Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the Rise of Residential Private Government

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Yale University Press, 1994 - Social Science - 237 pages
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Condominiums, co-ops, planned unit developments of single-family homes--these and other forms of common interest housing developments (CIDs) have become a familiar sight in America. Currently there are approximately 130,000 of these developments, housing some 30 million people. Residents are required to belong to homeowner associations, pay monthly fees, and live under the rule of residential private governments. These governments perform functions for their residents that were once the province of local government, providing, for example, police protection, trash collection, street maintenance, and lighting. They also place restrictions on ownership of property and enforce rigid and often repressive codes of conduct governing the most private aspects of residents' lives.

This book is the first comprehensive study of the political and social issues posed by the rise of CIDs. Evan McKenzie shows how the developments diminish residents' sense of responsibility for the city as a whole by making them reluctant to pay taxes for the same public services that their fees provide. McKenzie also shows that the private governments of CIDs depart from accepted notions of liberal democracy, promoting a unique and limited version of citizenship that has serious implications for civil liberties. He argues that the spread of CID housing has important consequences for politics at all levels of government, because CID advocates now constitute a significant force in interest group politics in many states, often organizing to demand tax breaks or credits for CID residents. Tracing the history of CID housing from the nineteenth century to the present, he highlights the important but little-understood role public policy has played in advancing this large-scale "privatization for the few," and he concludes by considering the implications for urban politics.
 

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Contents

Restrictive Covenants
29
From Exclusivity
56
The Expansion
79
5
106
6
122
7
150
Notes
199
Index
231
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