Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bush signs bills to protect owners from boards: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
That would be Jeb, not George. This is a big year for HOA owner's rights activists in Florida as well as California, and (see below) now Texas.
Beginning Oct. 1, homeowners and condo owners will have greater protection from abusive boards. In the first major reform in a decade, Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday signed two bills that would create the job of ombudsman to hear condo complaints and ban homeowner associations from foreclosing if owners don't pay fines. Homeowners will have the right to fly flags in front of their homes and associations won't be able to sue members for speaking out.Condo boards will not be able to change rules on rentals for existing owners. Homeowners and their associations will face mandatory mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution to prevent them from battling in expensive lawsuits.

No. 02-0492
Geneva Brooks, et al, Petitioners,
Northglen Association, Respondent

Here's a Texas Supreme Court victory for attorney David Kahne, who represented famous activist Geneva Brooks, who passed away about two years ago. The main issues were increases in assessments without approval of the members and board-imposed late fees (for non-payment of assessments) when the CC&Rs authorized only interest.
Excellent legal work by David, with whom I have had a number of interesting conversations over the last few years. Congratulations!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

New U.S. Home Sales Leap to Record High

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales of new U.S. homes surged well past expectations in May to a record high, as generally rising mortgage interest rates did little to restrain home buying, a government report showed on Thursday.

Sales of new homes jumped 14.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.369 million units from an upwardly revised 1.192 million in April, the Commerce Department said. It was the biggest monthly climb since April 1993.

Analysts polled by Reuters were expecting sales to rise more modestly to 1.12 million units from the originally reported 1.093 million pace on the strength of mortgage applications.

Sales of new homes reached a record high 663,000 annual rate in the South, the region with the greatest volume of activity. They rose to a 121,000 rate in the Northeast, the highest level since January 1989.

Those common interest housing units are just jumping off the shelves, no matter how many stories there are in the press about taking away people's pets and tearing down their flags. Go figure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004 | LA's WB | Television Los Angeles | Condo Ban on Pets Is Upheld
The homeowner victory in the legislature over foreclosure reform is tempered by the loss in the California Supreme Court last week. The Terifaj case, that I have posted about earlier, went against the homeowner. She even has to pay the association's attorney fees:

The California Supreme Court on Monday upheld a Palm Springs condominium ban on pets over the objection of a dog lover who bought in before the exclusion was put in writing.

The Villa De Las Palmas Homeowners Assn. had repeatedly warned Paula Terifaj that she was violating the rules, according to the opinion. The court upheld the association's power to exclude pets and ordered Terifaj to pay $15,000 to cover the association's legal fees.

Terifaj, a Brea veterinarian, argued on behalf of the 6.7 million California households with pets that owning them benefited human health and well-being.

In the unanimous opinion written by Justice Carlos Moreno, the court ruled that "all homeowners are subject to use restrictions contained in amended [association rules] irrespective of when the amendment was passed."

The homeowners association argued that there had been a long-standing, though unrecorded, rule banning pets since 1962, and that Terifaj was aware of it.

Terifaj bought a condo in 1995 and moved in with her dog, Lucy. After Lucy died in 1998, Terifaj brought another dog onto the property.

The association had repeatedly told Terifaj to remove each dog from the premises. In 2000, the association approved a recorded rule banning "animals of any kind, including, without limitation, dogs, cats, birds, livestock, reptiles or poultry."

State law that took effect in 2001 gives residents in "common interest developments" the right to keep a single pet. Those developments include condominiums, planned housing developments and cooperatives.

The court ruled Monday that the benefits of pet ownership were irrelevant. Instead, the issue was whether "subsequently enacted and recorded use restrictions may be enforced against a current homeowner."

In upholding the 4th District Court of Appeals in Riverside, the high court also concluded that Terifaj must pay the homeowners association $15,000 in attorney fees.
SB 1682 Senate Bill - AMENDED
Here's the version of SB 1682 that passed committee.
SB 1682 Assembly Bill - Status
The Ducheny bill that would eliminate foreclosure for assessment collection under $2500 has passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee 8-3. I haven't looked this up, but I'm told that it was a party line vote, with Democrats for and Republicans against. Now the bill has passed the Senate and is headed for the Assembly floor, I would assume.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Las Vegas SUN: 1st Private, Manned Rocket Set for Launch
MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) -

Aviation enthusiasts began gathering Sunday in the high desert in hopes of seeing the first flight into space by a privately developed, manned rocket. Thousands of people were expected to be watching early Monday when an exotic jet-engined airplane named White Knight was set to take off from Mojave Airport carrying the rocket-propelled SpaceShipOne. If SpaceShipOne is successful, designer Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites development company will use the craft to make a run at the $10 million Ansari X Prize, a formal competition intended to spur commercial development of spaceflight.

The privatization of space travel proceeds apace. This reminds me of the film "Alien," where "The Company" is mining in outer space and, of course, has an evil ulterior (profit) motive to exploit the Alien's hardy predatory nature for "the Weapons Division." Call me if White Night comes back with a xenomorph.