OPINION: PHIL COLOZZI — Hey, what changed?

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Since moving to North Idaho in 1989, my wife Mary and I have lived in Coeur d’Alene, Hayden, several miles on the other side of Spirit Lake and now in Post Falls. In all these years, with no CC&Rs, or HOA, we and our neighbors knew how to respect each other’s enjoyment of our properties and how to maintain them. Today living in Post Falls, even with a Homeowners Association, some homeowners have no intention of upholding the rules that they signed when purchasing the home.

So what changed?

Can it be attitude, the influx of those from other states, are folks only concerned about themselves, not their neighbors? Don’t they care if the dog barks while at work or if their vehicles block sidewalks? And the HOA rules; don’t they pertain to them? I can’t answer any of those questions, because I’m not sure what changed, only that it has.

We live in a beautiful and growing area of North Idaho. That’s why so many people are moving here. To preserve our beauty and the value of our homes, we must enforce the rules that the majority of homeowners don’t need. They already have pride in caring for their property, and genuine consideration for their neighbors. Others do not. If that offends some of you, I’m sorry, but it’s true.

HOA rules, along with the city and county ordinances, provide guidance for all residents. This also includes those who are renting; it’s a training period for future homeowners. They’re rules for members to follow to preserve the quality of the community, which is the main purpose of the Homeowners Association. If you do not have a copy of the rules, ask your landlord, although some rules are just a matter of common sense.

The manager or agent of an association can send out a series of letters to a homeowner with demands to comply to HOA rules. I’m not an expert on nonprofits. However, I was the founder of a very successful nonprofit, North Idaho Community Services Corp. A board is the only entity that can enforce the rules with a meeting and a ruling, not the manager or agent. They have no voting rights and they answer to the board. Check to be sure your HOA has a board and board president; it’s no good without one.

That’s where we, the people, come in: We’re the association, the folks living in any development. We can give the manager or agent more power, more leverage so we can preserve the look of a well-kept community. A board is a must, a board that would hopefully use a common sense and compassionate approach to each issue to resolve them, rather than litigation that benefits no one but lawyers. So when you receive an invitation to attend an HOA meeting, take the time and go. You’ll be better informed for doing so and might even join the board.

Rules not only cover the condition of our properties, but lead to “common sense” or “common decency.” Most people accept kids laughing and playing, lawnmowers, chainsaws, construction work, even parties to celebrate an event. That’s part of living in a closely related community.

Examples that may not be acceptable:

You may enjoy music in your back yard, but if it’s so loud that several families’ closest to you can’t enjoy their back yards, that’s not just wrong, it’s selfish. Of course if everyone likes country, rock and roll, classical, or even, God forbid, rap, we would not have a problem.

You own a dog, you go off to work, dog barks all day, it’s lonely, bored. That’s wrong, not just for the animal, but for your neighbors. Someone walks by your home and the dogs go nuts; that’s annoying. Dogs need to be socialized, not kept behind a fence 24/7. These rules are in the CC&Rs, and others are mentioned in city and county ordinances, rules that are backed up by a legal term called “Quiet Enjoyment.”

When a homeowner sees a violation, write to the board president. The issue will be evaluated at the next monthly meeting. And yes, some see that as being a bad neighbor, ratting on someone, but it’s the other way around. The neighbor who’s in violation is not concerned about property value, yours or theirs, or your “quiet enjoyment” rights.

Most of us don’t want to create a barrier between the folks who live next door or on the block, especially if they have become friends, so they remain quiet. Because we live so close together, we have to consider our actions or inactions that impact those around us. The CC&Rs are for everyone’s benefit, so again, be aware, if something you do goes against the rules, reconsider your actions. The best way to avoid an infraction of rules, read the CC&R’s and get acquainted with city and county ordinances.

Think of it in terms of financial gains; we buy a home, maintain it, sell it, use the gains to buy another home with larger down payment, and hopefully increase our net worth. We can’t do that without the help of the community. The value of each home depends on the cooperation of all members.

Life is a gift. Unwrap it, then live, love and laugh as God Intended.

• • •

Phil Colozzi is a Post Falls resident.

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