Why we need change:
I have been an HMA homeowner since November 1999. In the past, I served many years as Treasurer then President. Maybe you know me, my name is Michael Gioan. I’m writing this because I think we need to improve the way we manage this HOA. After I resigned my position of Board President in 2013, in protest of a mendacious and autocratic spirit on the new Board, I have run several times. I generally get 12 to 19 votes, because barely more than half the homeowners vote and more importantly, we have a group of about 25 to 28 keeps systematically voting for the same members as a block, imposing a minority rule on all of us. Their goal: do nothing, fix nothing, invest nothing. Once in a great while, an outsider manages to get elected, but they usually last only a year, because they usually have ideas that displease the ruling clique.
How this affects us:
What I have seen in the past few years is a focus on writing lots of new rules and invent many ways to target individuals the Board dislikes, but very little in terms of running this complex more efficiently.
We just cannot remain stuck in the 60s, that’s quaint but not beneficial, we need to look to the future, not to the past, and the way things are going, we should consider it a miracle that our workers can use an electric golf cart, instead of a mule and buggy.
What we can do:
In order to maintain and improve the appeal of our complex, which has a direct impact on property value, we need to adapt and embrace rather than decry and bemoan technical progress and changes in our local environment and society.
Here are some of the changes I have been proposing for years:
TERM LIMITS – An opportunity for more homeowners to get involved:
We need new blood and new ideas, and I propose that no board member can serve more than 4 consecutive years. A 2-year hiatus would be required before a former board member can run again. The term limit rule above applying to board members should also apply to members of the various committees and for the same reasons.
FINANCIAL CONTROL – Because it’s OUR money:
Any new project or re-assignment of funds for which cost is projected to exceed 15% of HMA yearly revenue should be submitted to a vote by the entire membership. The members should be able to have their say in controlling expenses and be able to oppose “pet projects” that may not be beneficial to the complex as a whole. This rule would not apply to projects that are part of the current 30-year mandatory maintenance plan since costs are spread over many years.
SMART MAINTENANCE – Because it’s important for property value and lower dues:
We have enjoyed these past few years a surplus of almost $100K savings in salaries and supplies by having a reduced crew. Interestingly, no big changes in general maintenance, enough to ask why we used to spend that much on construction supplies…
I support hiring licensed contractors for all tasks requiring expertise beyond handyman level. This will benefit us in terms of liability and guarantee of compliance and completion.
Maintenance crew should be kept to a minimum. Our current crew has done a great job when used for what they do best. Past events have shown time and time again that it is difficult for the board to properly supervise a large and unruly crew.
MODERNIZATION – Because it will make our properties more valuable:
Where to begin with this?
We still do not have an electronic system to track maintenance requests and architectural requests! This is not only very inefficient it’s also a legal liability since the HOA does not have any record of maintenance task by unit, hold harmless agreements, etc. Instead, we have the “box at the shed”, where requests go to die…
Why aren’t we considering solar power with the huge area of flat roof we have?
Why don’t we use e-mail, internet and other modern media more to help members communicate better?
Why isn’t Zoom still available for all members to attend monthly meetings?
Finally, why can’t we get access to the financial documents electronically, as required by law since we do not have a local management office?
BEAUTIFICATION – Because we want to be proud of our homes:
For years, our complex has had the same drab paint and dull barrack style. This could easily be improved AND would save us money. Here’s how: let’s repaint the units (as they are maintained and repaired) with completely different colors. Our complex will start to resemble a village, with both beauty and personality, and this will make our complex more attractive. This also would negate keeping reserves of paint, which is expensive, a fire hazard, and never works for color-matching. Here are a couple examples of what we could accomplish (we need not be that original, of course, but you get the gist):
EMPOWERMENT – Because we are all in this together:
Homeowners must have a voice at all times. All too often, far-reaching decisions that can impact our quality of life and property values are taken without the membership being consulted. I believe in direct democracy and in giving more control and power to us, the homeowners, not to an authoritarian “local government” of sorts.
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I’m trying to figure out how to start a dialog on air conditioning. When we first approached the board last Oct, they declined to discuss until after the “elections”. We have a warm summer, high humidity and there are units that reduce noise considerably. How do we get the dialog going to approve AC units? Thanks – Tony