Columbia Association: the iconic HOA private government ploy to circumvent the Constitution

In the letter to the editor, CA should not be exempted from Homeowners Association Act, the reader is told that this master, master HOA is seeking legislation to have it declared not to be an HOA.  The writer strenuously objects, saying,

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to immediately exempt CA [Columbia Association] from some of the protections afforded Columbia residents by the Consumer Protection Act, and to exempt CA from all future amendments to the HOAA [HOA act]. . . .  The real purpose of CA’s attempted subversion of the residents’ protections is based on CA’s refusal to disclose the annual compensation of all of its employees, as required by the Consumer Protection Act.

The CA attorney’s defense is, according to the letter, “that CA has enough protection for residents in its bylaws and other documents so that statutory protections are unnecessary.”  Didn’t we hear that in Twin Rivers where the NJ Supreme Court said homeowners were protected by the business judgment rule, so no need to get all riled about the loss of constitutional protections?

What is CA all about?  Howard County, MD contains the city of Columbia with its Columbia Association, a mega, mega, master association that resembles a large city rather than a subsection.  Its Pubic Information Guide refers to CA as

A nonprofit public benefit corporation” — which has no legal definition or standing — with “nine villages and Town Center are organized into 10 village community associations . . . . Each of Columbia’s nine villages and Town Center has a community association, which is an independent, incorporated, nonprofit civic association. 

 The Articles of Incorporation, along with the Covenants of the nine villages, provide CA with all of the rights, powers and authority it needs to carry out its purposes. The two documents empower CA to collect the annual charge and promulgate rules governing the use of facilities, the integrity of architecture and aesthetics, and so forth. The documents themselves can be consulted for further information. (Part II, How CA is Organized and How It Works).

 CA has a 2012 budget of over $67 million.

The way this private government works is that the HOAs are mandatory HOAs with covenants running with the land.  In their “Covenants,” CC&Rs for everybody else, there is the tie-in wording granting the non-profit corporation, CA, control over the HOA communities.  The HOAs elect representatives to the CA board.  It is similar to other master private governments.

Since all entities are private contractual arrangements, Columbia Association is an independent principality on the scale of the charter organizations of the 1600s through 1800s.  You may recall two of the most notable enterprises: The British East India Company (operating mainly in India) and the Dutch East India Company (controlled what is now known as Indonesia).

Here and now, CA makes use of the various subdivision HOA covenants running with the land, the CC&Rs, to entrap homeowners into bondage under their de facto but unrecognized private government.  And it has to resort to newspeak by referring to them as “villages” and the CC&Rs as “covenants.”



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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. The Columbia Association is not the only true HOA principality. Maryland also has the Montgomery Village Foundation, and Arizona has the Sun City HOA (SCHOA), to name a few others. All exist as a result of the tie-in with the individual member subdivision CC&Rs that create the homeowner bondage to the principality.

    Sadly, that Arizona conservative public interest firm, The Goldwater Institute believes that this is the way to go for a better America. See “The HOA experiment in privatized government is alive and well, and growing” at

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