Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Beaumont Enterprise - News - 02/28/2006 - Cartoon flap no joke for resident
Now, here's what I'm talking about. If the property values don't plummet in this neighborhood, then political signs ought to be OK for everybody, right?

BEAUMONT, TX- John Caffery called it an act of cowardice by U.S. newspapers for not publishing controversial Muslim-based cartoons, so the local resident decided to take matters into his own hands. On the corner of Daisy and Norwood drives, Caffery erected a large sign Sunday afternoon with one of the cartoons. It also carries a message about the subsequent rioting throughout the world caused by the publishing of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper...The sign is four feet by eight feet, according to Caffery's estimation, and was made as "large as it feasibly" could be made, he said. A cartoon of Muhammad's head shaped like a lit bomb is depicted to the left and a statement on the right reads "For This Cartoon In Danish and Nowegian [sic] Newspapers Muslems [sic] Worldwide Have Rioted, and Killed and Now Offer $11 Million Reward to Kill The Cartoonist." At the beginning of the statement, an arrow points to the cartoon...City Planning Manager Steve Richardson said Caffery is within his rights to display the billboard and it doesn't violate any ordinances. The political message on display across from his residence didn't bother Ray Bradshaw. Caffery's neighbor can't see the sign from his Norwood Drive home and as of Monday afternoon he hadn't walked over to read it. The 81-year-old man, who's lived in the neighborhood for 22 years, said the sign doesn't bother him. "Every one of us is entitled to our own belief and opinions," Bradshaw said. "If you've got an opinion about something, well, that's all right by me."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Arizona Department of Real your service!
Just read it. That's all I ask. Here you have the Arizona Department of Real Estate posting a web page on their site that says, point blank, there is no agency of the State of Arizona that is interested in hearing owner complaints about HOAs--go hire a lawyer. And the statement "These types of complaints are addressed under Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 33" is no help. Title 33 is the Arizona Property Code, which goes on forever. This is a great big brush-off.

George Starapoli found this web page (actually I think the State referred George to it as some sort of non-response to his questions directed at them) and Fred Pilot sent it to me. Don't you think every potential HOA buyer needs to know this? The State authorizes the construction of privately-governed housing units in order to facilitate development through privatization of local government functions. But then the State disclaims any responsibility for hearing about cases where the private governments they authorized are dysfunctional. Instead, they tell you to go hire a lawyer, which means spending $100,000 in legal fees and waiting for three or four years for a resolution.

That summarizes the situation pretty neatly, I'd say. But what is going to be done about it? Does anybody--except the association attorneys who are getting rich off this situation--think it is OK to leave owners with no effective recourse?
There's no amendment for owning pets? Doh!
Fred Pilot sent this link to an AP story about a survey that I saw in the morning's paper and was groaning about over my bagel and coffee. It's no wonder people don't read their CC&rs. They haven't read the US Constitution.

About one in five people thought the right to own a pet is protected by the First Amendment, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination -- part of the Fifth Amendment -- is found in the First Amendment right, the survey found.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Condo, homeowner association bills head to debate in capital: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Don Nordeen sent along this link that shows the lineup of forces in the Florida legislature, between the industry, led by the Becker-Poliakoff law firm, and owner activists represented by Cyber Citizens for Justice.

Representing boards again this year is the Community Association Leadership Lobby, or CALL, an arm of the Fort Lauderdale-based Becker & Poliakoff law firm. On the other side is Cyber Citizens for Justice, or CCFJ, a grassroots organization for unit owners. Taking over the job of steering bills friendly to unit owners through the Legislature is Rep. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah.
East Brainerd, TN, Man Countersues Homeowners' Association

This story, sent by Fred Pilot, is from the Chattanooga area. Not what you normally consider a hotbed of HOAs, but that just shows you how this is no longer a retirement-belt issue. And the issue is interesting because of the HOAs claim that political signs hurt property values. I think that's a tough case to prove, but let them try.

Paul and Linda Gearinger's attorney has filed a counter lawsuit against the Hamilton Mills Homeowners' Association. The association sued the Gearingers for breaking a sign covenant and for creating a nuisance in the neighborhood. Part of the sign read, "Bush Lied; Soliders Died." The association's lawsuit claimed the sign was creating problems for a nearby homeowner tyring to sell their house. The suit states a potential buyer was turned off by the anti-Bush sign. Now, the Gearingers are counter-suing the homeowners' association, claiming it's using deed restrictions as a way to control and limit speech it does not like.
Overlawyered: Sued for taking baths too early
Mystery Reader sent this link to Overlawyered. Ah, the joys of owning one's very own condo.

Shannon Peterson, a special education teacher in the Arvada, Colo. public schools, "can't believe she's being sued for bathing before leaving for work." But the elderly couple who lives upstairs from her Denver condo unit have been complaining about noisy pipes, and unfortunately for Ms. Peterson they happen to have a son, Sheldon Smith, who's an attorney at the large law firm of Holland and Hart. Represented by their son, the Smiths "sued Peterson just before Christmas, citing the 'reckless and negligent use of her bathtub.'" Before that, the younger Smith had fired off a letter to Peterson, saying her "intransigence ... and tortuous conduct have resulted in incredible sleep deprivation for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Your obstinacy has ruled the day. That will now cease." According to the Denver Post, his demand letter insisted that Peterson not run water in her bathtub before 8 a.m. Peterson says she can't afford steep legal fees on a schoolteacher's salary; a judge has scheduled a hearing on the suit for March 22. (Mike McPhee, "Lawsuit: Baths swamp sleep", Denver Post, Feb. 21).

Monday, February 27, 2006

Number of Unsold Homes Hits Record High

If the housing market is cooling off, which is becoming the general consensus, then watch for condos to start hurting first as people who bought them for investment purposes start dumping them before prices fall...which of course causes prices to fall.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The backlog of unsold new homes reached a record level last month, as sales slipped despite the warmest January in more than 100 years. The Commerce Department reported Monday that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.233 million units last month. That was the slowest pace since January 2005 and left the number of unsold homes at a record high of 528,000. Analysts viewed the new data as further evidence that the nation's red-hot housing market, which hit record sales levels for five straight years, has definitely started to cool.

George Starapoli's collected quotations from appellate court opinions about HOAs and state action
This came from George by way of Fred Pilot. Interesting reading.
Las Vegas SUN: All is lost in brutal game: Association picks up the chips
Fred Pilot sent this sad Las Vegas story about a woman who staged an assessment strike over a parking disute and now has lost her house and her retirement savings.
Homeowner group "regulation" advances in New Jersey
Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link. Owner activists think this bill is no good:
Several opponents argued the legislation needed further study in light of a court ruling two weeks ago declaring New Jerseyans do not sign away their constitutional rights by purchasing a home in a community governed by a private association. That state appeals court instructed a trial judge to determine whether rules adopted by the Twin Rivers Homeowners Association in East Windsor violate the free speech rights of its 10,000 residents. Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, said that ruling rejects the "cornerstone" concept of Caraballo's bill: that someone who buys property in a community association agrees to live by its rules. "You cannot require people to sign away their fundamental American liberties just because they want to live in a particular place," Jacobs said. She told lawmakers Caraballo's bill is "unconstitutional" and, if enacted, "will be challenged and overturned by the courts, at great cost to the state and its taxpayers."

'Pizza pope' builds a Catholic heaven
This is about the Catholic-themed planned community. Will this be the only religiously-themed HOA? Don't bet on it.

A FORMER marine who was raised by nuns and made a fortune selling pizza has embarked on a £230m plan to build the first town in America to be run according to strict Catholic principles. Abortions, pornography and contraceptives will be banned in the new Florida town of Ave Maria, which has begun to take shape on former vegetable farms 90 miles northwest of Miami. Tom Monaghan, the founder of the Domino’s Pizza chain, has stirred protests from civil rights activists by declaring that Ave Maria’s pharmacies will not be allowed to sell condoms or birth control pills. The town’s cable television network will carry no X-rated channels.

Sunday, February 26, 2006