Saturday, October 02, 2004 - Long Island News:West Meadow Beach cottage conflict not over
The deadline for residents to leave their beachside villas is past but many say they won’t give them up

I have always been intrigued by the takings clause of the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution ("...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation"). The idea is that property owners are protected from seizure of their property by government, which is required to pay fair market value for it. But here is an innovative use of the clause by, of all people, renters:

For eight years, Friday's date, Oct. 1 2004, has loomed over renters of the 93 cottages at West Meadow Beach. That was the deadline, set by 1996 state legislation, for the Town of Brookhaven-owned cottages to be vacated to make way for their court-ordered demolition...One motion, filed late Thursday on behalf of a group of cottage residents, challenges the 1996 legislation, which extended the vacate deadline to 2004. Thursday's motion argues that the eviction is an unconstitutional "taking" of property without compensation.
[more] - News - Granby Women Pose In Calendar To Help Rebuild Town
Here's an innovative approach to municipal fund-raising:
It was just four months ago when Marv Heemeyer used a makeshift tank to bulldoze through the town of Granby, causing destruction that would cost $5.5 million to repair.
Now, to help raise some of that money, some women in town are showing a little skin.
They may not be the same kind of women you'll see in the next issue of Sports Illustrated' Swimsuit Edition, but they soon be appearing in a calendar you can buy.

Friday, October 01, 2004

My Way News:Construction spending hits all-time high

WASHINGTON (AP) - Construction spending surged in August to the highest level on record, fresh evidence that the housing market is helping move the economy ahead.

The Commerce Department reported Friday that the value of buildings put in place clocked in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.02 trillion, a record high. That represented a 0.8 percent increase in August from July's level.

The strength exhibited in August in part reflected a strong showing in residential projects by private builders, which hit a record high.

And of course that means that CIDs are still being built in record numbers, despite all the bad press they are getting.
Veto message for AB 2598
He says the intent of the bill is "laudable" because it would "protect homeowners from being foreclosed upon for small sums of delinquent assessments," the bill is "overly broad and could negatively impact all homeowners living in CIDs." It could, he says, "result in increased assessments for other howeowners," a point I have made here a number of times to the distress of some owner-activists. He says there should be "more open discussion between homeowners and their associations" to resolve conflicts. He accepts the CAI position that foreclosure should be "the last course of action." He says that the foreclosure statute needs to be clarified but through incremental change, and I must confess that I don't know what he has in mind here. I hope somebody does, because apparently it's back to the drawing board. After the amount of time and energy spent on the two bills (Ducheny and Steinberg) and putting them together like this, you'd think things were pretty well thought through, but not to the satisfaction of The Governator.
AB 2598 Assembly Bill - Status

Just to confirm that AHRC had it right...
LAST HIST. ACT. DATE: 09/30/2004
LAST HIST. ACTION : Vetoed by Governor.

In other news, I have just been notified that I passed the Illinois Bar Examination. Yowzah.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Hot off the presses. This is the Steinberg bill. I've noted a couple of times that rumors were circulating to the effect that CAI was lobbying The Governator heavily to veto this. I've also noted that he lives in a gated community. Looks like he has his own idea about the HOA foreclosure power. This is a major setback for the California activists. Arizona and Florida brought victories on this issue, but it looks like the industry still has the inside track in California.
The HOA Citizen
Check out George Starapoli's newsletter, with the lead story, "Mortgagor works with HOA foreclosure."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sierra Vista Herald: American Border Patrol told to move from neighborhood

Many thanks to Fred Pilot for sending along this truly fascinating story that has one form of privatization pitted against another. You see, this is not the U.S. Border Patrol. Nothing so simple. It seems that "The ABP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing border issues. It is not associated with the U.S. Border Patrol, but it does its own surveillance of the Mexican border and tracks down illegal immigrants, turning them over to the BP."

And with that intro, let's look at the story:

BISBEE - Glenn Spencer won't be using his home in the Pueblo del Sol Subdivision as headquarters of the American Border Patrol much longer.

Spencer's attorney, Michael Johns of Sierra Vista, told Cochise County Superior Court Judge Stephen Desens on Monday afternoon that Spencer will be vacating the premises he rents by the end of October.

Spencer and Johns were in court in response to an injuction filed on Aug. 24 by the Pueblo del Sol Homeowners Association against Spencer and REB Enterprises LLC, the owner of the house at 4814 Equestrian Ave. Roger E. Barnett is the managing member of REB Enterprises.

The association, represented by Sierra Vista attorney Joseph DeFrancesco, was granted a preliminary injuction - effective immediately - by Desens to preclude the defendants from conducting a business in the residential subdivision. Business activity are prohibited by the association's covenants, conditions and restrictions.

So what we have here is an HOA--a private government-- evicting a tenant who was running a business enterprise called the American Border Patrol--a private police force--from his rented unit. Seems the ABP doesn't mind being evicted because they have found a better spot from which to police the border. But the point is that things along the border have begun to resemble something from Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash." Yowzah.

Las Vegas SUN: Woman sues as homeowners association tries to sell her condo over unpaid fines
Here's another one of those "looks-like-foreclosure-abuse" cases that people in the industry keep telling us don't really happen. I don't know more about it than is in this article, and there may be another entirely different side to it, but read it for yourself and see what it looks like to you.

A woman has sued her homeowners association after receiving notice it planned to sell her condo -- which she owns free and clear -- for alleged nonpayment of $1,785 in fines.

Shaun Haydon and her attorney Orin Grossman will go before a Clark County District Court judge today and argue that her Henderson property should not be sold.

Haydon alleges that she was assessed more than $1,700 in fines because of broken lights and items left out on the back porch of the condo, in the 500 block of Sellers Place. Haydon rents out the 20-year-old condo that she bought in 1987 for $43,000 and that she said is now worth about $80,000.

She alleges that when she tried to pay the fines, the Summerfield Homeowners Association and its management company, American Family Real Estate Inc., refused to accept the payments.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Yahoo! News - New Home Sales Jump 9.4 Pct in August
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. new home sales jumped a surprising 9.4 percent in August, the fastest acceleration of sales in almost four years, as a fresh dip in mortgage interest rates attracted buyers, a government report showed on Monday. Sales of new single-family homes climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.184 million units from a downwardly revised 1.082 million units the month before, the Commerce Department (news - web sites) said. It was the sharpest climb since December 2000.

This is pretty impressive. As the story notes, given the storms in Florida nobody really expected such strong figures.
Sprawl May Harm Health, Study Finds (
"Suburban sprawl affects your health," said Roland Sturm, a senior economist at the Rand Corp. of Santa Monica, Calif., who led the study, which is being released today. "That's really the take-home message."
The increase in health problems is presumably due to the fact that sprawl discourages physical activity, increasing the chances of being overweight or obese. In addition, sprawling communities tend to have more air pollution, Sturm said.

"This really seems to be due mainly to air pollution and physical activity," Sturm said.

So, "sprawl," whatever that is, "discourages physical activity"? I wonder how come the further my family and I move from Chicago the more physically fit we become?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

New York Post Online Edition: business: IS FANNIE MAE SCANDAL DEMOCRATS' ENRON?
Actually, I'd say the bigger question is whether Fannie Mae will melt down and need to be bailed out at taxpayer expense. If that happens, does it really matter whether that sorry event would help or hurt Democrat political interests?

September 26, 2004 -- Is the growing scandal at Fannie Mae about to become the Democrats' Enron? That's the hot question in Washington this week as regulators painted a scary picture of the huge home lender, detailing accounting shenanigans, including "cookie jar" reserves that smoothed out volatile results and paved the way for tens of millions of dollars in executive bonuses. For those, including Alan Greenspan, who have warned that this government-sponsored lender is a ticking time bomb, the revelations seem to indicate that Fannie's own management believed its operations are a lot riskier than they let on... The next few weeks will likely tell whether the scandal at Fannie Mae will blow over, or whether it threatens to blow up into a bigger mess that could potentially leave U.S. taxpayers exposed to a mammoth bailout. It will be interesting to see if Fannie's ties to the Democrats get as much ink as Enron's ties to the Republicans.

The New York Times > National > In Dying Desert Town, Residents Eagerly Await 'Terror Attacks'
Who says government is wasteful? Seems that Homeland Security has found a use for a ghost town--a planned community from the 1970s that has only about 50 people left in it. It will be a place to simulate terrorist attacks and how to respond to them.

PLAYAS, N.M., Sept. 20 - The Phelps Dodge mining company pictured a suburban utopia with a Southwestern flavor when it built this town for its employees from scratch in the early 1970's. It incorporated a six-lane bowling alley, a rodeo ring, a helicopter pad, a shooting range and a swimming pool into the community of 259 ranch-style homes.But the company shut its nearby copper smelter because of sluggish prices in the late 1990's. And these days, more animals than people can be found wandering the streets.
So the residents of Playas, all 50 or so of those remaining from the peak of 1,000, say they are more than ready for their town to become a target for pickups laden with explosives and simulations of suicide bombs, water-supply poisoning and anthrax attacks. In what might be the beginning of Playas's renaissance, the Department of Homeland Security is channeling $5 million to a small New Mexico engineering school to buy the entire town. The school, in turn, aims to turn the town into one of the country's top locations for antiterrorism training.