The Reading List

A great deal of the information you will find on this website has been compiled from the publications listed below.  Most of these books can be found in your local library, and all can be found at any of the big book outlets.

Privatopia: Homeowner Associations and the rise of Residential Private Governments   

By Evan McKenzie 

Yale University Press        Excerpts from Privatopia

Book Review: Dr. McKenzie was one of the first to see the dangers of the new trend of private contractual pseudo-government in common-interest developments (a/k/a mandatory homeowners associations) and his treatment remains one of the most thoughtful available. Especially useful is his history of the development of the industry’s powerhouse trade organization, the Community Associations Institute. CAI started long ago as a balanced entity serving the interests of homeowners as well as others, it has turned into a lobbying arm for professionals who make their livings off of mandatory assessments and the associated legal machinery of collection and foreclosure. Touted as a selling point to potential buyers by realtors and builders, CIDs exist--as McKenzie cogently points out--primarily as a means for developers to mitigate the rising cost of property by squeezing more dwellings on to less land and bypassing local zoning restrictions and ordinances. The author explains, the real motivation for keeping property values high is so that the lenders courted by the developers will be confident that their investment is secure the homeowners interests are irrelevant. The author not only examines the resultant effect upon the individual homeowner, but the long-term sociological and political ramifications as well. "Privatopia" contains some of the horror stories experienced within the CID scenario. Some issues causing disputes are so trivial as to be laughable, except for the severe penalties incurred by violators, including huge fines and legal fees, or even loss of ones home in certain situations. This book should be required reading for anyone currently living in or considering the purchase of a home located within a CID, and will be a real eye-opener to many. 

Dr. McKenzie holds a law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California. He is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an adjunct instructor of law at the John Marshall Law School.  His research specializations are in the area of law and public policy, and particularly urban policy. 

Be Reasonable: How Community Associations Can Enforce Rules Without Antagonizing Residents, Going To Court, Or Starting World War III

By Kenneth Budd

Community Associations Institute

Guilt By Association: A Survival Guide For Homeowners, Board Members, And Property Managers

By Jordan L. Shifrin

Writers Club Press

Working With Your Homeowners Association: A Guide to Effective Community Living

Dr. Marlene M. Coleman & Judge William Huss

Sphinx Publishing

The Case Against State Protection of Homeowner Associations

By George K. Staropoli

Infinity Publishing

Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States

By Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder

The Brookings Institute Press

Behind the Gates: Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America

By Setha Low

Routledge Press

Book Review: Behind the Gates is Low's revealing account of what life is like inside these suburban fortresses. After years researching and interviewing families in Long Island, New York and San Antonio, Texas, Low provides an inside view of gated communities to help explain why people flee to these enclaves. Parents with children, young married couples, "empty-nesters," and retirees express their need for safety, their secret fears of a more ethnically diverse America, and their desire to recapture the close-knit, picket-fenced communities of their childhood. Ironically, she shows, gated neighborhoods are in fact no safer than other suburbs, and many who move there are disheartened by the insularity and restrictive rules of the community. Low probes the hopes, dreams, and fears of her subjects to portray the subtle change in American middle-class values marked by the emergence of enclosed communities in the suburbs.

Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader; Housing, Culture, and Design; Cultural Spaces; and Place Attachment.

Morning Glories: Municipal Reform in the Southwest

By Amy Bridges

Princeton University Press

Communications for Community Associations

By Janice Phagan

The Community Associations Institute

Common Interest Communities: Private Governments and the Public Interest

Stephen E. Barton & Carol J. Silverman

Institute of Government Studies Press, University of California, Berkeley

Villa Appalling: Destroying the Myth of Affordable Community Living

Donie Vanitzian & Stephen Glassman

Villa Appalling Publishing

Homeowner Associations: A Nightmare or a Dream Come True?

Joni Greenwalt

Cassie Publications Inc.

The Geography of Nowhere

James Howard Kunstler

Simon & Schuster

In this spirited, irreverent critique, Kunstler spares none of the culprits that have conspired in the name of the American Dream to turn the U.S. landscape from a haven of the civic ideal into a nightmare of crass commercial production and consumption. Kunstler strips the bark off the utopian social engineering promoted by the machine-worshiping Modern movement of Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Frank Lloyd Wright and skewers the intellectual camps (e.g., Venturi) that have thrived on making academic glory of the consumer wasteland. With the fervor of an investigative reporter and in the vernacular of a tabloid journalist, Kunstler exposes the insidious ``car lobby'' and gives case studies of landscapes as diverse as Detroit, Atlantic City, and Seaside, Florida, to illustrate both the woes and hopeful notes. The ideas in this book are not new (Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte Jr. were bemoaning the loss of civic life a quarter-century ago), but Kunstler gives their case an urgent, popular voice. An eminently relevant and important book; highly recommended.