News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

RA Supports 'Homeowner Bill of Rights,' Even As Used As Example Of Why HOA Law Is Needed

FOX HOABoth houses of the Virginia legislature have now passed what's been called a "Homeowners Bill of Rights" by supporters who argue that HOAs have become too big for their earth-toned britches. Not surprising, because Virginia and freedom, right? What is surprising, though, is that one of the supporters of the anti-HOA bill is none other than our very own ur-HOA, the Reston Association. Give us some good blockquote, RA CEO Cate Fulkerson:

[Fulkerson] said her organization is in favor of the “Bill of Rights” legislation.

“Providing our members with a fair hearing and an opportunity to have the rules given to them and have them understand them is incredibly important to us,” Fulkerson said.
That's doubly interesting, since one example of an overreaching HOA used by backers of the bill, including sponsor State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), comes from a Reston resident who -- wait for it -- has had issues with the RA's covenant requirements.
Flora Nicholas, a resident of Reston, said her local homeowners’ association unfairly fined her for what she described as fabricated violations after she and her neighbors complained about how the Reston Association handled another complaint.

“It’s a horror story,” said Nicholas, who said she had liens placed on her house totaling about $1,000 for citations she received about her house gutters and other problems.
Fulkerson declined to comment on the specifics of the case in the Washington Post"news paper" article. But in a statement Nicholas made on Sen. Chap Petersen's website after the bill passed the Virginia Senate, it doesn't sound like the dispute is exactly water under an appropriately painted bridge constructed from approved materials:
"Thanks to this law, Virginians will now be able to hold HOAs like ours accountable for their oppressive and abusive actions.”
More about the bill, if you're into such things:
State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), sponsor of the bill known as the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” which sailed through the Senate last month, said the legislation puts into one place measures that are already available to Virginia property owners through various state statutes and court rulings.

Among them are the right to inspect all books and records kept by a homeowners’ association, the right to due process during a dispute with an HOA and the right to cast a vote on matters affecting one’s neighborhood.

Petersen said he pursued the legislation after receiving complaints from homeowners who were caught up in fights with homeowners’ associations that appeared to be over-aggressively enforcing their covenants.

“Homeowners’ associations have really become the newest form of government, particularly in Northern Virginia,” Petersen said. “I don’t see why someone living in any community should give up their rights. They should have the right to participate in how it’s governed. They’re paying dues. It’s their money.”
Supporting a bill that was proposed, in part, because of one's own (alleged) actions? Stranger things have happened.


  1. "water under an appropriately painted bridge constructed from approved materials."


  2. Well done Flora Nichols for standing up and saying what most Reston people already know and feel
    about the RA and how they do "business." I think we now need a 'Reston Home Owners Bill of Rights" to put them in their place!

    Using harassment of its homeowners as weapon is really shocking.
    No wonder Ms Fulkerson has "no comment."

    And what is with the "Reston Now" whitewash of the true story all about?

  3. Kate Fulkerson's comment is amusing. The DRB is off the rails. They've gone rogue - or, maybe, they were always rogue and she just isn't aware of it(?). I was also subjected to an inspection after complaining about lack of enforcement (did you know that you can cut all your trees down if you want a badminton court? Direct from a long-time board member - good to know, right?). I was cited for 10 or so things, including a "dirty split rail fence". I was instructed to power wash my split rail fence at the same time that I was cited for not allowing my deck to age naturally (neighborhood decks: solid white, gray, cedar, etc.). I was somewhat mystified about my dirty and cracked driveway as I had the cleanest driveway on the street and about one-third of the driveways are cracked.

    It all became very clear at my Hearing. I was told, point blank, that the DRB can do whatever they want. They can choose to follow the Guidelines or ignore them. They can follow them one day and ignore them the next. This is called "discretion" and they have total discretion. Once you understand all this, their actions make perfect sense. "Perfect" in the sense that they make no sense.

    I was told that the low wall on my patio was a violation and had to be removed. It turns out that it is a "bench" and benches are ver boten - except when they aren't - as in the case of my neighbor across the street. This is when I got really confused (you see, I forgot the thing about "making sense"). The explanation for this disparate treatment? My neighbor across the street "must have had a better presentation". Well, that certainly makes sense - in a totally nonsensical way. Forgot what the guidelines state about a bench - as we now know, the Guidelines can be used or ignored depending on...the weather?...the day of the week?...whether you complained about the DRB????

    I won't bore you with my other violations involving a "wire" or the broom on my patio or the color of the stones under my deck or my dirty chimney, etc. - you'll just take me for a complete slob. In any event, I "have a nice house and I don't have reason to complain about anything" (said the Board member who stated that she lives in a condo and would not complain about anything if she lived in my house). So no more complaints - sold the house and moved to the New Reston, which is, happily, not a part of RA.

  4. I Got 'Dem Planned Community Blues AgainMarch 12, 2015 at 8:30 AM

    Unfortunately for all of us, none of the candidates for RA representative seem like the type who would challenge the status quo. They all mouth platitudes about making Reston a nice place to live blah blah, accountability blah blah, environmental sustainability blah blah, ad nauseum. How wonderfully communitarian and progressive they all seem, how terribly boring they are in actuality.

  5. The violations DRB found on my property were all valid. So I cannot kvetch.

    Some time ago I visited a neighbor who had moved from Reston to Herndon. Se expressed enormous relief at being out from under draconian DRB rules. Then, without pausing for breath began to b1tch about her new neighbor's above-ground pool. Irony lost.

    1. scuba - If you aren't already on it, you should run for the board! You already know the party line! Move along...nothing to see here...


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