Homeowners' Associations - America's Gulags?
Article Courtesy of NewsMax.com
By Phil Brennan
Posted November 27, 2003

St. Joan of Arc parish in Boca Raton, Fla., recently lost a magnificent banyan tree when the huge monument to ancient Florida foliage that towered over the parish school split wide open and came crashing down.

This event came to the attention of the official guardians of all that is good and fitting and proper for Boca's landscape, who decreed that the late banyan be replaced by not one, but four new trees. 

As of the moment, the Boca busybody bureaucracy responsible for making such life-and-death decisions has not yet decided what kinds of trees must be planted. Such vital decisions, after all, cannot be made on the spur of the moment.

Now, for those not familiar with the peculiarities of life in Boca Raton, this city is deeply immersed in the belief that the city must be perfect in all respects a notion that has communicated itself to some of the city's pampered residents, one of whom once wrote to the city's newspaper complaining that the sand on the beach was too hot. It burned his feet and why didn't the city do something about it? 

But that would have pitted the city against the sun, which was a sure winner here in the Sunshine State

Boca is also the place which once decreed that no more than 40,000 residential units could be built within its sheltered confines. This was intended to discourage hordes of what a number of the then-residents described as "undesirables" or "riffraff from Broward country" just south of Boca's borders where, by the way, my sainted parents lived from participating in a barbarian invasion of our precious paradise.

As a result of what became known as the "40,000 Unit Cap," later judged by the Supreme Court as something of a dunce cap and egregiously unconstitutional, hordes of new residents flocked to Boca to avoid being shut out when the no-trespassing signs went up. It's not known how many "undesirables" have infiltrated the city since the cap came off.

But Boca isn't alone. All across the nation cities, and especially homeowner's associations, are creating gulags where residents are now seen as inmates needing to be kept in line by vigilant zoning boards, homeowner's association storm troopers and condominium boards.

At the moment, a city south of Boca is assailing a resident who painted his house purple and gold, the colors of his alma mater. He is being ordered to repaint his house or else.

Now, I don't think I'd get ecstatic over having one of my neighbors adopt that particular color scheme, but I don't think that I or any of my neighbors or the municipal authorities have any right, in a nation whose motto was once "Don't Tread on Me," to dictate what are essentially matters of personal taste. 

If his neighbors don't like it, why don't they buy him out? But no, they'd rather have the authorities do the dirty work for them.

Not too far from where I live, a former Marine who dared to fly the American flag on his premises, where the homeowner's Gestapo forbids such displays, faced ruinous fines and the foreclosure of his house for his heinous offense of displaying Old Glory.

In my own community, the homeowner's association used a surly property management functionary to harass the residents who were paying his monthly fees. He routinely misread the association documents, decreeing violations where there were none. 

My neighbors, thank God, finally had enough and raised the "Don't Tread on Me" banner. They replaced the board and fired the property manager. In a community of 48 residences, who the hell needs a property manager to begin with? I'll tell you who several of our neighbors who needed someone to hide behind as they sought to tell the rest of us how to live.

As Tom De Weese, publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and president of the American Policy Center, recently wrote in Capitalism magazine: 

"While it would be nice to let all of the control freaks and frustrated Property Nazis live together in their walled compounds, unfortunately, that's not reality. The problem is, as land use controls under Sustainable Development policies become more widely imposed, HOA's are growing at rapid rates. In Fairfax County, VA, more than 90% of all town homes, condos and single family homes are now in HOA's.

"For those of you not yet facing the tyranny of having your neighbors empowered with the ability to control, place liens and even take your property if they dislike the color of your paint job, here are a few examples of what you have to look forward to.

A couple from Lawrenceville, GA, found they had a $3,500 lien on their house when they tried to sell it. The homeowner's association had been fining them every day they left pink flamingos on their lawn, but didn't tell them.

A Tampa, FL, woman thought her attorney had paid all of her delinquent HOA fees of more than $4,000, but she was wrong by $497. It cost her the house. The HOA foreclosed and held a court auction. A property company snapped up the house for $4,651, the price of the HOA's legal fees, then sold it for $88,000.

A family that cares for foster children in Port Richey, FL, was threatened with eviction from their residential development. The association considered having foster kids a business because the state paid $2,028 a month to care for the children. Having a business in the home was against HOA rules.

A man from Rancho Santa Fe, CA, lost his home because he planted too many roses on his four-acre site. The HOA board fined him and watched monthly as the fines mounted. When they slapped a lien in his home, he went to court and lost. He was stuck with the board's $70,000 legal fees and lost his home to the bank.
"Common ownership developments are the fastest growing form of residential development in America. When a homeowner signs the HOA agreement at closing they have signed away their property rights. It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over your most valuable asset your home. Homeowners associations are the enforcers."

As the American Homeowners Resource Center's news service advises: "You don't need to reform or repair homeowner's associations, you simply need to eliminate them. They are depriving people of the right to ever truly 'own' property. They create double taxation. They are government condoned 'thugs', offering 'property value protection' and to do things like mow some grass that is normally handled by developers and cities using the taxes we already pay!

"The homeowner's associations are weeds that have suddenly popped up in an otherwise very nice garden The United States of America. We need to tend to our gardens and destroy these weeds before they destroy the garden.

"We've lost prayer in schools, [we're] losing the 10 commandments ... and now we're losing our homes ... what's next?"

Here in the land of the free we are being forced into gulags run by cities and states, homeowner's and condominium association boards, zoning authorities, courts that legislate, and radical environmentalist organizations pushing the sustainable development scam and outrages such as the absurd Endangered Species Act that puts bugs above humans.

It's time to raise the "Don't Tread on Me" banner!