HOAs: the modern instance of the medieval feudal system

A little bit of history is good for the soul; it puts a perspective on why things are the way they are.  Let’s go back before modern times and the creation of the modern HOAs as outlined in the 1964 The Homes Association Handbook.

Who controls and owns the land? Well, it was he who conquered it and took it from some other governing person or body. In 1077 William the Conqueror from Normandy took control of England from the Saxons, who earlier took it from the Anglos (Anglo-Saxons).

The social/economic system was known as feudalism in which serfs or peasants called vassals, were given  some land called fiefs by the owner, known as the Lord (of the manor). The vassal was to work the land and paid for the grant from the Lord in terms of produce,  services, and money. (It also included serving in the army to defend his Lordship).

In short, William as the “high” Lord gave land to his Nobles who became his vassals. The vassals, in time, “sublet” their lands and created another level of Lord-Vassal relationships, each subservient to the original grant, and so on.

The consequence of the feudal system was the creation of very localised groups of communities which owed loyalty to a specific local lord who exercised absolute authority in his domain. As fiefs were often hereditary, a permanent class divide was established between those who had land and those who rented it.” (Feudalism – World History Encyclopedia).

By this time the parallels can be easily identified.  Follow along with the modernization of feudalism that required changes and additions to real estate property laws and the doctrine of CC&Rs was invoked. As a necessity, the doctrine known as ”equitable servitudes” and was made part of the CC&Rs. Laid out in the Handbook, equitable servitudes replaced the grant from the Lord to his Vassal in such a way as to bind all future owners.   In other words, the CC&Rs enabled perpetual control over the land or subdivision of today. Homebuyers are forced to be bound to this original CC&Rs, as validly amended.

Now to the legality that the owners never signed the CC&Rs created by the developer at the time of initial purchase.  However, the servitudes were hampered by the doctrine of “running with the land” found in your CC&Rs, which proclaimed that the CC&Rs, in order to be binding on subsequent owners, had to be in place at first sale—to the developer. Consequently, from the get-go, homeowners bought into an adhesion contract that did not permit a give and take bargaining  between seller and the new buyer —  you  — as required under contract law 101. I call it a huge GOTCHA!

So, here we are!

HOA ethics: the end justifies the means

Depending on what side of the fence you’re sitting on in a controversial issue, you may be arguing that the end justifies the means, Yes or NO. It is a moral and ethical decision and raises the question as to when and how.  In a culture where its values have been deteriorating over the years to, what’s in it for me, greed is good, and I want it now, a valid and acceptable “means” has consequently also deteriorated.

In general, this end-means assertion is introduced as a defensive justification for some course of action being challenged by others. It usually involves a discretionary decision by some authority entity, like a town council, board of directors, management, etc.  Not surprisingly, we find this defensive reaction in many HOA-Land situations; I discuss one such incident based on real events.

Read the full paper

America’s homeland: HOA law vs. Home rule law

Why are there private HOA governments when there are home rule, charter governments?

Getting down to the issues of state laws relating to local governments, let’s examine the doctrine of home rule. Under the home rule doctrine local communities are permitted a large degree of independence even to the extent that state legislative action is not necessary. What is home rule? In simple terms, it is a grant of authority and power — of independence — from the legislature to local communities.  (See HOAs violate local home rule doctrine and are outlaw governments; AZ Supreme Court, Tucson v. Arizona, CV-11-0150-PR (2011).)

 All the states have a version of home rule that varies in the degree of independence granted to a local governments and under what terms. Check your state laws under home rule or charter government. Strict states treat the home rule powers strictly as set forth in the statutes, like agency enabling acts. Most states have allowed for wider freedoms to local home rule governments, with some allowing for local government charters functioning as a local constitutions.  In all cases it’s a grant of independent governance from the legislature on local matters.

As an example, Arizona’s Constitution allows for home rule charter governments.

 “The purpose of the home rule charter provision of the Constitution was to render the cities adopting such charter provisions as nearly independent of state legislation as was possible. . . .  ‘[A] home rule city deriving its powers from the Constitution is independent of the state Legislature as to all subjects of strictly local municipal Concern.’”

The masquerade

Given this existing legal mechanism for strong, independent  local control, why was there a need for the creation and approval of, and the support for, private government HOAs?  Could it be as Prof. McKenzie stated in his 1994 book, Privatopia? “CIDs [HOAs/POAs/RCAs] currently engage in many activities that would be prohibited if they were viewed by the courts as the equivalent to local governments.”

It’s obvious that it was not to create healthy, productive communities.  Was it a business venture from the start to make profits for the originators masquerading as a public serve and benefit?? Was it for the real estate agents and the home builders, and to cut state government costs?

HOA associations are political bodies

The effective management of a political community, as are HOAs, and remain part of the greater political communities of their state and federal government, necessitates a rejection of the HOA legal scheme and its protectives laws.    There are no legitimate reasons why HOA governed communities cannot exercise effective and productive self-government while  being subject to constitutional law under home rule statutes.

Home rule doctrine existed long before the advent of the HOA legal structure in 1964. That is not to say that it would have solved all problems and be a perfect government, but it would be a government under the Constitution, part of the Union,  like all other forms of local government.  

If the initial 1964 HOA concept had included home rule provisions, then there would be no need for a restructuring.

Restructuring HOAs case study supplement

The SCG case study is in preparation as a supplement to A Plan Toward Restructuring HOAs. This paper will be released soon. Here’s a peek:


For this case study, my objective was to advise the BOD of a $22 million revenues, 9,500 unit, active-adult community in Arizona as to its conduct in deciding difficult and controversial  issues.  I put my management/BOD skills to work and began the study. It is very important in the learning process to share recommendations with others, and to accept their constructive criticism. Readers can reject, modify, or remove recommendations. This approach sharpens one’s thinking and helps to make a more solid case for HOA reforms.

In regard to the SCG members at large, apathy — evidenced by silence or perhaps fear — prevailed as commonly found in HOA-Land. The vast majority of comments  to my posts on social media and elsewhere were irrelevant and without merit. They failed to address my messages concerning  violations of the laws and governing documents by boards of directors.   Rather, they focused on my HOA right or wrong, take it or leave it, and move out

 The necessary first step for democratic reforms, as proposed in A Plan Toward Restructuring the HOA Model of Governance, is the reorientation and reeducation of the pubic and especially boards of directors. Based on my experience I presumed that  they are uninformed and many prefer to remain uninformed; wrongly believing, and being led to believe,  that their HOA is  a wonderful country club instead of a legally binding contract between them and their HOA. 

The findings from this research reaffirmed this view of HOA directors and members regardless of income or education levels — they are highly uninformed about the legal and governmental issues of an HOA association. It seems that the  boards of directors over the years were and are heavily influenced by the Community Associations Institute’s teachings and programs.

Collectively referenced as the CAI School of HOA Governance  stemming from its focus on “large-scale associations,” such as SCG. Some 13 SCG members served as CAI members, including CAI presidents or directors, while serving as SCG’s presidents, directors, and committee chairs.  Its impact is devastating and cannot be underestimated.

This finding was very disappointing!  The behavior and conduct by the leadership displayed false and misleading information, an illusion of “no problems here,” and for the most part, silence. It supported the position of authoritarian and cult followers as maintained in the Plan’s view of the HOA Culture, and its description of the social and political dynamics at work in HOA-Land.

This Supplement is organized in time squence based on posts made to the HOA Contitutional Government website, including comments,  referencing or alluding to emails, to  the official Sun City Grand website’s News of the Day posts; and to posts and comments to social media websites: NextDoor (Desert Sage); Facebook’s Sun City Grand Members (AZ), closed by Administrator’ opposition; and Members of Sun City Grand AZ.

These exchanges are all reproduced as is, unedited except for  omissions of non-relevant sections.  In this manner, lacking audio-video materials, one can get a feeling of the message tones.

George K. Staropoli

February 14, 2022


“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

The quote comes the classic film The Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy (and her dog Toto) who is magically transported to the Land of Oz. Now, stuck in the Land of Oz she  is advised to see the Wizard of Oz as he may know of a way to send her home.  Speaking to the Wizard, who looks like a giant floating head, the floating head is exposed as just an illusion created by a middle-aged man hiding behind the curtain, who is the “real” Wizard. He attempts to distract them by asking them to ignore the man, saying “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  (View https://youtu.be/YWyCCJ6B2WE).

The ”Wizards of HOA-Land” are none other than the HOA boards of directors (BOD) who provide illusions of happiness, approval, and support by the majority of their members.  The BODs use propaganda statements — disinformation consisting of false, misleading, and half-truths —  videos, photos, testimonials, and coercion applied to non-believers in their message.

Speaking specifically in regard to my “Mgmt Case Study #1” subject, Arizona’s SCG, as a result of the BOD’s arrogance, its defensive posture using propaganda to create illusions of proper and righteous conduct, its silence on the crucial issues, and its continued violations of black-letter statutes and the governing documents, I’ve managed to pull away the “curtain” and expose the Wizards in action. The BOD’s response has been, in effect: Pay no attention to these criticisms and just believe in how we’ve made you all content with  SCG

The SCG BOD election  mockery

(In general, the legislators, the media, the HOA BODs and members need to step back and see the ugly forest through the trees — the claimed “isolated” incidents.)

And so the BOD, with some 30% of the votes already cast, continues to urge the members to vote.  Why?  Under SCG’s election procedure the winners are from the top 4 vote counts, and with more than 10% voting to avoid any quorum issues, why bother?  Would it really make a difference among 7 shades of gray candidates who, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, have been carefully selected and controlled by the BOD with the result, no matter who won, of more of the same policies, attitudes, decisions, culture as before.  The independent voices of  the members have been denied.

A Committee for the Betterment of Sun City Grand  (CBSCG) is becoming a necessity for any hope of restoring member fundamental rights and freedoms.  The members must act!