Letter Re: Survival and Prepping in a Homeowner’s Association

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Hugh,

This article, while I am sure sincere, read like a property builders happy brochure. To think that HOA board members are any more responsive than the Elites in Government(s), is a fool’s dream. Let me put forth my experience with an HOA. I owned a modest, 2 bedroom, 1 bath half plex in a bedroom community of Sacramento. When I moved in, the dues were $75 a month, and for that sum, the HOA mowed my lawn-in front. My home had no backyard, although the rest of the complex had nicely fenced backyards. When I asked why I was basically open to the four winds, I was told that the builder didn’t build one, so if I wanted a backyard, I could build it. I spent $7000 and a friend’s time for a whole summer putting in my backyard. I rented a farmer with a backhoe to dig the pole posts, and Doug and I put up fencing board by board. Then I could call the landscapers! 😉 Fast forward five years. I totally redid the inside, from the sub floors on up. My HOA dues were now $275 a month. They still only mowed the front lawn. Keep in mind, we had zero bar-b-cue areas, playgrounds, pool, spa, exercise rooms, etc. When I needed a new roof, the HOA did pay for it. However, this community, on top of the HOA, also had a community services government function at city hall. The CSA didn’t feel that I needed a new roof, so the woman in charge told me to get on the roof, and bring her some sample roof tiles. If they decided that I did indeed need a new roof, they would okay the permits! Needless to say, I did NOT climb on the roof! I then went into my county supervisor’s office and gave them my story. I also suggested that the supervisor call the HOA and the CSA and get my roof okayed-before I filed a harassment suit against the county and the HOA. Things continued downhill from there. Instead of the county/city/federal government fools to fight, I had an additional 2 enemies to address. I was relieved beyond belief to be rid of that property, and I vowed never again to own anything in a HOA. I am not a hermit, but I want to purchase my property and be left the hell alone. I have plenty of friends, enemies, and social outlets. By the way, we, as homeowners, never got the chance to vote on dues. The select board would decide what money they needed and raise them accordingly. I still have a friend in that complex who is older and will probably never leave. She struggles to make HOA dues of $325 a month. – S.T.

Hugh Replies: Most current HOAs are set up by developers and are targeted towards the very superficial ideals in our society, and I would tend to agree with you. Basically, they are more concerned about telling you what you can and can’t do than they are about the health of the community. My own sister used to live an a HOA that would actually take a ruler around the neighborhood and write you a ticket if your lawn was longer than 3 inches. A HOA basically creates a small socialistic environment and requires a level af trust between members that is unheard of in our present day. If one were to create a community from the ground up with these ideals, It would have a better chance of actually working. In fact, in the prepper community, I have several friends who have large tracts of land and are planning for family and friends to fall back to them as a bug-out location should the SHTF. All of them are by invitation only and require written contracts if you are a part of their organization. With the exception of actually owning property, it is basically a HOA. It’s not hard to see that extended into a full HOA, but all of the participants must trust each other and it will have to be built from the ground up. Given that the court systems fully endorse the legality of the HOA’s restrictions it would be extremely difficult to orchestrate this any other way. Of course, if TEOTWAWKI actually happens, it may be much easier to bend an existing HOA to the desired effect, but I wouldn’t want to chance it.

o o o

Jim,

I appreciate the article on Homeowners associations by MB and his opinion, however one critical aspect of HOAs he fails to take into consideration is that far too many are strife with many tyrants, bullies and list of unreasonable rules and regulations that strip a homeowner if a fundamental right to use their personal property in any way they see fit. I am not speaking of parking broken down vehicles or using your property as a toxic waste dump. I am speaking of limits on fences, types of plants, backyard chickens, types of windows, doors etc all needing approval from a board on a power trip. Try growing your own garden in many HOA communities and watch the board step in. Community through a HOA commune is not the step in my opinion to community preparedness or personal preparedness. The risks far outweigh any benefit to the list of amenities in the post. My run ins with prior HOAs has never been pleasant, and the confiscatory commune dues are waste pools of inefficiency. To each his own, but beware of dues which are unrealistic, boards that are populated by wannabe politicians and tyrants, and busybody neighbors that will run to their board member with the slightest infraction of the rules. Not what the founders intended at all. – T.R.

JWR Replies: As I pointed out in my novel Survivors, it would take a fast-onset economic collapse to get most HOAs to change their rules to allow large scale gardening (including front yard gardening), photovoltaics, CB antennas, and so forth. It might even take a peaceful coup d’etat of the HOA Board to get changes made in the midst of a slow-slide economic depression. And depending on the HOA’s bylaws, ousting a HOA’s leadership might be nearly impossible.

Bottom line: I do not recommend living in a HOA community, unless it is one tailored for preppers.

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