HOAs: Love or Hate?

We readily admit that one thing we love about the Hermits’ Rest ranch is there is no Home Owner Association or HOA to deal with (just me, Lee, Sara, and Ralph having a meal and discussing stuff).

Our little villa. Note narrow hilly street.

In my previous Austin house, I was in the Meadows of Brushy Creek HOA, which was a big one with lots of people. I admit that in 20 years, I never attended a meeting, though I did give my proxy a couple of times. I thought of them as those busybodies who told me to weed my plants right after my husband left me, along with a broken lawnmower.

On the other hand, I was glad they were there to keep the place looking presentable, get public things repaired, and all that. I guess I didn’t love them or hate them; I just chafed a bit because I’m not much of a rule follower unless I think there’s good reason.

Example of why the landscape needs work. These are the irrigation lines. They are no longer UNDER the dirt or rocks.

My friend, Mike, has been president of his HOA in southeast Austin more than once. I enjoyed his tales of complaining neighbors, argumentative meetings, and having to make hard decisions. It did not sound like my cup of tea.

Here we are at the Northcat Villas

As soon as we bought the Bobcat Lair and ran into all the problems with the City of Austin and permits (see our Bobcat Lair page on our business blog), we figured we’d better attend neighborhood meetings, so either Lee and I, or Anita and I have been going ever since.

Construction equipment is very harrd to get in and out of this place. And look at that nice “flower bed.”

Our sweet little Austin neighborhood is made up of 42 (soon to be 43!) small homes on small streets with shared amenities and landscaping. Since they were built in 1984, they have, of course aged. And that leads to lots of fun HOA stuff.

We’ve witnessed the Battle of Recycling (we are doomed to never get it, long story), the War of Renovations (we finally can get more modern outside lights!), and worst, the Landscaping Skirmishes. Oy.

What’s the problem?

Well, most of the time I’ve been going to meetings, the same people have been on the Board. Only in the last couple of years have a few new faces crept in (two by the Bobcat Lair Uprising of 2016). A lot of folks wanted to change that.

Nothing has changed in this bed since the 80s. Just trimmed. I will turn this right-side up as soon as WordPress will let me.

This year, three positions were up for election, but two long-term members graciously agreed to run again, and they found anothr person to fill out the term of someone who’d moved away. No one had asked the general population if they wanted to run or had suggestions.* So, somehow, my neighbors convinced me to put my name in for a board membership.

We thought we had two other folks lines up to run, but by the time the meeting came around, it was just me. I figured, hey, I work in real estate redevelopment, and I volunteered last year to be on a committee and never heard back. Maybe they’d talk to me if I ran for office.

Dirt and improperly pruned crepe myrtles. Sigh.

Then we found out that the neighbor who was picked by the current board actually WAS qualified. They’d just not let us know any of that. That made me feel a little foolish, but then some other fellow who has an issue about trees also said he’d run.

Let me tell you what. Figuring out how to do THAT election was pretty funny (who votes for what, when, where how?). But they did it. The poor guys who were running for re-election looked so startled, like they certainly had NOT expected competition. Everyone looked startled.

The results!

The happy loser.

Not to worry, the write-ins both lost (me and the tree guy). But did I really lose? Did my neighborhood friends really lose?

No, I don’t think so. For me, I really didn’t want to be on another board with more monthly meetings and angry people to deal with; I just wanted to be in the group that worked on the landscape design, which had not happened. For my neighbors, they had just wanted to make it clear that there IS interest in working with the HOA outside the smaller circle that currently discusses board membership.

I think everybody concerned came away realizing that work needs to be done AND there are people who will actually help! After the meeting, at least three people came up and said they were really interested in my involvement. One board member vowed to just start meeting monthly and then told me and Anita that we should get together and buy some flower seeds and make it pretty ourselves. That’s GREAT.

I’m a very happy loser.

*This was not malicious. It just never occurred to them until it was too late to ask.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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