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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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The new On The Commons  podcast site

Seven years of easy to find On the Commons Podcasts 

 

 

The Curent Show

On the Commons with Janice Fontell
Have you heard the one about homeowner associations being democracy "up close and personal"?  The story goes that members are expected to participate in meetings, voice their opinions and to be part of the "community" which includes being financially responsible for common expenses.  So it only stands to reason that one should be entitled to an explanation of any increases.  But what happens when a member asks a simple question about a dues increase?

On this show we will start at that point - a very small dues increase and when an explanation was asked for the name calling, finger pointing and suppressing information started.  When a simple answer to a simple question is not forthcoming and creates such acrimony, something is wrong.  So when a situation doesn't pass the smell test it is prudent to dig a little deeper especially when your most valuable asset, your home, is at stake.

But that is easier said then done.

On the Commons with us this week we are joined by Janice Fontell.  Janice is an accountant by trade and she bought into the notion of "carefree living" that her condo promised.  She paid her dues and minded her own business.  Join us as we follow her incredible journey into homeownership, her awakening and subsequent education into what HOA living really is all about.  But that is only the beginning because she found herself learning all about the law and her way around court where she ultimately prevailed - in part 1.  You will want to hear this part of her story.  There is another case pending and we hope to catch up with Janice later on.    Listen to Janice Fontell    
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On the Commons with Dennis Kocher
The first time I spoke to Lincoln Cummings, one of the founders of the Community Associations Institute, I asked him; "Why homeowner associations"?  I was surprised when he said because young professionals often left family and friends behind to pursue careers out of state where they found themselves alone and without the support they had at home.  He thought HOAs would provide a sense of community for an otherwise largely transient society.  There is nothing sinister about what he wanted however the "instant community" that was intended to provide that safety net came loaded with unintended consequences.  

Far from what we typically think of when we think of communities, over the years HOAs have morphed into what can best be described as war zones where pettiness, fear and adversity rule.  You need go no further than Auburn, California for an example of what I mean. Not far from Lake of the Pines Homeowner Association is Beale Air Force Base where our young military families live. They are far from home, away from their families and in need of that safety net Lincoln talked about.  One man found a way to support them, one man helped them furnish their homes and when the US government refused to do the job they were elected to do and closed the commissaries instead of passing a budget,  these young families were left without food.  Again, one man helped feed them.

On the Commons this week we are joined by Dennis Kocher.  Dennis is a Vietnam era vet who understands the hardships often endured by young military families. Dennis found a need - and filled it.  For over the last decade, he used his passion and skills for furniture building to furnish the homes of these young military families on base, making their lives  just a little more comfortable and their immediate surroundings a little more beautiful.  As Robert Baden-Powel said; "The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others." I think Dennis would agree with that.  However, as we all know, no good deed goes unpunished and now Dennis finds himself in the cross hairs of some of the people in power in his HOA.  Please join us, we'll talk to Dennis, find out why trying to bring a little joy and happiness into the lives of the young folks in his community would cause such heart burn in his HOA.      Listen to Dennis Kocher    
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