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.