Lemon: The Hijacking of the Eagle-Vail HOA | VailDaily.com

Lemon: The Hijacking of the Eagle-Vail HOA

Heather Lemon
Vail, CO Colorado

The Board of Eagle-Vail Homeowners Association was hijacked last week by a disgruntled second-home owner. He arbitrarily declared that it was his sandbox, his toys (proxies), and everybody had to play his way. I am a homeowner in Eagle-Vail and I was at the meeting for the duration. I felt that the neighborhood bully had just kicked sand in my face.

The issue Mr. Patrick Carter raises is a serious one, fundamental property rights for homeowners versus a board’s preconceived needs of a community. Eagle-Vail is a true local community – and community still means something to most of us. But Mr. Carter decided to @#%*! with the community and railroaded himself and his cohorts onto the board. Mr. Carter gathered enough proxies and played his hand when most of the homeowners had left, thus ensuring victory, if his antics stand.

Whether he overstepped his authority by collecting carte blanche proxy statements valid for one year on the back of a single issue, the short term rentals (not removal of board members), is a different question. I am not sure that if he opened a three-ring circus on the second fairway, his proxies would approve, yet they signed their rights away.

I have lived in Eagle-Vail since 1995. My kids grew up here, they attended the local schools, and we use the recreation facilities (probably less than we should health-wise). I know my neighbors. Eagle-Vail is one of the few up-valley communities still relatively affordable to those who work and serve our local economy. But that is changing, and as the property values in Eagle-Vail continue to rise, locals are driven to Eagle or Gypsum and more second-home owners are staking their entry into the Vail Valley in Eagle-Vail. And they want to rent their homes with no restrictions. Not being able to rent the property for less than four months could affect the property value. I understand that.

This is a complex issue, balancing the rights of homeowners with the need to be neighborly and preserving the local community. Most of the homes in Eagle-Vail are multi-units, duplexes, four-plexes with common walls and limited parking. We have to get along with our neighbors because getting anything done with party wall agreements and common space and use requirements dictate cooperation and compromise. Short-term renters have no idea about the neighborhood – it looks like your basic time share fourplex – and so packing 13-15 people into a three bedroom (maybe two bedroom) for a great weekend party is a no-holds-barred free-for-all, with no consideration to the neighbor who has to get up at 5 a.m. to open the kitchen at one of the hotels.

But the board arbitrarily enforcing ” or clarifying their own rules on short-term rentals without the consideration of the homeowners ” is an overreaching as well. This issue has galvanized the homeowners, and more people are more involved than they have ever been. This is a good thing. The issue should have been presented to the homeowners at the annual meeting, and an honest debate and discussion within the community would have resulted in a workable policy. Mr. Carter, I applaud your activism, I abhor your methodology.

The Eagle-Vail hijacking is a microcosm of our entire valley. Second-home owners make up a substantial proportion of homeowners in Eagle County. They support most of the services of the county through their property taxes and they have no voice in community affairs. I have long advocated the rights of second homeowners to be allowed to vote in local elections. Mr. Carter’s knee-jerk reaction to a possibly capricious taking of property rights is well founded, and demonstrates the need for all residents to work together.

The first step is true representation on local homeowners associations and boards. But local boards do a lot of work beyond annual meetings. Active board participation is not something that you can do by getting on the phone for a few hours. It requires much more than that. Those of us who live here full time have a huge appreciation of that.

Mr. Carter proved a point. We can’t take our Home Owners Association for granted ” or the hard working individuals that volunteer their time to work on it. Eagle-Vail is a great community that many of us have lived in for a long time. We want to keep it great. Working together with locals and second home owners will accomplish that.

Heather Lemon of Eagle-Vail writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. She can be reached at lemonvail@aol.com.

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