HOA Denies Solar

I recently asked the Board of my Homeowners Association if they would consider a Rule change. To do so requires a majority of five Board Members to vote for such, as opposed to significant changes in Covenants that require large majorities of all owners.

Specifically, I wanted to eliminate the blanket statement that prohibits solar panels. I seek to have solar panels on the back roof of my house, where they would be visible to no other property owners.

Here are my notes to myself, which list examples of what a Board can do to deny open discussion with other homeowners who recognize the need to reconsider such restrictions.

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The Board summarily dismissed the request in March without asking a single question of me, even though I offered in writing to be outside the meeting in person, before or after, to answer any questions. They replied with a letter declining to change the Rules, though the letter did not clarify whether they had actually voted on it.

I requested to address the issue at an ensuing Board meeting via Zoom in August. On the agenda, I was given access to the Zoom meeting at the allotted moment. In my pitch I addressed the language of their letter, which anticipated that I would be disappointed. I shared my screen of the slides and spoke.

At the August meeting, the Board held a vote--contrary to the requirement that notice of a Rule change be posted in advance--and officially declined to make the change, much less follow the Bylaws.

Yes, I am disappointed. I’m disappointed that no Board Member asked a single question of me before or during the March meeting.

I’m disappointed that no Board member would accept my written invitation to have a curbside conversation with me, a neighbor, prior to the August 4 meeting--not even a conversation about something of which they are clearly not well informed.

I’m disappointed that I’m told, "When you purchased in our HOA, you accepted the Covenants, By-Laws and rules that were given to you.” And yet the Board dismisses pertinent parts of the Code of Bylaws:

Article III, Section 3.06

The Board of Directors shall have such powers as are reasonable and necessary to accomplish the performance of their duties. These powers include, but are not limited to, the power:...(f) to adopt, revise, amend and alter from time to time reasonable rules and regulations with respect to use, occupancy, operation and enjoyment of the Property, which rules shall be adopted at regular or special meetings of the Board with notice posted in advance to advise Members that such matters are under consideration;

I’m disappointed the Board will not fulfill the Second Amendment to Code of By-Laws of KPVA regarding Section 2.02. Substituting an in-person Annual Meeting during the coronavirus epidemic with a short letter to all homeowners, the Board addressed only two of multiple issues required by the Bylaws--approval of a budget and approval of a slate of candidates.

[I’m on another HOA that has a similar Annual Meeting requirement, and in 2020 we held a Zoom meeting for the entire membership. Of the 100+ eligible attendees, over 70% attended online, which was better attendance than normal in-person meetings yielded.]

I’m disappointed that dialogue with other homeowners at an Annual Meeting was dismissed—Annual is only for budget and elections, they declared-- despite other legitimate items being spelled out in Section 2.05 (f) (5):

Other Business may be brought before the meeting only upon a written request submitted to the Secretary of the Association at least Ten (10) days prior to the date of the meeting...

I’m disappointed that, with the expectation the Board would not host an Annual Meeting, the Board dismissed consideration of Section 2.03, Special Meeting, in order to vote on a Rule change after homeowners have been given time to weigh in on a Rule change. In the material sent to homeowners regarding elections and the budget, the Board could easily include an announcement about the proposed Rule change, to be voted on at an ensuing meeting.

I’m disappointed a major consideration like a Rule change would be dismissed because, the Board President stated, thirty minutes of meeting time had already been devoted to the topic.

I’m disappointed that a Board Member's (Ted’s) valid concerns--not raised previously in any writing or dialogue--were not addressed. The Board accepted the concerns as insurmountable and not meriting more time, whether in or outside of the August 4 meeting. If a Board Member has points to make, I want to hear them, but not announced in the final minute before they vote.

I, too, don’t want to become embroiled in a bunch of alleged hassles per installation. I want to facilitate homeowners going solar with it not being a burden on an HOA Board. I’m going to end up being on the Board and I don’t want to work that hard either as a volunteer. Instead of putting up fences, how about some dialogue? How can we implement a solution that addresses your concerns?

I’m disappointed that the Board would act without considering whether a Rule change is of interest to other homeowners, without asking homeowners what they think. The existing Rule is 12 years old, and in those years we’ve become vastly more informed about our nation’s need to address climate change.

Ironically, the Rule prohibiting solar panels was enacted in 2008. Instead of squelching solar, if the homeowners had instead installed solar panels on their homes, by now they could have reached a reasonable payback period of 12 years. That is, the solar array would have paid for itself by 2020, and most of their energy consumption for the past 12 years and for all years going forward will have been renewable. Going forward, their electricity would be free.

I’m hoping there are many homeowners who believe it’s morally right to consider renewable energy as opposed to putting up roadblocks to inevitable and necessary change. I’m expecting there are many homeowners who believe it' is imperative to embrace renewable energy rather than oppose it.

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Solar panels aren't a cosmetic issue. This is a future functionality issue. Independent energy generation appearing on houses will be akin to the chimney and outdoor air conditioning units. They are functional to the house, and requisite for those who follow us.

It’s not just that solar will and ought be curb chic, it’s that solar as part of the renewable energy mix will be integral to our personal, national, and global well-being.

I said on Zoom meeting Aug. 4, regarding the presence of solar installations, we have to go from zero to a hundred. This Board voted not to poke their noses out of the gate. Eventually solar needs to be ubiquitous.

Mostly, I’m disappointed that the reasonable state of being initially uninformed was met with inquiry-free decision-making.

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