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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.

Click on the "Show Index" tab above to see a listing of past shows.


 "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


It's Here: The link to the "other" On the Commons Site 


The Curent Show

On the Commons with Jason Helvenston
This show is a rebroadcast, but it is just as valid and timely today.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived - that is to have succeeded."

Do you suppose Ralph was thinking about homeowner associations and the many petty municipal governments around with ridiculous rules, ordinances, and abusive enforcement mechanisms when he wrote that? His message seems to have fallen on deaf ears because these entities continue to make life miserable for their members and constituents. 

Fortunately, more individuals are doing amazing things to make the world a better place, not for just one person but hundreds of people, despite their local governments.

Joining us On The Commons this week is Jason Helvenston. Jason and his wife, Jennifer, wanted to grow their food, but edible plants tend to require sun, and the sun happened to be in their front yard, so that's where they planted their herbs and vegetables. However, the city council of Orlando, Florida, thought that grass would look normal, and so they did what petty governments do so well, they issued an ultimatum, "plant grass or else... we will fine you $500 a day!". The Helverstons believe in protecting their right to plant whatever they want on their property, so they fought back, and they WON! You'll have to listen to their story to realize that their garden is only the first step to opening our eyes and how they are making so many people "breathe easier."      Listen to Jason Helvenston . . .
On the Commons with Nila Ridings
A home is a necessity although, the type of home can be the stuff of which dreams are made. So many people fantasize about the size, the style, the location of the house they hope to live in with their loved ones. They imagine the furniture, the number, and the size of the rooms they will have. Once they have visualized the house, they work on making their dream a reality. Bit by bit, they save money and assemble all the bits they will need to build the home of their dreams. But what happens once they make their dream home a reality. What happens if that home happens to be part of a mandatory membership residential association? 

Nila Ridings joins us On The Commons and tells us about her home. In her case, her dream home, a townhouse, happened to be in a homeowners association. It was perfect for her as her monthly dues covered some outdoor maintenance she didn’t feel able to handle herself. She paid her dues diligently, but the maintenance she was paying for was never performed. The HOA’s negligence caused some severe problems. Nila then did the one thing a homeowner should never do, but it is the only thing they feel is within their control — she withheld her dues. If she is paying to have specific jobs done and the association is not performing its part, it makes perfect sense not to pay the dues. But the association has the ultimate power over the homeowners, and in this case, they exercised their power. What happened to Nila should never have happened, but sadly it happens too often. The courts were no help at all. 

Please listen to Nila’s story, do not withhold your assessments, and if you want to make any legislative changes, start by making the associations more accountable to their members by performing the jobs they are paid to perform. Currently, it doesn’t appear there is any requirement for them to perform the jobs they are paid to do. Oh, I can hear the screams. Tune in to hear Nila’s story. . . . Listen to Nila Ridings, Powered by Mambo and Maintained by Terry Bartholomew