CAI’s early awareness of HOA constitutionality, public mini-government

It appears that CAI has adopted a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” attitude toward HOA constitutionality and public mini-government issues that are still prevalent today.  And it spread to the policy-makers.

Wayne S. Hyatt’s 1975 Emory Law Journal article, Condominium and Home Owners Associations:  Formation and Development, 2 years after the formation of CAI, presents his highly influential view on HOA constitutionality while recognizing that HOAs are mini-governments.

Wayne Hyatt “the most prominent advocate in CAI” serving as a 1975 “homeowners representative” and a former president (1978-79) (Privatopia, p. 219, 138 respectively). Hyatt  devoted his practice to working with developers of condominiums, master planned communities, resorts . . . to create community governance structures and community stewardship organizations.

While actively practicing law, he was also a member of 1) the American Law Institute (that wrote the pro-HOA Restatement of Servitudes, 2) the College of Community Association Lawyers (CAI affiliate) , the Community Associations Institute (CAI, created in 1973 by the National Association of Home Builders [grant of]  $30,000), and  3) ULI – the Urban Land Institute (sponsor of the 1964 “HOA bible,” The Homes Association Handbook) and served as a ULI Trustee.

He also served as an Advisor 1) to the Restatement of the Law (Third) Property: Servitudes, and 2)  to the Special Committees on a Uniform Condominium Act and a Uniform Planned Community Act of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (Uniform Law Commission, UCIOA and UCA).  Hyatt received several awards from CAI.

Hyatt developed many of the Dell Webb’s master planned and resort/active adult association CC&Rs over the years.

His 1975 Emory Law Journal article gives readers a good idea of constitutionality and local government concerns that seemed to have evaporated over the years as CAI’s influence increased dramatically.  A few important excerpts:

  • “The California Code provides for an association and affords it the powers and duties of the mini-government.” {T]he [Georgia] legislature has in effect provided a large measure of home rule for what is in essence a category of small municipalities, and each has established a system of officers and directors in the nature of a mayor and council to oversee the exercise of this rule.” (At 988). 
  • “‘Has the state permitted, even by inaction, a private party to exercise such power over matters of a high public interest that to render meaningful’ constitutional rights, private action must be public?”(Footnote 33 at 983). [In simple terms, private government HOAs must be subject to local government protections].
  • “The Declaration is not a contract but, as a covenant running with the land, is effectively a constitution establishing a regime to govern property held and enjoyed in common.  It further sets forth procedures to administer, operate, and maintain the property. . . . the declaration and particularly the by-laws create not only a corporate structure but also a governmental authority that requires and deserves competent, experienced persons . . .” (at 990).
  • “The power of ‘levy’ is a distinctive characteristic of the association and removes it from a mere voluntary neighborhood group. . . . The imposition of penalties, whether fines . . . or a denial of use of facilities enforced by injunction, certainly represents quasi-judicial power to affect an individual’s property rights. . . . The possession and exercise of such power has substantial consequences with clear constitutional implications.  The courts have not yet considered a direct constitutional challenge to an association’s action.” (at 983).
  • “[T]he constitutional issue is most acute in rule enforcement; however the association’s established procedures, declaration, and by-laws should insure compliance with at least rudimentary constitutional principles, and there must be a procedure to protect members’ rights.” (at 984).

Nowhere will you find any equivalent discussion of HOA constitutionality, or HOAs as mini-governments or as a form of local public government. Not in its Manifesto, Community Next 2020 and Beyond (2016);  not in its Public Policies: Private Property Protection, Government regulation of Community Associations, and Rights and Responsibilities For Better Communities (July 15, 2021).

And not in any of its anti-constitution amicus briefs: Twin Rivers NJ appellate (2004), Dublirer NJ Supreme Court (2011);  Surowiecki, WA Supreme Court (2021) (business judgment rule overrides judicial review); Turtle Rock AZ appellate (2017); Foreshee WI appellate (2017).

Knowledge is power to stand up to CAI

CONTINUING  HOMEOWNER ENLIGHTENMENT, EDUCATION  &  REORIENTATION  SERIES

CHEERS  PODCASTS

Advocates and homeowners have failed to stand up to CAI because they, too, have been indoctrinated and have failed to acquire the knowledge and strategies to overcome their lack of credibility causing their lack of power.

“Blaming the wolf will not help the sheep much.  The sheep must learn not to fall into the clutches of the wolf.”  Gandhi.

Boards of directors need to be educated and reoriented on the principles of democracy, and on HOA constitutionality relating to violations of due process and the equal protection of the laws,  because 1) the national lobbying entity, CAI, has indoctrinated boards of directors, the legislators, the courts, and the public with its CAI School of HOA Governance program that contains just lip service to constitutional questions, and 2) HOAs are a form of local government not subject to the Constitution. 

This indoctrination, by teachings of The CAI School, of boards of directors and all HOA members  prevents them from recognizing and accepting the true nature of HOA reality.  Indoctrination “is the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.”  Since the teachings are all that the indoctrinated ever see, they assume the School presents a true picture of HOA-Land. The actual reality!  NOT SO!

The idea of the Continuing Homeowner Education & Reorientation Series is to find a way for the indoctrinated BODs and members to come into the “light” and attain enlightenment from the School’s conditioning practices.  If they were to do this, they would be able to see HOA-Land for what it really is.

CHERS will provide this needed opposing voice.  Listen to CHERS podcasts — 24 podcasts in 4 program levels of learning.  See also CHERS series.

Who’s in charge of the larger HOA? The BOD or CAI?

Over the years I’ve come to believe that the CAI member HOA attorney are really in charge and run HOAs, especially the larger ones where the money really is.  Its influence runs the gamut from its CAI School of HOA Governance,[1] to pervasive lobbying state legislatures, and its CAI Manifesto.[2] The manifesto is its “white paper,” 2020 and beyond, in which it advises its followers to influence state legislators and the courts.

QUOTE Most legislators do not thoroughly understand common-interest communities or who their patchwork legislation is actually protecting. Legislators too often shoot from the hip, passing laws that ricochet and cause collateral damage. And they will continue to do so in the future unless the CIC interests undertake vigorous lobbying and education programs and awareness campaigns to enhance their understanding.“[p. 7][emphasis added]. UNQUOTE

In 2016 CAI published its survey[3] of large-scale associations (LSA) that revealed some insights into the strength and dominance CAI attorneys who are involved with the policies and operations of LSA HOAs. CAI  defines these associations as having more than 1,000 lots with an operating budget  of $2,000,000 or more, and that “provide municipal type services.

QUOTECAI’s Large-Scale Managers (LSM) Committee . . . provides input on education curriculum, best practices, public policies related to management or operations of large-scale community associations, or identifying what is of value to the large-scale manager membership” [p. 2]. UNQUOTE

By “municipal type services,” CAI explains,

QUOTE “Many municipal governments viewed this new community housing concept as a means to transfer various public works and recreational responsibilities to a third party, which possessed the ability to assess property owners for the administration of these varied services.” UNQUOTE

The facts revealed

You may ask, so what has CAI really done or is this mere words? Based on CAI’s own data in the 2016 LSA survey, with only 94 respondents, readers can see the extent of CAI’s presence in these large scale HOAs — these master planned communities and these active-adult and retirement communities.  Reworking the data, the study revealed that 83.5% use an HOA attorney, which is not surprising for HOAs that can have as many as 9,000 homes or more and revenues that can reach upwards to $20,000,000.

Also not so surprising is that 92.5% of the HOA’s top leaders – president, CAM/COO — are CAI members in a strong case for conflict of interests.  As for senior staff, 64.9% are CAI members, and just 44.7% are on the BOD.  Understand that an HOA can have one or all three categories at the same time.

Consequences

I ask again, who runs the HOA, and where does the BOD’s advice come from if not from the teachings of the CAI School of HOA Governance? I suspect that the smaller the HOA the lower the percentages using an attorney or having CAI member HOA officials. The money isn’t there! 

This translates into follow the money that focuses legislators, the media, the political scientists, and the constitutional law think tanks on the LSA HOAs, treating the smaller HOAs as local nuisances. This is one good reason for failures in obtaining meaningful HOA reforms and even daily operational reforms.

References


[1] The foundation and principles of the School can be traced back to CAI’s Public Policies, The CAI Manifesto (its 2016 “white paper”), its numerous seminars and conferences, its Factbooks and surveys, its amicus briefs to the courts, and its advisories, letters, emails, newsletters, blogs etc. I have designated these foundations and principles collectively as the CAI School of HOA Governance.

[2]  Community Next: 2020 and Beyond (May 5, 2016).

[3] Large Scale Associations CAI study, 2016.

If only advocates would stand up to CAI

This month, April 18th and 21st,  I posted comments[1] on the dereliction of duty by state legislatures and the need for the DOJ to investigate state legislatures as well as the undue influence by CAI teachings in its School of HOA Governance[2]  Yesterday, the 23rd, it seems that CAI is trying to soften its misleading statements and failure to disclose the whole truth about HOA-Land.  Previously I had commented upon Kelly G. Richardson’s[3]  2020 article  in The Public Record,[4]

“Richardson seems to be saying that indeed a director has a fiduciary duty to the member but that duty to the HOA comes first.   He further warns directors, who have relevant knowledge and expertise, to remain mum and not speak out least he be sued. If the director chooses to speak out as he should do in the best interests of the HOA, ‘the director is not acting as a director but is an unpaid consultant and could be held liable for their advice.’”[5]

In yesterday’s “ HOA Homefront: What surprises lurk in your CC&Rs?”[6]  Richardson added to his attempt to “tell it like it is” revealing some hidden aspects of CC&Rs. (Emphasis added).

“Here are 11 things about CC&Rs that might surprise you, before you read them. 

“CC&Rs bind all owners, regardless of whether they read it, understood it, or received a full copy of it. As a recorded document, CC&Rs are a “covenant running with the land,” meaning a legal commitment attaching to the land and therefore its owners.

“Normally enforced by courts, even if they seem unreasonable. The California Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that CC&Rs are presumed enforceable, with some narrow exceptions (such as if they contradict a law).

Original developer-supplied CC&Rs often are boilerplate with parts not applicable to the community. This is because the developer’s primary interest is to obtain quick approval from the Department of Real Estate to begin selling the homes.

As limits upon owner autonomy, CC&Rs can seem intrusive at times. These limits help to protect neighbors from unneighborly behavior and against properties detracting from the community.”

I must admit he comes clean to a certain degree admitting to some of those hidden aspects of CC&Rs, which the interested parties including legislators and the media should have been made aware prior to any decision-making, or before buying a home in an HOA. Too late after the fact!  Additionally,  Richardson fails to “call for action” — frequently used by CAI chapters — to correct these silent gotchas by adopting my proposed legislation,[7] which plainly says,

“The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have under law and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees 1) to be bound by the US and State Constitutions, and laws of the State within which it is located, as if it were a subdivision of the state and a local public government entity, and 2) that constitutional law shall prevail as the supreme law of the land including over conflicting laws and legal doctrines of equitable servitudes. Legislative dereliction of duty

“Furthermore, any governing documents of an association not in compliance with the above shall be deemed amended to be in compliance, and notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, a homeowners’ association shall be deemed to have amended its governing documents to be in compliance.

Lesson to be learned

For far too many years advocates and homeowners have failed to rally against the heavy influence of CAI on state legislators and the media, thereby allowing CAI to set the tone unchallenged.  This failure demonstrates a severe weakness to achieve HOA reforms of substance.  It is widely known, and proven countless times in other successful arenas, that legislation is accomplished by means of a widespread outcry by the “victims.”  Former Colorado Senator Morgan Carroll strongly advises her readers,

We elect people to represent our interests, but our elected representatives cannot adequately represent you unless they hear from you. . . . If you don’t participate in your government, then the only remaining participants in the system are legislators and lobbyists.” 

It has been a long time failure by homeowner rights advocates to achieve meaningful, constitutional reforms. For whatever reason for this lack of involvement in a nationally united front, the practical reality has been the continued control and dominance by the CAI School of HOA Governance.[8] 

As an aside, CAI’s March “Call For Action”, “Grassroots Advocacy Initiatives Are More Essential Than Ever,” seems to be desperately seeking more active grassroots  involvement by its members, yet advocates remain silent.

“It is more important than ever for CAI advocates to engage in grassroots activism across the country. CAI believes it’s crucial for our members to tell legislators their stories and help them better understand the need for proper public policy decisions when approaching state legislation regulating community associations.”[9]  

Presently, Colorado’s HB 21-1229 is falling by the wayside as well as Arizona’s HB 2052, resurrected from last year’s SB 1412, both excellent reform bills.  California is facing problems with  SB 391 and in Florida  SB 623 (2020) went into defeat.

If only more had come forward and challenged, criticized, and exposed CAI we would have achieved much, much more.  Richardson’s article offers an excellent opportunity to step up to the plate!

References


[1] See Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs and   State legislatures must be held accountable for dereliction of duty.

[2] The foundation and principles of the School can be traced back to CAI’s Public Policies, The CAI Manifesto (its 2016 “white paper”), its numerous seminars and conferences, its Factbooks and surveys, its amicus briefs to the courts, and its advisories, letters, emails, newsletters, blogs etc. I have designated these foundations and principles collectively as the CAI School of HOA Governance.

[3] Kelly G. Richardson: CAI Board of Trustees 2011-2017; Community Associations Institute (CAI), National, President, 2016; College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL), 2006; CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee, Chair, 2009, 2010; National Association of Realtors; California State Bar Association, Real Estate & Litigation Sections.

[4] HOA Homefront: Fiduciary Duty – What It Is, And Is NOT,

[5] CAI School faculty advice – managing HOAs.

[6] The Press-Enterprise, News, Housing, Opinion (April 23, 2021).

[7] See for example, Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs.

[8] Supra n. 2.

[9] See Grassroots Advocacy Initiatives Are More Essential Than Ever .

State legislatures must be held accountable for dereliction of duty

While U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a DOJ investigation into the Minneapolis police department, the AG must also start a sweeping investigation into the dereliction of duty by state legislatures in their unconstitutional support, promotion and encouragement of homeowner association legislation.  

(See Legislative dereliction of duty: supporting HOAs). 

Legislation, which affects some 23% of all Americans living in an HOA, that permits contractual, authoritarian private governments  (HOAs or community associations) not accountable to the US Constitution.

The DOJ must also investigate the role and extent of the influence on state legislatures by the national, self-proclaimed expert in HOA law, the Community Associations Institute (CAI) and its affiliate, The Foundation for Community Association Research.  The DOJ must examine the extent of the teachings of the CAI School of HOA Governance has had in creating longtime conditioning and indoctrination of legislators, the media, and the public.  

“CAI School” is a term that I use to describe the collection of all CAI statements, publications and including seminars, programs, classes, etc. that constitute the CAI Manifesto.

State legislatures must be held accountable for any undue influence by pro-HOA special interests.  CAI must be held accountable for the content of its pro-HOA advocacy.