NU attorney calls for new national organization
ROBERT STEUTEVILLE    SEP. 1, 2006
Doris Goldstein thinks the time has come for new urbanists to consider forming a national organization that “would educate communities about new urbanist principles, provide support and information about community governance, and offer cultural activities that increase the enjoyment of civic life.” Such an organization could help residents in new urban developments to set up their own institutes or foundations, similar to those already operating in other communities. The national entity — which Goldstein believes should be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization — could provide standard articles of incorporation, bylaws, and tax forms; act as a clearinghouse for information; and offer assistance in the local organizations’ operation. It could also help new urban communities deal more effectively with the conflicts that inevitably arise between developer and residents. The relationship between the founder and the homeowners’ association (HOA) resembles the relationship between parent and offspring, Goldstein says. Difficulties arise, in her view, from these factors: • “New urban development takes years or even decades. During that time, the founder is controlling the association, and the owners are resenting him.” • “Founders are, of necessity, control freaks. They have a vision. The qualities that make them good developers make them poor HOA participants.” • “Most new urban founders are people, not corporations. They are more vulnerable to personal attacks. Cut them and they do bleed.” • “The architectural review process — the first contact many new residents have with the community — seems perversely designed to engender ill will.” The national entity could be called “Meeting House Inc.,” Goldstein suggests. As of now, she says, unease afflicts new urban communities more often than need be the case.