|Southlands Homeowners - Vote No!|
|Written by John|
|Sunday, 13 May 2007|
Very Seldom do I write about local / personal matters on this site.
In fact, I've neglected to write much of anything here in the past several months...
But a recent letter, and 7 pages of suggested "enhancements" to our local home-owners association covenants, has urged me to address this important issue.
Why vote NO? First I would pose the question - Why change? What's broken? What needs so desperately to be fixed?
We've lived here for 8 years now, and the subdivision has existed longer than that using the covenants that were in place. We faced a random and arbitrary Assessment increase, both last year and this, with the only explanation being "our neighbors pay more". I don't care what the residents of Willow Tree pay, frankly. This is not about keeping up with the neighbors expenditures... it's about our association and what they do to protect our common property and facilities with the assements necessary to do so.
All the new covenants do is:
A - Make it easier for the Board and officers to spend, and increase, the assessments, and their power over YOUR private property ( see 1, 4, 5, 6 as easy to spot examples...)
B- Increase their power and control over you and your personal property (See 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 12 for easy to spot examples)
We are a INDIVIDUALS, who chose to move into these homes because of the COMMON benefits (Swim, park, tennis) that were provided. We have not come together in a commune, where everything is common property.
1 - The association can adopt rules, regulations, and design standards to further clarify and expand upon the use of RESTRICTIONS and architechtural provisions to govern the entire community, not just the COMMON areas.
- This means, that YOU, as the home owner, agree that YOU are surrendering control of your home and property to the whims and desires of others.
2 - You must allow the "Architectural control committee" to approve any change to the exterior of your property, including landscaping.
- And they don't set a limit on the time to approve or disprove the changes, but they do insist that regardless of circumstance YOU must finish those modifications or improvements in 60 days, and begin the project within one month of their approval. And you have to bear the expense of submitting 2 plans! Want to re-landscape the front of your house? Get permission. Board decides they don't like the fact that you just have plain landscaping? They can make you change it to suit "their" whims...
3 - The association is granted the right to use Self Help to enter an owners property to cure violations...
- They want YOU to give them permission to tresspass upon your property at will, for any purpose they deem necessary to correct any perceived violation - Like dig up a tree or bush that they feel is objectionable...
4 - The Association is entitled to collect a transfer fee...
- They want financial benefit if you sell your home, equal to an additional annual assessment.
5 - Instead of having the budget approved by a majority of home owners (51% to approve), 75% must DISAPPROVE!
6 - The board no longer needs 2/3 of the association to approve a budget increase! They can vote it themselves!
7 - The association is permitted to TOW any vehicles in violation of the parking provisions.
- So, if Uncle Larry is down on his luck, and moves in with you for a few months, "They" can tow his car if they deem it to be in violation of parking restrictions - And don't even think about getting your teenager their own car, unless your house has a 3 or 4 car garage - because consistant parking on the driveway or street is a VIOLATION!
8 - The association limits leasing to 2% of total homes (ONLY 4)
- So, you want to move, can't sell, but you can lease it or rent it to prevent loosing your shirt, but they want you to grant them full control over your ability to do so.
9 - The Association requires any homeowner who desires to lease or rent their home "a right of veto" over the terms and conditions you may negotiate in your lease.
- This is YOUR property. Why would you freely grant control over your property to a collective who may not have YOUR best interest at heart?
10 - Reduce the number of people required to ammend the covenants... from 75% to 2/3.
- Fewer votes required if they wish to attempt to sieze more of your rights...
11 - Instead of electing officers, a "board of directors" will be elected, and they will select who is in charge....
12 - Any "lien" they choose to impose would be "automatic" and not require them to file in the courthouse.
-A blatant violation of due process.
And those are just the lowlights from the 2 pages of the summary....
In the table that follows the summary, they clarify a few things... Like the need for 2 plans to be submitted to the Architectural comitte for any change - At your sole expense.
And, the right to tell you to stop work if they feel you've deviated. Even the right to inspect is a violation of your right to privacy and personal property.
The "improved" covenants grant the board the power to borrow $10,000, which you would be obligated to pay through your assessments, or special assessments! That is ridiculous and unsupportable. Before those "tennis courts" were built for the dozen or so residents who use them there was a SURPLUS BALANCE equal to more than one full years assessments. Where has all that money gone??
These changes also grant the board full power to transfer our park and pool to the county, making them PUBLIC lands that we all have paid for.
They also choose to re-define Quorum. A Quorum typically means, by general definition, a majority. So, instead of requiring a majority to vote on issues at home-owners meetings, they want to reduce that number to 15% - or just 35.
They want YOU to agree to put control of your right to the common areas, and to your own private property, into the hands of just 35 of your neighbors.
The board can dictate to you when they feel your house is in need of maintenance.... And you get 10 days to fix the problem. Regardless of your circumstances. You may not have the money, or be out of work, but you get 10 days - or they can put a lien on your property.
The change to Article VIII, section 1, amounts to what the founding fathers referred to as "corruption of blood". This change means, that should something happen to you, your 'sucessor' assumes any liability you may have with the "association", even if they didn't agree to it.
Over all, these "covenants" are in poor judgement, and serve no one but the Board itself. The board and those who support these changes don't point to any problem that needs fixing, but do point to the fact that some in our community feel that they need control over what the others here do.
Vote NO to these changes. Defend YOUR right to be safe and secure in your property.