America’s First Homeowners Association Started in Orange County | THE LOST | Gastronomy & Discovery
Before the 1960s, if a developer built a community facility such as a swimming pool, golf course or park, he generally entrusted it to a municipal administration to administer it. In the early 1960s, when blacks and Latinx people gained access to public swimming pools and public parks through the civil rights movement, developers devised a new, privatized form of shared ownership. They called it a planned unit development or common interest development with automatic membership in a household association. We now call it a homeowners association or HOA.
Kaufman & Broad pioneered this new HOA idea in the 74 townhouses it built here in 1963, after personally lobbying the Federal Housing Association to secure its new “townhouse” plan. on the green”. They wanted the efficiency of shared amenities without the weight of integration in public spaces. Their solution sold so well that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development released a handy booklet with sample legal documents, illustrated by the College Green development in Fullerton and Treehaven West in Tustin. Two of the largest HOAs are now in Aliso Viejo and Irvine.
Explore some of the spaces in Orange County shaped by land rights. Click on the starred map points to read more detailed stories.
HOAs offer one vote per household, not one vote per adult. Larger households and tenants are often disenfranchised, while rule changes require a supermajority of 75% of all landlords, not just 75% of voters. As is generally the case with HOAs, Huntington Continental Townhomes limits freedom of speech (no signs are allowed other than “for sale”), freedom of assembly (residents cannot “gather” on neighbors’ porches) and freedom of speech (only certain paint colors and curtain styles are permitted and residents may not dry towels outside.) Residents are encouraged to agree to these limits on behalf of vague theories about property values. These limits are considered constitutional because courts have ruled that HOAs are business entities that consumers voluntarily choose to engage with rather than governments.
In 2010, half of Orange County homes came with mandatory HOA membership, so many consumers have little choice. Orange County HOAs collect at least $1 billion a year in fees, money that might otherwise have been public taxes paying for public parks for all, but instead is directed to these privatized communities.
For more information: McKenzie, Evan. “Privatopia: Homeowners Associations and the Rise of Private Residential Government.” Yale University Press, 1994.