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New Book Challenges Traditional Condo, Homeowner Associations

5/14/1999  -  Alexandria, VA

Community association governance must evolve to foster the close-knit, supportive communities Americans desire, according to the Community Associations Institute. CAI's new book, Community First! Emerging Visions Reshaping America's Condominium and Homeowner Associations, offers perspectives from attorneys, managers, developers and industry experts on how associations can refocus on people, service and building a sense of community.

"Community First! is a collection of essays written by professionals who have seen that consensus building, leadership and inclusion are the keys to fostering harmony and community in associations," said Bill Overton, PCAM, editor. "It is our hope that the bold, visionary ideas introduced in this book will stir debate and create a new standard of excellence for the fastest-growing form of residential housing in the U.S. today."

Community First! offers techniques for fostering community spirit in existing community associations as well as updating traditional governance structures to transform the community associations of the future. Key recommendations include:

  • Establishing a mission statement and strategic planning process for every community association;
  • Instituting a homeowner's bill of rights and plain-language covenants that highlight the importance of reasonability, due process, consensus and teamwork;
  • Emphasizing a frequent, thorough and accurate exchange of information within the community through newsletters, open meetings, web sites, intranets and e-mail. Rethinking the traditional "corporate" governance model of community associations by introducing proportional representation and including renters as participants;
  • Creating special events, recreational activities, community outings, tutoring and child-care programs and volunteer opportunities for residents;
  • Participating in the larger community by establishing links to businesses, schools, youth activity organizations, houses of worship and municipal government;
  • Empowering associations to establish nonprofit trusts and foundations to provide social, educational, environmental, wellness, transportation and other services to the association residents and surrounding community; Educating consumers about the community association living experience before they make the decision to buy a home in one;
  • Providing continuing education on leadership, governance and association operations for community association board members; and
  • Ensuring that community association professionals are adequately trained and kept up-to-date on regulatory, legislative and legal issues.

Contributors to Community First! include noted community association attorney Wayne S. Hyatt; Prof. Evan McKenzie, author of Privatopia; visionary master-planned community developer Charles Fraser; and Barbara Byrd Keenan, president of CAI. For more information or to purchase Community First! (CAI members, $9.95; nonmembers, $14.95) call CAI Central at 703/548-8600, or visit the Institute's web site to take advantage of a ten percent discount.

The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.

Phone: 703-970-9235