Real information on San Carlos Sonora Mexico

Do you have to belong to an Home Owners Association (HOA) if you don’t want to, especially the Costa Del Mar HOA?

Two weeks ago I was asked by Charlie Woehr a resident at the Costa Del Mar to translate for him during a meeting with his lawyer. Charlie was looking for a lawyer to help him out with the continual problems he has had with the CDM HOA board of directors. He was originally going to speak to a lawyer I had never heard of and then it dawned upon me that he should speak to Alvaro Romero. Alvaro Romero is a local lawyer from Guaymas who is now an expert on HOA law in Sonora as well as an expert on the many shady occurrences that happen in regards to the Costa Del Mar HOA. He became an expert on this subject by taking on several cases, and winning them by the way, for another CDM resident who also is disillusioned, for good reason, with the CDM HOA.

Charlie has a specific problem with the HOA that has caused him much stress. And here in itself is a very large issue. Most people who retire to Mexico would like to lead a stress free life. And actually after a conversation with Alvaro the lawyer this is really what the HOA should do for residents within a community. A properly functioning HOA should make life less stressful for residents, not more stressful. This was made clear to me by Alvaro the lawyer.

Why is Charlie upset with the HOA? Well the current problem stems from the fact that Charlie has his boat parked out in front of his house at the moment. According to Charlie this pissed off Ken Unrein, a current board member. So last year that board member tried to write a new bylaw that says you can’t park a boat in front of your house. Now after reviewing all the information Charlie put forth to Alvaro the lawyer the HOA did not properly pass this by law. But for the sake of argument let’s just say that the HOA did in fact get this new by law about parking boats in front of your house legally put into the by laws of the HOA.

The problem is this.The streets at Costa del Mar are public streets. I am sure many who might read this article and live at CDM are going to disagree with me on that but the fact of the matter is I have painstakingly researched this. I have spoken to inspectors for Control Urbano/ Urban Planing in Guaymas and other lawyers besides Alvaro. The streets of Costa del Mar are in fact public streets. To all of you CDM residents out there who doubt that, you are completely within your right’s to believe what ever you wish to believe. You simply are not correct in your belief but more power to ya. Just because your community is gated and you all paid for the streets to be so nice don’t mean ya own the streets!

Now just because the roads are public though doesn’t mean anyone can simply drive a boat into the CDM and park it in front of some one else’s house. Within Sonoran state law there exists preferential rights for those who live in the Costa del Mar in regards to the streets. Costa del Mar residents should and do have preferential treatment in regards to the streets since they live there. So what that means is that Charlie has according to Sonoran State Law all the right in the world to park his boat in front of his house. No CDM by law can trump a Sonoran state law and no Judge in Sonora can tell him he can’t park his boat there. I forget at the moment how much money in fines the CDM HOA is trying to charge Charlie for legally parking his boat in front of his house. I know it is in the thousands of pesos now and might even be in the 10’s of thousands but what ever the fines the HOA are attempting to impose upon him there is absolutely no reason for Charlie to pay those fines. The HOA has not one legal leg to stand on, and that is from a lawyer who has already beaten the HOA board of directors in several law suits. The HOA can not levy fines against anyone for parking their boat in front of their house. For all those HOA bully’s out there all I can say is welcome to Mexico and Mexican law!! Now the same goes for any lot owner who wishes to sell his lot but is not currently up to date on their HOA fees. The HOA can not stop anyone from legally selling their property because of a lack of payment of HOA fees.

Now that in itself is interesting but here is the real bomb shell. During the consultation with the lawyer Alvaro asked me to ask Charlie one simple question. Do you enjoy living at the Costa del Mar? The clear answer for Charlie was a resounding no and what Alvaro explained to him exactly described what I have written about before and that is HOA syndrome. Alvaro described the situation as so. What the HOA has tried to do is form it’s own kingdom with its own rules. And up until recently it has gotten away with much of that agenda. But over the last few years residents have started to seriously look at what is going on out there and to state it mildly are mad as hell and not going to take it any longer.

Alvaro was specific in regards to how the HOA manages it’s monthly dues payments. Remember the HOA is a non profit organization. As such at the end of each year if the HOA has not spent all the money it has taken in then by law they need to return that money to residents. The HOA to the best of my knowledge does not nor has ever done this. They take the extra money that is left over at the end of the year and put it into interest drawing saving’s accounts. Usually in the name of someone on the board of directors. It is Charlie’s contention that Ken Unrein has many different HOA saving’s accounts in his name. No one really seems to know for sure how many accounts there are and how much money is in these accounts since there is a complete lack of transparency out there in this regard.

Now the real bomb shell is this. Alvaro asked a few very sincere questions to Charlie. The first question was this.

When you bought your house at Costa del Mar did anyone ask you if you wanted to join  the HOA? The answer of course was no. Are you all ready for the bombshell?

It is not mandatory to be a member of the HOA! It is simply assumed that if you purchase a lot or house that you must be a member but in fact it is not mandatory! Now the fact of the matter is that since Charlie has been paying his monthly HOA fees he has  unwittingly joined the HOA even though he has never signed any agreement of membership with them.

The second question is the biggest bombshell of all.

Would you like to no longer be a member of the Costa del Mar HOA?

Charlie answered a resounding yes to this question posed by Alvaro the lawyer. Alvaro explains it very simply. According to Mexican law no one can force you to be a member of an association. Especially if that same association is trying to bully and harass you by making you pay fines that they can not legally impose on you! So all you have to do is write a letter to the HOA board of directors and ask them to vote you out of their HOA! It is that simple. Now if the board of directors refuses to honor your request then you file a formal law suit against them and eventually a judge will have no choice but to rule in your favor. Since as Alvaro has explained it, no one can force you to be a member of any association if you no longer wish to be a member. Boy isn’t the law interesting when you truly understand it.

I wonder how many residents are going to opt out of the CDM HOA once they realize that they don’t have to belong to it?

21 Responses to Do you have to belong to an Home Owners Association (HOA) if you don’t want to, especially the Costa Del Mar HOA?

  1. Cdm siempre an hecho lo que an queido. De acuerdo a una auditoria que yo les hice hay mas de 25 cuentas de banco. Entre ellas unas de inversiones. Yo estoy pidiendo cuentas por años y hasta hoy no las quieren dar. Lo bueno es que yo ya no pago, porque voy hacer ricos a otros??? Las mesas direcitavas de costa del mar an sido y siguen siendo de lo peor. Tienen engañado a una mayoria, especialmente a los extrangeros. CORRUPTOS. Francisco J. VELEZ lote 13 y 91

  2. Without getting into a discussion of the validity of HOA’s in Mexico (although I venture to guess if you have 3 attorneys you will get 3 opinions on the legality) or the accusations of fraud (hopefully not the case) I would like to ask what happens with shared services if no one joins the HOA and pays their dues. You seem to be suggesting that no one should pay their dues.

    Specifically, if dues are voluntary and no one or very few decide to pay them how do the following expenses get paid?

    Sewage
    Road repair
    Pool maintenance
    Electricity for neighborhood lighting
    Trash collection
    Guards for the front gate
    Gardeners for common areas
    I’m sure I’m missing some other shared services but you get the point.

    If the HOA is disbanded I’m pretty sure Guaymas won’t be rushing in to maintain the roads or keep the sewage pump working. I shudder to think what CDM would be like when the shit backs up because no one is maintaining the sewage pump system. If we don’t have trash bins will the trash company go door to door to pick up trash weekly?

    If some people in the neighborhood decide they want to share expenses to keep these things running can they exclude those people who don’t want to pay dues from using these facilities? If so that would solve the problem. If the law allows them to quit the HOA I guess the people that don’t want to pay dues can choose not to and they can find other solutions to these services.

    Just curious.

  3. El problema no an sido las cuotas. El problema a sido el mal manejo.

    The isued is not the fee. Is the bad administration and clarity.

  4. just curious, you missed the whole point. the point here is how the HOA is run. owners do not want to be harassed when your retired or working. they need to learn to lead first.
    leadership and common sense,its a requirement.
    the board members here in CDM have cost CDM member at least 50 thousand dollars in the last 5 years for lawyers and fines .
    MR NICE GUY.

  5. It seems to me like the HOA board could spend our money better way than passing rules and regulations that are silly and illegal. The comment by the Mexican lawyer that CDM’s streets are public does not seem far off to me. I live in an HOA in the United States also and the streets are also city owned. With that being said finding people for parking trailers in front of their own homes, denying people access unless they have a parking permit to park on a public street, and dictating what types of vehicles are allowed to enter is just setting themselves up for more losing lawsuits. The cost of which will be paid by us paying members.

  6. There were a number of points made in the article…a key one is encouraging people not to belong the HOA. I find that suggestion disturbing.

    It seems to me that there are always going to be arguments against the “current” board. A volunteer position. If in fact there is theft it should be proven and they should be prosecuted. More likely there is a dispute as to how dues should be spent and that they made bad decisions. That may or may not be true depending on your point of view. Rather than accuse them of fraud until proof is brought forward I prefer to believe it is simply a difference of opinion.

    I can understand that for some people parking regulations will be annoying and possibly outside the authority of the HOA. The board acted on the bylaw passed by the assembly at the time. If it was passed illegally then it should be struck down. I’m not trying to defend the actions of the board on any specific action but keep in mind that they are volunteers and hopefully acting in a way that best suits the majority of homeowners. Personally I don’t care if someone parks their boat in front of their house but I can see that if everyone has a boat and parks it in front of their house it could be a real problem for our narrow streets. Furthermore why stop there? Why not allow RV’s in the development?

    So…is an HOA a valid entity? Can it enforce any rules? Can it force people to pay for shared services? If some neighbors don’t want to pay regardless of their reason should they be allowed to share in the services provided by the HOA?

  7. I agree and would like to thank the board members for their volunteered time and well-meaning efforts. And I also agree it would be a disturbing thought of everyone opting out of the HOA. I don’t see that completely happening. I would like to think that most people are sensible enough to understand that in order to keep CDM functioning, clean, and beautiful that dues need to be paid. And they obviously have not had any problems collecting enough dues to fight lawsuits that they have been advised they cannot win that cost tens of thousands of dollars and still managed to stock away a sizable reserve fund. I’ve only been an owner in CDM for about three years now, but I first seen the place about 10 years ago and it has improved greatly. When I first seen it, it had houses that seemed to be abandoned with overgrown yards. The streets were horrible. All in all I was really not impressed. For this we have the board, and paying members to thank. But I also feel like the problems with Francisco could’ve been avoided had they just sat down and listened to his concerns and grievances in the beginning. I also feel that some of the things on the current ballot are completely silly and stem from a couple of uptight fussy board members that are acting like old women. To prohibit ATVs and side-by-sides from entering CDM is just out right fun hating. I would like to propose on the next ballot that we vote to take away their rascal scooters, and break up their sewing circles. I’m also not a fan of their rental policy proposals. On average my house has only managed to rent out two months out of the year. That usually works out to just keep my dues, taxes, maintenance and upkeep paid. I don’t feel like my rental impact is greater than someone occupying their home for the majority of the year. To propose a rental impact fee “To be determined by the board” is just handing them a blank check. The sole purpose of which is to discourage and stop renters. As far as boats and RVs being parked on the street, I agree it would be a problem if everyone started doing it and on a long-term basis. But it hasn’t been a problem that I have noticed up to this point. Again I think this is coming from a couple of fussy board members getting their granny panties in a bunch over one or maybe two boats parked on the street. I would just hate to see CDM become a piled on bunch of regulations and bureaucracy. And I really wouldn’t want them assigning a security force that goes door-to-door asking the nature of the guest occupying our homes.

  8. Here is the issue at heart. If a HOA continues to harass a resident why should the resident continue to belong to said HOA?

    It is clear that Charlie has not publicly explained all of the harassment that he has endured via the HOA board of directors. Remember he was actually illegally threatened by the comandante (chief of Police) at the behest of the Board of Directors!

    I don’t think Charlie wants to not pay his HOA monthly fees but when it is clear that the roads are public and the HOA has no legal authority to fine someone because their boat is parked in front of their house then that is clearly an abuse.

    Gary seems to think that the roads may be private roads. I can assure you that there is no debate on this subject with everyone I have spoken to. I would implore other HOA residents to ask the city of Guaymas themselves who owns the roads. If the city owns the roads then this fine of now 100,000 pesos that the HOA is trying to charge Charlie is nothing more than extortion.

    If I were being extorted by the HOA I would have myself removed from it. I would venture to guess that so would anyone else.

  9. Mr. Admin…
    I do not have an opinion on who owns the road. Nor do I really care. But I do know who pays to maintain them. And if you look at the title of your article it is clearly about people choosing to not to belong to the HOA. You have often taken the stance that HOA’s are a problem.
    Harassment of any kind is unacceptable. If you take the position that HOA’s have the right to charge for shared services and have the right to pass rules that benefit everyone than you have to accept rules that you may not find acceptable but you have to go with the majority rule on such issues….called democracy. Break the rules and there are consequences. If on the other hand you take the position that HOA’s are voluntary and that they cannot impose dues, fees, assessments or rules (as you seem to) then no rule or fees are acceptable.
    Please comment on what you think the role of an HOA should be. I would love to hear your opinion as to what fees are acceptable to bill out. And is it your opinion that if you don’t like some expenditures or rules passed by the assembly that you should be able to sue or opt out of the HOA? If the latter is the case than I suggest that you don’t purchase a house in a development that has an HOA.

    As I mentioned earlier I don’t really have an issue with parking a boat on the street…except that if everyone does it it becomes an issue. It would seem your opinion is that should everyone be allowed to park their boat in the street. Wonderful. But as I asked earlier should they be allowed to park their RV in the street too?

    For the record I would like to know if you think HOA’s should even exist? Do you think they serve any tangible purpose?

    Finally, I am a believer in two sides to every story. Rarely in a fight is there one side that is totally in the right and the other side totally in the wrong. Before you tell me a story contradicting that I know there are cases where one side is wrong…but in this case and the others that you have reported on in the past I can see arguments on both sides. Your stories in the past regarding CDM clearly show you have a bias and you are certainly entitled to it. But they don’t tell the whole story.

  10. I’ve heard that an HOA is different than a condominium. Can you clarify? As a condominium, we do our best to adhere to Sonoran Law 293 which apples to both vertical and horizontal condos. We have our translated By-laws filed along with our A.C. (Associacion Civil) who is our Administrator for the condo. Are you saying that we cannot regulate parking on our streets, IF it’s more restrictive than Sonoran Law? Someday we are hoping there could be a San Carlos Condominium Association where any/all condo. [board] members could participate to share knowledge to benefit ALL of us. We all reinvent the wheel with all the various issues that come up. Maybe we could even have an Abocado/Notario advise us. As of now, we all just do our own thing.

  11. Gary you seem like a very reasonable guy. It’s too bad you don’t have time to volunteer on the board.

  12. i know there are differences between shared wall condos like playa blanca and homes such as costa del mar. i am ignorant of the big differences between the two though.

  13. I think that some board members will use the HOA as a bully pulpit. I think that is pretty clear on how some people feel out there and there is of course over whelming evidence to support that claim.

    Certainly there should be an HOA that takes care of common ground. But unfortunately too often the HOA’s become used as a means to make money. Read up on HOA Syndrome, it is fascinating.

    I am very biased on my opinion of several CDM HOA board members. The bias comes from my personal experiences interviewing them and others who had to deal with them.

    This recent article simply comes from the fact that I was asked to help Charlie find a lawyer and translate for him. I think Charlie was forced to find a lawyer and defend him self from frivolous fines. I don’t see anyone really understanding what for me is the big issue. You can not make a by law that would, forgive the expression, trump a state law.

    Charlie parks his boat on a dead end street in front of his house and then some board members go nuts and now he supposedly owes them 100,000 pesos in fines? If the board continues to try to push through by laws that contradict state law then I think that a resident should have every right to opt out of the HOA. From what I understand there is a fairly large percentage now of non payers out there now.

    Based on my experience with HOA’s in San Carlos I would absolutely never what to belong to one!!

  14. This letter is just in from Francisco!! Looks like the HOA is going to appeal a judges ruling and spend more HOA money on a losing proposition!

    MI NOMBRE ES FRANCISCO J. VELEZ

    jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2016

    11:56 a. m.

    DESDE 2003 QUE COMPRÉ MI PRIMERA PROPIEDAD EN CDM, ME DI CUENTA DEL ABUSO DE LOS DIRECTIVOS. MAS SIN EMBARGO PAGUE MIS CUOTAS ORDINARIAS Y EXTRAORDINARIAS. CANSADO DE VER LOS ABUSOS Y DESPUÉS DE HABER TRATADO, DE DESPERTAR LA IGNORANCIA DE LOS RESIDENTES HOY POR HOY SIGUE LA MISMA SITUACIÓN.

    YO COMENCÉ PIDIENDO CUENTAS, QUERÍA VER EN QUE SE ESTABA GASTANDO MI DINERO, COMO TODO BUEN CONTADOR, (ESTA FUE MI CARRERA EN LA UNIVERSIDAD DE SONORA). SOLICITE INFORMACIÓN DE DISTINTAS MANERAS, TALES COMO; VERBALMENTE, ASÍ MISMO ME PIDIERON QUE LO HICIERA POR ESCRITO, Y ASÍ LO HICE, Y NO HUBO RESPUESTA. DESESPERADO LO TUVE QUE HACER POR MEDIO DE UN NOTARIO PÚBLICO Y AUN ASÍ NO ME ENTREGARON INFORMACIÓN. TUVE QUE LLEGAR A DEMANDAR Y HAN HECHO CASO OMISO, PERO LA JUSTICIA SE ENCARGARÁ DE ESCLARECER, TODAS LAS IRREGULARIDADES.

    ES TRISTE QUE HAN ENGAÑADO A LA MAYORÍA DE LOS RESIDENTES DE CDM, ESPECIALMENTE A LOS EXTRANJEROS. SIEMPRE QUISE DESPERTARLOS Y HOY POR HOY, LA MAYORÍA SIGUE INDIFERENTES E INCRÉDULOS.

    HOY ESTE DÍA EL JUEZ CONFIRMÓ LA MULTA A CDM POR NO CUMPLIR CON LA SENTENCIA Y APARTE DE ESO ESTARÁ DANDO AVISO AL MINISTERIO PÚBLICO, PARA OBLIGARLOS A CUMPLIR LA SENTENCIA (RENDICIÓN DE CUENTAS). OBVIAMENTE ESTO NO SE LES INFORMARÁ EN LA REUNIÓN, ESTO ES DE LAS COSAS QUE UDS., RESIDENTES NO SE DAN CUENTA POR OBVIAS RAZONES.

    CDM HA TENIDO LOS MEJORES ABOGADOS, SIN EMBARGO, ESTO NO LA LIBERA DE LA MAGNITUD DE SUS PROBLEMAS. ES ENTENDIBLE QUE CUALQUIER ABOGADO LE DIRÁ A CDM “SÍ, YO TE AYUDO” Y PROMETEN RESOLVERLES LOS PROBLEMAS, PERO LOS MISMOS ABOGADOS SABEN QUE ESO ES IMPOSIBLE Y EN LO QUE SON “PERAS O MANZANAS”, ELLOS COBRAN SUS ELEVADOS HONORARIOS.

    POR OTRA PARTE, HAN APELADO LA SENTENCIA DEL JUEZ; DEL CASO DE GASTOS Y COSTAS, QUE ILUSOS. DE NUEVO RESULTARÁ EN MÁS GASTO DE HONORARIOS Y SERVICIOS PARA LOS ABOGADOS.

    MUY PRONTO ESTARÁN LAS DEMANDAS PENALES, EN CONTRA DE LOS SEÑORES, KEN, ESCOTT Y DIANA CIMETTA…QUIERO VER DE QUÉ MANERA COMPRUEBAN SUS IRREGULARIDADES.

    PD. ADJUNTO ENCONTRARÁ EL COMPROBANTE DE RESOLUCIÓN DE JUEZ, DE MULTA Y ENVIÓ DE CASO AL MINISTERIO PUBLICO, POR DESACATO.

    FJV.

    I BOUGHT MY FIRST PROPERTY IN CDM, IN 2003, AND RIGHT AWAY I REALIZED ABUSE OF DIRECTORS. HOWEVER I CONTINUED TO PAY MY ORDINARY AND EXTRAORDINARY´S DUES. SICK AND TIRED OF ABUSES AND AFTER TRIED TO WAKE IGNORANCE OF THE RESIDENTS, UP TO DATE RESIDENTS STILL ARE IN THE SAME SITUATION.

    I STARTED ASKING FOR MONEY´S MANAGEMENT, I WANTED TO SEE IN WHAT THEY WERE SPENDING MY MONEY, LIKE ALL GOOD COUNTER (THIS WAS MY CAREER AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SONORA). I DID INFORMATION REQUEST IN SO DIFFERENT WAYS SUCH AS; VERBALLY, AND ALSO THEY ASKED ME TO DO IT IN WRITING, SO I DID, AND I GOT NO RESPONSE. DESPERATE I HAD TO DID IT THROUGH A NOTARY PUBLIC AND STILL NO INFORMATION WAS GIVEN TO ME. I HAD TO GET TO SUE AND IGNORE HAVE DONE, BUT JUSTICE WILL CLARIFY, ALL THE IRREGULARITIES.

    SADLY THEY HAVE FOOLED TO MOST RESIDENTS IN CDM, ESPECIALLY FOREIGN. ALWAYS I WANTED TO AWAKE RESIDENTS ABOUT THIS CIRCUMSTANCES BUT UNTIL TODAY, MOST ARE STILL CARELESS AND UNBELIEVING ABOUT THESE SITUATIONS.

    TODAY THE JUDGE CONFIRMED THE CDM FINED FOR NOT COMPLY WITH THAT JUDGMENT AND THE JUDGE WILL BE GIVING NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR, TO FORCE THEM TO COMPLY WITH THE JUDGMENT (ACCOUNTABILITY INFORMATION). THIS OBVIOUSLY WILL NOT BE INFORMED IN THE MEETING (NOV 5TH), THIS IS THE THINGS THAT RESIDENTS WILL NOT REALIZE FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.

    CDM HAS HAD THE BEST LAWYERS, HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH TO SET IT FREE OF THE MAGNITUDE OF ITS LEGAL PROBLEMS. UNDERSTANDABLY, ANY LAWYER WILL TELL CDM “YES, I CAN HELP YOU” AND PROMISE TO SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS, BUT THE SAME LAWYERS KNOW THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE AND THEY WILL RECEIVE THEIR HIGH FEES, AGAIN.

    MOREOVER, THEY HAVE APPEALED THE JUDGE’S RULING; CASE OF EXPENSES AND COSTS. WHICH WILL RESULT SPENDING IN FEES AND SERVICES FOR LAWYERS.

    WILL SOON CRIMINAL CLAIMS, AGAINST KEN, SCOTT AND DIANA CIMETTA … I WANT TO SEE HOW THEY WILL DEAL WITH THE IRREGULARITIES DETECTED.

    P.S. ATTACHMENT: PROOF OF RESOLUTION OF JUDGE FINE AND SENDING CASE TO THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR.

    FJV.

  15. Still curious. Could someone tell me if the issue of rules, fees, fines, parking rules etc. etc. matter if the property were actually private and not owned by Guaymas? Essentially a privately owned condominium project?

  16. You will be happy to learn that all is good in CDM now. Everyone seemed happy with the decisions that came from the meeting today. CDM does have the right to impose rules and fines within the law and is in fact the owner of the land, roads, services etc. An amicable settlement has been arranged regarding the use of our roads and it was all done when everyone got to have their say without the threat of lawsuits. Reasonable people acting reasonably.

  17. fine was forgiven and no one can park trailers and rv’s in the hood. a pleasant and logical conclusion. issues of the HOA rights are resolved.

  18. The board made it very clear on their position on the issues up for vote last weekend. Having them count the votes therefore seems like a conflict of interest. I also find it very odd that after four days they are unable to give us any results of the vote even though it’s only 100 and some odd votes to Count.

Leave a reply