Posts Tagged ‘HOA’

It’s a Simpler Balancing Act if You Know the Mission

October 2, 2012

I “run” our neighborhood. I am the HOA president – have been for almost a decade. I manage a non-profit company as a volunteer with an army of volunteers behind me who have my back. Our priorities and initiatives are all a balancing act. Money vs. Impact; Support vs. Opposition. Someone asked me one day,

“Brian, how do you make decisions for the HOA? What are your criterion?”

I replied, “It’s all the mission. Does it add or detract from the mission? It’s all a balancing act.”

“What’s the mission?” he asked.

“Maximizing your home’s resale value – and mine, too,” I replied.

In our HOA, every decision I make adds to my neighbor’s home’s resale value – and mine. Is the neighborhood pretty? Yes. Are we addressing crime in some tangible way? Yes. Do we promote good relationships between neighbors? Yes. Do we promote attractive homes and responsible home ownership? Yes. Do we want children to be able to play safely in our streets? Yes. Do we seek some visual harmony in the neighborhood? And some visual interest in the neighborhood, too? Yes. Do we want wildlife nearby to be visible, but still at arm’s length (we have bobcats and coyotes)? Yes. We wave at our neighbors walking or driving through our neighborhood, and they wave back – this is a genuinely nice neighborhood to live in.

It’s all a balancing act. For precisely $30 per month per homeowner – essentially a dollar per day, I balance all these things with the consensus of our Board, help from homeowner volunteers,  and the services of a small number of companies we contract with. We don’t have a glitzy fountain, a swimming pool, or a clubhouse. Instead, we have more than 6.8 acres of wilderness land that we oversee in the middle of a small metroplex neighborhood with two creeks, canopies of trees, bobcats, coyotes, rabbits, beavers, hawks and eagles, rock outcroppings, redbud trees, pecan trees, dogwood trees, tall oaks and elms – this is the eye candy that I appreciate. It’s all a balancing act…

When a realtor friend drove into the neighborhood with me one afternoon, she remarked, “This is beautiful – nice entrances, nice landscaping – it is peaceful.” Walking along one of our streams with a glass of wine in hand, she remarked, “I can sell homes here!” “See the bobcats over there?” I asked. “Oh.” and she turned to leave rather quickly. It’s all a balancing act – I would have sat across the stream from the bobcats…

With elections looming, it is ever more apparent that we are seeing a difficult balancing act unfold before us. And I have to ask, and ask again, because I don’t hear the answer in the Presidential campaign, “What is the mission?” To my mind, it should be “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” But that doesn’t  appear to be the mission at all…

If you don’t have a mission, you don’t have any defendable criterion for balancing priorities…

Pdrrrrp Pdrrrrp… (drumming fingers)

September 23, 2009

Whew – taxes are done – oh, I had extensions for corporate taxes for my consulting company and personal taxes for myself and for my parents, too – everything done, and done on time! I have even completed all the quarterly filings a week early. My parents deducted more than $30K in out of pocket medical expenses in 2008 – the healthcare system is surely broken, and I’ll be the first to stand up and say so. With all the hubbub and shouting, I’ll have to admit that I don’t know where it makes the best sense to begin the repairs, but we have to start somewhere and fast. In the case of healthcare, reform anywhere will be better than reform nowhere – my opinion. I don’t want to give the healthcare industry every penny in my piggy bank before I die.

The HOA is happy – new landscaping at the entrances, and the community property is spruced up with some fall color. My HOA budgets are in good shape and my BOD is feeling good about things. My testimony in front of the City Council regarding train noise in the neighborhood is done, and the “realistic demonstrations” are done, too.  So, on to politicking for a guarded crossing so that the trains can pass without blowing their horns (at 98 dBA in the back yard, and that’s really quite loud)! Crime the past six months in the neighborhood was almost zero, and a lot of homeowners are happy for that. Several families are being greeted by fathers and husbands coming home from Iraq this week – each in one piece, what a blessing that is, and we have their yards looking nice for their returns.

Speaking of trains, the economy has certainly taken a turn to the recovery side. “What?” you say? Train traffic before the economic collapse was several to four a night every night passing by our neighborhood. In April this year, the train traffic past our neighborhood dropped precipitously to several a week every other week. Beginning about October 8, we suddenly have nightly train traffic – one or two most nights, and that is surely a positive economic sign. Somebody is buying stuff!

My insurance bills have most all been cut in half this week – IN HALF. Thanks to AARP. The quotes are in, the new forms signed, and the old companies advised to “take a hike”.

There are about 150 Kg of periodicals waiting for the recycler, so I have regained some valuable floor space in my office!

My website has received a face lift – looking good except for the front page, dagnabit. I’m no artist – I need something simple and just a little bit dynamic with very few words to read and just three choices to dive into the website. Thinkin’, thinkin’, thinkin… I have an idea for a simple Flash animation!

I am beginning my review of a number of proposals this week for several billion dollars from the TARP funds as a “citizen-expert reviewer” after being tapped personally by someone in the White House. This will be interesting. I’ll donate a workweek to insure that some of the TARP funds are wisely spent.

So why am I drumming my fingers? Well, it was watching the UN speeches today that brought movement to the fingers. Gaddaffi rambled on for quite a while in the old style of Castro. Ahmadinejad, greeted by Canadian protesters (I was unaware that Canadians ever protested in the streets), pronounced flowery rhetoric and disruptive talk for a while but said nothing at all really to the UN Assembly (to those few who stayed to listen). These fellows seem to have nothing productive to do. So, as I look around at what I have accomplished in my own small world lately, and look at how little these two are accomplishing in their own small worlds, I am mindful that I could have done much more. And should.

I am drumming my fingers contemplating my “next great thing”. Stay tuned…