Chapter ThirteenIIIChapter Fifteen

14. Notify your Neighbors

Once I had completed my website and published it on the Internet, I had to find some way to let the other homeowners know where to find it. I also had to explain to them why I thought a website of this sort was necessary; I had to reveal to them what in our neighborhood needed to be fixed. To accomplish this goal, I printed a “Notice to Homeowners,” and distributed it throughout the community. It was a call to action, and I actually got some action⎯for a little while.

and the survey said?
Along with the notice that was delivered to every house in the neighborhood, I included an 18-question homeowner survey with self-addressed stamped envelope. I used a special return label to thwart any attempts to cheat; it was one survey per house just like HOA voting rules. This was the one and only time anyone ever dared ask the homeowners what they thought. I had no idea how my neighbors would react, but I was pleased to find that the majority felt just as I did. Here are the results of the survey.

When confronted with the results of this poll, the Board made several unsupportable claims in an effort to discredit the findings. However, they were not confident enough in their claims, nor interested enough in knowing what residents of SR felt about their performance, to request that the results be recounted in the presence of one of their members.  Also, when asked, they refused to conduct a survey of their own; they chose instead to justify their indifference with this ominous phrase, "silence is consent."

Of the 264 questionnaires originally distributed, 75 returned and counted.
Homeowner Participation Index = 28.4%;  Apathy Index = 71.6%

1. Are you happy with the way Shavano Ridge is currently being managed? Yes[ 23 ]  No[ 42 ]

2. Do you think it is time for some new faces on the Board? Yes[ 58 ]  No[ 6 ]

3. Do you think there should be term limits for Board members?  Yes[ 57 ]  No[ 14 ]

4. Do you agree with the Board's opinion that the appearance of the neighborhood should reflect uniformity and standardization? Yes[ 30 ]  No[ 38 ]

5. Do you think that the CC&Rs should be subject to the Board of Directors interpretations? Yes[ 21 ]  No[ 47 ]

6. Do you think the Board should add new rules and restrictions without the approval of the homeowners? Yes[ 3 ]  No[ 69 ]

7. Do you think there should be “standard Shavano Ridge colors?” Yes[ 32 ]  No[ 37 ]

8. Do you know what the “standard Shavano Ridge colors” are? Yes[ 12 ]  No[ 61 ]

9. Have you had trouble with the Board of Directors in the past? Yes[ 23 ]  No[ 50 ]

10. Do you think Shavano Ridge needs to have CC&Rs? Yes[ 54 ]  No[ 16 ]

11. Have you read the CC&Rs? Yes[ 51 ]  No[ 19 ]

12. When you were buying your home, do you believe the seller informed you of the deed restrictions in time for you to make a well-informed decision to buy?  Yes[ 29 ]  No[ 42 ]

13. Are you happy with the current management company? Yes[ 28 ]  No[ 35 ]

14. Do you think it's time to find a new management company? Yes[ 34 ]  No[ 26 ]

15. Do you think Shavano Ridge needs a management company? Yes[ 36 ]  No[ 26 ]

16. Do you think it is a good idea to have the management company patrol the neighborhood looking for covenant violators? Yes[ 27 ]  No[ 37 ]

17. Do you think the new Gordon Hartman homes adhere to the architectural style of the original Shavano Ridge homes? Yes[ 5 ]  No[ 54 ]

18. Do you think the Gordon Hartman homes will have a negative effect on Shavano Ridge home values? Yes[ 44 ]  No[ 15 ]

we're behind you all the way
By the next day I was beginning to get encouraging phone calls and emails of the “good for you, go get’em tiger” variety. Later, there was some modest organized support, but it soon dissipated.

What I think this survey really indicated is that the majority of homeowners who live in CID housing are not happy with the current system of government, but most are not willing to do much to change it.

who cares what they think!
The board, of course, cried foul. They claimed the survey was biased. They claimed that 28% was not a significant sampling. I would like to point out here that the CAI did a survey of homeowner satisfaction with CID housing. They polled 801 CID residents out of a possible 50,000,000. That’s a percentage of .0016. Yeah, there's some staggering numbers for you. Now how many of those residents were association board members?

we're shocked, shocked to find there's been cheating!
The board also claimed that there was widespread cheating. All these claims, I thought, just undermined the board’s credibility. However, they were right about one thing. There was one incident of attempted cheating; board members tried to Xerox copies of the survey and stuff them in a single, return envelope. Naughty, naughty.

The survey also opened up another opportunity to spring another Integrity trap.

don’t ask if you don’t want to know
Since the board was so dissatisfied with the results of my survey, I challenged them to conduct a survey of their own. After all, if they really want to serve the best interests of the community, shouldn’t they find out what the homeowners believe to be in their best interest? Of course the board declined. They didn’t dare risk their positions in such an uncontrollable, public display of democracy. And who was going to force the issue⎯the homeowners! They found it to be much safer to hide behind one of their industries favorite slogans, “silence is consent.”

In spite of the results of my survey, which they were invited to review for themselves, the board insisted that the homeowners were perfectly happy with the current arraignment and no survey was necessary.

time for a recall?
I didn’t do this myself and it was a big mistake, but if you decide to circulate a survey like this, and you get similar results, be prepared to follow it up with a recall petition.

Obviously the homeowners were not happy at all, but they were not willing to do much about it. Every community is different, and I would hope you have many more civic minded individuals in yours, but don’t expect to find yourself in the midst of an angry mob of townspeople waving torches and pitchforks.

Less than a third of our neighbors were willing to spend a few minutes filling out a short survey, but they would probably have been willing to sign a petition provided someone brings it to their doorstep.

This would be the time for a recall drive. This is another instance where, had I done what should have been done, I don’t believe we would have had anymore trouble with rogue boards.

If you should find yourself in this position, don’t hesitate! Organize your supporters, check your by-laws for recall rules, print up some petition forms, and throw those bums out!


Chapter ThirteenIIIChapter Fifteen