It’s an argument that comes up over and over from people who are puzzled that others want change for Diamondhead in the form of lowered dues and accountable government. “You knew when you bought here that you’d have to pay dues to support the amenities so what’s your problem?“
Some are genuine in their puzzlement, others are devoted to a declining golf-centered lifestyle and angry that it feels threatened, but the argument is the same. It gets repeated endlessly, and it is filled with flaws. It looks at just one small piece of the picture and ignores the rest. Sure, you knew about dues when you bought, but I hope you understood a lot more than that. Here are the other essential parts of the bargain you made:
1. the board must manage amenities for the mutual benefit of all owners,
2. dues must be enough to run amenities in a way that’s acceptable to the membership as a whole, and
3. board decisions must be made in good faith, with due care, and in the best interest of the entire membership.
In short, the board’s spending extravagant amounts taken from 5,000 owners to make the “country club lifestyle” as cushy as possible for 500 devotees was NOT part of your bargain when you bought here. As an aside, it’s also ugly when they know full well there are many elderly people on fixed incomes and young people struggling in a poor economy who are living here. No decent-minded person would expect them to subsidize someone else’s pipe-dreams.
You knew, as well, when you bought here that your bargain starts to end in 2020 unless 85% of you, as property owners, decide otherwise. Above all else, you knew from common sense that times change. People change. Everything changes — simple fact of life. Change is the one sure thing besides death and taxes in this world, and if you can’t respond constructively, you get steamrolled.
It’s illogical to think that existing amenities can’t change, that dues can’t be lowered, that you’re obliged to pay whatever sum of money POA directors feel like decreeing. It’s true that golf and country club drew many people to settle here, and once upon a time, I’m told, golf was actually profitable. Once upon a time the amenities were also private, open only to property owners and their guests, and once upon a time riding stables and yacht club were among Diamondhead amenities.
Then — times changed, and those things were no more. This should surprise no one. If you want to save golf and have a country club, wake up because the board’s secrecy, profligacy, and utter lack of due care are not helping you — they are creating a backlash likely to smash it all. There’s no way that their actions are mutually benefitting Diamondhead’s property owners. Diminished list prices and lowered assessed values here are hard evidence of lost home values. Prices in many nearby communities are headed back toward pre-recession levels but not here.
People who are in touch with reality can see that times have changed in major ways in Diamondhead — incorporation with its rise in taxes, decline in popularity of the golf-country-club lifestyle, upcoming generations who want family-style activities rather than a “lifestyle,” two POA boards in a row that have shown themselves incapable of transparency and accountability, loss of property values, the onset of covenant expiration, and much more.
There are likely ways to deal with amenities-in-decline without losing them altogether, but the POA board shows no signs of being able to adapt, let alone to lead in finding mutually beneficial answers. Instead of a sensible, adult organization concerned about Diamondhead’s future, they’ve become an irrelevant Parks & Playgrounds department souped up with power, or so they think, to spend your money any way they dream up.
That, too, was NOT part of your bargain when you bought here.