Saturday, January 08, 2005

State: Opinion a win for tax districts
Mike Van Sickler of the St. Petersburg Times wrote this interesting story about community development districts, a more public variation of privatized government than HOAs, but similar in some respects. There's a quote from me a ways down:

TAMPA - Cities and counties have no authority to monitor the special taxing districts fueling Florida's suburban homebuilding boom.

So says the Florida Attorney General's Office in an advisory opinion that could stifle attempts by Tampa officials to find out how a developer spends the millions he collects from homeowners in a New Tampa subdivision.

The opinion also could further weaken oversight of these districts at a time when they are the most popular way to build gated communities in Florida, particularly in Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

In the past five years, the number of districts has surged from 94 to 295 in the state, tripling the number of people who are governed by private developers.

"What people don't understand is that we're seeing a revolution in government," said Evan McKenzie, author of Privatopia: The Rise of Private Government. "We're moving away from all-purpose governments, like the New York City of the 1960s, to smaller, more specialized governments controlled by private interests. Now that more of us live in this new world, the question is: Who oversees it? The answer so far is: No one."

Friday, January 07, 2005

Houses of the Future
I must confess that until I received this link from Mystery Reader, I did not know that 2004 was the YBE--the Year of the Built Environment. Well, at least in Australia. Obviously I should get out more. But this exhibit of six houses was presented at the Sydney Opera House, and in 2005 it will be at the Sydney Olympic Park. If you can't make the trek, check out the web site and look at these houses. There is a house made of each of the following material: concrete, steel, cardboard (!), timber, glass, and clay. Here are the limitations the designers had to observe:

Each house design had to be:

• Pre-fabricated for easy transportation, and to allow erection on site in less than 4 days;

• Environmentally sustainable with sensitive use of materials, rainwater recycling, use of solar panels and passive solar design;

• Compliant with the NSW BASIX ratings tool;

• Designed by an Architect; and

• Futuristic in appearance and use of domestic space.

YBE2004 wishes to thank Multiplex for providing the overall project management of the Houses of the Future project.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Advocate: Malloy: Condo panel must reinstate disabled parking
Follow up, sent by Fred Pilot, to a piece I linked below:

STAMFORD -- City officials are urging Heywood Heights officials to restore the 11 handicapped spaces removed Monday, saying state law requires the East Side condominium complex to provide such parking.

"Both the law department and the building department are of the opinion that they have to have these spaces," Mayor Dannel Malloy said.

Chief Building Official Anthony Strazza sent a letter to the condo association yesterday, saying the lot must have seven handicapped parking spaces to comply with the state building code.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Actress Sandra Bullock gives one million dollars to tsunami relief operation
And this is her second gift of $1 million to the Red Cross. Somebody should ask that UN twerp if he thinks this is "stingy."
UC Law School Needs to Privatize, Dean Says
This is UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall they are talking about. I went to UCLA Law School, which as far as I know has no similar intentions.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Cape Times - Gates lock out social integration

Fred Pilot finds another fascinating article, this one from South Africa:

Separate development is officially dead, but a modern incarnation is emerging in the new South Africa; gated communities. Gated communities are the new separate development, separating haves from have-nots, rich from poor, "insiders" from "outsiders". The rich live in self-imposed jails, surrounded by electrified fences, their properties patrolled by killer attack dogs, security guards and surveillance cameras in order to achieve their simulacrum of security. Nobody can deny that those who can afford it have their individual right to protect themselves, their possessions and their families. But on the other hand, we must carefully consider whether continuing separate development, economic bantustans, presents a suitable model for nation-building.
The Advocate - Condo complex nixes handicapped parking

If we'd had this story a week or so ago, it would have made a perfect "Scrooge lives" headline.

STAMFORD -- An East Side condominium complex has decided to remove all of its handicapped parking, leaving elderly and disabled residents to compete with the able-bodied for the best spots in the lot...While the state building code requires all new construction to have a specific number of handicapped spaces that corresponds with the size of the lot, Gretchen Knauff with the state Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities said it does not apply in this case. Heywood Heights was built in 1970 -- seven years before the building code was enacted.
[more] > Law & Order: Criminal Intent: "
Mystery Reader just flagged this--tonight's Law and Order, with a condo association murder case:
9pm 2005-01-02 ALL NEW!
HIGH-RISE HIJINKS RESULT IN LOWDOWN MURDER -- When the association president of a swanky Manhattan condominium tower is murdered with an electrical saw, Detectives Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) find themselves dead-center in a beehive of secrets among its residents -- but a disturbed young nanny draws their attention and prompts them to use Eames as a decoy. Concerns over the building's shoddy construction and suspicious behavior between other owners force the detectives to look behind the marbled facade. Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance also star. TV-14"