From a young age we are taught to stay away from controversy. We are advised to not start it, not participate in it, not encourage it.
As we get older we all learn how much a part of day to day life controversy really is. In fact, we learn how important controversy can be to keeping our society moving along.
I’m as guilty as anyone else of becoming frustrated when I see some of the members of our community making blind accusations against the board members and the decisions they have made. My frustration is focused not on the disagreements with policies and spending, but the lack of effort put into verifying opinions before spreading them.
A good example is someone who makes a statement like, “Our dues are too high. My last HOA had twice as many amenities and we paid $100 less per year”. The author of the statement is insinuating knowledge of how dues are planned and spent, adding experience as confirmation of expertise, and making a passive aggressive statement that the people planning the dues are in someway overcharging or wasting money. I get this statement posed directly to me sometimes, which gives me a chance to educate the author on our budget, talk about how costs divided by membership numbers effect dues, discuss the unique attributes of our neighborhood (such as townhomes), etc. I may not change someone’s opinion, but I appreciate the interest and opportunity to debate facts over emotions. Other times these statements are made in living rooms and on back porches where board members or members who have taken the time to learn about the budget can’t answer questions.
Controversy is not bad. It’s as American as you can get and a core part of the HOA system. Prolonged and public disagreements over issues that will affect a majority of our community being settled by a minority of the membership will cause controversy. I personally support it, desire it, and appreciate it. I also take it with a grain of salt when someone makes broad sweeping statements without facts to support those statements. When someone tells me, “Many people tell me they want a roller coaster by the pool”, I ask questions like; how many is “many people”, does the membership know the associated costs, has anyone looked into where to buy a roller coaster? If someone comes to me and says, “I think we should spend more money on pool furniture” I point out the existence of a pool committee and recommend they get involved in the pool budget. If they can’t dedicate the time I note the desire for more pool furniture and bring it up to the board when planning the budget.
Controversy is good but I am disheartened when neighbors talk about moving away because the vibe in the neighborhood is beyond positive debate and closer to a personal vandetta.
Just my opinion