Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’

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

Imagining HOAs’ Future

August 7, 2012

A while back, I enjoyed author Neal Stephenson’s imagining of a United States where neighborhoods exercised virtual national sovereignty, with extreme border security and visa requirements restricting even the movements of a high-speed katana-wielding pizza deliveryman.  While this would certainly be an unexpected evolution of today’s covenant-based associations, there has been some evolution of HOAs over the years.  I sometimes wonder how HOAs will evolve in the near future.

First, I think we can all agree that homeowner associations are inherently conservative organizations.  They are based on covenants conditions and restrictions that are recorded on real property and that often remain unchanged for decades.  Usually CC&Rs can only be amended by a supermajority of the owners: an action that takes coordination, participation, and consensus.

It is no surprise then,  that HOAs are not weather vanes of social change.  Instead, we see conservative covenants challenged by owners with particular agendas, be they environmental responsibility, political activism, or the like.  Those who challenge covenants no doubt see precedent set in federal legislation that has retroactively outlawed covenants creating racially segregated housing communities, age-specific restrictions (except in retirement communities) and other fair housing issues, in addition to less-obvious federal rules regarding satellite dishes.

It would be interesting to see if HOAs could play a leading role in even more politically-charged social areas.  For instance:

  • Could an HOA ban undocumented residents?
  • Could an HOA ban guns of any kind?
  • Could an HOA require smart meters, solar panels, or laundry lines?
  • Could an HOA dive into the marriage debate?

Of course, we always advise our clients to avoid issues that might lead to litigation.  But that doesn’t mean attorneys can’t enjoy imagining legal problems yet to arise.

Update: These Colorado HOA attorneys just blogged about another social topic:  smoking bans.