Are homeowners associations in store for more state oversight? Likely.
Seeking to address complaints about abuses in Maryland's growing number of homeowners and condominium associations, a state task force is calling for greater local oversight of these quasi-governmental bodies, which essentially tax their residents to take care of swimming pools, playgrounds, trash pickup and other community services.
But at least a few members of the 23-member task force complained yesterday that the group did not go far enough in protecting residents from abuses by their homeowners or condo association boards, which have the power to fine owners or even seize and auction off their homes for unpaid fees.
The task force, created by the legislature and appointed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., recommended among other things that local governments field complaints from residents about such privately governed communities and attempt to resolve disputes through mediation rather than through costly court battles.
Among those "few members" who wanted stronger protections is a fequent Columbia Association critic.
"It's a start, but it falls way short of where advocates for residents wanted to go," said Alexander Hekimian, a task force member. The president of a townhouse association in Columbia, he said he has long advocated for greater accountability in associations, including the Columbia Association, which essentially governs a community of nearly 100,000 people in Howard County.
Hekimian contended that the task force was stacked with association representatives and "passed the buck" on addressing abuses by leaving enforcement largely up to local governments. He had drafted a two-page "bill of rights" for residents similar to one backed nationally by AARP. But he said the task force was unwilling even to endorse the concept, much less his language.
Hmm.Meanwhile, Bill Santos has concerns of a similar sort about how CA's board of directors is handling the contract extensions of current president Maggie Brown. Also, via Wordbones, her contract is the subject of a meeting tonight.