solve the problem of unit owners having an incentive to foist as many unit expenses onto the community association as possible.”


To be clear, Carpenter seems to be accepting the fact that the HOA is incapable of establishing sound financial management techniques that require increased assessments from the membership. That would be admitting a resounding negative to the HOA scheme, and negatives are taboo.  Establishing such reserves would then demand strict financial accountability by the HOA board and its management firm, which CAI has adamantly refused to allow.  “Trust the management” has been its propaganda.


CAI offers unworkable solutions that are divisive and adversarial:  go after the individual homeowner.  Forget about “we are in this together” and “we are a community.”   The survival of the HOA is paramount!  Forget about the American spirit that made America a great country.  No more let’s help the Jones build their barn, or take care of the Smith’s children while their mother lies very ill.  No, the individual must support the interests of the state, the HOA,  and the corporations that support the state, the HOA attorneys and management firms.   (It’s bad enough that the homeowner has unknowingly pledged his home as collateral for the HOA’s survival).

When will homeowners, the media, the public, and the legislators understand and accept that CAI has its own personal agenda, which is not in the best interest of the people or the state?

Read the full Commnetary at Tragedy.

Published in: on December 12, 2009 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

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