Homeowners buck association
By Karina Ioffee 
April 30, 2002 

 Couple cited 28 times for violating rules and facing lien decide to fight
A.E. Araiza / Staff 

Battling the rules: Maryssa and Kelly Barker, left, and brother- and sister-in-law Jaime and Lily Medina are in front of the Barkers' house. 

Kelly and Maryssa Barker used to love their spacious home, graced by trees and a carefully trimmed yard in a new subdivision on the North Side. 

That was before the couple began receiving letters from the managing company for the homeowners association, citing them for such violations as parking on the street and not removing the trash can on time. 

Since moving to the home in April 2001, the couple has received 28 citations, the last one informing them that a lien had been placed on their home. 

A local real estate lawyer says cases like the Barkers' underline the importance of reviewing all bylaws, agreements and rules of a homeowners association before buying a home that is part of one. 

Homeowners must abide by those documents or face fines, said David McEvoy, a real estate attorney with McEvoy, Daniels & Darcy. 

If a bill in the state Senate - proposed by Glendale Republican Sen. Roberta Voss - becomes law, homeowners will be able to appeal bylaws and rules they deem unfair in a process independent of the association's board. 

The Barkers understand that "there are certain rules" they must abide by, but they don't agree with citations they've been given. "It seems like they've taken us to an extreme," said Kelly Barker, 28. 

They also contend that Cadden Community Management, engaged by Casa del Rio Homeowners' Association, is singling them out because Maryssa's family members, who also live in the home, are Mexican. 

Repeated phone calls to the presidents of the association and the managing company were not returned. 

Other Casa del Rio residents say the Barkers are overreacting and that people of various races and nationalities, including Asian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern, live in the neighborhood without any problems from the association. 

"You have to protect property values or they'll go down," said Jack Gaxiola-Oakley, who lives in the same development north of West River Road and west of North Oracle Road. 

The couple has appealed to numerous agencies for help. And the state Attorney General's Office has begun an investigation into the matter, scheduled to be completed mid-June. 

Barker said that when he attended board meetings to voice his concerns, he felt ignored. 

"Homeowners associations are often run like the good ol' boys network where a committee recommends certain people to be elected to the board," said Phoenix Republican Sen. Tom Smith, who proposed a similar bill last year. "And the only ones they recommend are the people who agree with them." 

If passed, the bill would allow residents to run for positions on the board and prevent the use of liens for violations without court action. 

"The whole purpose is to basically get rid of bad boards," said Voss, the author of the proposed bill. "The threshold is so high for some of these associations that it is impossible to get rid of (board members)." 

The Barkers have repeatedly been cited for parking cars on the street. They have two spaces in their garage and another two in the driveway but say four are not enough because relatives often come for a visit and sometimes spend the night. 

Other violations the Barkers have received and contest include leaving a mop to dry in the front yard and not trimming their weeds. 

Gaxiola-Oakley, who lives near the Barkers, was once so concerned about the way the homeowners association was operating that he wrote a letter to the residents of the neighborhood. 

"Several homeowners have told me in confidence that they have considered moving to get away from the intimidating 'Gestapo' tactics of the management company," he wrote. "I have strongly considered moving but would rather try and change the way we are being managed." 

Since then, Gaxiola-Oakley has formed a committee to look at the bylaws and policies. One of the committee's proposals is to issue guest passes to temporarily parked cars. 

While he sympathizes with the Barkers, Gaxiola-Oakley also says their experience serves as a warning to potential home buyers. 

"If you can't live under the rules, then become part of a committee to change them or look for another place to live," he said. 

The Barkers said they will wait for the results of the attorney general's investigation before deciding what to do. Moving out of the neighborhood is not one of the options they are considering. 

"Before I get kicked out of this home or move out," said Kelly Barker, "I will fight them to the end."