2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Seahawks ’12th man’ risks wrath of Washington HOA

    Tue, October 1, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Dale Carlson raises his "12th Man" flag in front of his Snohomish, Wash., house on Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks came from behind to beat the Houston Texans, 23-20 in overtime. His homeowners association has ordered the flag down as a violation of HOA covenants. Photo by Genna Martin / The Herald     Dale Carlson cheers as he watches the Seahawks score a field goal in overtime to secure a 23-20 win over Houston on Sunday at his home in Snohomish. advertisement | your ad here Photo by Genna Martin / The Herald

    Dale Carlson raises his “12th Man” flag in front of his Snohomish, Wash., house on Sunday as the Seattle Seahawks came from behind to beat the Houston Texans, 23-20 in overtime. His homeowners association has ordered the flag down as a violation of HOA covenants. Photo by Genna Martin / The Herald

     

    Like many sports fans, Dale Carlson is superstitious.

    Last season, he flew his “12th Man” flag in front of his house in Snohomish, Wash., every day while the Seattle Seahawks were alive in the NFL playoffs.

    Until his homeowners association stepped in, that is, and told Carlson the flag violated HOA covenants.

    “I had to remove it and took it down, and the following week they lost that game,” Carlson said of the Seattle’s loss to Atlanta in January.

    Despite the warning, Carlson raised it again Sunday and watched the Seahawks pull of a stunning 23-20 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Houston Texans.

    Carlson isn’t saying that his flying of the 12th man flag helped Seattle win, but he doesn’t want to take any chances.

    So he’s hired an attorney who says Carlson has legal protection to fly his 12th Man flag on Seahawks game days.

    Read more here at the HeraldNet.com:

    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20131001/NEWS01/710019936/Flag-flies-in-face-of-rules

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  • LAWMAKERS PASS HOA-RELATED BILLS IN FINAL HOURS OF SESSION

    Thu, May 9, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

     

    Colorado Statehouse

    Colorado Statehouse

    Water-guzzling Kentucky bluegrass and other non-native turf can no longer be mandated by homeowners association covenants under a bill that passed the General Assembly and is awaiting a signature by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

    If Senate Bill 183 is signed into law, as expected, it also would stop HOAs from punishing homeowners whose lawns die during times of drought and water restrictions. It was among four last-minute HOA-related bills that passed in the finals days of the 2013 session. A fifth passed earlier.

    Known as the xeriscape bill, SB183 still allows HOAs to mandate native grasses on lawns. But not any turfs that have not “been hybridized for arid conditions.”

    Molly Foley-Healy, an attorney with the Community Association Institute who tracks HOA bills in the Legislature, said the turf rules would apply in new communities where homeowners are installing new lawns and when homeowners seek HOA permission to relandscape their lawns.

    “It doesn’t retroactively apply,” she said.

    HOA LawHOA boards still can regulate the type, number and placement of drought-tolerant plants in a lawn, she said. And it won’t prohibit a homeowner from installing bluegrass and another thirsty turf, if they like. But the common mandate that a lawn must be 50 percent bluegrass would be outlawed along with penalties for any lawn that dies amid watering restrictions.

    “We think this bill is a pretty good idea,” Foley-Healy said of CAI, which represents residents of HOAs, board members, HOA property managers and other related businesses.

    Lawmakers also sent Hickenlooper House Bill 1277 which would require community association managers, management company executives and those who directly supervise managers to be licensed in Colorado.

    The professional managers and their supervisors would have to hold CAI credentials or a similar certification from another trade association and be able to pass a state test demonstrating a knowledge of state laws governing HOAs as well as basic finance and budget skills.  The bill requires managers to submit to background checks and fingerprinting, and to pass a state test to obtain a license.

    David Stiver of Team Strategy

    David Stiver of Team Strategy

    David Stiver, founder of Team Strategy, one of Colorado Springs’ HOA and property management companies, has a problem with the law specifying CAI credentials as a route to certification.

    “I think it’s inappropriate,” said Stiver, who said he’s a CAI member. “That’s like saying you have to be a member of the NRA to qualify for a qualify for a license to carry a firearm in Colorado.”

    Complaints about property managers in HOAs — single-family home neighborhoods, condos and townhome complexes —  led to the move for licensing. Supporters argued the estimated 500 property managers need to demonstrate they are qualified to handle large sums they collect in dues and fines, to understand legal contracts and to oversee open meetings and abide by laws governing liens and foreclosure on the estimated 2 million Coloradans living in 8,000 or more HOA communities.

    Another bill headed to the governor, HB1134, would require all HOAs, no matter how large or when they were created, to register with the HOA Information Office and Resource Center. The bill was heavily amended from its original form and no longer expands the office and to grant it investigative and enforcement powers against HOA boards.

    Foley-Healy said the bill orders further study of the need for a watchdog function. The experiences of states with aggressive HOA enforcement agencies, including Nevada, Virginia and Florida, will be included in the study.

    Also in the late hours of the 2013 session, lawmakers passed HB1276 to revise the way HOAs collect delinquent dues and fines, and setting specific rules for pursuing foreclosure actions against homeowners passed and awaits consideration by the governor.

    It requires HOAs to have specific collection policies that include mandating a delinquent homeowner be offered a payment plan and be given six months to get caught up before pursuing foreclosure.

    “The CAI supported them all,” Foley-Healy said. “We worked closely with legislators who sponsored them and we felt they reached a nice middle ground.”

    Earlier, lawmakers passed SB126 requiring HOAs to accommodate owners who want to install electric car-charging stations in a complex parking lot. It has been signed into law.

    See links to the exact bills and more details on my blog.

    Colorado Statehouse

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  • HOA’S $50 PARKING FINE BALLOONS INTO THOUSANDS

    Sat, December 22, 2012 by Bill Vogrin with 3 comments

                                                                               UPDATE — UPDATE —- UPDATE

    In 2009, I introduced Side Streets readers to Ron Pace under a headline: “Pace is loose!”

    In the column, I reported that a judge had described him as loud, profane and even annoying.

    But the judge had sided with Pace in his battle over neighborhood covenants and assorted other issues with the Woodmen Hills Metro District, which has been a mess for years with its seemingly constant bickering, infighting, recalls and failed efforts to expand powers and fees.

    At the time, Pace declared he was sick of the fighting. The disabled vet vowed to sell his house on the sixth fairway of the Antlers Creek Golf Course in unincorporated Falcon, northeast of Colorado Springs, and move.

    I figured it would be the end of the story.

    As usual, I was wrong.

    Pace, 48, never did sell.

    Instead, he stayed and remained a vocal critic of Woodmen Hills officials. He fought them over the way they enforce rules, conduct district business and more.

    He probably should have moved. If so, he’d have saved thousands.

    Pace and his wife are facing about $5,000 in legal fees  after he lost a fight over a restraining order filed against him in 2011 by a homeowners association manager who felt threatened by him.

    But that’s only the half of it.

    Pace and his wife again are preparing to go to court  in February over a $50 parking violation issued by the Filing 11 HOA that has ballooned to $4,600.

    “My truck was parked on the side of my house like I’ve parked it since 2006,” Pace said. “They said it was eight to 18 inches past the front corner of our house and that’s not allowed.”

    Seems outrageous to think any HOA would fine someone over such a petty infraction.

    On Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, I heard from a Woodmen Hills Filing 11 HOA official who explained the HOA board’s side of the story.

    Chris Galloway, vice president of the HOA, said the property manager noted the parking violation during a semi-monthly enforcement survey of the neighborhood.

    Galloway said Pace was not singled out and easily could have remedied the violation without any fine.

    “The first time we send a courtesy letter saying please take care of this,” Galloway said. “Then we send a warning letter. Finally, we send a third letter which is a fine ranging from $25 to $50.”

    So how did it reach $4,600?

    Galloway said Pace declined to deal with the HOA management company after his restraining order defeat. Instead, he called the HOA’s attorney directly.

    “They warned him he’d incur attorneys fees personally,” Galloway said. “He circumvented the system.”

    Of course, Pace sees it as a vendatta and, when we spoke in December, he declared: “This is retaliation.” Typically, he barked it, punctuated with profanity.

    It’s this type of gruffness that has made some people who manage Woodmen Hills and serve on its board scared of Pace. They feel threatened by him. And he is prone to making veiled threats.

    In his defense, some HOAs get out of control. Power-hungry board members sometimes punish people they don’t like and, as the judge in 2009 said, Pace isn’t always very likeable.

    Once this latest mess is resolved, he has vowed again to leave.

    “As soon as my kid graduates in the spring, I’m outta here,” he said. “I’ll be happy to leave.”

    For everyone’s sake, I hope so.

    Life is too short to spend it worried whether your truck is parked 18 inches too far from the house.

    Follow this link to my Nov. 18, 2009, column about Ron Pace and Woodmen Hills.

    To read an associated blog post about that column, click here.

    For more information about Woodmen Hills, read this blog.

     

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  • SHOULD HOA MANAGERS BE LICENSED, REGULATED BY STATE?

    Wed, November 9, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 5 comments

    Michelle Green

    Michelle Green has worked in the homeowners association management business 15 years. She manages the Flying Horse Homeowners Association as an employee of Hammersmith Management.

     It’s more than just a job overseeing enforcement of covenants, collecting dues and hiring maintenance and landscaping crews.

    Green has devoted many personal hours and money to taking classes and getting certified, by an industry peer review group, in various aspects of the business.

    She’s proven her proficiency at record-keeping, handling financial statements, perusing insurance policies, navigating government regulations of HOAs and more.

    In fact, this week she’s mailing in her final exam for grading as she tries to earn certification as a Professional Community Association Manager, or PCAM, from the Community Associations Institute, a nationwide umbrella group for managers like her. Green is a member of the Southern Colorado Chapter of CAI.

     Achieving PCAM status is the pinnacle of HOA management.

    So it bothers her that a lot of people out there seem to wake up one morning and decide they are HOA managers and start trying to run large associations.

    “Anybody can hang a shingle on the door and call themselves a management company with no previous experience,” Green said. “They’ve got the checkbooks for the associations. They are doing the financials. They should be monitored so associations don’t lose money or get embezzled.”

    In fact, HOA fraud is problem. I’ve written about several HOAs victimized by crooks posing as managers.

    But a more common problem is simple mismanagement by rookies which leads to huge legal and financial disputes within an HOA.

    Complaints against HOAs are so widespread the Colorado General Assembly created the HOA Information and Resource Center to get a handle on the nature and seriousness of the problems. See previous blogs about the HOA office.

    Aaron Acker, HOA Information Officer, spoke to a group of property managers on Feb. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs.

    After nearly a year of taking calls, Aaron Acker, the state HOA information officer, is preparing a report to be delivered to lawmakers during their 2012 legislative session.

    Leaders of the CAI’s Rocky Mountain chapter fear the report to be a less-than-glowing assessment of HOAs. They expect shock and outrage. To minimize the anticipated fallout, they have made a preemptive strike.

    Last week, the Colorado chapter of the CAI asked the state Department of Regulatory Agencies, or DORA, to initiate an investigation of HOA managers to determine if it’s time for them to join manicurists, barbers and boxers among the dozens of professions licensed and regulated by the state. Check out the list of all the professions licensed by the state!

    Green is all for licensing and regulation.

    “It would be beneficial for HOAs and their boards if managers were monitored and licensed,” she said. “Managers are handling thousands of dollars, if not millions. Nail technicians and hair stylists all have licensure. Why should someone managing your homeowners association be any different?”

    Good question.

    I also spoke to Chris Pacetti, a Denver-area manager who is also chairman of the Rocky Mountain CAI’s manager licensing committee. He says the group asked for the investigation by DORA in advance of Acker’s report.

    Pacetti said licensing is not new. Nine states and Washington D.C. have enacted manager licensing or certification standards and seven more states are debating the idea.

    His group envisions a two-prong test for managers.

    One would test an applicant’s skills and knowledge in managing homeowners associations. The other would test for knowledge of Colorado law regarding HOAs.

    They would be similar, Pacetti said, to the tests given for basic certification in the industry.

    For example, to reach the first rung on the property manager certification ladder, Green took a two-day course followed by a 100-question multiple-choice test.

     Then came the CMCA or Certified Manager of Community Associations exam and another 100 questions. After she logged five years in the industry and passed those two tests, she took the AMS to earn accreditation as an Association Management Specialist.

    Now she’s seeking the PMAC.

    Green and Pacetti think it’s reasonable to expect every property manager to have a basic education and command of issues before taking the reins of a homeowners association.

    But it’s not guaranteed that DORA will agree when it concludes its Sunrise study, likely in 120 days or so.

    Attorney Jerry Orten tells me the Legislature studied the issue in 1990 and concluded that new rules were needed to bond managers and protect HOA finances by mandating separate accounts for finances and strict accounting to HOAs of their finances. But lawmakers did not order licensing.

    Orten believes licensing would elevate the overall level of servivce to homeowners, resulting in fewer complaints to the new HOA information office.

    To recommend licensing managers, DORA must decide the request satisfies three key criteria:

    1. Whether the unregulated practice of homeowner association management harms the public and whether potential for harm is easily recognized.
    2. Whether the public needs and can be reasonably expected to benefit from occupational competence.
    3. Whether protection for homeowners can be achieved by other means in a more cost-effective manner.

     In other words, DORA must find that licensing is needed to protect the health safety and welfare of homeowner, that there is a public need and similar benefit is not available by other means.

    Of course, if DORA declines to initiate licensing, individual lawmakers can bypass the agency and simply introduce a bill requiring it.

    Stay tuned, HOA fans!

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  • FINALLY, A PLACE TO REPORT YOUR ROTTEN HOA!!!

    Wed, January 19, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Finally, folks in Colorado have some place to turn besides Side Streets to report a rotten homeowners association!

    The state has opened its HOA Information Office and Resource Center within the Division of Real Estate, which is under the umbrella of DORA — the Department of Regulatory Agencies in Denver.

    The resource center actually invites folks to submit a complaint about their HOAs.

    There’s just one catch . . . the resource center won’t investigate your complaint or your HOA, as I often do. (Nor will some irreverent, sarcastic smarty pants at the resource center write about your HOA as I do.)

    It will simply log your complaint, along with all the others it receives, and report its findings to lawmakers.

    Supporters hope, and critics fear, that it’s the first step toward strict oversight of the 12,000 or so HOAs operating statewide. 

    So far, about 1,200 HOAs and management companies are registered. And you can search the database to see if your HOA is in compliance. It’s important to know if your HOA tries to file a lien against you. If the HOA hasn’t registered, it loses its right to file and enforce liens against its residents, said Marcia Waters, director of the Division of Real Estate.

    In fact, HOA scofflaws may face civil lawsuits if they fail to register, Waters said.

    The center was created in 2010 by the Colorado General Assemblyto get a handle on the growing issue of HOA abuse. 

    Colorado Statehouse

    It is the brainchild of Aurora Democrats Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Morgan Carroll, who introduced and sponsored House Bill 1278 .

    Originally, they envisioned creating an HOA ombudsman with power to investigate allegations of abuse by HOA boards as well as to mediate disputes.

    Ultimately, lawmakers compromised and agreed to create the resource center, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

    It requires each HOA to register with the center, which will gather data on HOAs and track complaints filed by the estimated 1.6 million Coloradans living in associations.

    In addition, the center will serve as a clearinghouse for HOA board members and residents, providing basic information about the rights and responsibilities of property owners related to neighborhood covenants — rules governing everything from paint colors to landscaping and parking.

     The sponsors said the bill was a response to growing complaints from people living in covenant-controlled communities — neighborhoods, condos, townhomes and time-share complexes. Voluntary HOAs aren’t affected by the law.

    The HOA Information and Resource Center is patterned after a state agency in Nevada, created in 1997 to help people resolve HOA disputes besides suing in civil court. Today its ombudsman has a $1.5 million budget and a staff of 15.

    Follow this link to read a previous column on the HOA resource center.

    And this link will take you to an earlier Side Streets blog on the topic.

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  • VILLAGE SEVEN FEUD DRAGS ON AND ON

    Wed, September 29, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Meet Bob Robella. He’s the guy on the bicycle with the two dogs running beside him.

    He’s riding onto the sidewalk outside the Village Seven home he bought in 2006.

    Only problem, the Village Seven Homeowners Association has covenants requiring the dogs stay leashed. Same as city ordinance. The HOA also doesn’t allow folks to breed dogs in their homes. Guess what . . . Robella breeds dogs.

    As you can imagine, Robella doesn’t like the HOA or the covenants much. So he has refused to abide by them, or gladly pay his HOA dues, for that matter.

    The covenants give the HOA board authority to determine what colors can be painted on homes and fences in the neighborhood. Robella doesn’t care much for that rule, either. So he painted his fence the color he liked. You can see it in the photo.

    All this conflict led to the courtroom. Robella lost and was ordered to pay $2,400. But he kept fighting.

    For example, he refused to pay dues saying he didn’t own the house anymore. He gave it to a woman in Florida. And he refused to reveal her location so they couldn’t charge her for dues. He claimed harassment when the HOA persisted in in pursuing him for past dues and fines.

    He sued the HOA and its president for raising dues and other allegations, including damage to his fence from HOA water sprinklers

    Earlier this year, Robella agreed to pay $12,000 to settle the $30,000 bill the HOA was seeking in a lawsuit in 4th Judicial District Court. He also agreed to re-stain his fence and abide by covenants regarding dog breeding, leashes and the rest.

    But before the paperwork was finished, Robella reportedly reneged. He disputes what was hammered out in mediation and refused to sign the settlement.

    Here’s a look at the settlement document’s signature page. A court clerk signed for Robella, who is labeled a “Disobedient Party” in the notation.

    Robella claimed his attorney exceeded his authority in negotiations during binding arbitration. He even sued the HOA again in small claims court.

    But there’s hope the dispute may end someday. Robella’s house is listed for sale. Here it is on the real estate agent’s web site:

    Here’s a column I wrote in 2009 about Robella and his feud with Village Seven. And here’s a link to the accompanying blog.

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  • IS IT A HOME OR A HOTEL?

    Wed, July 21, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    .

    Folks across Colorado Springs are complaining that properties in their neighborhoods are hotels masquerading as single-family homes.

    I’ve heard the complaints from upscale areas like the Broadmoor and the Old North End to gated communities including  Cedar Heights and Kissing Camels.

    And the complaints echo from more modest neighborhoods, too, like the Westside and Mountain Shadows.

    They all ask the same question: how can it be legal to convert a single-family home  into a hotel?

    Specifically they are talking about folks who rent their properties as vacation rental homes.

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    Turns out dozens of people have discovered they can make serious cash — upwards of $4,000 a week at peak weeks — by renting their houses to vacationers.

    Experts estimate there are 60 to 80 vacation home rental properties in the Springs. Cruise the web sites created to put renters in homes and you might think the number is far higher.

    Vacation Rentals By Owner is a popular one. Another is VacationRentals.com. Folks can advertise their places and search for a house to rent on these sites and others.

    Prices, according to a casual survey, seem to run in the $200 per day range.

    Prices peak during Air Force Academy graduation week each spring and during popular summer months. In addition, owners can ask a premium when the Springs is host to big youth sports tournaments and festivals.

    A city Vacation Home Rental Task Force was convened in the fall of 2009 but it produced nothing in terms of new rules to govern the practice as many other cities do.

     Manitou Springs, for example, requires folks who want to rent their homes on a daily or weekly basis to vacationers to apply for a conditional use permit. It goes through the planning commission and City Council. If approved, they must get a business license and pay sales and lodging taxes. Leases of 30 days or longer are exempt.

    The task force did discover that many homeowners are not registered with the city or paying sales taxes, as required.

    And many appear to be in violation of a city code that prohibits more than five unrelated adults from living in the same home.

    Dick Anderwald, the chief city planner, said he may reconvene the task force if enough complaints surface. His planner, Larry Larsen, is researching the issue and taking complaints at llarsen@springsgov.com.

    The only formal complaint this summer came from Cedar Heights where the Community Association president Lani Henneman asked about city codes. She said neighbors are upset about a house owned by Joanne Pearring being used exclusively as a vacation rental property.

    .

    .

    Henneman said Pearring advertises the house as “Manitou Villa” and it is available to groups of 18-20 for $400 to $500 a night or $2,000 to $3,300 a week.

    .

     She recently rented the house to a baseball team in town for a tournament, Henneman said.

    .

    Pearring hung up on me when I tried to ask her about her house and business. Here’s a look from www.GoogleEarth.com.

    Henneman said neighbors have complained about loud, late parties at the house. It has been blamed for traffic problems at the security gate. Guests have been seen feeding wildlife. And throwing rocks at deer.

    She said Pearring, who lives in nearby Crystal Park and owns several other vacational rental houses, has “destroyed the whole purpose of a gated community” by introducing streams of strangers.

     But the homeowners association can’t do anything about it because covenants governing life in Cedar Heights never contamplated the issue.

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  • BET THIS GUY’S NEIGHBOR WISHES HE HAD COVENANTS

    Fri, May 14, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 3 comments

    I don’t know the story behind this photo, which was emailed to me as spam. It’s pretty obvious there’s an intense political debate behind it.

    But it made me think.

    Often, people suggest to me that simple conversations between neighbors will resolve most disputes.

    Unfortunately, there are too many childish people in the world like this clown.

    He’s willing to endanger his neighbor by painting a target on him to potential burglars to make a point. And the moron clearly doesn’t realize he’s also painting a target on himself to any criminal looking for guns.

    A lot of homeowners associations have covenants restricting yard signs.

    Wonder if the neighbor is wishing he had such covenants and an HOA willing to enforce them?

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  • ‘GUARD LLAMAS’ AT HEART OF COVENANT DISPUTE?

    Wed, May 5, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 45 comments

    Prairie Vista Meadows is one of dozens of subdivisions scattered around the outskirts of Colorado Springs in eastern El Paso County

    It’s just 63 lots, carved out of former ranchland, where folks trying to get away from the city go and buy five-acre ranchettes

    Sometimes, they envision themselves as gentlemen farmers, with a horse or a cow or maybe another farm animal or two. 

     

    One of the big selling points is the spectacular views they enjoy of Pikes Peak and the Front Range from their vantage 10 miles or more from downtown Springs. 

    But folks trying to get away from the city sometimes take their issues with them to the countryside. 

     That’s the case at Prairie Vista Meadows where a couple homeowners are complaining about the homeowners association, covenants and architectural control committee governing life in the subdivision. 

    They are angry that the rules limit the number and types of farm animals to just two horses or cows. 

    Homeowner Chris Meier wanted a llama to guard his two cows from coyotes that roam the plains. And a goat would be nice. Or maybe some chickens. He wants his eight children involved in 4H programs and that might mean raising any variety of barnyard animals. 

    Neighbor Shannon Rogers wanted a third horse to go with her original two.  And maybe a horse arena. And she wants to store a trailer behind a screen of Blue Spruce trees.

    Noreen and Craig McConnell

    Both said they were misled by developer Craig McConnell to believe the HOA would be relaxed and willing to waive covenants and let them bend the rules. 

    McConnell sells real estate with his wife, Noreen, through Avalar Real Estate Solutions in Falcon

    McConnell said they misunderstood. He said the rules are the rules. Most of the 24 homeowners in Prairie Vista Meadows like the rules and want them enforced. He said five-acre lots are not big enough to allow many animals. 

    Here is a look at the subdivision from the El Paso County Assessor’s website: 

     McConnell said he’s trying to maintain the quality of the development by enforcing the covenants. He accuses Meier of wanting to take control of the HOA and rewrite the covenants to suit his lifestyle. 

    He says Meier has been out of compliance with covenants since he moved in last June for failing to paint his barn and for not screening his RV behind a fence or in a building, as rules require. 

    Meier counters that he likes the covenants and simply wants residents of the neighborhood to control the HOA, not a developer and his partners who don’t live in Prairie Vista Meadows. 

    The moral of the story is a classic: read everything before you buy and get all promises in writing. 

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  • Lawmakers take on HOAs GONE WILD!!!

    Wed, April 28, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 2 comments

    Colorado’s General Assembly is taking a hard look at homeowners associations again.

    Starting in 2005, lawmakers began trying to reform HOAs after more and more complaints about abuses by HOA boards surfaced.

    Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora

    Leading the charge then and now is state Sen. Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, who co-sponsored the 2005 Homeowners Bill of Rights which made sweeping changes to how the state’s estimated 12,000 HOAs operate.

    The law, and subsequent amendments, addressed common HOA abuses such as secret meetings, hidden financial documents, mishandling of money, selective enforcement of covenants and hidden meeting minutes.

    Now, Carroll and a fellow Aurora Democrat, Rep. Su Ryden, are trying again to give homeowners help in their battles with HOA boards.

    Colorado Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora

    They have co-sponsored House Bill 1278, which is working its way through the legislature.

    Originally, it would have created an HOA Ombudsman office, similar to a concept pioneered in 1997 by Nevada and subsequently copied by Florida, New Jersey and other states.

    The idea was to give folks a place to get their conflicts resolved through mediation instead of automatically forcing people to sue in civil court.

    Nevada is able to resolve half its complaints without going to court. I wrote about its office in January.

    Here’s a link to my January column about the HOA ombudsman in Nevada.

    And follow this link to my blog related to that column.

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