The CotoBuzz Journal

Community Journalism, Newsletters and  Blogs Covering South Orange County, CA

The CotoBuzz Journal is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) and NAHJ

   

SEPTEMBER 2007 ISSUE

We do not make jokes, we simply watch the LA Times, the Orange County Register and the Coto de Caza Board of directors and report the facts!

 

HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS:  A CLUB YOU DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO

August 14, 2007

by Donie Vanitzian, JD
(c) 2007 Vanitzian
 
This ain't no party!  This ain't no disco!  This ain't no community!
 
The premise behind the concept of homeowner associations is discussed at length in the book "Villa Appalling! Destroying the Myth of Affordable Community Living" by Vanitzian & Glassman.  The premise is really very simple; the homeowner association's success depends on the constant replacement of those who can no longer afford to stay and pay.  Any owner depending on their "homeowner association" for "anything" will soon learn that the results inevitably lead to a loss of personal freedom and a diminished quality of life.
Under California's Davis-Stirling Act it is not hard to "Spend Other People's Money" without risk.  The name of that no-risk institution is "homeowner association."  The aiders and abettors that are free to implement and then perpetrate the legalized fraud are called a "board of directors."  The catalyst and major aider and abettor to the board of directors is in the form of a "no risk" insurance policy called "indemnification."  [FN1]
 
The simplicity of the scam is brilliant, it centers around a board of directors who suffer no risk whatsoever in their spending sprees using other people's money, so much so, that the board does not care if the:
 
*owner doesn't like it there;
*owner was scammed into making the purchase;
*owner is angry with the board;
*owner complains;
*owner disagrees with the boards expenditures;
*owner asks to see association books and records;
*owner hates the landscaping;
*owner hates the other owners;
*owner hates the manager and management company;
*owner doesn't agree with the amount of assessments;
*owner has large mortgage payments;
*owner is about to lose their home;
*owner believes the association is rife with theft and embezzlement;
*owner believes the association is corrupt;
*owner sells and moves. . . that is, if the association allows the owner to sell and move.
 
NEW RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
 
Residential deed-restricted communities are disgusting.  Every weekend like clockwork I am forced to listen to some idiot's symphonic concerto blasting away as if it were the second coming.  On the other side of me I'm forced to endure the holy-rollers who sing and pray for all sinners to be saved.  Itís a fairly safe bet that my homeowner association has not yet been "saved."  In fact, if I were a betting man I'd bet that the Hell ya'll been looking for is right here in my association.  On the weekends my other "neighbor" holds a LOUD prayer group aimed at converting Jews to Christianity, never mind that I'm Jewish.  I dare not complain about any of those situations, but my husband finally at his wits end yelled out the window "you mean you're not saved yet!"  The pulpit pounding stopped long enough for the hate mail to begin.  Through my door slot came the anonymous "we hate Jews" swastikas and the "Jews go home" flyers -- don't get too excited the police and the national news picked up the story but guess what?  No one was arrested.  If that isn't unnerving enough, there are the dueling-psychos.  One in front, the other in back.  I'll save that gem for another article, but trust me on this, they ARE psychos.
 
In the homeowner association environment it doesn't matter that you are "credible," in a stable relationship, have a full-time job, pay your bills on time, are "hard-working" and are a person of "good character."  The fact that you own property inside a common interest development and belong to a homeowner association instantly puts you and your assets at risk and makes you vulnerable to any number of scams and ploys.
 
Those wanting to leave their beige life behind will learn there is only ONE thing between being able to exit and attaining the coveted personal freedom they long for.  Without that ONE thing there is "no exit."  The Homeowner Association has only one bottom line:  leave your money behind.  Other than its statutory business-as-usual-revenge-and-retaliation tactics, the association is interested in ONLY one thing:  Your Money.  You want your freedom?  You pay for it.  This legalized system of bribes and extortion is the only contingency between you and your freedom.
 
HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP IS A LEGALIZED DOG FIGHT THAT NEVER STOPS
 
If you own "something" within a common interest development with a homeowners association don't worry about property rights because you don't have any.  Why?  You don't own "property."  What you own is "liability."  Because you now own a "liability," you are a dog in a fight to keep your personal assets from diminishment.  Your dogfight is with the other dogs who are mauling your freedoms, livelihood, and bank accounts.  They are rabid dogs frothing at the mouth for another bite of your ass-ets.
 
The authors of Villa Appalling! warn buyers when purchasing this particular type of housing to allow extra income in their budgets to include "protection money."  Part of that "protection money" will be sucked up by attorneys you will be forced to hire at any given time during your ownership.
 
No matter how desperate the owner is to hire an attorney, be forewarned about a new breed of lawyers who are basically "hugs and smiles" while feigning concern for your homeowner association-related problems.  Too many of these [starving-looking-for-fresh-revenue] attorneys will often want to get somewhere using the fastest lane -- YOU are the fast lane for that attorney.  Why?  You are a PAYING client.  In laymen language, that could equate to a lawyer "using your money as THEIR training wheels to a speedy financial success."  Where else would those individuals be able to attain status and financial success so quickly with nothing more than supplying clients with their "opinion" right or wrong, its still just an "o-p-i-n-i-o-n" for a fee.

One of the quickest ways for those in that profession to make the biggest bucks is to find a "dogfight" and there are plenty of those out there from association to association.
 
Optimistic that this scenario will change?  Don't be.  Not too long ago I attempted to contact a particular Legislator in an attempt to "work with" him/her to try to deliver the homeowner vote so that we might have someone, anyone, in our legislature that would listen and assist the owners rather than the special interests.  I was told back then, that that person was not interested in the homeowner vote (a) because of homeowner apathy, meaning they cannot be counted on to deliver a vote, and (b) because they were "homeowners."  Fast forward to a more recent conversation with an attorney who was coincidentally in a fairly powerful position in that particular Legislator's office before the Legislator left office.  The attorney wants to pick my brains for ways to gain homeowners as clients as this person says to me in so many words, that's a goldmine ripe for the pickin'.  I casually bring up the aforementioned Legislator and campaigning, and the homeowner vote; and this person proceeds to tell me without missing a beat that the Legislator would not have been interested in the homeowner vote because the Legislator is/was only interested in "businesses" and now this person says "I have to go to lunch."  
 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[FN1] See generally Vanitzian, Common Interest Developments--Homeowners Guide (Thomson/West, 2006-2008)
 

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