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The Reading List

The books listed below serve as a partial bibliography for this website. Most of them can be found in your local library, and all can be found at any of the big book outlets.

Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the rise of Residential Private Governments

By Evan McKenzie
Yale University Press

Book Review: Dr. McKenzie was one of the first to see the dangers of the new trend of private contractual pseudo-government in common-interest developments (a/k/a mandatory homeowners associations) and his treatment remains one of the most thoughtful available. Especially useful is his history of the development of the industry’s powerhouse trade organization, the Community Associations Institute. CAI started long ago as a balanced entity serving the interests of homeowners as well as others, it has turned into a lobbying arm for professionals who make their livings off of mandatory assessments and the associated legal machinery of collection and foreclosure. Touted as a selling point to potential buyers by realtors and builders, CIDs exist--as McKenzie cogently points out--primarily as a means for developers to mitigate the rising cost of property by squeezing more dwellings on to less land and bypassing local zoning restrictions and ordinances. The author explains, the real motivation for keeping property values high is so that the lenders courted by the developers will be confident that their investment is secure the homeowners interests are irrelevant. The author not only examines the resultant effect upon the individual homeowner, but the long-term sociological and political ramifications as well. "Privatopia" contains some of the horror stories experienced within the CID scenario. Some issues causing disputes are so trivial as to be laughable, except for the severe penalties incurred by violators, including huge fines and legal fees, or even loss of ones home in certain situations. This book should be required reading for anyone currently living in or considering the purchase of a home located within a CID, and will be a real eye-opener to many.

Dr. McKenzie holds a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California. He is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an adjunct instructor of law at the John Marshall Law School.  His research specializations are in the area of law and public policy, and particularly urban policy.

Be Reasonable: How Community Associations Can Enforce Rules Without Antagonizing Residents, Going To Court, Or Starting World War III

By Kenneth Budd
Community Associations Institute

Guilt By Association: A Survival Guide For Homeowners, Board Members, And Property Managers

By Jordan L. Shifrin
Writers Club Press

Working With Your Homeowners Association: A Guide to Effective Community Living

Dr. Marlene M. Coleman & Judge William Huss
Sphinx Publishing

The Case Against State Protection of Homeowner Associations

By George K. Staropoli
Infinity Publishing

Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States

By Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder
The Brookings Institute Press

Behind the Gates: Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America

By Setha Low
Routledge Press

Book Review: Behind the Gates is Low's revealing account of what life is like inside these suburban fortresses. After years researching and interviewing families in Long Island, New York and San Antonio, Texas, Low provides an inside view of gated communities to help explain why people flee to these enclaves. Parents with children, young married couples, "empty-nesters," and retirees express their need for safety, their secret fears of a more ethnically diverse America, and their desire to recapture the close-knit, picket-fenced communities of their childhood. Ironically, she shows, gated neighborhoods are in fact no safer than other suburbs, and many who move there are disheartened by the insularity and restrictive rules of the community. Low probes the hopes, dreams, and fears of her subjects to portray the subtle change in American middle-class values marked by the emergence of enclosed communities in the suburbs.

Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader; Housing, Culture, and Design; Cultural Spaces; and Place Attachment.

Morning Glories: Municipal Reform in the Southwest

By Amy Bridges
Princeton University Press

Communications for Community Associations

By Janice Phagan
The Community Associations Institute

Common Interest Communities: Private Governments and the Public Interest

Stephen E. Barton & Carol J. Silverman
Institute of Government Studies Press, University of California, Berkeley

Villa Appalling: Destroying the Myth of Affordable Community Living

Donie Vanitzian & Stephen Glassman
Villa Appalling Publishing

Don't waste your time and money reading CAI pablum and other industry propaganda about so-called "community associations." This book not only exposes the HOA racket for what it is, but dissects it and shows how it works, and the real reasons they exist. Forget the fiction they give you about property values! The real purpose of the Association is to strip the 'owner' of any power or property rights over the property he has paid for, to allow municipalities to tax the 'owner' but provide no services, and of course to provide a revenue stream for predatory lawyers, management companies, and other vendor vultures, all at the expense of the 'owner.' As an extra special bonus, the 'homeowner' gets to live in a so-called community that is run like a banana republic, complete with rigged elections and kangaroo justice. Indeed, the buyer into one of these 'communities' is the chump who gets stuck with all the bills and liabilities, while the developers, municipalities, attorneys, and other parasites make out like bandits. In the meantime, for the home buyer and owner, the almighty Association is a financial bottomless pit, liability black hole, and a litigation snakepit, in addition to being a petty micromanager and dictator. If you buy into a common interest development after reading this book, you really need a good psychiatrist! The book also well covers why your residence is NOT an investment, and why this is especially true in a CID! Would you buy stock in a corporation run by an idiot? What is really pathetic is that the HOA industry would have us believe that living in an HOA regime is a 'lifestyle choice!' Some choice! Ths local governments and this industry work hand in hand to shove the HOA 'lifestyle' down the throats of home buyers by mandating that all new developments be under the thumb of an HOA regime. In addition, some city governments abuse eminent domain powers to tear down non-HOA homes so that politically connected developers can replace them with HOA dictated properties. If this is what homeownership in this country has come to, I might as well continue renting an apartment, and thus skip all the expensive litigation and HOA hassles.

Homeowner Associations: A Nightmare or a Dream Come True?

Joni Greenwalt
Cassie Publications Inc.


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