Letters From the Issue of Thursday, May 24, 2007


HOAs just dont "get" it: Sarah Fenske's column on homeowners associations raised some great points, and it doesn't hurt that she writes about such a potentially mundane topic with wit and flair ("Let the Sunshine In," May 10).

Once my husband, Tom Rawles, is off the Mesa City Council, we will probably be tarred and feathered by the Dobson Ranch HOA (of course, we face that threat from many quarters on a regular basis). Our HOA, like many, doesn't "get" that native, rather untrimmed, landscaping is better for wildlife and humans (hello, we live in a desert, not the Midwest or the tropics).

Of course, being a libertarian, I am all for private contracts and am not against an HOA in its basic principle: homeowners voluntarily agreeing to abide by certain restrictions and processes. However, we cannot assume this basic premise anymore. Instead, we have government-created HOAs (try building a development without the concurrent establishment of an HOA), and HOAs that go far beyond the parameters of their contractual agreements, usually without challenge.

How many homeowners can handle the legal and emotional expense of standing up to a majority of their neighbors, or especially, a zealous minority of busybodies and do-gooders?

Sarah and New Times, keep sounding the alarm. Even when I don't agree with you, I love the bold opinions and scrappy themes that your paper represents and the First Amendment protects. Not that the majority of Americans believe in that anymore! Remember: Personal and economic freedoms go together, and if we lose any, we eventually lose them all.
Linda Rawles, Mesa

Call Jan now: Thank you for the great article about solar energy and petulant HOAs.

Just to give you and your readers an update, Senate Bill 1330 passed the Senate the other day and has been has been sent to the governor. This bill restores homestead exemption protection to homeowners in HOAs and subjects the HOA lien to the law. It also includes the Solar Bill.

Your readers should call Governor Janet Napolitano's office and ask her to sign this into law! Her phone numbers: 602-542-4331, 602-542-1318 or 1-800-253-0883.

State Senator Jack Harper did vote yes on this bill, in spite of threats from the HOA industry that it would "inform his constituents" of how he voted. This is the first time I've seen Harper act with any courage for the voters. He should be commended for this moment.
Rauni Armbruster, Phoenix

HOA despots: I completely agree with everything you have written. HOAs benefit the developer (who gets to control homeowners until all the McProperties are sold), the local government (which still collects the same taxes but delegates many responsibilities to the HOA) at the expense of homeowners (who have to pay fees to get the services their taxes should already pay for, and who lose many basic freedoms, to boot).

Meanwhile, HOA despots claim that their stupid pronouncements "protect property values." Come on! Show me any evidence that solar panels, or paint color, or native plants, have any effect on property value whatsoever.

Unfortunately, in many places, it's tough to find a home without HOA restrictions. Many county commissions require new developments to have them. If I'd had any reasonable choice, I wouldn't be living in such a development now.
Name withheld by request


Leave that Goob alone: After reading Stephen Lemons' Feathered Bastard blog , I couldn't be more aghast at his depiction of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon as a coward who hides under his elderly mother's skirt (see also The Bird this week).

Phil Gordon, for Phoenix newbie Lemons' information, is the best mayor this city has ever had. Lemons should have seen the pieces of crap preceding him. Skip Rimsza was a fool, and a developer, to boot. He's responsible for getting us into the urban nightmare Phil is trying to help us wake up from. You have to go back to Terry Goddard to see a good mayor.

And what exactly is wrong with Gordon's neighborhood watch program? What's wrong with people looking out for their neighbors from their front porches? If more people cared about the welfare of their neighbors, this would be a much safer city.

It's unfair to call Gordon's ideas (as Lemons did) "Mayberry"-like. There are so many factors responsible for our crime problem? How can his watch program be expected to cure such an illness? For starters, illegal aliens are responsible for their share of the crime problem, and so many of them are coming here. I know, some of them are my relatives.

Please, Mr. Lemons, have some sense of history before you go and lambaste the best mayor Phoenix residents have ever had. Phil Gordon may come across as a bit goofy at times, because he has a tendency to get tongue-tied in public, but he's well-meaning and certainly no "goober."