Initially, at least in theory, Homeowner Associations (HOAs), seemed like a good idea. A group of homeowners, living in a single community, joining together to voice their common concerns and protect their common interests, and to enforce the community's legal code---otherwise known as the Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
Unfortunately, in practice, this has not been the case. HOAs have, in fact, become dictatorial quasi-governments, granting themselves powers never intended to be granted by the legislature.
The abuses perpetrated by HOAs are legendary. Let us look at just few of the more egregious HOA violations of privacy and property rights. An elderly Fountain Valley man, suffering from Hodgkins' disease, was ordered by his HOA to REMOVE BOOKS AND PAPERS FROM HIS BED AND DISCARD OLD CLOTHING FROM HIS HOME! Fortunately, California's Supreme Court saw through this HOA nonsense, ruling in favor of the property owner and ordering the HOA to pay damages.
Meanwhile, in Rancho Santa Margarita, a homeowner was told by his HOA that HE WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO FLY THE AMERICAN FLAG AT HIS HOME! Since this homeowner did not have the time or money to hire an attorney and take the HOA to court, the issue remained unresolved for some time. Sadly, it took the tragic events of 911 to persuade the state legislature to enact a law barring HOAs from fining homeowners who dared to fly the American flag at their home!
Let's look at a few more examples of HOA chutzpah. In Santa Ana, a young couple was accused of CC&R violations for LEAVING TOYS ON THEIR LAWN and LEAVING THEIR VENETIAN BLINDS ASKEW (horrors!). In Laguna Niguel, an HOA protested a young family's swing set for their toddlers, supposedly because IT WAS THE WRONG COLOR!
This is but the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are numerous horror stories of home foreclosures by HOAs over unpaid $5 late charges, and other equally absurd aleged "offenses". HOA boards of directors are not above the law---even though some may think they are. When they violate a homeowner's property rights, or rights of privacy, or freedom of speech, they need to be held accountable in a court of law and required to pay damages. For a more in-depth analysis of HOAs, you are encouraged to visit the excellent website of the American Homeowners Resource Center, at www.AHRC.com.
Former Laguna Niguel City Councilman
Candidate for Orange County Board of Supervisors (5th District)
"A Voice --- Not an Echo"