You’ve probably heard this one: “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
A homeowners’ association (HOA) is kind of like that. Everybody’s got suggestions about how a neighborhood should be run (and sometimes, some complain), but often do not step up to help do the work.
Stephens Grove is a great place to live, but that doesn’t happen by accident. Our HOA currently has a skeleton board and with everything that’s going on, they are swamped. If you find yourself with a little more free time due to the pandemic and you’d like to be useful to your community, we encourage you to step up to help out on the board, the ARC committee or the social committee. During the pandemic, many people are wanting to do home improvement projects, many of which need approval from the ARC. But with only one volunteer on the committee, it is taking a bit longer than we’d like.
There are plenty of reasons out there why you should volunteer for this responsibility. Here’s a list. Here’s another. We particularly like this one that tells what makes a good HOA volunteer. The qualities listed are a lot like the ones we heard from a veteran of our own board here at Stephens Grove…
Our former neighbor David McAlexander served on our HOA board for 20 years. Before that, he served similarly in another neighborhood. Over all that time he learned that as a board member, it was important to be:
- Objective. What you do is for everybody, not just you.
- Reasonable. Not everything is black and white.
- Consistent. Treat everybody the same, under the rules and regulations.
He also learned it could be lonely. You’re in a neighborhood with 300 or 400 neighbors, but “the same few people staff the committees and the board all the time.” Maybe everybody else thinks they’re doing a great job — but if they think that, they should be willing to step up and help.
Not that it’s easy: There’s a lot to do: “You’re taking everybody’s money, having the grass mowed, and the pool kept up,” among many other things. “The health of an HOA depends on the board’s ability to self-manage in an objective, reasonable and consistent manner,” he says. So you need the right people. But you also need more than the same few, year after year.
“You have to be on the board for the right reasons,” David says. “It cannot be on a private agenda.” This form of service caused him to remember the words of philosopher Jeremy Bentham from his college days. As Bentham said, the thing to focus on is “the greatest happiness of the greatest number.”
What’s the commitment? The HOA meets about ten times a year for the board meetings and then for hearings outside of that. These days, of course, the meetings are virtual. And if you do it right, it’s worth the effort.
“If you love your neighborhood and want to see it thrive and survive, you need to be be actively involved,” says David. And remember, “You can’t fuss and complain if you’re not.”