Saturday, January 22, 2005

Discovery Channel :: News :: Roman-Era Britons Lived In Suburbia
Now, that's what I call a story...

A spa treatment followed by a trip to the suburbs for a bit of shopping and dining sounds like a day in the life of a wealthy suburbanite, but it also could describe someone's schedule from around the 1st century A.D., as archaeologists in Bath, England have identified an ancient suburb located outside of Bath's main city center. Since suburbs dating to the Roman period also have been found around other major cities, such as London, the finding adds to the evidence that suburban living is not a modern phenomenon.

Boing Boing: Shag's house profiled in LA Times
Mystery Reader provides this glimpse into the life and crib of one Shag, a "pop surrealism artist," who lives the life of the cool and eccentric.
Boing Boing: Relocation of Futuro-House
Mystery Reader send along this piece about a house that looks like a UFO...but the house, says the piece, is intended to reflect "the optimism of the 60s." I never thought of the 60s as being optimistic, but then I wasn't a hippie, so maybe I missed the whole Zeitgeist or Zeigfeld or Gemeinschaft, or whatever.
News - Input sought on homeowners groups -
The California Law Revision Commission has a 95% success rate with the state legislature, and if you want to influence their recommendations, now is the time to speak your piece. Send them an e-mail.

The California Law Revision Commission is scheduled to meet today in the state Capitol to hear public testimony about its proposal to create an oversight agency for homeowners associations.
The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. in room 113. The commission will take comments on its proposal for a new state bureau and might approve a final recommendation to legislators, officials said.

When a Home Isn't Safe |
This is an editorial:

A little-known fact in Florida: Just because a homeowner has homestead exemption, it doesn't prevent a homeowners' association from foreclosing on the home for failure to pay association dues. "I don't want anyone to go through what we went through," Robert Denson, 42, told The Miami Herald this month. He lost his Boynton Beach home in 2003 when the association foreclosed on a $1,200 debt it was owed.
...This session, Florida legislators need to give associations an alternative before the step of foreclosure is taken.

Friday, January 21, 2005

KPHO Phoenix - Many HOA's Demand Winter Lawns Despite Drought Warnings
Fred Pilot passed this along. This has been reported in Nevada as well, and it is really amazing:

No matter how much rain has fallen recently, we're still in the thick of a long-term drought. Many valley residents are complaining their Homeowner's Associations are forcing them to waste water, by requiring green lawns all year round.
[more] - News - Bill Would Allow Signs, Flags In HOA-Controlled Neighborhoods

This is from Denver, CO. Seems the legislature there is following along behind Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and California.

A proposed state bill that could regulate what your homeowners' association can tell you to do will be considered by state legislators this session. Lawmakers behind the bill say they really want a balance between the HOA and homeowners.State Senator Bob Hagedorn - (D) Aurora came up with the bill to regulate the HOA and allow such things as flags, political signs and xeriscaping, if the homeowner wants them. "We have constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression," said Hagedorn. "We have a Supreme Sourt decision that says people have the right to put up a political yard sign (in their yard)."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Flying for Columbine? Michael Moore's Bodyguard Arrested on Airport Gun Charge

Filmmaker Michael Moore's (search) bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night...Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.

I know this is off-topic, but the irony is just too rich for me to resist. Here is the leading proponent of the theory that middle America is irrationally obsessed with fear of crime and has a crazy desire to be armed. But he, himself, has an armed bodyguard.

Oh, well. Perhaps Moore is "different" than we mere mortals. Maybe he is a higher order of being, and thus not subject to the same moral laws. Or something.
The company that (apparently) employs this bodyguard says he isn't "Michael Moore's bodyguard." I don't know what they mean, exactly--that he has never guarded Moore, or just that he was never directly employed by Moore? There have been other reports that Moore has armed bodyguards, and if those stories are true the issue remains the same--as far as Moore is concerned. I didn't include the bodyguard's name in my snip of the Fox News piece, and I don't see any reason to do so now. The issue is Moore's apparent hypocrisy (if these reports are true), not the fact that some fellow, who may or may not ever have guarded Moore, makes his living as a bodyguard and carries a gun. As far as I'm concerned, he's welcome to it, as long as he obeys the law.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005 - The Housing Market's Dangers
Millions of Americans became stockholders in the late 1990s, just in time to experience the biggest bear market in a generation. Does the same fate await millions of first-time homeowners?

Well...I sure hope not.
HOAs, legislators battle to a draw

Ladies and gentlemen of Gilbert, attendees of the Ninth annual Congress of Neighborhoods Community Expo, come one and all, to a Saturday morning battle royal.

In this corner, we have Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, who says homeowners associations have too much power, a defender of little old ladies getting kicked out of their houses by the big, bad HOAs when they don't pay their fines for leaving the garbage can out.

In the other corner, we have the HOA board members and representatives from property management companies, tired of whiny residents who don't bother to read the rules or trim the hedges and still complain, fed up with hearing how HOAs are evil.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Rocky Mountain News: 'A happy balance' sought for HOAs
Bill would address strict rules, liens, insurance concerns

Fred Pilot send this link--as he puts it, "Looks like a reformist brushfire breaking out in Colorado, too."
No American flags. No Xeriscaping. And definitely no political yard signs until right before the election. Welcome to life under some homeowners associations.But take note: Two Aurora Democrats are scheduled to introduce legislation early this week that would lift restrictions, including on landscaping and displays. The bill, by Sen. Bob Hagedorn and newcomer Rep. Morgan Carroll, also addresses association liens, board meetings and insurance issues.

Real Estate News - Reminders of racism, old covenants linger on records -
Gregg Fishman and his wife moved into Sacramento's upscale Arden Park neighborhood in 2001, enchanted by the shady Modesto ash, lush parks, large lots and friendly atmosphere. They didn't realize that along with their 1950s-era California ranch-style home they were buying a piece of America's racist past.Tucked into their property records, in tiny type, is the "Racial Occupancy" clause:
"No persons of any race other than White Caucasian race shall use or occupy any building or any lot except ... by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant ..." The language is contained in the "covenants, conditions and restrictions" originally developed for the neighborhood, and is similar to restrictions imposed on millions of homes nationwide, dating back to the 1700s, when property first was recorded by cities and counties.

These covenants have been unenforceable since 1948, after the USSC decision in Shelley v. Kraemer, but they still exist in older properties.