Chapter FourteenIIIChapter Sixteen

15. Get Organized

By now, I don’t think you need me to point this out to you but I’m going to do it anyway. This incredibly corrupt industry could not survive were it not for the apathetic nature of those it chooses to victimize. If you ever hope to restore order and stability to your community you are going to have to fight back.

As you have already seen, the majority of my neighbors were not happy with our rogue board but they wouldn’t channel their dissatisfaction into an organized and effective deterrent. You are going to have to do better than I did.

The single flashpoint for this organized and effective deterrent will probably have to be you, the one who builds the website and sounds the alarm. Once you have accomplished that task, a few likeminded neighbors will probably join you. You will have to organize those supporters willing to put in a little time and effort towards the cause.

You should try to organize your group into an effective news gathering agency within your community. Why gather news? Because that is makes them vulnerable. The public doesn’t know much about the CID industry and the industry has gone to great lengths to keep it that way. They know what they’re doing and they know the public would not approve. They have to keep secrets to stay alive. The job of the homeowner’s advocate is to expose them at every opportunity.

The public must get to know the CID industry well because to know them is to hate them. They are their own worse enemy; all you have to do is hold a mirror to the face of this industry enough times that the public begins to recognize it and, just like in the movies, the monster will be destroyed. When the day comes that the average citizen begins to regard CIDs with the same trepidation they feel when regarding a used car lot, their game is over.

win in the middle
If your community is anything like mine was, you’ll have a small group of active supporters and so will the board. Between those two extremes you have the majority of homeowners who may not be happy with their HOA but are not unhappy enough to do much about it. These are the people you have to reach in order to make a difference in your community.

Among these “middle grounders” are those who just don’t care and don’t want to be bothered. Then there are those that have other commitments (work, school, and kids etc.). But then there are those that are simply afraid to take a stand which they feel might be unpopular with their friends and neighbors. They need to be sure they are doing and thinking what the majority of their friends and neighbors are doing and thinking. They have to be made to feel comfortable in their convictions. This is the demographic you need to tip the scale from oligarchy to democracy. But unlike your typical movie heroes and heroines, you’ll find very few of your neighbors willing to stand alone against the Mongol hordes.

I believe the way to make them comfortable is through education, and to educate your neighbors you enlist the aid of your board of directors. That’s right, the board will help you. All you have to do is catch them being themselves. I’ll give you an example my own lengthy files.

ship shape
One of my neighbors had a house made of brick. The color of the brick was gray and white. She painted her fence white to match the trim. Then along came the board of directors and told her that white was not an appropriate color for the neighborhood’s fences.

White, the fence color that has become an idealized symbol of American domesticity was considered ascetically unpleasing to the eyes of our board of directors. I should point out that our CC&Rs did not address the issue of fence colors; this new rule was created out of the blue by our board. And what do you suppose the board thought was just the right hue to capture that illusive aura of suburban tranquility? What else, Battleship Gray! As you would expect, the new “board certified” color displayed all the domestic charm of a naval shipyard. Of course my neighbor went to the board and complained, and this is what they told her:

“It is not about ascetics, it’s about compliance.”

In other words, they didn’t care what the neighborhood looked like; they only were interested in having their neighbors bend to their will.

And there it is. That is what being a board member is all about and why certain people insist on being involved. I’ve got to give them credit. In that one line, our board did a better job of revealing not only their own true nature, but also the true nature of every other rogue board in the country than I was able to do in a whole chapter.

lightning strikes repeatedly
These aren’t just isolated incidents, these abominations happen repeatedly in CIDs. It’s just a part of the lifestyle. I want you to see this example because, once again, it’s a board member doing the talking, not me.

After I had repainted my home in a color so close to the original that the board had to call to confirm that a repainting had actually taken place, a board member gave this explanation of the incident to a reporter:

"He repainted," Beverly says, "and the paint just got darker. It's still orange. But he abided by rules."

As you may remember, the rules this board member is referring to are rules they made up themselves nine months after the painting took place, which was done in compliance with the existing rules.

look, and you shall see
I think it’s safe to say that many of these entrenched board members are somewhat disturbed in their overpowering desire to want to push other people around for the fun of it. But this is what makes them vulnerable. They must do these things; it’s the reason they got on the board in the first place. The management companies and association lawyers need them to do these things; it’s why they got into the business.

What I’m trying to point out to you here is that these industry operatives are always misbehaving, and if you try, you can always catch them at it. As they keep getting caught again and again, and the stories of their misadventures pile up on your website, your middle grounders should begin to see this industry for what it really is.

circle the wagons
Lastly, try to link up your website to others in the community, the state, and the nation.


Chapter FourteenIIIChapter Sixteen