Letter: Welcome to Palm Coast, now empty your wallet

What are your neighbors talking about this week?

  • By
  • | 12:00 p.m. April 8, 2024
Letters to the editor
Letters to the editor
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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Welcome, now empty your wallet

Dear Editor:

The Observer's February 22 article by Toby Tobin indicated that current residents of Palm Coast are favored by the property tax system over newcomers, and Greg Blose´’s article of March 7 agreed, saying, in effect, that new residents are needed to help pay our bills. Both cited impact fees on new developments as providing needed revenue.

In the same March 7 issue, an article stated that the City Council was increasing impact fees as fast as legally allowed. At its meeting on that subject, a citizen urged the Council on, saying "Developers can pay this." (Of course, developers pay for nothing, if they can help it. They simply pass on all costs to their customer homebuyers. Of course, the increased home prices add to our national unaffordable housing problem.)

After the developer (I mean, the new residents) pay the impact fees, one might expect the city to welcome those new residents as new neighbors, right? Oh no! The city, having assumed (by annexation) authority over the area, permitted (thereby encouraged) new residents to move in, and extracted onerous fees from them, now segregates them, for all future maintenance, from the rest of the community. It still taxes them, just like the current residents (only at higher rates, due to tax favoritism). It just declines to provide the services (infrastructure, streets, etc.) for which such taxes normally pay. That is, the city takes the money and runs, abdicating the duties it assumed by virtue of its expansion. Power without responsibility, what a concept!

And it gets worse. Since the city declines any responsibility for its new streets, forever, the newcomers must permanently pay for it themselves. To do so, a perpetual involuntary association is imposed on them, the HOA. Yes, I said, "involuntary." The homebuyer does sign a “covenant" when he joins, but the alternative is to lose access to most of the housing market (since most developers now impose an HOA at purchase).

Truly voluntary associations are fine, but effectively involuntary HOA's have become a nationwide blight, an extra layer of little private governments (you know, to replace the official governments who wish to avoid dealing directly with their citizens).

New homebuyers do not realize what joining an HOA really entails, until they have committed themselves (forever). Human nature insures that every community has its share of busybodies who seek power over their neighbors. They naturally gravitate to HOA's, particularly to their boards of directors. Once ensconced thereon, they often fail to limit themselves to collecting the necessary dues, but display a disturbing tendency to meddle with the members’ property and even their personal affairs, even imposing fines, property liens, etc. (This is all perfectly legal).

Constitutional restraints protect against intrusion by government, not by private associations. After all, you signed up, (sort of). This whole process by which cities tax property and expand their communities is apparently technically legal, or the state would intervene and cities could not get away with it. But there can be a big difference between legal and ethical. And this process is not only unethical, it is a racket.

The fact is that, between ''nimby'' current residents, local government abjuring its responsibilities, developers complicit in the exploitation of their customers, and HOA's proclivity for oppression, we receive our ‘'newbies'' (defined as anyone who arrived in Palm Coast at least one day after you or I did) with more harassment than hospitality. This should induce shame, not satisfaction.

Anthony Teague

Palm Coast


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