Homeowners associations without those pesky homeowners

A story in the Forth Worth Star Telegram (“Keller homeowners say they’ve been shut out of association despite new state law“) is reporting how area homeowners associations have effectively barred residents from board meetings. That is, homeowners associations in Texas don’t have to associate with homeowners.

How can this happen in an era in which the Texas legislature claims to be committed to individual property rights? According to the story, several lawmakers were surprised to see this happen under the law. I understand that there will be oversights in the legislative process. However, you can’t help but notice that these oversights almost always benefit special interests with lobbyists.

This appears to be a good example of the kind of influence that organized interests in Texas enjoy. An issue pops up that angers millions of Texans (for a little background, check out a previous blog entry on what homeowners associations have been up to). The legislatures spring into action and addresses the issue. However, somewhere in the process a well-funded interest group gets their lobbyist to make a couple of little changes that protect their clients.

This how special interests win in the legislative process. They pay much closer attention to the details than the rest of us.

Legislators have either played a shell game with voters or are ignorant of the consequences of those little changes in wording that they let slip into the law. Whatever the case, legislators did not get the job done.

If the legislature insists on perpetuating this kind of arrangement they should change the legal term for associations whose boards are controlled by developers to “Corporate Kingdoms.” This would make clear that homeowners they are actually signing away some of their rights to self-government. The state places signs that tell us where our speed on the highway is limited. The least they could do is put up warnings for citizens entering areas where their rights are limited.

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