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Welcome to On the Commons!

Image On The Commons is a weekly radio show, dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding homeowner associations (HOAs) and condominiums.  It is broadcast live from WEBR, Fairfax, Virginia and available on this web site.

Join us as we explore the world of homeowner associations and condominiums, which are the fastest growing form of residential development in America today.  This housing concept includes homeowner associations, condominiums, cooperatives, and both attached and detached single-family homes.  Unfortunately this type of housing is not as utopian as its advocates would have us believe.  Living in a homeowner association means giving up a part of the American dream.  It means giving up Constitutional rights and control over one’s most valuable asset - one’s home.

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 "Property in a thing consists not merely in its ownership and possession, but in the unrestricted right of use, enjoyment, and disposal. Anything which destroys any of the elements of property, to that extent, destroys the property itself. The substantial value of property lies in its use. If the right of use be denied, the value of the property is annihilated and ownership is rendered a barren right."  --- Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard B Sanders

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Its Here! 

The new On The Commons  podcast site

Seven years of easy to find On the Commons Podcasts 

 

The Curent Show

O the Commons with Ileana Johnson

Words have meanings and the word community generally imparts a sense of belonging.  People in a community tend to have something in common.  They come from similar backgrounds, are generally in the same socioeconomic group, perhaps share hobbies and  interests.  They have something that binds them together.  In the good old days, before "communities" were designed and force-fed on Americans, the sense of community evolved naturally.  Neighbors were friends who helped and looked out for each other.  They took in a child who might have inadvertently been locked out, picked up packages for neighbors or retrieved a trash can that was blown down the street by the wind.  In this brave new world of controlled living, the sense of community is no longer communal but rather a gathering of people who delight is spying on their neighbors.  Now a child who is locked out might get rescued by the police, mail is left out and the association is called to report a stray trash can.   

Ileana Johnson joins us On The Commons this week.  Ileana is an American by choice and a Romanian by birth.  She is a freelance journalist, an author, a speaker and a radio commentator.  She also maintains a blog at www.ileanajohnson.com.  Ileana and her husband currently live in a Homeowner Association in Virginia where inspections are conducted regularly to ensure that no blade of grass exceeds the allowable length and that all things visible on the property conform to some rather vague standard.  Creativity and individuality are highly frowned upon.  Ileana tells us about life in her 300 square foot apartment in Communist Romania and draws some parallels between Communist Romania and HOAs, American Style.  Sometimes it is hard to find much difference.    Listen to Ileana Johnson     

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On the Commons with Evan McKenzie

They sounded like such great ideas, so what could possibly go wrong?  Instead of keeping residential America under the jurisdiction of local municipal governments, the trend was to put them in private enclaves where covenants ruled and where the notion of a contract was above the law.  Add a few frills where everyone shares in the expense of amenities and you have heaven on earth.  Right?  Now expand the utopian lifestyle to the renters by converting apartments into condos and establishing special financing to help them get their foot on the first rung of prosperity and we are on our way.  

As I write this, my mother's words come back to haunt me; "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true."

Professor Evan McKenzie joins us On The Commons this week.  Evan was on the first radio show I ever did and I am delighted to have him join us as we mark our 15th anniversary of On The Commons. 

Evan is a political science professor at the University of Illinois Chicago, he teaches law at the John Marshall School of Law, he is the author of Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government and  Beyond Privatopia: Rethinking Residential Private Government.  He maintains a blog at The Privatopia Papers where he discusses and follows the news and trends on associations.  He is just back from a conference in Israel on private communities  where he presented a paper titled: "Rethinking Residential Private Government in the United States: Recent Trends in practices and Policy".  Join  us as Evan shares some of the problems and issues other countries are facing with their experiences in private communities, and how at least one country, Spain, deals with the "apathy" problem.  Listen to Evan McKenzie    

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