HOA vs public government

Ever wonder what would happen if your town/city council did not have enough public minded citizens to run for office?  You know, like what we see in many HOAs?

While I’m not sure, several scenarios are possible.  A small clique would soon dominate the council and the shortage of councilmen ignored.  Or, the state would be asked to get involved either by citizens unhappy with the ruling click, or vendors concerned about the legitimacy of contracts would seek protection.

In HOA-Land who would be able to step in and restore order and a just government?  Not the state since the HOA is not a state subdivision.   Could be the vendors who are mainly the lawyers and managers.  Not likely. After all, it is they who control the HOAS “council.” They like it just this way, because, as we see in the governing documents and state laws, they are a privileged class. Not the board composed of the clique and perhaps “conscripted” directors – those bodies urged to become a director to satisfy the CC&R and who remain silent and acquiesce to the president’s wishes.

I hope readers begin to realize that the dogmatic cry of “no government interference” got just what they asked for – complete independence and on their own. HOA-Land private government requires a higher degree of public involvement than found in the nation as a whole – an insurmountable barrier.

However, some disgruntled member can file a request to the court to appoint a receiver who will manage the HOA – and get paid for it — as it is quite evident that the members are incapable of governing their HOA. Now, he would have his orders from the court and that would not include the irrational lament promoted by the CAI lawyers and managers that it ain’t fair to the “good” members.  Well, it is fair in terms of the fact that it is the failure of the members to participate that makes them guilty of the failure to manage their HOA.  Oh, you thought you were just buying a home and management of the HOA was someone else’s problem.  SURPRISE!

In my opinion, HOAs as a state entity bring more protection than the private and adhesive CC&Rs “contract.”  Understand that turning to the 42 year-old national educational entity, as several states and towns have, that has failed all these years to fix HOA problems is irresponsible and lunacy pure and simple.  As a state entity you have bodies of statutes and common law, and traditions and precedent that serve to protect citizens as opposed to the Johnny come lately, make new law on the fly by courts. New laws that interpret your “contract” in many unexpected ways that do not serve individual rights and interests because the HOA is a private entity.

Published in: on September 30, 2015 at 9:53 am  Comments (4)  
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Fight for your rights lost in HOA-Land

Amazon review of HOA WARRIOR II: Responding to Pets, Paint, & Parking in Your HOA

Author and advocate Shelly Marshall joins a number of other homeowner rights advocates challenging the misinformation about the real lives of HOA members: Jill Schweitzer (Buying into an HOA with your eyes wide open!), Ward Lucas (Neighbors at War!), Sara Benson (Escaping Condo Jail), and yours truly, George K Staropoli (HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government). There is also extensive material from Deborah Goonan on internet blogs.

Marshall presents reality, and not the propaganda of the special interests supported by your state legislature for the good of the state. “Responding to pets . . .” is an opener to the more serious issues of HOA private regimes. She writes,

“And you have to worry that even though there are laws in place to protect you, there is absolutely no way to enforce those laws except to sue in court. The attorney general of your state and your local law enforcement will most likely call it a “civil” matter, yet HOA disputes are anything but civil. There are precious few agencies that can help you, and so you must learn to protect yourself.”


With the above understanding, and until substantive HOA reforms resolve the basic fundamental flaws of the HOA legal scheme, Marshall presents an approach to put the odds in your favor when dealing with your HOA. These are needed to help owners survive under HOA oppression and repression.

Many other “help you” books, especially those written by the special interests and their loyal and faithful followers, present what is essentially a “Never Question the Rules” (From the TV series, Wayward Pines) or board, and life will be dandy. You just have to resign yourself to secondhand citizenship. The courts have held that you, the homeowner, agreed to be treated as such.

The paraphrased Wayward rules, quite applicable to HOA-Land, go on to say,

  1. Enjoy Your Life In [your HOA]!
  2. Be Happy!
  3. . . .
  4. Do Not Discuss the Past!
  5. Do Not Discuss Your Life Before

“Never Question the Rules!”   Never!  Not so says Marshall.  Not so!

Read this highly informative book . . . today.

Published in: on September 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm  Comments (2)  

Protecting HOA political free speech on matters of general community interest

Should matters of concern and interest to the general HOA member-community be protected from suits designed to stifle participation in HOA governance?  Homeowners in HOAs should be protected from these suits, called SLAPP suits, just as the general public is protected in most states that have anti-SLAPP laws.

The question becomes: will the courts hold issues of HOA governance to be a matter of general public interest and concern?  A failure of the courts to do so puts HOA governments solidly into the category of independent principalities, where members are not permitted free speech on community public issues, especially about their governing body, the HOA.

The expected defenses are 1) that HOAs are private, contractual governing bodies not subject to the 14th Amendment protections, which the members have agreed to obey; and disregarding the Ruiz opinion above,  2) the local HOA community cannot be considered as a public body that is interested in and concerned with matters of public interest; it’s a local, private matter.

There are several California cases holding that HOA concerns amount to public speech because it affects the community at large.  The following are anti-SLAPP suits.

“A SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) is a lawsuit brought primarily to chill a party’s constitutional right of petition or free speech. The anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to prevent and deter lawsuits that chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances and provides “an efficient procedural mechanism to obtain an early and inexpensive dismissal of nonmeritorious claims” arising from the exercise of those constitutional rights. . . . . The resident’s front lawn is a public forum for purposes of the First Amendment. . . . Moreover, it is now well established that the anti-SLAPP statute protects private conversations as well as those occurring in a public forum.” (Santa Barbara).

“’Public interest’ within the meaning of the anti-SLAPP statute has been broadly defined to include, in addition to government matters,  ‘private conduct that impacts a broad segment of society and/or that affects a community in a manner similar to that of a governmental entity.’ (Ruiz; according to California statutes).

[My emphasis]

“[W]e hold the trial court properly determined the anti-SLAPP statute applied because the evidence showed the alleged defamatory statements were made “in a place open to the public or in a public forum” and concerned “an issue of public interest. . . .  The two locations where the alleged defamatory statements were made–at the Board meetings and in the Village Voice newsletter [HOA] –were open to the public and constituted “public forums.” Additionally, because each of the allegedly defamatory statements concerned [*11] the manner in which a large residential community would be governed, they concerned “issue[s] of public interest.”  (Damon).

A homeowners association board is in effect ‘a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government’ (citing Cohen v. Kite Hill Community Assn).”  (Damon).

My quick survey of state anti-SLAPP laws shows AZ, IL, HI, GA and MD as having strict laws relating to only issues before the legislature or a law, as petitioning rights.  A host of other states contain the much broader right to file an anti-SLAPP suit for issues of public interest. They are: CA, FL (as of 7/2015), IN, LA, OR, RI, TX, VT, and WA.  Check current status.

Case references:

  1. Santa Barbara Beach Club HOA v. Freeman, 2d Civil No. B212972 (Cal. App. 2nd 2010)
  2. Ruiz v. Harbor View CA, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 133 (2005)
  3. Damon v. Ocean Hills [an HOA], 102 Cal.Rptr.2d 205 (2000)

representing yourself in court against HOAs

An excellent post in the August 15, 2015 L.A. Times column, Associations, by Donie Vanitzian, and co-written by attorney Zachery Levine, contains important information on HOA litigation.  Please read it and see what you are up against, and what is needed to have a chance at winning in court.  Thanks Donie for all your good work.

An excerpt:

Success in litigation is based on legal knowledge, resources and organization. Deadlines arise frequently, necessitating quick and timely responses. You are responsible for monitoring what the other side is doing and filing. You must know all applicable deadlines for your case and how to calendar them.

Good luck.

Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 9:34 am  Comments (3)  
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Letter to Sen. Rubio on necessity of national HOA reforms

August 10, 2015

open email letter

Dear Senator Rubio,

In 2008 as FL Speaker of the House you created the Select Committee on Condominium and Homeowner Association Governance (FL legislative HOA committee gets subpoena power).  I attended the Tampa hearing and edited the public domain video of the hearing.  These clips can be found at http://YouTube.com/HOAGOV.

Your help, as candidate for the presidency and as the future President of the United States, is needed to return some 20% of Americans to the American Zone. HOAs are unconstitutional private governments strongly supported by special interests with the help of state legislatures, as you may well know.  Please understand that HOAs can function as local state entities that will provide due process and the equal protection of the laws to homeowners who were mislead about what HOA life is really all about.  It is a national issue!

For your easy reading, and that of your staff, the fundamental constitutional defects are presented in 3 documents that contain substantial legal authority and evidence.

Please read:

HOA Member Declaration of US and State Citizenship
HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government
HOAGOV Education Series

The future of America is the continued social and political decay of the principals and values that founded this great nation unless you continue HOA reforms on a national level.  America must be protected from constitutional rejection by means of alleged private contracts that cross the line from property interests to the creation of private governments, governments that are not subject to the 14th Amendment!

You can awaken the people to the silent special interest and state support and acquiescence of private authoritarian governments by calling attention to the un-American HOA legal structure during your campaign.


George K. Staropoli
Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 11:34 am  Comments (1)  
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