An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published December 17, 2011


Sick and tired of a board that followed the "playbook" of liens and foreclosures established by attorney Thomas R. Slaten from the law firm Larsen & Associates P.A., the homeowners of the FRISCO BAY COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, INC. in Orlando used the annual elections to remove the foreclosure-happy board members from office and replaced them with community members who ran on a ticket of: LET'S BE NEIGHBORLY!


And the new board members, Ray Stage, Andrew Hicks and Scott Paxton, didn't take long to start making the much-needed changes they promised in their campaign. They fired the association attorney and suspended all pending foreclosure proceedings. More money, coming from a landscaping contract where the bid was overpaid by $1,000 and the big decrease in legal fees, was used to beef up private security services, much needed after a rash of break-ins and home invasions in the area.


But their first order of business: Talk with all the neighbors with dues in arrears and try to find solutions that enables these owners to catch up with overdue maintenance payments. 


Many of the other owners, very happy with the changes in their community, joined a committee that will promote fundraisers to help neighbors in need to deal with the economic crisis. They revived the "NEIGHBORLY" spirit -- and promised this policy will continue -- not only being used for the upcoming holidays.


This new approach used by the new board members quickly showed results. Neighbors greet -- and talk to -- neighbors again, community meetings draw a great attendance with proposals for improvement coming from the owners and money starts coming into the association coffers. Neighbors feel better about this approach -- nobody in his right mind likes families to lose their homes.


Maybe board members in other communities should as well adopt this playbook created by the new board of the Frisco Bay Community Association, Inc. The first results are very promising, considering the new "SPIRIT" in this community -- and the financial improvement caused by owners trying to catch up with unpaid dues and the serious decrease in legal bills.


In former times neighbors brought neighbors in need chicken soup and cookies; nowadays many chose to serve their neighbors with lawsuits and foreclosure notices. As the example of the Frisco  Bay Community Association shows, neighbors helping neighbors might be a good solution to deal with the financial crisis that has befallen many of our community associations. While apathy rules in many community associations, this example shows that neighbors can create the much-needed changes to take back their community!


It seems that the "LET'S BE NEIGHBORLY" approach really works.