The residents of Lincoln Hills are learning that, although they thought attending meetings and staying aware of what their homeowner’s association was doing was something that others would take care of, they are now saddled with another layer of control over their lives and a board that enjoys making rules and regulations as well as spending money. Especially, their money.
After more than a decade of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the restaurant, constant upgrading of audio/visual equipment, always to “the best” new equipment, compromised maintenance in the lodges and common areas, and shortfalls in the funding of reserves, the community is seeing money being moved around to satisfy the spending desires of a Board of Directors and an executive director that will cause dues to rise steadily and reserves to be raided whenever there are cost overruns or shortfalls. Reserves are the monies set aside for future redecorating, replacement and repair of equipment throughout the common areas, and they should be funded at 75 percent at a minimum as they have been in the past. But now they are well below that with the potential of falling below 60 percent funded.
Although residents have asked, even pleaded, with the Board of Directors to stop the financial bleeding, they have been rewarded by being told that the board does not represent them. It is a corporate board, running a nonprofit corporation, and they will make decisions that they think are best.
Consequently, there is no provision for the community to vote on anything. And the board, in its infinite wisdom, does not see resident votes as necessary or the right thing to do. They see their job as making decisions to enhance the community, according to their vision of what Lincoln Hills could be rather than to maintain the Del Webb brand of this community. The Del Webb vision is what the homeowners invested in, not some undefined and ever-changing vision from an employee who has no stake in the community. It’s easy to say, “We need to do this because I’ve seen this elsewhere and I think it is neat or cool” or whatever the trendy term is. The space in Lincoln Hills is limited and must be able to be used by more than one activity. It is not possible to have dedicated studios for special activities that no other activity can then use. We are told we must make major changes to the fitness department to attract the new 55 year olds and to keep up our property values. None of this is true.
The houses sell easily at increasing prices without these expensive additions. We are not Shangri-La and were never intended to be. Maintenance is paramount in this kind of community. When potential buyers stop to see a community, it is the condition of the amenities as well as the potential for new activities in their lives that sells them on buying a home.
Yet, by investing in communities such as Lincoln Hills, they find themselves saddled with constant frustrations regarding choices, increasing costs to live here, battles with the association over compliance issues as well as the right to use rooms in their lodges without being charged a rental fee, diminishing amenities that are being opened to the public without the residents’ consent and the bill for costs demanding more and more money from the residents. The board has chosen to change the Del Webb brand and leave the residents to foot the bill as well as deal with diminishing returns as time goes on.
Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. Beware of homeowner associations. As the ever-increasing number of residents leave because they are fed up with the actions of the board and the executive director, you hear the mantra, “and there is no homeowner’s association where I am going.” The Board of Directors will deny that residents are moving out of Lincoln Hills because of their actions but the evidence remains as those leaving tell their neighbors and post messages of their experiences during their time in Lincoln Hills. Future residents should be very aware of the downside of life under these organizations that too often run amuck.
Pat Miller is a Lincoln Hills resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.