Monday, November 17, 2014

Residents ask court to remove 3 HOA board members

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/fl-lawsuit-tamarac-hoa-20141117-story.html
"Residents of a 55-plus neighborhood are so fed up with four members of their homeowners association board that they are asking a judge to help remove them. Nearly 75 residents of the Mainlands 3are asking a Broward circuit court judge to forbid the four from writing checks and to hold a special meeting within 48 hours to allow a removal vote."
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This is an election dispute. Judges tend to be reluctant to reverse HOA elections because they think if they start doing it soon they will be doing little else.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Unfinished Suburbs of America - The Atlantic

The Unfinished Suburbs of America - The Atlantic: There are hundreds of zombie subdivisions like this one scattered across the country. They're one of the most visible reminders of the housing boom and bust, planned and paved in the heady days where it seemed that everybody wanted a home in the suburbs, and could afford it, too. But when the economy tanked, many of the developers behind these subdivisions went belly-up, and construction stopped. In some cases, a few people have moved into homes in these half-built subdivisions, requiring services to be delivered there. In others, the land is empty, except for roads, sidewalks, and the few street signs that haven't been stolen yet. In some counties in the West, anywhere from 15 to 33 percent of all subdivision lots are vacant, according to the Sonoran Institute.
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It's going to take a long time for these unfinished Privatopias to recover from the crash of the burbs in the latter half of the previous decade.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Local lawmakers work towards HOA legislation - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Local lawmakers work towards HOA legislation - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather



Good luck, folks. It's the standard line about disclosure--that's all the help you will get from "law makers," and it isn't worth much. What good is disclosure when (a) nearly all new housing is in HOA or other CIDs so you have no choice, and (b) every single word of "what they are signing up for" is incomprehensible, non-negotiable, boilerplate?  

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"HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Local law makers are working on a draft bill for HOA legislation. The bill will focus on three trending issues they feel would hold the most significance on the floor while helping the most people.  A top concern for some law makers is to make sure people know what they are signing up for when it comes to their HOAs."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Does HUD's privatization scheme mean the end of public housing?

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/11/public-housing-renovationrentalassistancedemonstration.html

"Launched in 2013, the RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) will hand over 60,000 units of public housing to private management by 2015. While that’s only a fraction of the nearly 1.2 million public housing units nationwide, RAD’s reach could soon expand: HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro and participating developers are lobbying Congress to lift the cap set during the program’s initial phase and allow more conversions to private ownership, and HUD is requesting $10 million toward the expansion of the RAD."
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The ideology of privatization is so entrenched in the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party that they won't defend anything public anymore. It turns out in practice that these programs end up being disasters in many cases, but  by then the profit-takers are in the Bahamas and the rest of us are left to clean up the mess. We'll see how this RAD program works in practice.

Cigarette rage shuts down public meeting over tobacco ban

http://www.boston.com/news/2014/11/12/unruly-crowd-shuts-down-westminster-tobacco-ban-meeting/SpTOwv1ttrcNmcrB7C5RZK/story.html

So this is what freedom is all about for some people: cigarettes.  The tiny little town of Westminster, Massachusetts, is considering a ban on the sale of tobacco products. That brought out a host of flag-draped, nicotine-addicted oldsters who were so angry and out of control that the  meeting had to be shut down. They were screaming about freedom. Nonsense. It's about public safety.  The city is trying to prevent the tobacco industry from hooking yet another generation of  their children on the addictive drug that they are peddling inside their cancerous little death-tubes. Smoking kills 480,000 Americans every year.  The cost to all of us is enormous. According to the CDC, the cost is:
  • More than $289 billion a year, including at least $133 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity
  • $5.6 billion a year (2006 data) in lost productivity from exposure to secondhand smoke
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fast_facts/

While I'm on the topic, I've often wondered why smokers think it is perfectly acceptable to fling cigarette butts all over creation.  Why do they think this is anything but littering?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Domino’s founder turning FL town into unconstitutional contraception-free ‘Catholic enclave’

Domino’s founder turning FL town into unconstitutional contraception-free ‘Catholic enclave’

I've posted about Ave Maria before. Let's see how this shapes up--do we have another Marsh v. Alabama on our hands?

Ten buildings in San Francisco where the HOA fees are higher than the rent

http://sf.curbed.com/archives/2014/11/11/mapping_10_buildings_with_hoa_fees_higher_than_your_rent.php


"The highest HOA fees at 1001 surpass the $5,000 mark—which is high above the recent citywide median rent of $3,488. The 10th-place HOA fee on our map is $2,838, which is still more than the median rent for a one-bedroom in Bernal."
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After which the article goes on to rationalize and justify the high fees as "boring homeownery stuff" and "high-dollar extras" like doormen, without mentioning management company charges, senseless litigation, and other costs that  are more controversial than paying for utilities. It is getting harder to tell the difference between real estate reporters and PR flacks for the housing  industry.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Park Ridge residents sued for objecting to condo development

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/park-ridge-niles/ct-park-ridge-lawsuit-met-20141111-story.html

This is a SLAAP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against some neighbors who objected to construction of a condo project.  City officials and twenty citizens who attended two public meetings are named as defendants.  Got your local democracy right here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Six month sentence for public sex in retirement "community"

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2828952/Couple-sentenced-six-months-jail-having-sex-outdoors-Florida-retirement-community-go.html

Six months in jail for having public sex in a retirement "community"? And it's the second time a sentence like this has been imposed for public sex in this place. Are you kidding me?  They should get a medal. This place is called "The Villages,"  but perhaps "Cotton Mather Acres" would be a better name.

Selling fast: public goods, profits, and state legitimacy

http://bostonreview.net/books-ideas/mike-konczal-profits-state-legitimacy-parrillo-goldstein-balko#.VGDbvdxAADs.twitter

Mike Konczal reviews three books dealing with the failures of privatization and in the process writes a brilliant  essay. A taste:

"Through the first half of our country’s history, public officials were paid according to the profit motive, and it was only through the failures of that system that a fragile accountability was put into place during the Progressive Era. One of the key sources of this accountability was the establishment of salaries for public officials who previously had been paid on commission. As this professionalized system is dismantled, once-antique notions are becoming relevant again. Consider merit pay schemes whereby teachers are now meant to compete with each other for bonuses. This mirrors the 1770 Maryland assembly’s argument that public officials “would not perform their duties with as much diligence when paid a fixed salary as when paid for each particular service.” And note that the criminal justice system now profits from forfeiture of property and court fees levied on offenders, recalling Thomas Brackett Reed, the House Republican leader who, in 1887, argued, “In order to bring your criminals against the United States laws to detection” you “need to have the officials stimulated by a similar self-interest to that which excites and supports and sustains the criminal.”