Re: The Tyranny of Homeowners Associations
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2013 07:35:15 -0800 (PST)
On Feb 23, 2013, at 7:43 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:

> HOAs have powers and duties similar to governments?  Omigosh, how did this 
> happen?

Very nice post on Homeowner Associations and Boards, Phil. 

One of the tragedies of modern life is lack of understanding of the importance 
of governance. This was a much more deeply felt topic in the years between 1850 
and 1950 when people were struggling to build new democratic governments out of 
the remains of revolutions. The refrain of progressive education in the early 
part of the 20th century was the importance of universal education in order to 
maintain a democracy.

In a democracy we govern ourselves, but the skills and understanding to do so 
have to start in the family, the neighborhood, the schools, and villages, and 
work their way up. People who abdicate their responsibilities get what they get.

The same is true of our government as well as our Homeowner Associations. The 
Board only has as much power as we give them, and the only people on the Board 
are the ones we elect, or like Takoma Village, allow to be nominated. Bucking 
the system is hard but it's the only way to confront the issue of badly 
performing board members. These are people with the same skills and 
deficiencies that each of us has.

Voting is not enough. Voting is actually nothing. It's the day to day 
understanding of what decisions are being made, how they are made, and 
evaluation of their results that is important. It's a daily process, not a 
voting booth process -- though even attention to that would be a start for the 
vast majority.

Having served on a Boards, one understands completely why board members become 
Condo Commandos. The behavior of homeowners. They don't participate, don't 
educate themselves, and don't pay attention even to the financial health of 
their communities. It takes lot of work to make the decisions board members 
have to make. To do all the research and study that each decision takes is 
overwhelming and to have gently coax homeowners (or jerk them up by their 
collars) to make them pay attention is more than most board members have time 
for. Being a board member means giving up many evenings and weekends to do the 
work required. Homeowners have to do the same if they want good communities.

Each homeowner, and each citizen, has to put in an equal amount of energy in 
order to participate in decisions and to help board members make good 
decisions. That or leave it to someone else and take the consequences, which is 
what most people do. And then sit around and complain.

(I'm particularly frustrated with lack of attention to governance this week, as 
you can see.)

I have two websites on this topic and am planning to combine them but it takes 
time, time, time.
Making Freedom and Equality a Reality

Sharon Villines
Co-author with John Buck of We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy, a 
Guide to Sociocratic Principles and Methods. Which is a book on Governance

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