Milking the herd

“Total revenue of $11,372,741 was slightly higher overall than the prior year, and the highest in our 40-year history.  Membership revenue remains strong with a 3 percent increase over the prior year…”

– Community Associations Institute annual report.

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You did?

“I came to the conclusion that this piece of legislation provides new protections to homeowners, most of which had not been available previously…”

– Sen. Jennifer Wexton’s (D-33) post-vote comments on HB 791.

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Thank you, Tea Dems!

Thank you, House pit bulls David Ramadan (R-87) and Scott Surovell (D-44) for defeating the Senate version of HB 791 on Feb. 27. The 55 House of Delegates members who voted Nay were:

Adams, Anderson, BaCote, Bell, Richard P.; Bell, Robert B.; Berg, Bloxom, Byron, Chafin, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Davis, DeSteph, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Fowler, Gilbert, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Hope, Hugo, Joannou, Kilgore, Landes, LaRock, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Mason, McQuinn, Morefield, Morris, Morrissey, O’Quinn, Orrock, Pogge, Ramadan, Ransone, Rasoul, Robinson, Rush, Scott, Surovell, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright. (NoVa delegates in bold)

Half of Lansdowne on the Potomac got hosed by 10th District Del. Randy Minchew’s predictable “aye” vote in response to the Community Associations Institute (CAI) lobby inspired by groupthink leader, Texas state Sen. John Carona. The other half did not show up because Tag Greason (R-32) is trapped in a leadership void and did not vote.

Egregious acts of betrayal generated by this bill were committed by the Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations and some misguided members of both parties. But thanks to independent thinkers ranging politically from Surovell to David LaRock in House District 33, the bill now has a chance of being scuttled as it so well deserves to be. Barbara Comstock (R-34) gets a shout-out too, and Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-25) cast the only Nay vote when the bill came out of committee.

The bill’s backers can always bring it back next year, assuming they are willing to emerge in public. That makes time for the senator whose 33rd Senate district includes the largest concentration of HOAs that abuse power, Jennifer Wexton, to hold town meetings in Sterling, Dulles, Ashburn and Leesburg to actually ask thousands of HOA-dwelling voters what they think of this bill.

Gosh, in a year, even Leesburg Today and Loudoun Times Mirror editors and reporters would have time to read it!

If Wexton actually believes this bill offers “new protections” to homeowners, she is reading something other than HB 791. Her amended bill sounds lovely but has no mechanism for enforcement. First session, first vote, late start, so she gets a pass. One time.

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No transparency allowed

Under the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, HOAs are supposed to provide:

2. The actual salary of the six highest compensated employees of the association earning over $75,000 and aggregate salary information of all other employees of the association; however, individual salary information shall not be available for examination and copying during the declarant control period.

But that’s not how John Whitbeck, then president of the Lansdowne on the Potomac HOA board,  answered such a request in May 2010, three years after the end of the declarant period, when the budget showed a transfer of more than $.5 million for salaries to a handful of HOA employees. Instead, he answered that

“The Association does not have any employees so there is no actual salary information to convey to you. The Association has engaged a professional management company to meet its staffing needs. Thanks for your inquiry.”

He meant the employees work for a management company that is under contract to the HOA, not directly for the HOA. The residents who pay those salaries could not rely upon the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, which has no enforcement mechanism, to find out if they were being paid at market rate.

HB 791 says “the powers authorized in the bill or by the governing documents shall be exercised by an association in good faith and not exercised frivolously, vexatiously, or primarily for purposes of harassment of the owner.”

Those subjective words are a weak and unenforceable mechanism that won’t stop HOAs like Lansdowne, and attorneys like Whitbeck, from suing residents for covenants violations of any severity and blowing off objections that they are “frivolous or vexatious.”

This is a Very Bad bill.

Posted in All, HB 791, Loudoun Circuit Court, Virginia Property Owners Association Act | 3 Comments

Lipstick on a pig

A Senate committee on General Laws and Technology added this phrase to HB 791 in the naive hope that it will stop HOAs from bullying residents:

… the powers authorized in the bill or by the governing documents shall be exercised by an association in good faith and not exercised frivolously, vexatiously, or primarily for purposes of harassment of the owner.

This is lipstick on a pig with no mechanism for enforcement.

If the state already does not and cannot enforce § 55-510.2. of the Virginia Property Owners Association Act, how will it enforce a bill that permits HOAs to fine, sue, and cut off Internet access of their members?

If Loudoun delegates think their courts are overcrowded now, what happens when 50 to 100 huge HOAs start suing members for covenants violations?

This is a bad bill given short shrift by people who don’t live in HOAs and don’t have them in their districts. Please, pass it by and fix it!…



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How HOAs spend their time

From a recent post on Facebook by a resident of a Loudoun HOA:
“Seriously I wish the HOA would find bigger fish to fry & better ways to use their time. A letter stating that my ‘Christmas Decorations’ are still up and in violation referencing a SNOWMAN THAT SAYS ‘HAPPY WINTER’ … it’s a WINTER DECORATION not holiday.
Seriously? It’s not even 2 ft. tall by my door to welcome people … so it would be ok if he had a hole in his head and potted flowers hmm? Maybe I will do that!
I could go on and on and on over infractions in the neighborhood that I see every day that are more relevant. I mean come on … sorry folks clear off your porches of any kind of decoration so you don’t get a letter.
He’s not moving off my porch till winter ends…period.”
If House Bill 791 passes the Virginia General Assembly this year, the HOA will be able to file a lawsuit to force the resident to take down the snowman, as well as paying a share of the legal fees to the HOA lawyers who will file the suit.
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Third river crossing bill: circa 2014

This bill did not emerge from the appropriations committee this year; watch for it to come back:


Offered January 17, 2014

A BILL to direct the Department of Transportation to consider results of a demand study concerning Potomac River crossings.

Patrons– Rust, Minchew, Albo, Brink, Filler-Corn, Futrell, LeMunyon, Miller, Sickles, Torian and Watts 

Referred to Committee on Transportation

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. The Department of Transportation shall consider the results of the ongoing transportation demand study concerning Potomac River crossings between Virginia and Maryland and with those results study the costs, feasibility, and transportation impacts of a new Potomac River crossing between the Point of Rocks Bridge (U.S. Route 15) in Virginia and Route 301 in Maryland.  The ongoing study will provide a common set of data which Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland can be utilized to plan for the ease of congestion and increased multi-modal mobility among the three jurisdictions. If this study reveals the need for such an additional crossing, the Department shall provide the members of the General Assembly, the Chairmen of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, and the Secretary of Transportation a recommendation and analysis of the preferred site or sites for such crossing by December 1, 2015.

Source: Legislative Information System

Posted in Del. Randy Minchew, Loudoun Board of Supervisors, Outer Beltway, Virginia Del. Tag Greason | Tagged , | Leave a comment