Last night I spent two hours of my life at the annual meeting of my HOA. (Actually, we’re a CUOA – condominium unit owners association – but that sounds even dumber than HOA and no one knows what it means. So. HOA it will be for the post.) You may wonder why I would voluntarily subject myself to what was certain to be either a boring evening (at best) or a downright uncomfortable and confrontational evening (at worst). HOA meetings are rather reputable for being filled with nit-picky busybodies with nothing better to do than complain about their neighbors’ choice of drapery. And to an extent, that’s true – one person last night complained because a sign hidden away in a corner of the clubhouse that no one ever sees still says “apartments” instead of “condominiums.” But I go to at least the annual meeting, where we vote on the board, anyway. Because you can’t complain if you don’t vote, right? 🙂
Last night, I was nominated to be on our HOA board. I accepted the nomination for one reason only – there are currently zero unit owners and zero residents on our board. The developer who is still trying to sell 26 of our 125 units is in complete control of the board. The reason for this? We apparently can’t muster enough homeowners to vote them off. We’ve tried. We tried again last night, and got the closest we’ve ever gotten, but the 21 votes from owners and the proxy votes they held from neighbors were not enough to defeat the 26 votes the developer has, so for at least another year, representatives appointed by the developer, all of whom live in Atlanta so they’re not even remotely local, will control our HOA board. I’ll admit that on some level, I was relieved – I don’t really want to be on an HOA board – but at the same time, I was violently disappointed in our community.
I can’t believe that 78 unit owners in this complex care so little about what decisions may be made about their homes, the place where they live (or not, I guess – some are investment units that are rented out) and the unit that they have invested money in, that they would not attend the meeting or at least assign a proxy vote to a neighbor who was going. It baffles me, and it makes me angry. In thinking about it, I believe it’s because we lack a sense of community. We don’t have a shared space where we can all talk to each other. There’s no email list. There’s no connection between community members at all except to wave or smile or maybe chat briefly when we happen to see one another.
Which is why when another resident at the meeting asked for volunteers to try to get together and do…something… to mobilize the owners and find some solidarity, I signed up. I may regret it, I don’t know. But I feel like if we can just connect with one another, maybe next year when this board vote comes up, we can blow their piddly 26 votes out of the water. Fingers crossed.
To end on a positive note, we did get good news about something I’ve been pushing for, seemingly for years now. Our complex is in the county, not the city, which in our area means we do not have recycling pick-up. Our complex has also never added recycling service to our waste management contract, partly because of the expense and partly because the collection container has to go somewhere and no one could ever come up with a spot that wouldn’t take up parking spaces and wouldn’t be an eyesore. So. There is a major single-stream recycling/trash facility not 20 minutes away from us, and manymanymanymany of the local waste management companies take their garbage there. (If you’re not familiar with single-stream recycling, check out this description.) The company we’re contracted with, of course, does not do this – they just go to a landfill. Which means those of us who are eco-concerned enough to want to recycle have to store up all of our recyclables on our tiny balconies, haul it to our cars, and drive it into town to the recycling center where you have to separate everything from everything else – even #1 plastic from #2 plastic. IT’S AN ENORMOUS PAIN IN THE ASS, in case you hadn’t gotten that part.
Well. Last night, our property manager announced that our contract with our waste people ends in late April/early May, and we will be contracting with a company that goes to the single-stream processing facility WA-HOOOOOOO!!!! I almost did a jig right there in the room! Not only will this be more convenient for those of us who DO recycle, it will force those who don’t recycle to do it anyway – without any extra effort!! All of our “trash” will automatically be sorted in to various kinds of recycling and then actual waste. And I never would have known this if I didn’t go to our HOA meeting.