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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

On the Commons with Robert Stern

An attorney representing an HOA once advised a board that the fees being charged to just some of the homeowners was in violation of the Declaration.  He explained it by saying; ".... you are on less than concrete legal foundation.   Most homeowners don't avail themselves of their rights but  should you be challenged you can make a decision based on the economics of the litigation".  In other words, if no one questions any of the board or management decisions or challenges certain policies, the HOA is home free.  The one thing in the above quote that I agree with is that most homeowners never challenge anything and passively obey all the rules.  However, for the few homeowners who simply won't just accept what they are told, especially when things just don't seem to add up, there may be a pot of gold at the end of the end of their rainbow.

Robert Stern joins us On The Commons this week.  Robert is a successful businessman who owns several houses on both sides of the country - all in homeowner associations.  He is a financial executive, a CPA by trade and he knows his numbers. He is also no stranger to being on boards and understanding how associations work.  True to form, when he bought his house in Henderson, Nevada, he ran for, and was elected to, the board of directors.  But being in the leadership did nothing to protect him from being involved in a couple of lawsuits.  

But Robert is a busy and energetic man who has written several books.  He chronicles his journey through HOAs in his latest book, "HOA WARS; What Happens in Vegas Can Happen Anywhere". In this book he talks about the people he met along the way including the activists who chose to speak up and try to right a wrong or two.  He explains how he found and why he returned $1.2 Million to his fellow homeowners.   He also talks about yet another law suit his association filed against him.  The book has all the makings of a hollywood movie and who knows, maybe one day his story will come to a screen near you.  But until that happens, check out his web page at http://hoawars.tateauthor.com where you can read all about him and order his book.  Be sure to tune in and listen to him tell his story, explain what to look for and how, if you avail yourself of your rights, you too may find a pot of gold hidden in the musty records of your HOA.   
Listen to Robert Stern     

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On the Commons with Martha Boneta
We all have dreams and aspirations of what we want to be when we grow up.  Most of us will change our minds many times over and then end up doing something completely different.  A few lucky people KNOW what they want to do and actually realize their dreams.  This week we will be following one such dreamer, a little girl who always wanted to be a farmer, to grow food, raise animals and feed her community. Growing up she imagined planting rows and rows of different vegetables and harvesting beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, melons, strawberries, raising bees and harvesting honey, collecting big baskets of eggs, big ones, little ones in a rainbow of colors; brown ones and white ones and lavender ones.  She planned on teaching the kids all about farming and the miracle of growing good, healthy food. She aspired to be a productive and vital part of her community and she  always intended to be a great steward of the land she loves.

The little dreamer grew up and bought a small family farm where she happily planted her crops, raised her animals, harvested honey and happily did all the things farm chores that she always she planned on doing.  But all was not as rosy as she had hoped for.  The heavy hand and abuses of a local environmental council reared its ugly head right from the very beginning and, in concert with the local municipal government, started making life and the once happy dream of farming a living nightmare.  

Martha Boneta joins us On The Commons this week.  Martha is the little girl who grew up to be a farmer.  Along with the joy of growing farm fresh fruit and vegetables, producing eggs and honey and herbs and sharing her love of the land with her animals and all who visit, Martha has had to fight to protect her right to farm her land.  Despite the fact that Virginia is a "right to farm" state, local county supervisors have joined forces with the council members on a local Land Trust to try to shut her down.  After several law suits and tireless lobbying at the State level, Martha got, what has become known as the Martha Boneta Bill, passed into law.  But that was just the beginning.  Martha recently inspired her fellow Virginians to rally in RIchmond to put an end to what can only be described as harassment and abuse of power by an environmental council.  Join us to learn about some of the most outrageous behavior of this group and the humiliation, embarrassment and horror Martha and her family have endured.    
Listen to Martha      
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