Thursday, August 16, 2018

HOA Dodges True Cost of Road Use

So many interesting things in today's piece about a dispute over yellow bus service on privately maintained roads.
  • What is the scope of reasonable accommodation for ADA requirements? (And, actually, for any kids - it's hard not to think a subtext for the HOA is a wish to exclude kids entirely.)
  • The costs of maintenance and ways that we are unwilling to pay the true costs of using roads and the costs of ensuring minimum standards, like sidewalks, for roads. The budgetary problems or priorities the HOA faces scale up for the City, of course. (Cue Strong Towns critique of municipal finance...Here's two pieces on HOAs, for example.)
  • Residents might have different standards and expectations for the HOA and and for City of Salem. There seems to be acceptance for a set of lower standards at the HOA that might not always be extended to the City more generally. If road maintenance or sidewalks cost too much, what about projects to ease congestion? If we had to pay the true cost of road maintenance and road access, would we make different decisions and have different priorities?
  • Different construction standards also might be in play. Maybe the HOA roads were not constructed to the same standard we now require of local roads in new subdivisions. Bringing older streets up to standard is often part of the reason annexation doesn't pencil out for a city.
  • The incoherence of a "safety concern": If the lack of sidewalks is a problem for a school bus, how is the lack of sidewalks not also a problem for regular cars and their drivers? Isn't forcing a child to walk farther along substandard roads actually less safe than having a bus pick them up closer to home? This seems like another screen that may mask a preference for no children at all.
  • And, of course, the potentially discriminatory optics for Senator Winters. (Just a reminder, this blog isn't the place for praise or criticism of Senator Winters herself or for other comments on the contest in Senate District 10.)
There are probably other interesting themes as well.

I'm not sure there's enough detail here to have a close reading or any settled opinions on the matter right now, but it will be an interesting story to follow, and there will surely be more to unpack as the story develops and details come out.

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