An Awesome Homeowners Association

So an issue that has come up lately is the evil that are homeowners associations. Basically what happens is a developer makes a bunch of houses all the same. You know, those large gated communities. And to get around rules about density and such they make a homeowners association. The way its supposed to work is that the HOA benefits the people living there because they protect property values and provide municipal things like parks and pools. It supposedly fair because there is a board of directors that is democratically elected that makes the rules. People moving to these communities, who own homes there, must follow these rules or risk penalty up to and including foreclosure. So basically people buy houses and give up their right to property in exchange for whatever protection and benefits the association provides. Lots of people like this. They like to live in white bread ‘burbs where every house is perfect and matching, and they don’t care about their own freedom. They care more about seeing a bunch of perfect lawns than right to property. Others, as you can imagine, are quite pissed to find out that they can’t choose their own color curtains or fly a flag in their own yard.

After a bit of research I realized there isn’t much you can do to avoid this other than to just not move anywhere with an HOA. The problem is that a lot of people don’t realize what they are getting into because they aren’t properly informed, and they don’t inquire when buying a home. Also, sometimes a good HOA can change leadership and makes someone’s life hell. Often some of the benefits of the HOA evaporate. The developers of the community trying to save money often slack on the maintenance funds and people have to pay for their own roof repairs and such. So they’ve essentially exchange their freedom for permission to use the community swimming pool and not much more. Supposedly rules prohobiting old cars in yards and such helps protect property values. I could however argue that this hasn’t been proven to actually increase property value at all, and that in fact might decrease property value because people don’t want to live where there are crazy rules. When HOAs rule everywhere land without an HOA will be more expensive. If HOAs taking away freedom makes living in one less desirable, and HOAs cover most of the houses, then decreasing demand and increasing supply will make non HOA homes more valuable.

The point is that once you are in, there’s no way out besides moving. Everything they have going is legal and by the book. So rather than try to fix the evil that is the HOA, I had a better idea. Let’s make a geek HOA. Build a community of houses with services like municipal internet (OCS!), swimming pools, digital movie theatres, file storage, segways, robot lawn mowers and vacuums. All the things that poor geeks can’t afford they can share municipally. Then we make all the rules of the HOA be extra awesome. Not maintaining your computers properly? No Internet for you! In fact, we can make the rules as cruel as we want. Running Windows? Foreclosed! Not that we should actually go quite that far, but the option is there, and it’s all perfectly legal.

The benefits of a geeky HOA would be obvious. Geeks would love living there. Property values would skyrocket since geeks would want to live there so badly, and there wouldn’t be enough houses to go around. Geeky people would be living near each other and thus could do all sorts of crazy geek things. You’d never be at a loss to find someone who can help you with some code, or for D+D players, etc. We could have our own private movie theatre that shows whatever we want. No more waiting in huge lines, there is a seat for geek already there. Pooling resources and cooperating results in more for everybody. This idea is at least equivalent in quality to the geek commune idea. It might even be easier to pull off since it is closer to the existing lifestyle of most geeks and more apparently beneficial.

Just remember. Whenever you recognize someone accruing power for stupid and evil, there is a way to use the same method for good. If only we could actually pull some of these things off we’d be in serious business. That initial financial investment is always the problem. If there are evil homeowner’s associations taking away peoples freedom, then why don’t we make a homeowners association with a different set of rules for us? I can dream, can’t I?

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