Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Colorado Lawmakers Debate Construction Defects Bill CBS Denver

Colorado Lawmakers Debate Construction Defects Bill  CBS Denver

The quest for the waterproof condo continues. Hint: solutions aren't likely to be found in state legislatures.

4 found guilty in Las Vegas homeowner association fraud trial -

4 found guilty in Las Vegas homeowner association fraud trial - LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A federal jury found a Las Vegas lawyer and three co-defendants guilty of conspiracy and wire fraud in a sweeping scheme to fraudulently control homeowners' associations and steer business to favored contractors and attorneys.
Breaking news in Las Vegas HOA corruption scandal. Film and perp walk at 10. Cuff 'em, Danno.

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying

HOA Rules - Why is it Necessary in Home Buying

A couple of people flagged this recently, from a 2010 on line article in the International Business Times that extols the virtues of HOAs:

"Each homeowners association has covenants, conditions and restrictions or also known as CCR. They are normally related to deed restrictions or restrictive covenants. All things pointed out in the agreement will firmly be imposed to homeowners in order to maintain the property as well as the value of the community. It restricts the building materials to be utilized in constructing homes and the kind of home upgrades allowed. Moreover, they set the allowable number of occupants per house, the kind of pets that are permitted and the race of persons who can stay in the community." [my emphasis]


In my first book on HOAs I devoted considerable effort to documenting the close connection between HOAs and enforcement of race restrictive covenants from about 1900 to 1950.  Whenever industry advocates recount the glorious history of HOAs they jump straight from Athenian Democracy, the "golden hills of Rome" and the New England town meeting to the present, and somehow manage to leave out the fact that for decades in the US, one of the main purposes of HOAs was to keep African-Americans from moving into white neighborhoods.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Welcome to 'Libertarian Island': Inside the Frightening Economic Dreams of Silicon Valley's Super Rich

"...there is currently a similar movement happening in real life, and it is being funded by another rather eccentric businessman, the Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel. As some may already know, Thiel has teamed up with the grandson of libertarian icon Milton Friedman, Patri Friedman, to try and develop a “seastead,” or a permanent and autonomous dwelling at sea. Friedman formed the “Seasteading Institute” in 2008, and Thiel has donated more than a million dollars to fund its creation. It is all very utopian, to say the least. But on the website, they claim a floating city could be just years away. The real trick is finding a proper location to build this twenty-first century atlantis. Currently, they are attempting to find a host nation that will allow the floating city somewhat close to land, for the calm waters and ability to easily travel to and from the seastead."
These people are free to shower our elected officials with money in order to protect themselves against taxation and regulation.  This starves governments of the money they need to provide essential services and infrastructure. At the same time, these libertarian gazillionaires are planning on fleeing the society they are currently wrecking.

Monday, March 16, 2015

South Carolina grapples with HOA complaints
"COLUMBIA — Neighborhood Nazi. Condo Commando. Bullies. The dictatorship.
Those were some of the terms property owners and officials used to describe bad actors in South Carolina’s thousands of community associations on Thursday, as lawmakers debate how to regulate them.
“It has become my worst nightmare,” said Nadine Zacharie of Edgefield County’s Lake Trenton. She used to live in Augusta’s historic Hill section, but has spent the last 10 years in Lake Trenton, calling it “10 years of roughshod bullying.”
Yet another state moves toward increased regulation of CIDs. 

Police say naked man standing in doorway is not breaking law, ne - - Columbia, South Carolina

Police say naked man standing in doorway is not breaking law, ne - - Columbia, South Carolina: This week, neighbors were able to capture pictures and video of the man standing at his door. They are hoping with these images the Homeowners Association can file some type of nuisance complaint.
Call the HOA!

Private police, coming to a subdivision near you

Since the early 1980s, this country has been in the grip of the ideology of privatism, which is the moral conviction that anything "private" is better than anything "public."  In practice, that usually means handing over government functions to private corporations, and we call that privatization.  But in other cases, it means that government just abdicates its responsibilities on the assumption that somehow non-governmental actors will take over the function that government is no longer performing.  That's what has been going on with the HOA/condo revolution--local governments and developers set up private associations that everybody assumes will just happily carry out all sorts of government functions, with little or no oversight, training, or other institutional support.  However, in reality there are a lot of problems with that assumption, and the hands-off, out of sight, out of mind attitude toward HOAs and condo associations is being questioned because many associations are disorganized, out of control, underfunded, understaffed, and subject to takeover and manipulation (take a look at all my previous posts on the huge HOA takeover/fraud ring in Las Vegas for only one example). That's why so many state legislatures have been creating oversight frameworks for private governments, including regulation of associations' internal processes, ombudsman offices, and public education.  It's not much, but it does amount to a recognition that a lot of associations are struggling and even failing.

Probably the most dangerous aspect of this HOA takeover of government functions is the rise of private policing in these associations.  Ward Lucas has a post on this referencing this article from  he Washington Post:

Here in Illinois, in 2013 the state Supreme Court made a truly bizarre decision (Poris v. Lake Holiday POA) that allows HOA private police to make traffic stops and issue citations.  The decision is remarkable for its ignorance.  I wrote a post on it at the time.  The court never  even mentioned the Illinois statutes that govern HOAs, never referenced any of the major cases from all across the nation on the limits of CID private government, and refused even to consider what the limits are of this power. For example, what are the rights of citizens to resist these private security guards?  What force can the citizen and the pseudo-cop  use against each other?

I think nobody learned much from George Zimmerman killing  Trayvon Martin.  Zimmerman was a "neighborhood watch" volunteer that the HOA told people to call.  He was also armed and, we now know, prone to nasty encounters with other people, especially his significant others.  What better example can there be of the risks involved  in these encounters?  Self-appointed vigilantes and untrained security guards--the bottom of the law enforcement food chain--are running around stopping people.  Couple that with the fact that many civilians are carrying concealed weapons. This is a bad mix.

The problem would be solved if  local governments would reclaim their basic responsibility to enforce the law in their jurisdictions.  But law enforcement costs money, and if people don't want to pay taxes to  support public local government, they will get what they are paying for: the George Zimmermans of the world, coming to a subdivision near you.