Earlier this year, I sponsored SB 627, the “solar freedom bill,” which invalidated HOA prohitions against solar panels, including those enacted prior to July 1, 2008

(note the intentional use of the word “prohibition” — the legislation allowed HOA’s to regulate time, place and manner of solar installations).

My legislation was opposed by the “Community Association” lobby, which represents the large management companies that control HOA’s.  Like all groups, they don’t like their power curtailed.  Regardless, our common-sense legislation passed the House and Senate with a healthy margin, thereby bringing a level playing field to the Code, as the pre-2008 and post-2008 standards are now the same.

The legislation had an important side benefit.  It took a fledgling clean energy industry and removed a dark cloud which kept it from penetrating gated communities, even when individual homeowners wanted solar installation.

Pro-business and pro-liberty.

The Governor’s veto explanation was predictable.  It cited “the impairment of contract” from the Virginia Constitution, as if the HOA covenants were the only relevant agreement and the contract between the solar installer and its customer — a transaction between willing parties — was meaningless.

Of course, state laws over-ride private agreements all the time.  Don’t believe me?  Try enforcing a contract to buy a prostitute.  Or  to collect a gambling debt.  Or to pay less than minimum wage.  All these are “contracts” also.

And these are agreements between live parties.  By contrast, HOA covenants were created years ago in some lawyer’s office.  Most require a super-majority to change, which is impossible because (1) nobody attends the HOA meetings and (2) the developer often controls the undeveloped lots and thus the Board.  So the covenants remain inviolate, even without any popular support.

In effect, HOA’s are local governments, without transparency or democracy.  And yet this Governor treats their bylaws as superior to ordinances enacted by a democratically-elected body.  That’s pathetic.

We’ll have a chance to override this veto on Wednesday.  I’ll need every vote to do it.

Let’s do it.






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  • Jmiller

    I love my solar panels!

  • isophoroneblog

    Is this a belated April Fool’s joke?

  • Tbailsh

    The other options are to buy in an area that doesn’t have an HOA, or to use powers of persuasion for you and like-minded neighbors to take over a board.

    I despise HOAs – they’re a dealbreaker for me. Even so, I don’t want the government telling us what we can agree to in contract, and I must agree with the governor on this one.

  • Bandersonrva

    under 30% of voters voted in your last election- getting folks to participate in democracy isn’t easy, doesn’t mean we should do away with it and invalidate all of your votes, etc- same goes for HOAs- folks choose to be part of them- through a contract- and can participate in their boards, elections, etc. if they want. While I’m all for solar panels, comparing HOAs to prostitutes is ridiculous and this bill is unconstitutional- framing it as the Gov. not liking alternative energy might be good politics, but from a legal standpoint doesn’t cut it. Your rationale could extend to those in a HOA entering into contracts to own horses or giraffes, to pave a front yard and install a skateboarding ramp, to power a home off of lard, etc.– suppose those would all be ok in a HOA so long as a seperate contract is signed and/or or the GA votes to override existing contracts? Just because you like solar panels, doesn’t mean you can usurp the state constitution.

  • Brian Schoeneman

    Come on, Chap. You know as well as I do that a “contract” that’s void against public policy isn’t a contract at all. You can’t contract to violate the law. As for the underlying issue, the first contract signed should take preference anyway, and that would be the HOA’s contract. While I understand what you were trying to do, the Governor was right in that regard.