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How A Wayward HOA Ruined My Second Home’s Community

I own a second home in Pagosa Springs, CO. A couple years ago the HOA for Pagosa Lakes went full dictator and declared war on short term rentals in Pagosa Lakes. We home owners were not able to vote on this; they simply declared it with minimal input from the owners. When I sent a scathing letter that included the “damn” word I was informed of another policy they enacted without input. If they don’t like your correspondence you are subject to a $500 fine for the first offense, $10,000 for the second and $20,000 for the third. Gee, what kind of message is that sending?

You can still offer up your home in Pagosa Lakes for a short term rental, but first you must buy a special expensive permit from the HOA and the county assessor will reassess your home at TRIPLE the market value and you will be taxed accordingly. Mission accomplished: most owners opted out of short term rentals.

When I bought my place five years ago approximately 70% percent of the homes in Pagosa Lakes were second homes for people living elsewhere (mostly Texas, according to our real estate agent), and I doubt that has changed much. This is what is called a resort community. Many of us purchased homes here because we wanted the option of short term rental income. The Board of Directors for the HOA laughably tried to rationalize their decision. The real reason is pure NIMBY; they and their friends can’t stand Texas riff-raff in Pagosa. 

The Board says local workers cannot find affordable housing due to the homes being used for AirBNB. Sorry Board, not my problem. You are my HOA, not a social outreach program that I sponsor with my dues. I drove an hour each way to my job for most of my life and I had roommates until I was forty years old. You want to live in a resort community or other desirable place you got to suck it up. 

Does the Board REALLY think those AirBNB homes will convert to long term rentals? Of course not! Those idiots know we want to visit our second home frequently and don’t want someone living there full time (whoops, give me a minute while I whip out a check for 500 clams, or am I up to ten grand?).

So how has this played out? No post-Covid recovery for Pagosa. The short term renters used to come in and spend like drunken sailors. It being a vacation they would bring extra money. They’d load up at the pot shops and the liquor stores because you can’t get pot in Texas, and because beer, wine, and liquor costs 30% more in The Lone Star State. They would ski at the nearby resort, because, you know, skiing sucks in Texas and they would enjoy the famous Pagosa hot springs. Imagine the rage this causes the Board. Texans in our hot springs! Gross!

Now the small businesses still surviving are largely up for sale. On top of that, 70% of the homes and businesses going dark in Pagosa attracted the tweakers from Durango, Sante Fe and Taos. Our home was recently broken into by a pair of meth heads from Taos, one of whom is currently in jail there. They lived in our shed for a week or two getting high on hand sanitizer and leaving a pile of cigarette butts and beer cans and broken glass on two doors. The responding sheriff’s deputies said this problem spiked shortly after the Board’s decision to eliminate short term rentals and is a continuing problem throughout Pagosa Lakes.

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So the geniuses solved the worker rental housing crisis by eliminating many of the jobs. I picture the Board members sitting blissfully on their deck in the pines, wearing their masks, relieved at not having to hear rednecks or local workers living it up next door. 

I offered this story to two “newspapers” in Pagosa Springs and received no replies. It probably radiated like nuclear waste from their screens, a veritable Cleveland Steamer. You see, advertising (i.e., survival) for these corndog wrappers comes mostly from the huge number of real estate firms in town. God forbid word gets out to potential buyers that the local HOA is fascist as Hell and does whatever they want with YOUR home and your home is not safe from tweakers. 

It distresses me that I cannot ask these town newspapers to pursue important stories that affect their community. Their interests lie elsewhere.

Hat tip to Madame Defarge for her recent article about Nagging Biddies and for keeping real journalism alive. I am humbled and inspired.