Archive for November, 2014

Common Area Car Charging

November 7, 2014

Straight from Detroit, we have some news angst aimed at the association of a Chevy Volt owner.   It looks like the owner was plugging her car into common area electricity every night.  The board decided to charge her for her presumably higher-than-average electricity load.  A dispute ensued, with some reporter harassing the board repeatedly to get this snarky quote:

Action News contacted the HOA president. After hanging up on us twice, he would only confirm that the HOA board voted 4-1 to kill Forte’s power to her garage, forcing the woman to charge her electric hybrid from her condo from 100 feet of extension cord.

I can’t help but feel sorry for this vilified board.  They didn’t run to the media when one of their owners started taking advantage of a common resources.  But here they are fielding repeated phone calls from the press.  I can’t help but think that if it had been a Nissan or other Japanese plugin car the Detroit media would not have been as aggressive in their reporting.  That’s what you get for living in Motor City, I guess.

Clearly, a plug-in car uses much more electricity than envisioned when electric outlets were placed in a common car port.  As plug-ins grow in popularity (assuming our current oil price dip is temporary), other boards may have to make similar decisions about how to handle the increased load.  Maybe if it became very common for people to use electricity for their primary transportation, associations would agree to pool the cost.  Somehow I doubt it.  Extension cords to the individual condo units sounds like a reasonable solution to me.2011-chevrolet-volt-power-adaptor_100190237_m

Virginia is for lovers of HOAs

November 6, 2014

5456d6dcd74b5.imageSo two things jumped out at me from this article by Ted Strong in Richmond.  First,  it’s a great article on HOAs.  It isn’t often that someone captures the quasi-governmental role that associations end up playing in modern communities:

associations are nearly ubiquitous for new residential housing in the Richmond area, embraced by developers as a way to handle long-term care of common amenities and by local officials as “mini-governments” that can help maintain order and property value.

Second, the underlying dispute was regarding an in-home day care center.  It looks like the HOA took a position in the county conditional use permit hearings, but did not take any legal action based on its covenants alone.  I don’t know if this is the case in Virginia, but here in Idaho the association could have done both.  So it is possible the HOA decided to back down.

I have had a number of boards ask me about this type of situation.  It can be difficult to definitively define the line between residential and commercial use.  Day cares are one tough call.  Frequent “AirBNB” landlords can be too.  A case of low income housing was just in the news too.  The Board would need to carefully review the specific language in their restrictions and probably look at other uses in the community as well before deciding.

Anyway, this Virginia case isn’t going anywhere, but HOA news lovers should be watching that Volt case in Waterford CA.  I’ll comment when it all plays out a bit more.