Some choose to live in established areas like Sunrise to avoid associations

“When it came time to buy, one of the first things we told the real estate agent was that we didn’t want a place with an HOA,” said longtime Sunrise-area resident Christina Arnold. “We’d been renting at our two previous homes, so we didn’t have a lot of say.”

There are dozens of communities with home owners associations in the Sunrise and Whitney areas, but it remains a place where they’re less common than the rest of the valley. Many people, like Arnold and her family, choose to live in the area for that reason. Others live in communities with HOAs and wish they didn’t.

“There are so many regulations in HOAs so that they all look the same, and you can only find your house by the number,” said third-generation Las Vegan Marc Cram. “This is the first house I’ve had with an HOA, and it drives me nuts.”

Cram’s grandfather owned a home on the western edge of town, which at the time was around Arville Street. It was purple.

Cram was reminded of the pre-HOA Las Vegas recently when he drove by a neighborhood filled with eccentric features, including faux saguaro cactuses made of telephone poles, sagging split rail fences and a backyard flying trapeze. He wrote about it on his blog,

“Back in the ’60s and ’70s if you got 300 meters outside of the Strip, Vegas was really just a strange kind of cowboy town,” wrote Cram. “Then in the mid-’80s the Snowbirds moved in. These were retirees from northern states who wanted to escape the cold, the gloom and the children. They nested in great gated communities, with Wackenhut guard stations and expansive golf courses, their kingdoms ruled by HOA committees. Snowbirds represented the slow death of Las Vegas.”

There are still neighborhoods on the east side of town that resemble the old Las Vegas Cram remembers, which boast aging manufactured home parks, outside yard art and houses that represent the homeowner’s unique vision rather than that of an architectural design committee. But even the most nostalgic visitor would have to admit there are large portions of HOA-free neighborhoods that could only be described as run-down.

“HOAs can serve a lot of purposes,” said real estate agent Jack Levine. “They can preserve the original character of neighborhood and protect it from poorly conceived ‘upgrades’ that add no value to the home and destroy its look.”

David Stone, president of Nevada Association Services, said homes with an HOA have a better resale value.

“Some like them because it’s a self-maintaining community, and you’re not depending on the government.” he said. “There’s less graffiti, more pride of ownership.”

The east side of the valley has fewer HOAs in part because most of the neighborhoods were established more that 20 years ago, long before HOAs took the valley by storm in the ’90s housing boom.

“I don’t get a lot of people who want an HOA unless they’re looking for a gated community with the added security,” Levine said. “There’s a lot of sense to HOAs when (they provide) community landscaping or other resources. In the townhouse communities, where the lawn is maintained by the association, there’s never a problem with a shabby lawn.”

Arnold and her family don’t mind letting the neighbors take care of their own lawn.

“We’re happy that we don’t have anybody telling us what we can and can’t do with our house,” she said. “If that means the neighbors can do what they want, so be it.”

Contact Sunrise and Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at or 380-4532.

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