The Raging Power Desire in the “Private Utopia”

  ”Privatopia” (Privatopia) is a book published by American political scientist Irving McKinsey in 1994. “Private Utopia” is a self-created word, and the subtitle of the book gives detailed notes: The rise of homeowner associations and private government in housing.
  In the United States, there are countless associations, all of which are typical non-governmental organizations. Then, why does Professor Mai call homeowners’ associations private Utopias and associate them with nondescript so-called “private governments”?
  In a 2000 case, the California Court of Appeals referred to homeowners’ associations as “secondary municipalities,” “quasi-governments,” and “micro-governments” because they “regulate (the homeowners’) daily lives in many ways.” “, “Parallel to the municipal government in almost all aspects of power, obligation and responsibility”.
  Each state, each city, and even each homeowner’s association is different, and the number and degree of management will also vary greatly. However, they all have powers similar to grassroots governments. American laws set many restrictions on the government; the separation of powers and mutual checks and balances permeate the skeleton and flesh and blood of all levels of government. Homeowners’ associations, however, are not really government, and are not subject to the restrictions that governments are bound to.
  It stands to reason that the charter and covenant of the homeowner association are formulated, revised and maintained by the homeowners. The board of directors, the governing body of the association, is also elected by the homeowners from among themselves at the annual homeowners’ meeting. The association has replaced many of the government’s day-to-day management functions, and the government is happy to be at ease. As long as the other party does not violate the law, the government hardly intervenes in community affairs. Therefore, many people say that homeowner associations are the most direct manifestation of self-government.
  However, the actual operation is very different. The statutes and covenants of the homeowners’ association are mostly drawn up by the developer, and its board of directors is also appointed by the developer. When the property is sold, the association handed over to the homeowners is already cooked rice. It is very difficult to change, especially for those who buy second-hand houses.
  Members of the board of directors are all volunteers. They contribute their time and energy in order to maintain the public welfare and public security of the community and implement the common will of the community. The owner of the house seems to be grateful and not to criticize. Thanks to the voluntary work of the directors, the land of the United States is full of clean, well-renovated residential communities. No wonder the number of homeowner associations in the United States has risen from about 10,000 in the 1970s to more than 350,000 today. There are 2.75 million homes in the U.S. that belong to homeowners associations, covering nearly 27 percent of the U.S. population.
  It’s just that the spirit of dedication and dedication is solid, and unchecked and balanced decisions may be more tempting. Moreover, under the cover of the banner of public welfare, the expansion and corruption of power desire is even more outrageous. If the situation evolves into a contest with the rights of the homeowners, it is more likely that the director’s desire for power will be stimulated. “War and Peace,” said Consumer Affairs magazine, “would be longer than War and Peace to enumerate the evils of the American Homeowners’ Association.”
  Indeed, some single cases are enough to make a tome. In 2008, a Washington suburban couple erected a sign in their yard supporting Obama. The signboard is 4 inches over the specified limit—how dedicated it must be to discover this tiny violation! The dedicated board ordered immediate correction. The couple chopped the signboard in half. The annoyed board passed a resolution to impose a $900 fine for each violation. Later, the couple applied to renovate the roof and balcony, which was rejected by the board of directors. Since then, the lawsuit has lasted for four years, and the association’s membership fee has gradually increased from US$650 to US$3,500, which is mainly used to pay attorney fees.
  A court investigation confirmed the couple’s allegations that the board’s meetings to pass resolutions against them were held in secret, in violation of its own charter. The court ruled against the board and had to pay various costs totaling $400,000. The homeowners association voted to declare bankruptcy.

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