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5/16/2010

HOME OWNER ASSOCIATION Run just like Peoples Republic?


Home Owner Associations wield sole absolute power over residents. Is the Owner of K. Pacific a parallel to Hu Jintao of China?

     Laguna Niguel was originally planned by developers who turned over the maintenance of landscaping, pools, and a variety of open areas to owner run ‘Associations’.  There is no uniformity or legal sameness in the original written ‘Charters’. The first Home Owner Associations were often run by well meaning residents who were unpaid.  Associations collected large sums of money and faced the whining and complaining of a small few. Early do-gooders moved out of those positions after learning it was far easier to lay low and avoid pettiness. Associations hold elections, which often the majority owners never voted in new officers (in some complexes the process vague or difficult). From this grew a new crowd of Boards, cropped with their own agenda. It is not accidental that the guy whose brother owns the largest landscape contractor in the County or the Construction Roofing/decking Corporation gets the seat on the Board. Some Associations later turned accounting over to professional management companies because of fraud, bad math practices and lawsuits.  There is no legal licensing requirement to run a HOA. Some have completed classes on the legal aspects of HOA’s. There are two California organizations, which provide newsletters and informational support.
   Still today, secret contracts are granted to the buddy in the business in the millions of dollars.  An Association will have rules, CCR’s Budget and Bylaws but each complex will has separate rules, which may or may not be followed. There is no uniform enforcement but by the professional management company who can arbitrarily decide permits and file legal actions without cause. And who foots the legal bills? Answer: every resident in the tract.

   Residents of Mission Hills community are currently outraged by the removal of 328 trees for a cost of nearly fifty thousand of their hard earned dollars. The Management Company and the Association seem unavailable for comment. By the next Board meeting date, the trees will already be cut to the nub. Someone might say Eucalyptus gum trees aren’t native. They are fast growing trees that are a fire hazard, fall hazard and whose leaves and trunks are so toxic that they cannot be burned without a toxic hazard permit. I had a full grown Eucalyptus fall on my car at my office (thanks Koll Company who had 3 felled trees in same lot over seven months- Koll Co. claims to not be responsible for their deferred maintenance. I asked them to post a sign saying the trees are a hazard to life and limb- they did not). Others in the community like the privacy or the sounds of rustling winds through the branches. Still more will complain that now the Board has removed the habitat for possums, coyotes and critters we are seeing more of these now disturbed in the canyon and as road kill.
   So why does only one family want to speak with the Orange County Register when they all are complaining in their front yards?  Is it fear of the big bad Board?  Perhaps the Homeowners go to the next meeting and say, we aren’t paying the unauthorized fifty thousand dollar bill?
  Don’t worry, there will be another lawsuit. Only the lawyers appreciate apartheid life behind the Orange Curtain. Buyers beware before you buy in an HOA.  Condominium Associations in all the sand states are far worse; some have no fire insurance policy for the community building.

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