Notify Your Neighbors
We are among a growing group of Shavano Ridge (SR) homeowners who have come into conflict with the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Shavano Ridge Homeowner’s Association. We are of the opinion that the BOD have encroached upon the rights of homeowners by exercising a degree of control that was never intended by the developers or supported by the subdivisions Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions of Sale (CC&Rs). We have no idea what other homeowners want, but if a democratic process is thought to be desirable, it requires two things we now lack: oversight and participation. A homeowner’s association’s rudimentary system of checks and balances is completely dependent upon homeowner participation; when that breaks down you get oligarchy - rule of the few. In SR, years of homeowner indifference seems to have encouraged the BOD to assume too much responsibility. With almost no common area to preside over, and the majority of residents preoccupied with jobs and children, they have progressively expanded their sphere of influence and revoked basic privileges of homeownership originally granted by the developer. They base their authority upon the premise that the CC&Rs are subject to their “interpretation,” and mean only what they say they mean. In our dealings with the BOD we have found their interpretations to be highly creative and inconsistent. We find their manner to be adversarial and their methods to be unconscionable. In the absence of homeowner participation, we believe they have created new restrictions based solely on their own personal preferences and applied them in a selective, arbitrary manner. When differences with homeowners develop, there is often a threat to sue. When faced with these threats, financed by the homeowner’s own annual assessments, most homeowners have given in or moved away. We bring this situation to your attention for two reasons:
1. We do not believe this group represents the will of the majority. We think it's time for a change, and we would like to know what you think.
2. We want to introduce a SR community website called The Unofficial SR Website: help for the homeowner. To find it type http://www.usrw.org into your Windows Explorer or Netscape browser. There, you can voice your opinions, become informed of recent developments, learn what it really means to live with a homeowner's association, and vote on policy issues and representation.
We hope this website will unite homeowners and give them the voice and the oversight process necessary to insure that elected representatives always carry out their will. We present our own difficulties with the BOD as just one example why we believe a change is due.
In April of 2000, we repainted the trim and siding of our home a color matching the color of our brickwork. Nine months later (Dec. 2000) the BOD sent us notice that they changed the rules regarding house painting and that we were in violation of the new rules and must repaint our house. These new standards were not in effect at the time we painted our house, and were never defined by the BOD. The BOD wants to retroactively apply their new rules to us, denying us the “grand fathered status” which is universally recognized as fair and appropriate in cases like this. Ironically, in the Oct. 2000 edition of Out On The Ridge, the BOD stated, in writing, that we had followed their own approved and established procedure for house painting. This procedure was in effect until Oct. 2000—seven months after we painted our home. This Board has violated numerous recommendations for reasonable behavior published by the Community Associations Institute (CAI). In that publication entitled "Be Reasonable," the CAI delivers this warning: "Overzealous, unreasonable boards can be more damaging to property values than the violations they so vigorously try to prevent." We wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. In spite of the fact that we agreed we would submit our color choices to the BOD the next time our house needed painting, the BOD insisted we paint it in Dec. 2003 or face a lawsuit. We believe that the BOD have become more interested in exercising their influence than they are in simple fairness and propriety. To find documentation of our conflict with the BOD: go to the Home page > Community Conflicts > 13707 Ridge River > Homeowner's Synopsis & Lawyer's Brief.
In our dealings with the BOD, we have found several instances where we believe the BOD is acting irresponsibly. They have established their own color scheme yet refuse to publicly define the colors, thus creating a potential situation for continuous conflicts with homeowners. As a means of conflict resolution, they conduct "informal meetings" and discourage the presence of witnesses. Again, these are violations of CAI recommendations for reasonable behavior.
Is Their Vision Yours?
The BOD has told us that they have decided that Shavano Ridge will reflect a high degree of standardization. Blandness was stated as the goal. All homes must blend into a collective whole. “No homes will be allowed to stand out.” None can be “striking.” Our Centex representative confirmed that the developer was trying to avoid blandness and standardization by restricting brick colors to non-adjacent homes and offering a custom colors option. On the website, you will find expert recommendations on the proper procedure for conceiving rules and regulations. Go to Homepage > The Shavano Ridge Look > Rule Recommendations.
There are no homeowner’s rights. When you signed the CC&Rs, you signed an adhesion contract with a corporation and gave up many of your constitutional and civil rights. The democratic principals you are familiar with are not represented [learn more on the CC&Rs or You Are Here page]. You have almost no protection under Texas law from the questionable practices of unregulated homeowner’s associations, management companies, and their attorneys [see Attorneys and Management Companies]. The courts will not help you and the attorneys in this field are aligned with the homeowner’s associations and management companies. This year, the Community Associations Institute, a nationwide organization promoting the interests of these same homeowner’s associations, management companies, and attorneys joined forces to defeat legislation [supported by your own Senator Wentworth] that would provide some regulation of these groups and some simple safeguards for homeowners [see Community Associations Institute]. Right now, the only thing homeowners can do to protect themselves is to keep a close watch on their BOD and be absolutely sure they have the right people elected to those positions. As one noted observer has pointed out, "You’re always just one election away from disaster."
We believe they have stayed too long (some over 10 years), and we have become very suspicious of their motives. We would like to see a changing of the guard and more homeowner participation We would like you to fill out and return the homeowner questionnaire; the results will be posted on the website. We are asking the homeowners to express their willingness to have future disputes resolved in regular meetings with witnesses present, to have new rules and regulations be subject to homeowner's approval, and to have any new rules or standards that are agreed upon clearly defined and documented [it can be done on this website]. We would like to see these issues brought before all the homeowners at the general meeting in March 2004.
Most homeowners have very busy schedules and little time for neighborhood politics so we’re hoping this website will make it easy to have a voice in the community and thus increase participation levels. Also, you will find numerous articles that should help homeowners become aware of what the CC&Rs and homeowner's associations really are and possibly avoid any further pitfalls in the future. To have a better understanding of your position as a homeowner in a homeowner's association, we especially recommend that you read the articles on the Homeowner's Association page. We invite any homeowner who is currently having difficulties with the BOD to send in their account of the situation and it will be posted to the website for homeowner review. The BOD are invited to express their opinions as well.
We had hoped that our differences could have been settled amicably. We regret the hard feelings this document is likely to cause among some residents, but we feel it’s absolutely necessary if there is to be any chance of bringing about changes we believe are for the better. In the last issue of Out on the Ridge, we found another example of why we believe change is needed; we’ll leave you with this latest contradiction to consider. Bear in mind that our house was painted in April 2000 - seven months before the first quote was published.
“Architectural Control Committee — Policy Change The Architectural Control Committee (ACC) has been requested to review it’s (sic) present policy of allowing homeowners to paint the exterior of their houses any color (or colors) they choose. At the urging of the Board of Directors, the ACC is now requiring homeowners who wish to paint/repaint the exterior of their houses to submit their color selection(s) to the ACC PRIOR to beginning work.” Out on the Ridge, October 2000
Now consider this account of the same situation published just this August.
“An informal meeting was held…seeking resolution of a fifth covenant violation with a resident who failed to submit an ACC request to repaint his home and then painted the home in a color not in accordance with the SR house color paint scheme.” Out on the Ridge, August 2003
We’re asking the homeowners of Shavano Ridge; do you really want a BOD that is this careless with the truth?
Dorian and Mary MacDougall
Notify Your Neighbors