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Posted 12 Mar 2001   For week ended February 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 03Mar01

By Kent Larsen

Las Vegas Mormon Takes on Homeowner Association

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA -- An investigation into the excesses of homeowner associations, cooperative groups meant to keep up a neighborhood, by Las Vegas' KVBC TV3 led to Mormon Scott Prisbrey, who led a petition drive to oust his homeowners association board after the board's excesses bothered homeowners in his neighborhood. In the process, Prisbrey's religious beliefs were attacked before the group he led was able to vote out the board.

The report indicates that the state of Nevada has more than 1,000 homeowners associations, which are often set up by the developers of a neighborhood as a way of safeguarding the resale value of the homes in the neighborhood, under the theory that one poorly maintained or badly refurbished home will undermine the value of its neighbors. The associations, presided over by a board, operate like mini-governments, often controlling what homeowners can do with their home.

But in some neighborhoods, such as Scott Prisbrey's, the associations go too far. Boards fine homeowners for things like weeds, but don't have any standard for what determines when a lawn has too many weeds. Fed up with his homeowners board, Prisbrey took a petition demanding the board's resignation around to his neighbors. Out of 52 homeowners, Prisbrey got the signatures of 33. "The majority of the homeowners are tired of it," he told KVBC. "We're tired of the dictatorship and them telling us how to live our lives. And we want to go back to getting control of our community."

But instead of getting the board to resign gracefully, the petition inflamed the issue. Prisbrey got a message left on his home answering machine that attacked his religion "We want to get rid of the Mormons in our neighborhood, because I think they're idiots," said the message, in part. In addition to Prisbrey, at least eight other families in the neighborhood are Mormon.

In the end, Prisbrey's effort won. While many homeowners putting their homes up for sale, Prisbrey and others attended a board meeting and by one vote managed to kick out the board. But it wasn't easy, since the board claimed that many of his supporters owed fines, making them ineligible to vote. The group pooled their funds and paid the fines, and managed to win by a vote.

KVBC's report says that in Nevada homeowners associations are lightly regulated, and that the state's Real Estate Ombudsman doesn't have enforcement power to resolve disputes. It adds that the state legislature is considering eight new laws to address these associations.


News 3 Investigation: Power to the people
KVBC TV3 Las Vegas NV 22Feb01 B4
By Darcy Spears


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