Saturday, April 03, 2004

California Law Revision posts agenda for April 15 meeting
And there are quite a few topics on it. Financial privacy, state oversight of CIDs, civil discovery, equitable relief, several specific pieces of legislation...the CLRC mill grinds very, very, fine, and very, very sssllllloooowwwwlllyyyy...
Realty Times - "Runaway Housing Market Could Jump Track"
"If predictions about interest rates, housing prices, and foreclosures are accurate, then the United States is looking at a 'housing train wreck.' The housing train wreck will affect middle-class families as well as low- and moderate-income homeowners," said John H. Vogel, Jr., professor and faculty director at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. In "Reflections on the U.S. Mortgage Market," penned for the Urban Land Institute, Vogel says too many households are over extended, primarily because of easy money -- easy mortgage money."
Point being that many of us are now house-poor, making house payments that far exceed recommended levels, facing increasing property taxes and other rising costs. Add to the mix that millions of people are also forced to pay increasing HOA assessments, something this article doesn't mention, and you have even more financial pressure. It works as long as you have two wage-earners, low interest rates, and no costly surprises like a $20,000 special assessment. But that leaves a lot of people on the high wire hoping they don't encounter a stiff breeze.

Friday, April 02, 2004 - Brawl breaks out in anger management assembly

"WOODLAWN, Md. (AP) — A brawl broke out during an anger management assembly at a suburban high school. Two people were arrested and 11 students were suspended after a shoving match escalated into a melee during Thursday's assembly. Authorities said a confrontation between a student's mother and a group of girls who had been bothering her daughter turned into a shouting match, and led to pushing and hitting, before the crowd of 750 students erupted into "chaos," said C. Anthony Thompson, principal of Woodlawn High School. The melee began as students on stage acted out peaceful ways to resolve conflict during the assembly..."
And here I was thinking that courses like this might be useful in HOAs. I was speaking with a newspaper reporter not long ago about this very idea. Back to the drawing board...
7 steps to survive life in a homeowners association
...and now Bankrate gives you the how-to skinny. But I thought there were supposed to be 12 steps...
Hate your homeowners association? - Mar. 15, 2004
CNN Money belatedly discovers HOAs and weighs in on the "disgruntled owners" front. Most publications did this generic story sometime before 1995. The angle is the usual "owner versus association" one, with the usual "informed consumer" resolution. No discussion of the social or political issues other than the HOA litigation explosion. But there's no harm in repeating the basics every now and then.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Michelle Malkin: A closer look at left-wing thuggery
So now Michelle Malkin has done a full run-down on the group I declined to name in the preceding post. She's not interested in the gated communities angle, but consider that the tactics of this groups could be copied by PETA or any number of other groups that have no political power through parties or interest groups, but who are so self-righteous and intolerant that they think they deserve to control the policy agenda regardless. I think terrorizing policy makers in their homes will become increasingly common, and the only recourse for the victims is to head for Security Acres. That's not a good thing in my book, but you can't blame them.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Demonstrators Swarm Around Rove's Home (
"Memo to self: Move to gated community"

At least that's what I imagine Karl Rove is thinking this morning, after this happened:

"Several hundred people stormed the small yard of President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, yesterday afternoon, pounding on his windows, shoving signs at others and challenging Rove to talk to them about a bill that deals with educational opportunities for immigrants."

The demonstrators were from a Chicago-based coalition of various groups whose name I will not reproduce because I don't want to give them any publicity. They have been around since the early 1970s and have done this exact thing many times. Here's a paragraph from their web page, although I won't link to it:

"Direct action is a way to be heard. NPA does not employ professional lobbyists, nor does it have access to the halls of power. NPA has people power. When someone in a position of power refuses to meet with NPA leaders, NPA responds with an action. An action means dozens of busloads of neighborhood people showing up at someone's office or front lawn with a bullhorn and a demand for the target to meet with NPA. Previous direct action events include bringing over a thousand people to the homes of Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Sen. Phil Gramm(R-TX); Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan."

Faced with tactics like this, influential people think long and hard about living in gated communities. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rush Limbaugh, and many other celebrities and politicians live in them already. Here's an object lesson in why. You have three choices. One is to put up with this kind of thing until the police arrive and chase them off. The second is to move someplace where it can't happen. The third is to solve it yourself by appearing on the front steps with a big dog and a shotgun. Rove chose #1 and probably wishes he had chosen #2. I would have chosen #3, but I think in DC that would make me the criminal.

This sort of activism encourages, and practically requires, the powerful to secede from society and head for a fortified compound. These are airhead tactics, in my book. Short-sighted, offensive, narcissistic, and destructive.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Here's the opinion in U.S. v. Gould
...which is the case I referred to below. Seems the police had a tip that Gould was going to kill two judges. They went to his trailer and were admitted by a roommate named Cabral. They do a "protective sweep" of the trailer for Gould, including his bedroom. No Gould. But they search under the bed and in the closets, and in one closet they find...three rifles. Eventually they find Gould outside in the woods. He says the guns belong to somebody else, but that's beside the point.
Which is...Cabral had no authority to consent to a search of Cabral's room, so did the police have the right to search it anyway under the "protective sweep" exception to the warrant requirement? Note that it wasn't incident to arrest, because they seached the room before they found him. Normally the "protective sweep" exception applies to search incident to arrest. So that's why this case is so unusual.

I think this case will draw some commentary from legal beagle types. Will the USSC get involved? Who knows... - News - Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants
"NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business. Leaders in law enforcement say it will provide safety to officers, but others argue it's a privilege that could [editorial note: COULD???] be abused. The decision was made by the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Two dissenting judges called it the "road to Hell."
Well, look on the bright side. At least now the rest of the nation is catching up with Privatopia and getting rid of those antiquated 18th century notions of "civil liberties."
Sun-Sentinel: South Florida news: "Legislators propose appointing ombudsman to protect condo residents"
"A bill creating an ombudsman with the power to fine condominium directors, remove them from association boards and resolve disputes has cleared its first hurdle in the state Legislature.

"The ombudsman provision is one of several that, if adopted, would be the most significant change to condominium law since 1991. The bill is designed to protect millions of condo residents by reining in the power of boards."

Read it all...
Text of CBS foreclosure story
Dream Home Lost Over $120 Bill

COPPEROPOLIS, Calif., March 26, 2004
Dream Home Nightmare

(CBS) Last year was a bad one for the Radcliffs.

"My pain was so horrific," says Tom Radcliff. "My shoulders, my knees."

First his arthritis kicked up, then, as CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen reports, his wife Anita forgot about the homeowners dues.

"They were in the back of my mind," she says.

And then they lost their dream home. They were given three days notice to get off the property.

The $300,000 house they'd built in northern California was auctioned off to recover the dues they'd owed the Copper Cove Homeowners Association for almost a year. The debt? $120.

"I agree with you, it's only $120," says Copper Cove attorney Deon Stein.
"Why isn't the owner paying that? All of his neighbors are paying that to fund the operations."

There are a quarter-million homeowners associations in America. With dues that pay for everything from road maintenance to lakeside clubhouses, and they're powerful. A Florida couple may lose their home over a forbidden flagpole. And now, the Radcliffs.

"All my life savings is in this house," says Tom Radcliff.

One thing the Radcliffs don't understand is why the homeowner's association just didn't come by and tell them they had a problem. The association office is just two minutes down the road, but nobody said a word.

Legally the association didn't have to, and foreclosure is a proven tool. So the debt was turned over to a collection agency. And though the Radcliffs say they had a verbal agreement to pay off the delinquent annual dues, their house went on the auction block.

"It did not occur to me that they would foreclose," says Anita Radcliff. "I just thought people don't do things like that."

The Radcliff's case has prompted several proposed laws in California to prevent homeowners associations from doing it so quickly for such small amounts in the future.

"In many instances, seniors are targeted," says Marjorie Murray, of the Congress of California Seniors. "Seniors are seen as the golden goose sitting on the golden egg - valuable California real estate."

Copper Cove's attorney says the Radcliff's wound is self-inflicted.

"I certainly would not say they are victims, and if they are victims, they are victims of their own making," says Stein.

The Radcliff's $300,000 house went for just $70,000 to a speculator. They get most of the selling price after their debt is settled and get to stay put for now. And they're mad.

"If this were the Old West trying to get my property, there'd be a bunch of dead people out there on the ground," says Tom Radcliff.

But it's the New West, and the Radcliff's have a hired gun attorney who is suing, arguing the other side was just to quick on the trigger.

© MMIV The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.