“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7)
In my 2020 Rogue Presidents post  I warned:
“I’ve come to the conclusion that the HOA social and political dynamics are identical as we have witnessed on the broad national scale. I am not sure as to what came first, the chicken or the egg? To what extend has the HOA independent principality mentality and legal scheme contributed to the national scene? Or are the HOA dynamics just a reflection of the broader culture in America today?”
I am not a psychologist or sociologist but a student all my life of leadership in government, corporate, and military. Based on the events over the past 2 years —and showing no signs of abating for the next 2 years — regarding the staunch, cult follower support of Donald Trump by Republicans at the federal and state levels, I must lean toward a national, cultural change in America. It has led to a rejection of the Constitution and all its principles and values that truly made America great.
America today is no better that the banana republics and totalitarian governments that hypocritical politicians openly criticize. The guiding rule for politicians that was “to avoid the appearance of impropriety” has become outright lying to the face of the public, redefining the traditional meaning of words, as George Orwell portrayed in his book 1984, to advance the political views of the cultists as necessary for America’s survival.
To a lessor extent, but functioning in parallel with the national malaise, are the private government HOAs. With the members exhibiting the same cultist conduct that the HOA president and board can do no wrong.
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 municipalConcern.’”
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.
By this time I believe some are beginning to realize the larger objective of my posts. It’s about HOA-LAND, that collection of HOAs across America, and SCG was just a prime subject for study that provided detailed documentation. Through acts of commission and of omission, by both the board of directors and the members in general, my research was revealing.
Now that the board of directors meeting was held, without write-ins being allowed and no outcry of foul by the members, I conclude my study of a failure to act in good faith that contained documented violations of state laws and the governing documents.
My case study showed that an HOA with members above average income and education exhibited the same social and political dynamics of the prevalent HOA culture. It is a culture found throughout HOA-LAND that allows for the classification of HOA-LAND as a nation within America, consisting of independent principalities allowed to exist outside the Constitution. In the face of demonstrable violations of the law and the governing documents, the silence by BODs and the majority of the members places HOA communities above the law as outlaw communities.
Although participation in the SCG polls and focus groups was in the thousands, the failure of members to participate in my nonpolitical “Values” poll is indicative of the HOA Culture. It is very disappointing, but not unexpected. Early results do not show a heavy leaning for or against but a balanced response that I see as truthful, honest replies. Another failure by the members to accept criticism.
I was texted by a member who said this failure was due to fear on the part of members. She was partially right; fear is one aspect of the social dynamics of the HOA Culture in SCG. Others texted asking, what does this prove and where are you going with this? In a broader context, we are dealing with simplified explanations by apathetic members. Why is this so?
In my well founded argument of the social and political dynamics at work included findings of the existence of:
an authoritarian environment made possible by members’ authoritarian followers behavior. In short, trusting in authority figures. (It is in keeping with the increase in American authoritarianism);
a cult-like behavior by members who religiously support the board of directors, who completely believe that the BOD can do no wrong, and who will intently not discuss or debate the issues, but ready to attack and disparage the messengers (as found in cult followers);
a “You can’t fight city hall” mentality stemming from the adhesion governing documents granting powers to the HOA and supported by pro-HOA statutes mimicking the governing documents in many ways (the practical ability to seek justice in the courts is subject to unattainable financial and emotional bars;
a “I just don’t care” attitude by members who are in love with the amenities and benefits made possible by the HOA, and the means to that end doesn’t interest them;
a fear in being rejected, ostracized, and socially distanced as “not one of us,” and “should move out if not happy here,” if critical or disagreeing with the prevailing views of the “establishment.” Or, in other words, the equivalent of not being politically correct.
The making of this culture falls only partially on the members to the extent of their being all too willing to accept pro-HOA propaganda — carefree living, affordable housing, resort style living etc. CAI (Community Associations Institute) has for over 40 years 1) heavily influenced and dominated the formation of HOA-Land as an institution – accepted without question as that’s the way it is; and 2) conditioned and indoctrinated the public and members with its CAI School of HOA Governance (my label). NO, that’s not the way it is!
This business trade group has advanced its mission to support its members, the attorney and manager “venders.” Collectively, its program of education and acceptance can be found in its CAI Manifesto, which is a collection of all CAI documentation including town sponsored seminars and conferences, court filings, and legislative testimony in almost every state.
As I presented elsewhere, SCG has a “clique” of CAI members who, over the years, are also or were SCG presidents and directors. And their presence continues and can be seen on the BOD and as committee chairs today.
How SCG, and all HOAs, go forward depends on a proactive and involved membership, starting with reforming pro-HOA state laws and trickling down to conforming governing document revisions.
This CAI ‘white paper’ cements the position that CAI is the sole competent voice for HOA matters. For those who took the time to read all four of these papers, [note 1] what should stand out is the absence of any discussion of HOAs as de facto private governments, as de facto political entities, or as quasi or mini governments both of which imply a political entity. The reason why the authors of these papers, the elitist would be Philosopher Kings, cannot address the question of violations of the Constitution is that they would be “Defending the Indefensible.”
So, as expected of politically motivated actors, ignoring the controversy makes it go away, especially when there’s only one voice of any merit and strength. Facts that are inconsistent with the views of CAI are dogmatically dismissed and ignored. And to this end CAI has been very successful with respect to state legislatures and the cooperating media.
“For more than 40 years, CAI has educated, advocated, published and informed people living and working in common-interest communities. Thanks to those ongoing efforts, we have a strong and valuable understanding of community associations today.”[note 2]
CAI will use these papers to further indoctrinate the legislators, the media and the public that CAI is the only competent, informed, knowledgeable, educational and credentialed organization with 40 years’ experience to conduct HOA affairs and to deal with HOA issues. “Homeowner rights advocates” are ignored and dismissed as an opposition movement. Instead, following the lead of Arizona Rep. Ugenti who in 2013 made the following statement to the Arizona Government Committee:
Ugenti stated that each year there was “a plethora of personal HOA legislation” and tried “to spare the [committee] members the constant agony of many personal pieces of HOA legislation,” as contrasted to the industry legislation. (See video of Ugenti speech here https://youtu.be/REt_TJD-6UQ).
CAI speaks only of “individual constituents” and “isolate incidents” that do not measure up to a policy that the legislature could act on[note 3] (my emphasis):
“Lawmakers have been, and will continue to be, called upon to address concerns expressed by individual constituents who share an isolated incident that has made them unhappy with their community associations. In an effort to help constituents, lawmakers may introduce legislation addressing association governance that may increase and undermine the well-established and proven model of community association governance.
“This trend is expected to continue as long as a legislative response is considered necessary to respond to negative perceptions produced by media out of lone circumstances. Legislative responses to individual constituents contribute to community associations being perceived as over-restrictive micro-governments focused on covenant enforcement. This perception may accelerate legislative efforts aimed at greater oversight of community association governance and require greater transparency.”
They make an accurate assessment of conditions. This failure to present a unified national voice backed by credential authorities will continue to persist into the future. If you stop CAI Central, you destroy all local CAI state chapters’ reason for being. They become just another self-serving special interest.
These papers also contain CAI attempts to influence other dominant organizations like AARP and NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors).[note 4] Furthermore, CAI calls for not only influencing legislatures, but the judges, too.[note 5]
The immediate reaction to the title of this editorial comment from the vast majority of readers, is as I suspect,
Unbelievable, wild statement; No way; I love my HOA; the volunteers work for the community; the board of directors has my interests at heart; I can vote for the directors and on other matters, And anyway, I really don’t care, I’m happy with the amenities, facilities, and protection of my property value.
This blindness toward compliance with the US Constitution and the laws of the land can be traced to the culture of the HOA-Land Nation as I presented in Part 1 of The HOA-Land Nation Within America. As for the false argument that because members can vote for a board of directors makes the HOA democratic, ignores the reality of Cuba, China, Russia, North Korea and other countries where people can also vote for their leaders. Voting alone does not make a democracy.
Other aspects of the HOA model of government that illustrate departures from public government, the Constitution and laws of the land can be found in the HOA-Land Nation publication: lack of oversight protections and the absence of a separation of powers, especially there is no independent judicial function for fair hearings; an absence of meaningful penalties against acts of the Board amounting to absolute immunity; and inadequate fair election procedures as found in public elections.
In all practicality, the HOA private government is based on a business model and not a municipality model, and whoever described a business as being democratic? As such, following the business model, the HOA is a one-party government; the party of the incumbents who control the selection of candidates, who can vote, and the election procedures designed to keep the establishment in power.
Here’s what Gandhi had to say about one-party governments and democracy. With the independence of India from British control in 1947, Mahatma Gandhi reflected on the dominance of the Indian National Congress Party over the newly formed government.
“[Gandhi] realized that a one-party system could actually be a no-party system, for when the government and party are one, the party is a rubber stamp and leads only to a fictitious existence.
‘Without free criticism and potent opposition, democracy dies.
‘Without political criticism and opposition, a nation’s intellect, culture and public morality stagnate; big men are purged and small men become kowtowing pygmies. The leaders surround themselves with cowards, sycophants and groveling yes-men whose automatic approval is misread as a tribute to greatness.’”
(The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, Louis Fischer, The Eaton Press, collector’s edition (1988, initially 1950).
The common culture within the HOA-Land Nation treats any criticism, any opposition, any independent thought not supported or approved by the board of directors as subversive. The members are inculcated into adopting and supporting this attitude and treat such views as harmful to the peace and harmony of the community. Committees of members — opposing political parties – are attacked and treated with hostility. Free political speech and dissent is not tolerated.
With 23% plus Americans living in HOA-Land, the HOA culture has had its effect on national, state and local politics; ignoring the Constitution and laws of the land are easily acceptable and do not constitute a problem for HOA members.