Sun City HOA: a real independent principality

Sun City, AZ. a renowned retirement community, is an unincorporated town under the governance of the Sun City HOA (SCHOA).  It does not qualify as a planned community or as an HOA under the state’s statutes. SCHOA is a private nonprofit corporation — no mayor & no town council, governs it.  A sort of a throw back to the times when the sovereign, the king, issued charters or grants of authority to private organizations to conduct business or to govern new lands. 

In modern times, does the nonprofit corporation charter by the state, the new “sovereign” of a republic, truly grant a nonprofit corporation the right to function as the legitimate government of a sub-division of the state?  This could not possibly the intent of the corporation statutes since the state abounds with municipal corporation statutes — cities, towns, special districts, etc. — and with methods and procedures for incorporating new towns and cities.  The appeal of direct democracy, local government control or “home rule” is understood, and agreeing to be governed by a business form of government under corporate laws could be viewed as a strong desire for independence from unwanted influences and intrusions. 

Sun City is indeed such an independent government, not answerable under state municipality laws or the Constitution, as it is not subject to the planned communities statutes. Sun City is just subject to the broader corporation statutes that were in no way written to establish a democratic form of political government.  This sort of independent principality status has more in common with a tribal society where the inhabitants of the village are loyal first and foremost to their tribe and village, and to the leaders of the tribe, than to their state or country. 

This tribalism reveals itself as the Sun City HOA does not require mandatory assessments, yet each deed requires that the owner make mandatory payments to another nonprofit, the Recreational Centers of Sun City (RCSC).  And in order for RCSC to qualify for common area real estate tax treatment, all owners “must be obligated to pay mandatory assessments to maintain and manage the common areas.”    Consequently, to accomplish this reduced tax basis without having to be subject to state planned community laws, a separate agreement is required to be signed by the owner agreeing to pay, not the HOA, but RSCS dues.  This is extraordinary, since the deed itself could simply require mandatory payments to a bona fide HOA that would own and manage the common areas, as is the case with a genuine HOA.

The strong desire to independent of state laws, yet to use them as above, required an amendment to the common area valuation statutes, ARS 42-13402 et seq., adding the “must be” clause above in 2000 (Ariz. Sess. L. Ch 196; HB1251).  What could have possibly been the intent of this statute other than to bestow a gift upon Sun City, an unincorporated community, tax benefits amounting to an estimated $113,000 per year, or $1,130,000 over the past 10 years?

Today, the residents of this independent “principality” are coming once again before the legislature, with the SCHOA attorney (a member of the national pro-HOA lobbying group, CAI), to deny the state its legitimate right to regulate and control the public streets within Sun City (HB 2153).  Suddenly, parking has become a safety issue in spite of the fact that, from the very beginning, the county planning board approved these alleged unsafe streets, and legal mechanisms are available to SCHOA to obtain variances on a case-by-case basis. 

Don’t buy it!  Sun City is demanding complete freedom from the state with no interference into the “internal affairs” of their principality.  State cooperation, provided it is consistent with the aims and goals of Sun City, however, is acceptable and welcomed.

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Published in: on April 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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