We moved into our neighborhood in 2007. Our neighborhood has roughly 160 homes and was started in the mid-1990's and finished right around 2000, so the houses are about 10-17 years old.
Since moving in, I've gotten to know some of the association board members mostly through e-mail. If I were grading the work of the association, I would have to give them a C.
I'll start with reasons I grade them down:
- Lack of enforcement, except if it affects the board members personally – There have been a few homes that have fallen victim to foreclosure and/or relocation, and have sat empty. Many times, these homes start to fall into the state where it's apparent that they're not being kept up. It's subdivision policy that somebody should be taking care of the yards and such, even if the city has to be contacted (the charge for which is then levied onto the property tax). When I've contacted the association on a few instances, I've found that they're ‘already taken care of' for homes near the board members, but for others that aren't, it's like they've never even heard of the issue. In a couple of cases, I've ended up contacting the city myself.
- Sporadic communication – There is only one newsletter published per year. They have launched a website but I'm not sure how many people have accessed it or know about it.
- Sketchy recordkeeping – I received a notice politely informing me that my dues for the year were in arrears. I politely sent them back a copy of the cancelled check from four months ago showing that they were indeed paid and cashed. That's not a sign of good recordkeeping.
- Lack of enforcement – I've attended two of the annual meetings that they have had. I was amazed to find that they have never done anything about trying to collect dues for homeowners who are (for real) behind. The by-laws and city code state that they have the ability to place liens on properties for which payment has not been received, but they have properties which have not been paid on in four years, yet they've done nothing except send notices. I've heard that they plan on placing liens if they're over one year past due, but I'm not sure. That sets a bad example as people could just decide not to pay en masse if the ‘word on the street' is that there are no consequenses.
Now, it's not all bad. They have done quite a few good things:
- Applied some of the dues monies to replacing all of the mailboxes – Apparently, the builder had put in mailboxes at different times so they looked bad and were falling apart. The association ripped them all out and replaced them with uniform boxes that set a nice standard throughout the neighborhood. They've paid to have them kept up and straightened out as the freeze-thaw cycle were sending some down a crooked path.
- They worked hard to have a burned out house torn down – Shortly after we moved in, a house caught fire and was a total loss. It took a few months, but they finally tore down the shell, and I was told that the association really pushed hard to get it torn down so not as to create a long-standing eyesore.
- They worked to get a new subdivision entrance placed – The entrance to our neighborhood was a complete mess with cracked and broken concrete, most likely from the fact that there was never a ‘construction entrance' during the initial build-out. The association lobbied the city to get them to replace it even though it was not at the top of the priority list.
- Annual neighborhood gathering – They use part of the dues money to do an annual picnic / carnival. We've admittedly only attended once but this is a fun thing that creates more unity and helps give neighbors the opportunity to know one another. I think as Little Boy Beagle gets older and can participate, this will be a great thing.
All in all our association isn't dead in the water, but they definitely could step up on trying to ensure that our neighborhood stands out and is kept up well. I think the financial issues trouble me the most. I've thought about running to be on the board, but for now am hopeful that they improve. If not, maybe I'll run next year.