Being told what color you can paint your home, being told to pull your weeds, being told where you can park your car, and being required to get approval to landscape your yard are just a few of the things that people are used to seeing from their Home Owner Associations (HOA). Some people find value in the restrictions placed on them by their HOA through their Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) believing that the restrictions will protect their investment in a home, but others either don’t like or even avoid living in a HOA because they expect more freedom in the enjoyment of their home.
How would you feel if you were being told you were being required to use a specific trash service? Well, that it exactly what Meritage Homes (https://www.meritagehomes.com/state/az/tucson) is requiring of residents of Madera Highlands of Sahuarita (http://maderahighlands.com).
Madera Highlands has been around for over 10 years and the home builder, Meritage, is still actively building in Madera Highlands after all this time. The HOA is controlled by the builder until all the home construction in the neighborhood is complete. The neighborhood was recently surprised by the letter from the HOA linked here (http://maderahighlands.com/uploads/MeritageOverReach.jpg) where they are telling residents what trash collection company they are required to use. Reportedly, Meritage created an addendum to the CCRs which gives the Madera Highlands HOA the authority to name an exclusive garbage company without any input from the residents.
There is a hand full of companies that pick-up trash in Madera Highlands – large companies such as Waste Management, a midsized company – Republic, and two locally owned companies who serve hundreds of customers – Arizona Sanitation and Amado Waste Industries. The HOA does not pay for trash collection from HOA dues, our neighborhood streets are maintained by Sahuarita, and many residents feel strongly that Meritage Homes has no right to dictate who we individually contract with to collect our trash.
There has been outrage when our local government has gone too far to pick winners and losers in business, but isn’t that exactly what Meritage is doing in selecting “exclusive providers” through their control of the Madera Highlands HOA?
Cadden Community Management
Linda Hansen, who manages the Madera Highlands HOA for Cadden Community Management, was out of the office when called for comment.
Meritage Homes Corporation
A call was placed, and a voice message was left for Jamie Bowers of Meritage Homes Corporation to discuss this situation, but as of time of submittal, no response has been provided.
Waste Management (WM)
Waste Management was called to provide an opportunity for comment on the HOA’s decision, and after getting through a voice mail tree, reached an individual which politely explained they are a nationwide company and provided me a number to their corporate office. No way could be found to talk to a human at that number; therefore, no comment was received.
A pleasant customer service representative from Charlotte, NC took the time to explain how their service works. Residents will get a 95 gallon container for trash and a 65 gallon container for recycling. The 95 gallon container is 46” tall – nearly 4 feet tall, and the customer service representative acknowledged that some people might have an issue dragging the containers back and forth if stored in the back yard. She shared that there are no additional monthly fees – taxes or environmental impact fees, but also could not confirm how long the pricing would be honored. Residents have called and got a different answers…”I don’t know” for example. There are the possibility of additional fees including: $35 service interruption fee, $5 late fee, $20 container replacement fee, and the trash will be picked up between 5am and 6pm on Thursdays – a single day per week.
With Republic a neighbor complained that once when his container’s lid was open about 2 inches Republic refused to pick up his garbage, but took the time to leave a sticker explaining why. The customer service representative confirmed this does happen to avoid trash being spilled during their automated dumping process.
Amado Waste Industries (AWI)
When AWI was called, Vince Cano, owner/operator AWI, answered the phone himself and indicated that his company was not given an opportunity to bid on providing exclusive service for Madera Highlands and didn’t know anything about what was happening until he started hearing from his loyal customers. Vince formerly a Republic employee shared that “kick backs” to HOAs are a common practice, but his approach is to provide a service which satisfies his customers.
AWI has faced it share of adversity recently by losing one of their trucks to an engine compartment fire, and although it wasn’t easy AWI has maintained the vast majority of their customers through that difficult time. AWI uses the smallest trucks and actually pick up trash the old fashioned way, they pick up your containers by hand and dump the trash into their trucks. AWI is the only provider who is willing to pick up an extra bag of trash sitting by your cans when it doesn’t fit in your containers, provide twice a week pickup, and allows you to have the number of trash containers you want.
Crystal with Arizona Sanitation indicated they were disappointed that Meritage decided to go exclusive with a single provider, but they were given an opportunity to bid. Crystal further conveyed that for their existing customers who pre-paid for a year of service, they would still be providing service through the March 31, 2018 deadline imposed by Meritage and would refund the unused portion of what the customers paid for their service. Arizona Sanitation had invested money in several mailings to Madera Highlands to build their business only to find out about a week ago they were effectively being thrown out despite having a number of satisfied customers.
Several people are wondering why Meritage Homes would take this bold step, but in researching this article this practice was found to be fairly common. Meritage stated to a resident that there were complaints about all the different trash trucks in the neighborhood; however, if the trash trucks were an issue Meritage could have dictated one or two days a week for all trash collection to be completed. Additionally, the streets in the neighborhood are maintained by the town of Sahuarita – is it right that residents are limited to who they can conduct business with – coming to their home? In the future will there be other exclusive relationships such as exclusive furniture stores, service providers, etc?
What is likely to be discovered is what is best for Meritage Homes likely won’t be what is best for the residents of Madera Highlands. The exclusive internet service provider, Cox Communications, proves that the lack of competition does not serve well the residents of Madera Highlands.