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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.


 "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 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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On the Commons with Bill Davis
If you hear something often enough, does it make it true?  

Over the years we have been told repeatedly that HOAs protect property values. The question then has to be, just how do HOAs protect property values and for whom?  Ask any HOA industry professional and they will tell you that HOAs prevent people from painting their front door an unapproved color.  Is a green door preferable to a red one?  Is a black door more valuable?  If every single door for miles around is the exact same color, will life be better?  Will the house be worth more because it is a carbon copy of every single other house?  Whatever happened to the notion that one's home is one's castle?  Can an HOA tell Queen Elizabeth what color she can paint her gate, insist she get ACC approval for her gate and gatehouses?   Whatever happened to the notion that the true value of property is in its use?  Is your "castle" any less valuable to YOU than Buckingham Palace is to the British Royal Family?  

Why does the mere suggestion of a different colored front door instill fear and horror in the hearts of homeowners?  To control a neighbor's use and enjoyment of their property, Americans appear to be willing to give up freedoms that property owners have traditionally enjoyed.  Along with giving up sovereignty over one's own property, HOA denizens are prepared to risk it all.  Not only does that kontrolled house cost them more on an ongoing basis but their keepers can fine and foreclose to collect that fine simply because they don't like you.  Is that protecting property values?

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill is an attorney in Texas who switched his practice to representing homeowners in HOAs.  In addition to having represented clients who have been targeted by their HOAs, Bill has written extensively about them in many forums.  He has seen the not so good, the very bad and the horribly ugly sides of associations.  We talk about the inherent conflict of corporate interests and individual property values especially in condominiums.  We also discuss the phenomenon of blind obedience in these associations.  People are terrified of them but seem afraid not be in one.  Join us. Listen to Bill Davis      
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