HHP for Everyone
On the surface, HHP is a well-run community. Our financials are strong, the infrastructure is well maintained, and capital improvements are thoroughly vetted. But the reality is that homeowners don’t actually know much about the workings of the HHP Board. Our Board is more secretive and inaccessible than any other on the island.
We are not permitted to attend HHP POA Board meetings.
The minutes of the Board and the Committee meetings are routinely late and sometimes never published at all,e.g. the Finance Committee still has not published minutes from October 2020 through April 2021.
Board members do not speak to homeowners directly. They have abdicated that responsibility to the General Manager.
Homeowners are showing their concern. The recent Resident Opinion Survey shows a dramatic decline in the Board approval rating since 2012 (see chart). But we must do more. As homeowners, we have all made a significant investment in this community. The Board has the responsibility to protect our investment, but we have the responsibility to “trust but verify.” Current practices of the POA Board make it impossible for a homeowner to conduct reasonable oversight of our elected representatives.
Our research of community association experts and surveys of other local communities shows the keys to a vibrant, responsive POA that promotes harmony, are communication, transparency, and trust. Based on this research, we have identified several opportunities to create a more open, and inclusive POA. Scroll down to read our recommendations.
We need your help to effect meaningful change. If you want a POA that is open to new ideas, receptive to your input, and values keeping homeowners informed, please join us.
Clear, Thorough, Direct
Good Governance Practice - Homeowner access to Board Meetings is a highly recommended best practice policy from all HOA/POA experts.
Current HHP Situation – Homeowner access to the HHP General Board Meetings is restricted. HHP current President, Jon Heron, has recently confirmed that only staff and Board members will be permitted at Board meetings. Most of the other communities on Hilton Head permit homeowners to attend the Board meetings and many allocate time for homeowners to address the Board either before or after the meeting.
Recommendation – Follow industry best practices and allow residents to be present at the General Board meetings. Homeowners would gain a better understanding of the complexity of issues the Board faces which would increase understanding. Time should also be allocated for homeowners to present issues and opinions for Board consideration. The Board will hear first-hand from residents and not just the staff.
POA Board Spokesperson
Good Governance Practice – All industry experts agree that direct communication between the Board leadership and homeowners is essential to good governance and trust. Per Spectrum Association Management, "Inaccessible boards make homeowners feel that their voices are not heard, which leads to resentment and fear".
Current HHP Situation – The Board has designated the General Manager to be their spokesperson with the homeowners. The Board does not answer questions at any POA meetings. We know of no other community where the Board has insulated themselves so completely from homeowners.
Recommendation – Homeowners' questions at POA public meetings should be answered by Board Members, not the General Manager. Communicating with constituents is the responsibility of the people who asked for our vote.
Good Governance Practice - Homeowners should be permitted to communicate confidentially with an individual POA board member.
Current HHP Situation – There is currently no way for a homeowner to communicate with an individual Board member. Board emails are sent to Board@hhppoa.org. Those emails and all other Board mail are opened by the General Manager's office, printed, copied, and handed to Board Members as they enter the Board meeting. Emails sent to the President of the Board are read by the General Manager before the President. In many other communities, board members publish their personal email addresses for their constituents.
Recommendation – Create individual, confidential POA email addresses for each Board member. Maintain the email@example.com email address for group emails.
Timely, Impartial, Factual
Board and Committee Meeting Minutes
Good Governance Practice – Timely and complete meeting minutes are essential to build confidence in the work of the Board and Committees.
Current HHP Situation - At the beginning of September 2021, the Board had not published minutes to the POA website since February and the Executive Committee had not published minutes since March. Then in one day, six months of minutes were published. The Finance Committee selectively publishes its minutes and has still not published minutes from October 2020 through April 2021.
Recommendation – All Board and Committee minutes should be published on the community website within thirty days of the meeting with the goal of informing homeowners. Late, selective, or vague minutes are counterproductive and should not be allowed.
Good Governance Practice – According to the Foundation for Community Association Research, “Inclusiveness—the involvement of as many residents of the community as possible—is a critical element in fostering a sense of community.”
Current HHP Situation - There are currently no term limits for a POA Committee member. Qualified candidates for POA Committees are being rejected simply because no current members of a POA Committee have resigned.
Recommendation - Increase transparency by allowing more residents to participate in the POA Committees. Establishing term limits on the Committees would increase community participation and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience of our residents.
How You Can Help
Tell the POA Board we expect more from them. We expect them to follow industry best practices to manage our community. We expect them to be transparent and responsive to everyone.
Contact the Board - Pick one (or more than one) of our recommendations that you feel strongly about and send an email to the Board and the General Manager. Tell them the current situation is not acceptable.
Ask Questions - Attend Coffee with Peter meetings and challenge the current practices of the Board that keep homeowners from interacting with their representatives.
Vote - Vote for Board members who openly support the principles of direct communication, transparency, and trust.
Give us Feedback - Send us information on your less than positive experiences with the Board on the Contact form below. Or, tell us what you think needs to change at HHP to improve the transparency of the Board.
Mailing List - If you are not already receiving emails from HHPCommunity for Change, please fill out the Contact form below. That will allow us to send an email when we are mobilizing on a specific issue like recommendations on new Board members.
Engage Others - Ask your friends and neighbors, particularly new neighbors, if they are on our mailing list. If they are not, send them the link to our website and ask them to sign up.
Good Governance Practice – It is important to avoid even the appearance of bias by treating all constituents respectfully and applying the same rules to everyone and to every issue.
Current HHP Situation – Last year, in the midst of a divisive name change issue, the Board failed to provide accurate information to the homeowners and arbitrarily changed the process they had previously defined. Keeping your commitments is fundamental to earning trust. Spectrum Association Management says, “Conducting business in a secretive way for fear of homeowner reactions or retaliation only contributes to bigger problems in the future”.
Recommendation – The Board should treat important community issues with respect for all sides and establish a consistent process for examining the value to the homeowners.