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Subject: Little free libraries
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Author Messages
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/26/2021 12:46 PM  
Someone donated a little free library (Google it if you haven't heard of it) to one of our community parks. It's cute and a fun concept, but I want the thing gone. I worry about people leaving inappropriate materials in there for little kids to discover and then parents would be upset at us. It's also not very well made and doesn't look too pretty.

But if you know anything about little free libraries, you know that a vocal minority love them up one side and down the other if we indeed dispose of it. We try to avoid upsetting our homeowners whenever possible.

Has anyone here experienced a little free library in a community park, and do you think that I'm overreacting?
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:794


07/26/2021 12:51 PM  
Who authorized placing this on HOA property? Are you on the board? For me personally, you are over reacting and I don't need the HOA determining what is and isn't appropriate for my children. Is there a risk that an inappropriate book is placed there? Yes and you can deal with that issue when it happens. I would be thrilled to see a kid reading a book instead of playing online video games.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


07/26/2021 12:57 PM  
I thought you were burned out and stepping back?


Anyway... you aren't the sole arbiter of what happens in the neighborhood, no matter what office you hold or how much work you do.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/26/2021 12:58 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/26/2021 12:51 PM
Who authorized placing this on HOA property? Are you on the board? For me personally, you are over reacting and I don't need the HOA determining what is and isn't appropriate for my children. Is there a risk that an inappropriate book is placed there? Yes and you can deal with that issue when it happens. I would be thrilled to see a kid reading a book instead of playing online video games.




The HOA did not authorize the placement of the little free library on HOA property. Yes, I am on the board, as a board, we are ultimately responsible for the little free library.

I'm happy to support reading, but worry that magazines or books that are not sold in regular stores will eventually be placed in the little free library for children to discover, which would be unfortunate.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


07/26/2021 1:05 PM  
I think you are worrying too much. Someone can always leave inappropriate material anywhere and I don't think any reasonable person would blame the HOA.

As long as someone else maintains it, I can't think of a downside.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


07/26/2021 1:06 PM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 07/26/2021 12:58 PM
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/26/2021 12:51 PM
Who authorized placing this on HOA property? Are you on the board? For me personally, you are over reacting and I don't need the HOA determining what is and isn't appropriate for my children. Is there a risk that an inappropriate book is placed there? Yes and you can deal with that issue when it happens. I would be thrilled to see a kid reading a book instead of playing online video games.




The HOA did not authorize the placement of the little free library on HOA property. Yes, I am on the board, as a board, we are ultimately responsible for the little free library.

I'm happy to support reading, but worry that magazines or books that are not sold in regular stores will eventually be placed in the little free library for children to discover, which would be unfortunate.




Talk to your fellow board members about it then. Or take a survey of homeowners and see how popular it is.

If you have time to worry about a theoretical possibility of someone putting porn in your LFL and an unattended child finding it and their parent being upset about it you have time to ask for input.

You're not king of the neighborhood.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/26/2021 1:08 PM  
In general I don't like "donations" that make work for someone else or require the HOA to spend money to maintain the thing.

If someone put up a structure without HOA permission, that person was out of line, no matter how good the intentions were (he could have put it in his own front yard). But this is pretty small potatoes.

If the donor wants to deal with the upkeep (vandalism, theft, etc.) and the library's presence on common area doesn't result in increased liability for the HOA, then I'd let it go and wait to see what happens. If the site starts to collect garbage or larger structures or turns into an eyesore, then it's time to deal with it.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


07/26/2021 2:13 PM  
Agree with everyone else, Jack, Including Barbara.

Our HOA has a rule that residents may not donate or place any items in the common areas. Maybe you do too. But even so, with all your open spaces and land, give it a try.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


07/26/2021 3:16 PM  
We have several of those around my city and parks. Some of them even have food available. It's a nice neighborly thing to do. As long as the owner of it agrees to maintain it and it's not causing parking issues, what is the issue?

Seriously why in the world would one's mind go to "leaving inappropriate" items? If that did happen, then I am sure the person who found it would either toss it, complain, or keep it. What do you care unless it's your spouse that put it there?

Some of those are used for the geo caching for those who enjoy doing that.

Former HOA President
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1466


07/26/2021 5:18 PM  
The pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. However, this does not belong in the common areas of an HOA community unless voted on and approved via your governing documents.If the person that played in in common areas wants to put in on their property, that is another can of worms altogether. I have even seen HOA's with clubhouses that have a pool table, foosball etc get rid of their libraries because they were worried about content, messages etc. This can be a major liability issue for the HOA.

This library thing now becomes an issue, because every feel, felt, found group will want to erect shrines to their cause on HOA common property. Your best bet is it first ask the person that placed it there to remove it by X timeframe, otherwise the HOA has every right to remove it.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1806


07/26/2021 6:43 PM  
If not approved, it needs to be removed.

The primary reason for not allowing "little libraries" on common areas is that it entices non-residents to visit your premises. Essentially, you forfeit your privilege to enforce trespassing by accepting amenities that welcome the General Public.

If your HOA serves private homes with private yards, it may be installed on private yards as it entices people to visit the private home. You are not over-reacting.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/26/2021 6:48 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/26/2021 3:16 PM

Seriously why in the world would one's mind go to "leaving inappropriate" items? If that did happen, then I am sure the person who found it would either toss it, complain, or keep it. What do you care unless it's your spouse that put it there?




The little free library is adjacent to a children's playground where kids go play without adult supervision. Yes, we live in a neighborhood where kids run around in front yards carefree because it's safe for them to do so, and as a HOA board member, I have some responsibility to consider the safety of the children at play. I know there are some weirdos out there and wouldn't want them to be tempted to leave something there for children to find who may not have parents around.



MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


07/26/2021 7:09 PM  
Wow. Just wow. No one thinks this way...

Former HOA President
BillH10
(Texas)

Posts:783


07/26/2021 7:22 PM  
An association in which we formerly resided was approached 12 years ago by a well-meaning teen age child of an owner who wished to establish a Little Free Library.

The Association had no suitable common areas in which it could be located. The CC&Rs may have allowed the 'structure' to be placed on a private property, there was some lack of clarity on that point but things never got that far. The person who proposed the library, and her parents, were not willing to make the commitment to pay for and maintain the structure, or establish it on their property. They believed the HOA should find a location, erect whatever structure was needed, maintain it, dispose of the trash, etc.

That was the end of the discussion in the meeting of the Board. The motion died due to the lack of a second.

MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:300


07/27/2021 3:55 AM  
Our Association has two Little Libraries with a bench for each. They are Board approved and were built and maintained by an owner. Another resident has chosen to be the the curator of both making sure that books are removed that are not be read. Each book is marked so that a person knows if the book has been read. some of the books that have been read are reviewed by a reader in our monthly newsletter. Our number issue is too many books. This solved by taking the extra books to Half-Price books and that money goes for maintenance. For our Association these Little Libraries have been a great success.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 4:45 AM  
Posted By MichaelS56 on 07/27/2021 3:55 AM
Our Association has two Little Libraries with a bench for each. They are Board approved and were built and maintained by an owner. Another resident has chosen to be the the curator of both making sure that books are removed that are not be read. Each book is marked so that a person knows if the book has been read. some of the books that have been read are reviewed by a reader in our monthly newsletter. Our number issue is too many books. This solved by taking the extra books to Half-Price books and that money goes for maintenance. For our Association these Little Libraries have been a great success.




This sounds like an excellent program in your community. You are blessed with a community volunteer who is willing to take responsibility and maintain your little free libraries.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:295


07/27/2021 4:54 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 07/26/2021 6:48 PM
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/26/2021 3:16 PM

Seriously why in the world would one's mind go to "leaving inappropriate" items? If that did happen, then I am sure the person who found it would either toss it, complain, or keep it. What do you care unless it's your spouse that put it there?




The little free library is adjacent to a children's playground where kids go play without adult supervision. Yes, we live in a neighborhood where kids run around in front yards carefree because it's safe for them to do so, and as a HOA board member, I have some responsibility to consider the safety of the children at play. I know there are some weirdos out there and wouldn't want them to be tempted to leave something there for children to find who may not have parents around.







It is not the HOA's responsibility to protect the community from weirdos. The Board's responsibility is to maintain the safety and integrity of the playground equipment.

Inappropriate items could always be left anywhere to be found by anyone.




Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/27/2021 6:19 AM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 07/27/2021 4:54 AM
,,, snip ...

It is not the HOA's responsibility to protect the community from weirdos. The Board's responsibility is to maintain the safety and integrity of the playground equipment.




The HOA's insurer will likely disagree with you - it's a liability thing.

And there is a difference between protecting the place from weirdos (which you can't do entirely) and not making the place attractive to them in the first place.

By the by, my CC&Rs have a restriction that prohibits Tier 2 and Tier 3 sexual offenders (the most serious of them) from living in our community. They can own property here, they just can't live here themselves. Totally a liability thing.

And as others have said, little free libraries may fall under the umbrella of "attractive nuisance", which is always a concern for community associations.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:295


07/27/2021 6:31 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/27/2021 6:19 AM
Posted By PatJ1 on 07/27/2021 4:54 AM
,,, snip ...

It is not the HOA's responsibility to protect the community from weirdos. The Board's responsibility is to maintain the safety and integrity of the playground equipment.




The HOA's insurer will likely disagree with you - it's a liability thing.

And there is a difference between protecting the place from weirdos (which you can't do entirely) and not making the place attractive to them in the first place.

By the by, my CC&Rs have a restriction that prohibits Tier 2 and Tier 3 sexual offenders (the most serious of them) from living in our community. They can own property here, they just can't live here themselves. Totally a liability thing.

And as others have said, little free libraries may fall under the umbrella of "attractive nuisance", which is always a concern for community associations.




WOW! Now sex offenders have been introduced into a post about Little Free Libraries.

CathyA3 - How often does your MC or your Board review the Sex Offender Registry to determine if one has moved in?

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
BenA2
(Texas)

Posts:1108


07/27/2021 6:41 AM  
With all due respect, I think many or you are going to the extreme with the liability thing. First, is it really a common thing for people to put porn in one of these boxes? Second, do you really think children old enough to visit a Little Free Library by themselves have not seen porn (probably in their own home). The parents would have to prove both negligence and harm to be successful in a lawsuit.

People die in swimming pools every day and yet they are still commonplace because if you have a fence and a sign saying, "swim at your own risk" there is minimal risk. Do you really think an insurance company is going to be concerned about a LFL?
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/27/2021 6:57 AM  
Posted By PatJ1 on 07/27/2021 6:31 AM
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/27/2021 6:19 AM
Posted By PatJ1 on 07/27/2021 4:54 AM
,,, snip ...

It is not the HOA's responsibility to protect the community from weirdos. The Board's responsibility is to maintain the safety and integrity of the playground equipment.




The HOA's insurer will likely disagree with you - it's a liability thing.

And there is a difference between protecting the place from weirdos (which you can't do entirely) and not making the place attractive to them in the first place.

By the by, my CC&Rs have a restriction that prohibits Tier 2 and Tier 3 sexual offenders (the most serious of them) from living in our community. They can own property here, they just can't live here themselves. Totally a liability thing.

And as others have said, little free libraries may fall under the umbrella of "attractive nuisance", which is always a concern for community associations.




WOW! Now sex offenders have been introduced into a post about Little Free Libraries.

CathyA3 - How often does your MC or your Board review the Sex Offender Registry to determine if one has moved in?



Well, you're the one who referred to "weirdos", and in the context of people hanging around places where little kids gather, that's not an unreasonable leap. Especially since this restriction was added to our CC&Rs at the advice of our attorney to prevent liability issues (who'd-a thunk it, right?).

Sorry to disappoint, but we do refer to the registry regularly *and* the county sheriff will notify people of this. Our PM is also involved whenever a home changes hands, and she monitors our rentals since our rental restriction requires the landlord to provide a copy of the lease. We monitor this anyway since we have to re-certify for FHA approval every three years.

In addition, I personally am enrolled in a data monitoring service (thank you, assorted data breaches) that notifies me when a convicted sexual offender of any type moves into my area. In addition #2, we are located within a couple miles of three schools and adjacent to a day care center, and state law prohibits convicted sexual offenders from living near these things.

We are EXTREMELY well informed about this stuff.

Also by the by, many communities in my area have also sprouted "No Trespassing" signs lately. Apparently no strangers are welcome in these here parts, sir or ma'am, weirdo or not.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/27/2021 7:12 AM  
Posted By BenA2 on 07/27/2021 6:41 AM
With all due respect, I think many or you are going to the extreme with the liability thing. First, is it really a common thing for people to put porn in one of these boxes? Second, do you really think children old enough to visit a Little Free Library by themselves have not seen porn (probably in their own home). The parents would have to prove both negligence and harm to be successful in a lawsuit.

People die in swimming pools every day and yet they are still commonplace because if you have a fence and a sign saying, "swim at your own risk" there is minimal risk. Do you really think an insurance company is going to be concerned about a LFL?



The insurer will care if there is a lawsuit. And given the way social media blows up over nothing, I'd prefer that my community doesn't become known as the porn hub. (Have you read some of the crap on social media? Un-be-lievable.)

Anyway, it's a lot cheaper to avoid getting sued in the first place, if at all possible, than it is to successfully defend yourself. Ounce of prevention and all that.

You could also make a case that a board is negligent if they don't take *reasonable* steps to avoid problems. They can't prevent them all, and they shouldn't have to tie themselves into knots trying to do the impossible, but there's plenty wiggle room between "nothing" and "tied into knots".
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 7:19 AM  
I'm not worried about a lawsuit.

I do think our HOA should make the "right" decisions, even if the "right" decisions are not necessarily popular amongst homeowners. A big part of why I joined the board is because I saw the previous board was in a state of decay. Under my leadership, we have refreshed the board, re-energized the board, and have a functional homeowners association again. It's important to me that we take the time to make the right decisions.

My opinion, and of course it needs to be decided amongst the board, is this donated little free library needs to go. We are planning on renovating the park that contains the little free library next year, and I think it will go away at that time. Doesn't meet the architectual standards of the renovated park.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


07/27/2021 7:48 AM  
Jack, have you ever changed your mind based on responses you get here? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you budge much less change course. Makes me wonder why you ask the questions at all.

Also not sure how you have the time to post so much when you are single handedly running the entire association and its eight hundred parks!
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 8:02 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 07/27/2021 7:19 AM

I do think our HOA should make the "right" decisions, even if the "right" decisions are not necessarily popular amongst homeowners. A big part of why I joined the board is because I saw the previous board was in a state of decay. Under my leadership, we have refreshed the board, re-energized the board, and have a functional homeowners association again. It's important to me that we take the time to make the right decisions.

My opinion, and of course it needs to be decided amongst the board, is this donated little free library needs to go. We are planning on renovating the park that contains the little free library next year, and I think it will go away at that time. Doesn't meet the architectual standards of the renovated park.


Posted By JackJ9 on 07/27/2021 6:27 AM
People here seem to get more interested in legal questions, like interpretation of CC&Rs, voting rules, qoruom definitions, and the like. My questions are more of a practical nature like whether we should have a little free library or what to do with a vendor who [allegedly] failed to perform a service resulting into damage of our HOA property.
What happens when someone else wants to add something to the common area, like a tarot card stand or a children's play set or Fartlek training course equipment? Now the board gets stuck deciding between members wanting to install other things on the common area. None of which the CC&Rs authorize.

Do you think the right decision should not involve consideration of the law, including consideration of the contractual terms that the covenants are? I believe a competent HOA attorney would advise that adding the little free library is too close to an amendment to the CC&Rs; adds liability concerns; and so on. The law here, and especially the covenants, might be your "out" card here, as far as getting rid of the LFL goes.

JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:794


07/27/2021 8:16 AM  
I just don't get the argument about potential law suites if a dirty book is placed in the library. The free library is by a park. The odds are much greater that a kid will get hurt playing in the park so why doesn't Jack close all the parks to avoid potential law suites? Pedophiles like to frequent parks where kids play so why don't we ban the park for this reason? If a child stumbles upon porn I would wager that it will happen when they are on the internet. If a child wants to find it, they have the ability to do this online anytime they want. You ultimately CANNOT protect children from this. Suppose the worse happens and a kid stumbles on an inappropriate book. Is the fear the kid will be scared for life and lead a life of drugs, alcohol and crime as a result? I don't mean to be insensitive but this is a bit much for me.

Jack, and the HOA have no business banning the library based on their perception of what good parenting is or isn't. If they want to ban it for reasons related to their governing documents than that is their right.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11665


07/27/2021 8:25 AM  
While not a common occurrence, over the years we have had people volunteer to donate things like a park bench, picnic table, etc. We have always turned them down as we did not want to assume the expense of maintaining and potential liability.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 8:31 AM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 7:48 AM
Also not sure how you have the time to post so much when you are single handedly running the entire association and its eight hundred parks!
Perhaps some might question how you have so much time to post here when you are a HOA manager and have complained about being overworked and underpaid? The OP is working hard, without a real HOA manager and with five or so parks to maintain. He's not being paid a cent. He does not complain about not being paid for his work. Maybe the OP is typical of presidents who are pretty much running the HOA single-handedly. But it also sounds like no one else may be willing to step up. The OP said he needs more help. Hopefully the OP asks for and gets a HOA manager (resulting in an increase in assessments). A new HOA manager will likely do much of what he, at no charge, already does. This forum may very well plant some seeds in JackJ9's mind about best practices for a HOA board.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/27/2021 8:50 AM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/27/2021 8:16 AM
I just don't get the argument about potential law suites if a dirty book is placed in the library. The free library is by a park. The odds are much greater that a kid will get hurt playing in the park so why doesn't Jack close all the parks to avoid potential law suites? Pedophiles like to frequent parks where kids play so why don't we ban the park for this reason? If a child stumbles upon porn I would wager that it will happen when they are on the internet. If a child wants to find it, they have the ability to do this online anytime they want. You ultimately CANNOT protect children from this. Suppose the worse happens and a kid stumbles on an inappropriate book. Is the fear the kid will be scared for life and lead a life of drugs, alcohol and crime as a result? I don't mean to be insensitive but this is a bit much for me.

Jack, and the HOA have no business banning the library based on their perception of what good parenting is or isn't. If they want to ban it for reasons related to their governing documents than that is their right.



I personally wasn't thinking about dirty books. I was considering the fact that the LFL may attract people to the area who otherwise would not come there, which may include people from outside of the community.

Jack mentioned that the LFL was near a play area where kids come and go unsupervised, which is an obvious concern. We've also discussed similar liability concerns when an HOA considered opening up parts of the common area to outside traffic (eg. hosting tennis leagues or a homeowner who creates a business that brings customers into the community). There is a reason that these kinds can be problematic.

The LFL is no different. Just because it's "a nice thing to do" doesn't change anything. And others have mentioned that this is a slippery slope, since other homeowners with their pet "nice things to do" will expect the HOA to host their things on common areas. The board needs to consider where they want to go with this stuff - and it is the board's decision.

AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 9:03 AM  
Regarding porn appearing in the LFL and "liability": I know folks can and will sue for anything, especially where there are deep pockets like an insurer's. But I do not seem provable harm to a child who picks up a copy of "Hustler" at the LFL.

Regarding the LFL attracting undesirables: Knowing whether these parks are generally accessible to the public (and not merely HOA members), might be helpful.

The liability I had in mind was a kiddo climbing on the LFL and, you know how kids are, seeing if he can perch at the top of it. Crash. Kid breaks his arm (or neck). Will insurance cover this when the LFL is not authorized by the covenants?

As others have asked, when the LFL stand deteriorates, who is going to maintain it?
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 9:11 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 8:31 AM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 7:48 AM
Also not sure how you have the time to post so much when you are single handedly running the entire association and its eight hundred parks!
Perhaps some might question how you have so much time to post here when you are a HOA manager and have complained about being overworked and underpaid? The OP is working hard, without a real HOA manager and with five or so parks to maintain. He's not being paid a cent. He does not complain about not being paid for his work. Maybe the OP is typical of presidents who are pretty much running the HOA single-handedly. But it also sounds like no one else may be willing to step up. The OP said he needs more help. Hopefully the OP asks for and gets a HOA manager (resulting in an increase in assessments). A new HOA manager will likely do much of what he, at no charge, already does. This forum may very well plant some seeds in JackJ9's mind about best practices for a HOA board.



Best practices, yes, learn to delegate and stop micromanaging.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 9:33 AM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 9:11 AM



Best practices, yes, learn to delegate and stop micromanaging.




I've tried delegating, but we're all volunteers with different interest levels in the HOA and different priorities in personal life. One task that was delegated back in March still isn't done but the person heading that up won't give it up, so it's simply not done yet. This was considered a priority project for the association. We'll be lucky if we complete the work within 6-8 months of the task being assigned, if it gets done at all.

That's simply too slow for the amount of projects in front of us if we want our community to shine, so I am less keen on delegating out tasks to others. Since we're all volunteers, there is no consequences for not following through with commitments.

I'm sure those that lead other volunteer boards understand where I am coming from in this regard.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 9:33 AM  
Ooops, the post above wasn't formatted right and I can't edit it.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 10:15 AM  
Posted By JackJ9 on 07/27/2021 9:33 AM
Ooops, the post above wasn't formatted right and I can't edit it.



Actually I know exactly where you're coming from, and again, you need to learn to delegate. If a project takes that long, give it to someone else, or better yet, form some committees, let them handle it.

I was president of my HOA for two years. We had to deal with a corrupt management company and a corrupt law firm. We had a $1M annual budget and reserve accounts of over $1.5M managed over 10 saving accounts. We had to do the monthly water/sewer billing for 467 homes, plus a convent (built by the Al Capone crime family in 1938).

We had a number of committees which our board started, with the help of our social events. For two years we had a well oiled machine and then in a matter of four months blew up because of Facebook. When I ran for the board, I recruited a slate of candidates that I knew would put in the work to make the community successful.

After that I went to work for management companies to do things the way they should be done. It was sad to see how crooked they are, so in 2015 I started my own company which I have pretty much passed on to my daughter. I am proud to say, in 13 years, I have never had a lawsuit brought against a HOA I've managed.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/27/2021 11:08 AM  
I'm also on the learn-to-delegate bandwagon, otherwise you'll drive yourself nuts and will have to resign to preserve your mental health. And nobody benefits from that.

I think we all get it. Most/all of the regular posters here are "get it done" folks who pride themselves on doing a good job. But whenever we talk to homeowners who post about their frustrations with their HOAs, we always tell them: "in order to fix this, you need allies."

There are just so many hours in the day, and our brains have just so much bandwidth. Sometimes you have to step away. And frankly, if everything goes to pot, maybe that's the wake-up call the rest of your neighbors need - ownership in an HOA is not a spectator sport.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:8729


07/27/2021 1:06 PM  
So, again, Jack you've just been good advice from experienced sources. I'll again add: Have monthly board meetings. Yours are supposed to be open anyway, yet you conduct an improper (in OR) amount of biz online with your Board.

You wrote it would take too long to get monthly meetings initiated. Why? Would the rest of the Board resist? With open meetings, owners might be inspired to serve on a Parks Committee.
Where DOES your Board meet?

I can see why it would take longer for your Board to decide you need more hours of management than 4 a week. Bite the $$ bullet and find such a PM.

You've now told us that there's at least one playground that seems to be on your premises. Will you share what other amenities your HOA has? Do non-residents have access to your parks? Say, what size are the parks? Or are they more what we call in these parts, "parklets?

We have book shelves in our gym where residents donate books and have for 20 years. A kind volunteer keeps it current and donates those not read to nursing homes, etc. He has never mentioned that unsuitable books have been donated.

Been on my HOA Board of 7 for 13 years. Until last year, there always were 1-2 directors who were pretty useless. They either had a pet project & cared about nothing else or simply did not contribute except to say "second" at meetings and it was clear they hadn't even read their board packets. For almost 2 years now, our board members are all fully engaged and extremely active and creative. Can't tell you how thrilling this is for me
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


07/27/2021 1:14 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 8:31 AM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 7:48 AM
Also not sure how you have the time to post so much when you are single handedly running the entire association and its eight hundred parks!
Perhaps some might question how you have so much time to post here when you are a HOA manager and have complained about being overworked and underpaid? The OP is working hard, without a real HOA manager and with five or so parks to maintain. He's not being paid a cent. He does not complain about not being paid for his work. Maybe the OP is typical of presidents who are pretty much running the HOA single-handedly. But it also sounds like no one else may be willing to step up. The OP said he needs more help. Hopefully the OP asks for and gets a HOA manager (resulting in an increase in assessments). A new HOA manager will likely do much of what he, at no charge, already does. This forum may very well plant some seeds in JackJ9's mind about best practices for a HOA board.




I have exceptional time management skills.

I don't think I've complained specifically about me being overworked and underpaid, moreso the industry overworking and underpaying managers on the whole. When I was in portfolio there was a huge amount of work, certainly. My salary is good, for my market.

I have absolutely been giving Jack a hard time. First, because I think he's in that category of posters who comes here for validation, not advice, and abuses the goodwill of well meaning posters who take the time to craft thoughtful responses. And second because he reminds me of a board president I worked for at the beginning of my career who was incredibly controlling. I couldn't email the members anything but required meeting notices. If I received an email from any homeowner, I was not supposed to answer it before forwarding it to him for review - even something as simple as 'what is my account balance'. Every month I had to submit a report of every phone call we'd taken from their property and summarize the discussion. And he would demand to know why people had to call us - he felt that if I was doing my job, nobody would ever need to call me for anything. Although I'm not sure what "my job" was supposed to be. I wasn't allowed to speak at meetings unless spoken to first. I wasn't allowed to contact the other board members at all nor did he allow them to contact me. If I suggested maintenance projects to him, he would get angry, and suggest I was accusing him of not noticing the problem himself. If he told me about a maintenance issue, he was angry that I hadn't brought it up to him myself. He refused to accept that the city had any authority over what he wanted to do and spent tens of thousands of dollars filling in a detention pond even though I told him repeatedly that the city wouldn't allow it. When it go to the point that, on the way to a board meeting with him, I sincerely considered crashing my car into a pole so I wouldn't have to be in the same room with him, I realized that I had to tell my director to take me off this account.

It is exhausting and demoralizing to try to work with someone who cannot relinquish control of even the tiniest decision and who has decided that you are incompetent and incapable before even giving you a task to perform. That's what I see in this particular poster.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 1:29 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 1:14 PM


I have absolutely been giving Jack a hard time. First, because I think he's in that category of posters who comes here for validation, not advice, and abuses the goodwill of well meaning posters who take the time to craft thoughtful responses. And second because he reminds me of a board president I worked for at the beginning of my career who was incredibly controlling. I couldn't email the members anything but required meeting notices. If I received an email from any homeowner, I was not supposed to answer it before forwarding it to him for review - even something as simple as 'what is my account balance'. Every month I had to submit a report of every phone call we'd taken from their property and summarize the discussion. And he would demand to know why people had to call us - he felt that if I was doing my job, nobody would ever need to call me for anything. Although I'm not sure what "my job" was supposed to be. I wasn't allowed to speak at meetings unless spoken to first. I wasn't allowed to contact the other board members at all nor did he allow them to contact me. If I suggested maintenance projects to him, he would get angry, and suggest I was accusing him of not noticing the problem himself. If he told me about a maintenance issue, he was angry that I hadn't brought it up to him myself. He refused to accept that the city had any authority over what he wanted to do and spent tens of thousands of dollars filling in a detention pond even though I told him repeatedly that the city wouldn't allow it. When it go to the point that, on the way to a board meeting with him, I sincerely considered crashing my car into a pole so I wouldn't have to be in the same room with him, I realized that I had to tell my director to take me off this account.




Um, the description of the annoying president you dealt with is not me.

No, I'm not controlling at all. At the most recent board meeting, I was complimented afterwards how I continually solicited input from other board members and everyone got a chance to speak and have input at the meeting. It wasn't happenchance, I put a lot of time into what questions I felt would be appropriate and what things would be of interest from others that I would like to solicit their opinions of.

I have proposed, but it's been not been board approved yet, that we send out a survey to all homeowners to get feedback on how the association is run. As a homeowner, I understanding that it is made up by volunteers but we pay a handsome amount into the association so homeowners expect it to be run like a professional organization.

Yes, I look at the details throughout the community, not because I am controlling, but because I want our community to look sharp, shine, and reflect the quality of our neighborhood.

If it means anything, the title of President is not my favorite title. I much prefer Treasurer, and perhaps I am a bit controlling on money issues (encouraging the board to spend the right amount, not too little but not too much).

But whatever you wrote about the past president, that doesn't describe me.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 1:55 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 1:14 PM
I have exceptional time management skills.
Maybe. Maybe not. But as long as this is your position, then I think it's fair to assume JackJ9 has superb time management skills as well, and all while being paid nothing. Zero.

I think these allegations of micro-managing and failing to delegate are unsupportable. JackJ9's HOA currently lacks an appropriate management structure. He's not micro managing. He's actually likely doing what a manager would do.

Sure JackJ9 could go out to the community and gladhand to get some bodies to do xyz (again, for no pay). But for the greater part, I think trying to "delegate" tasks and projects to volunteers (with all this delegation requiring votes of the board) is an oxymoron. I think JackJ9's time would be better spent lobbying the Board to change the management structure and get something more permanent and lasting in place, and then following through with an assessment increase. Anyone who does not like it can step up and put in the mega-hours JackJ9 is putting in.

I want JackJ9 following the law, especially on open meetings. But change like what is apparently needed does not happen over night.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 2:17 PM  
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue.

You don't know for a certainty that there is a lack of management structure. How does anyone know how much time a management company spends on a community. I don't have a billing timesheet, (maybe I should).

Jack doesn't want help or guidance, Jack wants validation. He needs to be a leader. If more management is needed, he needs to speak to his board and get it done, not complain here. I'm curious Jack, how much do you pay your management company?
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 2:24 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 2:17 PM
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue. You don't know for a certainty that there is a lack of management structure.
Nor do you know otherwise.

JackJ9 has posted enough about his HOA that I am persuaded that the HOA needs to at least re-evaluate its paid management needs. That's my opinion. Tough cookies to your inability to tolerate a different opinion.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 2:25 PM  
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 2:17 PM
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue.
The issue: When a HOA manager comes here complaining that a volunteer director is posting here too often, while not owning how curious it is that they (a paid manager) posts prolifically during normal work hours, and having a record of complaining of low wages in the past, this raises questions of hypocrisy.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 2:31 PM  
Sorry, I am semi-retired. My daughter does the day to day chores. I just handle escrows, 10 yesterday and 11 today, remotely I might add. LOVE IT!
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:589


07/27/2021 2:41 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 2:25 PM
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 2:17 PM
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue.
The issue: When a HOA manager comes here complaining that a volunteer director is posting here too often, while not owning how curious it is that they (a paid manager) posts prolifically during normal work hours, and having a record of complaining of low wages in the past, this raises questions of hypocrisy.




I don't post prolifically - there have been months-long gaps in my posting.

I have not complained of low wages for myself, but for the industry as a whole.

My working hours are flexible. I am on call 24/7 for emergencies, work weekends and evenings when required. My directive from the owner of the company I work for and the board that I work for is to take care of the property, and they do not care which specific hours of the day that I am doing that.

Not that any of that was your business, but since you consider yourself an expert on me (on top of virtually everything else!) I thought I'd clarify.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 2:42 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 2:25 PM
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 2:17 PM
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue.
The issue: When a HOA manager comes here complaining that a volunteer director is posting here too often, while not owning how curious it is that they (a paid manager) posts prolifically during normal work hours, and having a record of complaining of low wages in the past, this raises questions of hypocrisy.



How often does Barbara post? Twice a day, MAYBE. I will give her time off for lunch and a couple of 15 minute breaks.

Sorry the pay can be shoddy. I worked for a company having to manage 20 condos for $35K a year. A general manager in a high rise in Los Angeles gets $150K or more, and then as an employee, not the hire of another management company. But, I haven't seen Barbara complain about her pay.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 2:43 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 2:41 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 2:25 PM
Posted By MaxB4 on 07/27/2021 2:17 PM
Just like the governing documents which, supposedly, every homeowners agreed to their terms. The lack of compensation is stated in the Bylaws, you knew that going in to volunteer. So that is a non issue.
The issue: When a HOA manager comes here complaining that a volunteer director is posting here too often, while not owning how curious it is that they (a paid manager) posts prolifically during normal work hours, and having a record of complaining of low wages in the past, this raises questions of hypocrisy.




I don't post prolifically - there have been months-long gaps in my posting.

I have not complained of low wages for myself, but for the industry as a whole.

My working hours are flexible. I am on call 24/7 for emergencies, work weekends and evenings when required. My directive from the owner of the company I work for and the board that I work for is to take care of the property, and they do not care which specific hours of the day that I am doing that.

Not that any of that was your business, but since you consider yourself an expert on me (on top of virtually everything else!) I thought I'd clarify.



And the Oscar goes to......
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 2:47 PM  
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 2:41 PM
Not that any of that was your business
Nor is JackJ9's schedule any of your business.
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:794


07/27/2021 2:56 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 2:47 PM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 2:41 PM
Not that any of that was your business
Nor is JackJ9's schedule any of your business.




Actually since Jack has complained about the amount of hours he is putting in, his schedule is fair game when it comes to questions.
AugustinD


Posts:1920


07/27/2021 3:00 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/27/2021 2:56 PM

Actually since Jack has complained about the amount of hours he is putting in, his schedule is fair game when it comes to questions.
[shrug] Actually our BarbaraT1 has complained about overwork as well. Does this mean her schedule is fair game?

Neither person's schedule is fair game AFAIC.

But I guess this is the proverbial internet pile-on and another thread to beat the cr-p out of JackJ9, attacking him personally.
JackJ9


Posts:0


07/27/2021 3:01 PM  
Goodbye all. This is pointless.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 3:02 PM  
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/27/2021 2:56 PM
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 2:47 PM
Posted By BarbaraT1 on 07/27/2021 2:41 PM
Not that any of that was your business
Nor is JackJ9's schedule any of your business.




Actually since Jack has complained about the amount of hours he is putting in, his schedule is fair game when it comes to questions.



I concur.

I think Augie should create some derivative lawsuit whereby Jack can get fairly paid for the time he puts in for his community.
MaxB4
(California)

Posts:1601


07/27/2021 3:03 PM  
Posted By n/a on 07/27/2021 3:01 PM
Goodbye all. This is pointless.



But fun
JohnT38
(South Carolina)

Posts:794


07/27/2021 3:08 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/27/2021 3:00 PM
Posted By JohnT38 on 07/27/2021 2:56 PM

Actually since Jack has complained about the amount of hours he is putting in, his schedule is fair game when it comes to questions.
[shrug] Actually our BarbaraT1 has complained about overwork as well. Does this mean her schedule is fair game?

Neither person's schedule is fair game AFAIC.

But I guess this is the proverbial internet pile-on and another thread to beat the cr-p out of JackJ9, attacking him personally.




Oh please. Give me a break. Re-read the few replies I added to this post. I never attacked Jack and my questions and latest comment were fair. The theme of Jack's posts often centered around time management issues and being over worked. Since he came here looking for advice, questions regarding this area are fair. I didn't make any comment about Barbara so keep me out of your personal squabbles.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1466


07/27/2021 5:09 PM  
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


07/27/2021 7:47 PM  
LetA... He doesn't sound like such a dull boy if his mind went straight to "What about someone putting pornography" in a Little Library...


Former HOA President
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/28/2021 4:35 AM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/27/2021 7:47 PM
LetA... He doesn't sound like such a dull boy if his mind went straight to "What about someone putting pornography" in a Little Library...




Har!

Looks like Jack has left the building. I do hope he figures out how to pace himself before he drives himself nuts.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10590


07/28/2021 4:59 AM  
Honestly, he is his own hurdle at this point. I can't imagine anyone wanting to "step up" to be involved if they can't be. I will admit when became President it was hard to let go of some control and assuming it as well. It just seemed "easier" if I just did it yada yada...

Had to learn to a better way of managing. Which was to change my perspective of doing it. My job was NOT to control the HOA it was to do what it wanted. If the owners wanted to paint the roads "red". My job was to find out what it took to do it. Whether or not I agreed with it. I got voted down for a few ideas. Did not put my will or opinion on people. I took their opinion and ideas and ran with them if others agreed.

So if you find yourself running every aspect of your HOA, stop and go "Am I running it because I get what I want? Or am I running it because I am leading the charge of what others want?".

Former HOA President
BancsS
(Iowa)

Posts:100


07/28/2021 1:03 PM  
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/27/2021 7:47 PM
LetA... He doesn't sound like such a dull boy if his mind went straight to "What about someone putting pornography" in a Little Library...




You don't think that could happen??? I commend Jack for thinking about that possibility as well as some of his other concerns about it. I think he lacked some confidence and came here to seek some guidance. Melissa, I am amazed at some of your "advice" if you can call it that.

I worked in an elementary school for several years and protecting children and creating a safe environment for children was
a top priority. The Little Free Library is a nice idea but it's location in an HOA park is probably not the best place for it.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2601


07/28/2021 1:25 PM  
Posted By BancsS on 07/28/2021 1:03 PM
Posted By MelissaP1 on 07/27/2021 7:47 PM
LetA... He doesn't sound like such a dull boy if his mind went straight to "What about someone putting pornography" in a Little Library...




You don't think that could happen??? I commend Jack for thinking about that possibility as well as some of his other concerns about it. I think he lacked some confidence and came here to seek some guidance. Melissa, I am amazed at some of your "advice" if you can call it that.

... snip ...



I totally believe it could happen. In fact I can pretty much guarantee that somewhere it already has.

At one point in my career I was in charge of data security for my employer's admin systems, and a lot of that job involved thinking of the bad stuff before the troublemakers could think of it. No matter how inventive I was or outlandish the idea, somebody would usually try it.

Anyway, board members are supposed to anticipate trouble rather than just reacting to it after it happens, otherwise the bad guys will wrong foot you every time. It's almost impossible to be too pessimistic.
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