Celebration Resident Advocate

As a 20 year Celebration resident and one time member of the covenant committee, I am somewhat familiar with the process.  I have had many conversations over the years with residents about the enforcement and the letters sent by the committee. There is a universal reaction of anger when the letters are opened.  They are, after all, a criticism of one's home with an implied threat of punitive action if certain measures aren't taken. Big brother telling us that our home is not our domain but instead property of the collective, to be dressed and turned out as He demands.  Us versus them. An exaggeration? Perhaps.

Most acknowledge the value of standards and inspections but they also complain about the specificity and downright pettiness of the complaints (polish brass door knobs, numbers on mailboxes, paint vinyl shutters), without regard to the consequences in terms of time and cost to meet such demands.  Where does the interest of the individual stand against the interest of the community? Are Community Standards Guidelines actually guidelines? *

The inspection regime has become efficient, effective, and in my opinion, overzealous.  The inspector evokes various emotions in residents that range from fear to loathing. People scatter when they see her coming.  If the goal of the covenants committee is to make all toe the line, she is the best enforcer Celebration has had. She takes the job seriously.  She knows the rules. People defer to her. I like her.

But...  It’s one sided.  There is no balance of power.  Many, and I believe the vast majority of people, don’t have the courage to challenge authority.  To say that anyone can present their case to the board is, I think, utterly naive. So they acquiesce.  And the power goes unchallenged. Who will guard the guards? Where is the oversight? Who will speak for the accused?

The police have internal affairs departments.  The courts have public defenders. We need an ombudsman or advocate.*  Someone who knows the rules but sees them from the resident’s point of view.

I am calling on the board to make it so.  Not only will this benefit the residents, but it should shine a softer light on enforcement - less tyrannical, more a part of the process.

* From Wikipedia -

A guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action.  A guideline aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice.  By definition, following a guideline is never mandatory. Guidelines are not binding and are not enforced.

An ombudsman, or public advocate is an official who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights.