Thursday, August 30, 2007

Punks, Bullies, and HOAs

I heard once that the kids that were bullied in school ended up becoming cops so they could return the favor to society-at-large. Perhaps there is some truth to that, but I suspect that it is more true among homeowners & condo associations nationwide.

If ever there were a place for gestapo mentalities, it's these associations supposedly charged with protecting the interests and property values of the homeowners they are said to represent. However, my experience with them, both personally and in business, is anything but positive.

In business, they will summon you to their property to bid a job or prepare specifications for bidders. Upon arrival, every old fogie/condonazi will inquire as to why you're there. Not satisfied with your response, they'll call security and the property management firm and the association president only to discover that their Board did in fact ask you to be there. (Because apparently people show up all the time making notes about the condition of the facility in work attire.)

Personally, I have found that they do not require any form of education on the part of the elected Board, which largely consists of busy-bodies who are more concerned with asserting their assumed power than with actually improving the overall neighborhood. Where I live, they are more concerned with exercising vendettas and personal agendas under the guise of protecting home values, when in fact their efforts should be applied to homes that indeed have issues (e.g., foreclosures, overgrown lawns, general disrepair, etc.). Instead, these overgrown (some literally), under-matured bullies would rather disregard the State statutes and use their message boards to snipe and pick and allude. If they didn't hold their so-called office, they'd be no different from anyone else. But they do, so they suck from the HOA teet as though they were never weaned from their mommies. They create commotion but achieve nothing. They fight improvement and tolerate mediocrity.

I suspect that the State was well-intentioned when it legislated the concept of such associations. Sadly, they failed to legislate standards by which such organizations would govern themselves and/or accountability to the homeowners. The homeowners, by and large, are so consumed with the more important matters of life (work, kids, schools, sports, etc.) that HOA involvement seems unimportant; then, when Boards behave as the ignorant masses that they do, homeowners feel muted and powerless unless they are willing to research the Statutes or hire private counsel. But then the Board feels threatened and they circle their wagons and use their message boards to offer solace to each other and badger the peasants of their fiefdoms.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. When I look at those who comprise my board, I see a lot of stained clothes, junk food, and gossip. Sadly, I don't see much class or taste which would prevent much of the angst and negative connotation associated with these unofficial officials. Like politicians, if they had the interest of their constituents at heart, they would listen to them. But they don't. And like politicians, they will one day fall under the weight of their own pride and prejudice and another group of ne'er-do-goods will assume their place.

And the cycle will continue. Those homeowners with adequate resources and intelligence will move away and acquire property absent of moronic control; the rest will be forced to tolerate the celebration of mediocrity brought about by the lowest common denominator of their neighborhood.

I wonder who pays for all the chips and cookies at those meetings . . . it's certainly clear who eats them.

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