Friday, June 03, 2005

Netherlands town bans blasphemy - Yahoo! News
Who do these dad gum ramifrazit @%#%&$#@@ busybodies think they are--HOA trustees, or something?.

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The name of the Lord may no longer be taken in vain in the Dutch village of Staphorst. Staphorst, in the so-called Dutch "bible belt" of eastern towns where religion holds sway, approved a ban on swearing by 13-4 council votes
WHEATON, IL: The 109-year-old DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton will be converted to condominiums
Now, that's what I call privatization. But they will need a courthouse later when the lawsuits start flying (thanks to Nancy Levy--and you have to scroll halfway down the page to get to this story):

The 109-year-old DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton will be converted to condominiums. The building has long been retired from its career as a judicial institution. The courthouse was constructed in 1896 on land donated by the city's founding father, Warren Wheaton.
Operation Condo Conversion Invades San Diego
From Nancy Levy comes this opinion piece by a fellow who sees the good and bad of condo conversions:

Condominium conversions in San Diego and all of Southern California are increasing with both positive and negative implication. On the plus side, they offer more affordable housing which allows more people to purchase a home. On the negative side, they can displace renters who may have a hard time finding a new apartment.
Zoning investigator put on leave as city probes trip with developer
Chicago Sun-Times story forwarded by Nancy Levy. How could a thing like this happen in Chicago, of all places?

Another high-ranking city official -- the $82,800-a-year chief investigator for Mayor Daley's Department of Zoning -- was placed on administrative leave Thursday after being questioned about a spring break trip to Brazil he allegedly took with a developer who mysteriously got a permit to build a condominium in the heart of a planned manufacturing district.

NAMC Newswire - Vegas Grand Condo Lawsuit
Nancy Levy forwarded this press release about a class action in Vegas. This release seems to come from the law firm that filed the suit. I don't have anything to post from the other side, but the press release has links to the complaint and other things:

Five individuals who executed Reservation Agreements to purchase specific high-rise condominiums at Vegas Grand, a Las Vegas high-rise condominium development, have filed a class action lawsuit against developers who unilaterally cancelled their agreements. In 2003 and 2004, the original purchasers paid deposits up to $25,000 for their reservations of specific condominium units at Vegas Grand at specified prices.The lawsuit was filed after the developer notified buyers on April 25, 2005 that their current Reservation Agreements are cancelled effective May 11, 2005, and that unless they agreed to substantial increases in the prices for their condos by May 10, 2005, that their units would be offered to the public at newly announced higher prices. The developer has scheduled a sales event for Vegas Grand at the Wynn Hotel on Friday, May 20, 2005. The purchasers are concerned that their condominium units will be resold on May 20th to unsuspecting new buyers at almost double the price of their original purchase reservations.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Growing Numbers of Master-Planned Communities Create More Special Utility Districts, Reports Dallas ULI Conference

This is a press release from the Urban Land Institute, forwarded by Fred Pilot, that is well worth reading. I have been arguing for twenty years or so that HOAs are part of a larger transformation of local government, from large general purpose governments to small special purpose districts. Well, here is the blueprint, laid out at at meeting of the leading real estate development think tank.

The evolving popularity of large master-planned communities is a major catalyst in the development of more Special Districts (Municipal Utility Districts or MUDs) and special water districts in North Texas, according to some of the Southwest's most knowledgeable developers and land planners. Special Districts in the North Texas residential market, along with hospitality trends in North Texas, were two major focus points of the Urban Land Institute's North Texas 1-Day Conference last week in Las Colinas. "Special Districts are now the trend for large master-planned communities," said Phillip Huffines of Huffines Communities Inc. Huffines, whose two communities, Providence and Savannah, had 771 combined annual starts in 2004 in Special District communities, said the new type of utility design has become necessary in order to fund the amenities and infrastructures that consumers want.

Chicago Tribune | Glenview, resident fight on over village's legal-fee rule
Mystery Reader urges me to post this nasty neighborhood dispute, non-HOA related it seems, that has led to a lot of legal action. Plus, it's a Chicago-area story, so how can I ignore it?
[update: MR was not, in fact, urging me to post this, but merely pointing out the relevance of this story to the theme I was posting about: "larger transformation of
local government, from large general purpose governments to small special purpose districts." Which, MR argues, is closer to the mark than my occasional Monty Python references. Can't argue with that.]

Michael Zwick's problems in Glenview began when he complained that a fence his neighbor built in 1998 posed a security concern. She fired back that he plowed snow onto her property and let his weeds grow a foot high. Zwick eventually wound up with 186 municipal citations for putting his bright red recycling bins by the curb in the public parkway near her house. Now the dispute has escalated into a legal skirmish involving Glenview's declared right to recoup legal fees for taking Zwick to court. A Cook County circuit judge fined Zwick more than $9,000 in 2003 for violating the Glenview trash ordinance. But the court sided with him in dismissing Glenview's claim that he should pay the village's legal fees, which amounted to more than $30,000. The Illinois Appellate Court upheld that decision. Unwilling to give up, Glenview recently asked the Illinois Supreme Court to consider the issue.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

AZ: HOAs oppose possible move by thrift shop

From Nancy Levy, this story about organized HOA opposition to a thrift store. The race for "Best Example of Acting Like the Stereotypical HOA" is on, between these folks and the ones in the story immediately below.

At least two homeowners' associations have initiated petition drives against the proposed relocation of the Country Fair White Elephant, saying it would bring too much traffic, "possible litter" and "an opportunity for less desirable persons" to visit the area. In addition, Portillo Place Homeowners' Association President Paul Reiser wrote a May 19 letter to White Elephant board President Robert Freckmann, saying that several homeowners told him that if the thrift store moves to their neighborhood "their home would be on the market before a spade of dirt was moved."

City To Rewrite Code After Cruiser Conflict - Yahoo! News
Because of this supremely idiotic HOA behavior, the city is going to change the city code section that these jokers claim they are "enforcing." Check out the real reason for this ridiculous behavior. Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

During his off-duty hours, a Miami Beach police officer parks his cruiser in front of his home in Carlton Ranches in Davie. More than a week ago, Local 10 Problem Solver Jeff Weinsier reported that the Carlton Ranches Association board wants that police car out of sight. The association said that it classifies the car as a commercial vehicle, and because of that classification, they will not allow the car to be parked in a driveway overnight. The officer disagreed -- so the association assessed residents of the community $350 each to take the fight to court. They even assessed the officer himself...Council Member Susan Starkey said, "I believe it's insane."...The association members say that they think the cruiser creates a perception of a crime problem and would bring property values down.

Trump Group Selling West Side Parcel for $1.8 Billion - New York Times
A consortium of Hong Kong investors and Donald J. Trump are selling a stretch of riverfront land and three buildings on the Upper West Side for about $1.8 billion in the largest residential sale in city history and in the latest example of a rocketing housing market...The deal comes as the average condominium price in Manhattan has soared to more than $1.2 million and as developable land has become increasingly rare, even as some economists worry that a housing bubble will soon burst.

Dutch Voters Reject EU Constitution - Yahoo! News
Big government takes it in the teeth for the second time in a few days. Does this mean that even Europeans prefer governments to be a little closer to home?
Maybe they need an ombudsperson...

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Five Thai Buddhist monks have been defrocked and fined after a brawl with monks from a nearby temple, police and newspapers said Tuesday.The street fight was the culmination of years of antagonism between monks from the two temples who had often exchanged curses, insults and rude gestures as they collected alms on different sides of a road, the Manager newspaper said. "When an ordinary person is given a middle-finger sign, he will be mad. So am I," it quoted one of the defrocked monks, Boonlert Boonpan, as saying after the brawl in the northeastern state of Nong Khai Monday.

Angry Apartment Residents Throw Grenade at Noisy Neighbors - NEWS - MOSNEWS.COM
How many of us have felt like doing this? And of course if you don't have an HOA to complain to...

Residents in the city of Khabarovsk in Russia’s Far East threw a grenade at youths who were having a noisy nighttime party near their apartment block, Interfax news agency reported. Two young men, aged 21 and 16, and a 17-year-old girl have been hospitalized with fragmentation wounds. An investigation into the incident was launched, but local police are still unable to determine who threw the grenade.

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries
Any nominations?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

From Illinois: Bill requires homeowners associations to alert members of meetings

Does it seem at all strange to anybody else that the state legislature has to force HOAs to do this?

A bill by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, could force homeowners associations to be more open by requiring them to notify members of upcoming meetings. The bill, which passed the Illinois House unanimously May 19, would make association boards publicize meetings by notifying their members by mail, delivery or posting at least 48 hours before convening.

HOAs can ban your political signs in TX anymore...
Passed along by Fred Pilot. Don't mess with Texas.
AUSTIN - Want to stick a sign in your front yard endorsing a favorite political candidate? Go ahead, no homeowners association will be able to stop you.
Hiker uses martial arts to fight off grizzly bear
I just had to post this.
An Alberta man on a Bible retreat successfully used his Brazilian martial arts training on the weekend to fend off a charging grizzly. Lyle Simpson was hiking through the bush with friends west of Calgary on Saturday when the bruin started chasing him, he said. “It just burst out of the bush, charging right away. There wasn’t much time to think,” said Simpson, 32, who added there was a cub nearby. The hikers quickly ran in different directions, but as Simpson was trying to escape, he tripped and landed on his back. “I put my arm up as the bear was coming on down towards me. The bear tried to bite my arm.” That’s when Simpson’s training instincts took over and he kicked the bear in the face.“I think I stunned it just enough. I really think it saved me from a mauling.”
Only who can prevent fires? Homeowners seek federal funds to protect land themselves
Local News - The Coloradoan

Nancy Levy sent this piece on what appears to be HOAs getting federal fire prevention money. Yet another example of these organizations providing public services, with the difference being that here they are using public funds to do it.

Bud Duryea's view sparked his drive to protect his subdivision from wildfire, and the federal government paid for it. "Three-and-a-half years ago we became aware of the beauty of Rams Horn Mountain and the notion that fire and bugs don't respect property lines," said Duryea, the Windcliff subdivision homeowners association president, who lives in Pittsburgh and has a second home in Windcliff. Since then, homeowners in the Windcliff subdivision near Estes Park have used government money to thin the forest around their homes. The 240-acre subdivision houses about 254 people with 37 lots still unbuilt. The money that aided Duryea's group came from the National Fire Plan, an August 2000 directive to provide more money for fire fighting and reducing risky fire conditions in and around the nation's forests.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2005
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

On Memorial Day, we honor the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our Nation. When the stakes were highest, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen answered the call of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice for the security of our country and the peace of the world.
A Bane Amid The Housing Boom: Rising Foreclosures
From Nancy Levy, with some speculation that, although this article isn't specifically about HOAs, it could be a tast of things to come.
Will patriotism trump condo association anti-flag rules? Bill would allow all Pennsylvanians to fly the American flag -- even if it's against homeowners' association regulations

From Fred Pilot--and some pungent remarks from Mr. Clifford G. Hughes:

Hughes, a Marine Corps vet who served during World War II and the Korean conflict, said if he and his fists were a few decades younger, they'd take the folks from Forest Glenn out back and teach them a lesson. "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to have some jerk tell me I can't fly the flag," said Hughes, 81. "This is, I think, still America." Forest Glenn's bylaws say that condo owners can fly the flag only on six holidays, including Memorial Day. But Hughes says a condo owner ought to be able to display the colors year-round.
------- Hughes' request, state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, has introduced a bill that would give Pennsylvanians the right to fly the U.S. flag, and state and military flags, even if the person has signed a homeowner's agreement forbidding flag display.

It's Not a Bubble Until It Bursts - Yahoo! News
I wonder if all the press chatter about the bubble bursting is going to make it happen.

Prominent policymakers and academics, including Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, have recently warned about bubbles in regional markets. A recent nationwide Gallup/Experian poll of consumers showed that nearly four in 10 said they expected a bubble to burst in their region in the next three years. Across America, water cooler or cocktail party conversations often include talk about those who have made a killing in real estate, and whether it's now too late to get in on the action. However, none of the experts or novices knows for sure when and how a bubble might burst. Bubbles throughout history, including tech stocks in the late 1990s, often go on for years, and crash when few expect it. Many experts and media pundits have been predicting a downturn for the last three years — and home prices have continued to rise, up nearly 70% since 2001 in the hot Southern California market.