Remember all of my post’s about my home owner’s association earlier this year? Well, they did. 😉
My husband and I moved into our new neighborhood in October 2012. We knew about the HOA, several people suggested we find a place elsewhere, but I thought we could fit in really well anyway. By February 2013, I was completely frazzled by about 6-7 letters about deed restriction violations that just didn’t make sense to me. But I started attending the meetings, tried getting to know all of the board members through those evenings, and I thought it was all getting better. No letters, so I figured that meant that the board and I were getting to know each other finally.
I also thought that since I was getting more involved with the meetings and even offering to be a one-woman welcoming committee to new arrivers, I could probably take a spot on the board this month since 3 positions were opening up.
Elections Turned Personal
The elections were October 24. I was out of town for blogging business from October 15-20 and was sick October 21. There were 3 open positions on the board and 3 official people running for them, including me. I figured I could concentrate on getting better and then make it to the Thursday meeting.
But I answered the door to a concerned neighbor on Tuesday morning. They let me know that one of the guys running had started going around the neighborhood asking for people to sign over their proxy votes so that they could elect a write-in candidate – a friend of the two guys already on the ballot. He was pointing out some of my blog posts titles and explaining how I would be bad for the neighborhood. Great.
So I had a little breakdown, printed up some fliers, and started going door to door Tuesday and Wednesday night. I knocked on more than 100 doors, spoke to dozens of people, and thought I was making a difference. I learned a lot at least and met a few super nice people that I hope to get to know better.
But the last minute push (and 5-6 hours of walking) didn’t get rid of the proxy ballots. I showed up to the Thursday meeting, got drilled in front of everybody about my HOA-hating posts, more ballots were collected, and the vote came in for the two other guys and the write-in candidate. At that point, I wasn’t surprised.
Hind-Sight is 20/20
Being put on the spot in a negative way in front of others simply sucks. But I handled it the best I could, and I pointed out that all of my venting was for justifiable reasons and happened before I started attending the bi-monthly meetings in February. The super stressed ones were before I met the board members. I said out loud that I was surprised anyone would bring it up since I thought we had moved on. That’s the best I could say to sum up all of my feelings at that moment in time.
With some sleep, I figured out what I wanted to say. I wanted to say that I have 12+ years in customer service, a BBA with honors, and the ability to understand the budget. I would make an excellent HOA treasurer. I wanted to say that I disliked how I was treated and was running for the HOA board to help ensure that others weren’t as sad after moving in as I was, and that disliking an HOA is not disliking a neighborhood. I wanted to ask why I was being attacked just because I publicly state how I feel while everyone else hides it. Wouldn’t that make me a great person to work with? Easy to read, straight-forward, and detail-oriented?
But you always know what to say later. Plus, it wouldn’t have actually mattered anyway since the stack of proxy and absentee ballots far outweighed the 30 people who voted in the meeting. Overall, I lost last week while I was out of town.
Knowledge for the Future
Going forward, I know that at least 3 of the 5 board members generally don’t like me. They may have even deeper feelings about their distaste, but I’ll just sum it up with “don’t like”. Well, I hope that changes. It would make life easier on all of us since we live on the same street, lol. I actually try to avoid drama on a general basis, so I hope there’s none here regularly now.
I also know that you can’t make people accept you. Based on the feedback about my blog from the other home owner’s not on the board, I’ve got at least 3 new readers (welcome!) and 1 lady that had no problem publicly denouncing it and me. But at least she read most of a post and not just the title. The lines she read out loud in the meeting were actually from this post (http://www.budgetinginthefunstuff.com/home-owners-association-bullies/):
I love my house. I really, really do. I also knew that we were moving into a neighborhood with a home owner’s association, but I didn’t realize how annoying that really can be! Ugh. And I feel silly because I was warned. My parents have been in a neighborhood with a crazy HOA for years and years. All of my friends and family were jealous of our last little subdivision since it was HOA-free. But none of that prepares you for receiving stupid little letters and wanting to poke someone in the eye…
I think that post was well-written and stated exactly what I meant. I love my neighborhood, I was warned about HOA’s, and now I have to deal with one that actually doesn’t like me. And it’s not like I’m being paranoid – one or two of the members actively didn’t like me enough to go door-to-door telling people not to vote for me. For an unpaid, volunteer position!
I don’t know why that woman in the front row was offended by the post. I do love this neighborhood and I was willing to volunteer my time on the board. I didn’t see her up there or on the ballot. It’s not like it’s a paid position and I was trying to sneak in and steal a salary from someone. I am very proud of this blog and I like my neighborhood, so I was trying to make a difference instead of just whining.
Meh. It’s all good. I’ll keep attending the meetings since they do keep me up to date on the neighborhood. I’ll keep reaching out to the friendly neighbors that wave back. And I’ll accept for now that I am not wanted on the board. My 449 neighboring households either don’t know me well enough to know what they are missing, or they sincerely want nothing to do with a balancing voice on this HOA. Either way, I can’t change anybody’s mind right this second, so I will just keep on keeping on for me.
Have you ever been in a similarly charged situation? Think I’m handling this correctly? How would you proceed from here?
FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $80,000-$100,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). I even have all of my favorite tools on a resource page - I hope they help you too. Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!