Saturday, March 19, 2016

Neighborhood gate opens up HOA troubles--Georgia - Story | WAGA

Neighborhood gate opens up HOA troubles - Story | WAGA

"The installation of a security gate opened the neighbors' eyes to just how closed off they feel they are to the management of their community. Even the HOA treasurer, the man in charge of the finances, says he no longer has a say in how the money is spent. 

 The treasurer says Brighton Village shelved an $80,000 gate proposal because they didn't have the money. But then after new board leadership arrived, he says, a gate was going in and the price was going up.  "And we're now at $135,000," he told the Fox 5 I-Team. 

 Alarmed, Montgomery sent a letter warning his neighbors that "no decision was voted on by the board." Neighbors chimed in wanting to know more. "We want to see the contract. We want to see the financial," said homeowner Zakia Funchess The Fox 5 I-Team has tried to talk to board president Michael Pillow about the mounting tensions since he took the post.  When I asked him, "Can we talk to you about the ill will between the board and some of the neighbors," he kept walking. "


He seems nice.  State laws need to mandate disclosure of association financial information, and most of all there needs to be an enforcement mechanism short of filing a civil suit or waiting for the next BOD election.

Disabled vet concerned HOA fees dispute will lead to foreclosure

Disabled vet concerned HOA fees dispute will lead to foreclosure

SAN ANTONIO -- A disabled Air Force veteran who lost nearly all his hearing after going through treatment to remove a tumor said he is concerned he will now lose his home over a two-year-old dispute with his homeowners association regarding back dues. "I have my problems, but I have to try to help myself," said Northington Butler, Jr., who was sued by the Westover Crossing Homeowner's Association in March 2014. Butler and the HOA entered into a settlement agreement last July that required Butler to pay $100 a month to cover more than $2,300 in back dues, interest and attorney's fees. Certified money order records provided by Butler show he has made the monthly payment each month. However, Butler said he stopped receiving invoices for his regular HOA dues. When Butler wrote the HOA's attorney about the invoices last month, he received a letter back accusing him of not fully complying with the settlement agreement because he had not signed the paperwork."


I hope the association sees the light--the article says somebody at the management company says they don't intend to foreclose.

Lowcountry neighbors sue HOA, Hargray for alleged illegal kickback deal | WSAV-TV

Lowcountry neighbors sue HOA, Hargray for alleged illegal kickback deal | WSAV-TV

"Some Lowcountry neighbors are taking their cable company, Hargray, and homeowner’s association’s (HOA) officers at D.R. Horton to court. They’re suing the two companies, accusing them of an illegal kickback deal. Neighbors of the D.R. Horton-built communities claim the company acted “unjustly” in making the said agreement with Hargray to charge homeowners “unfair” prices."


The privatization of political rallies | Political Insider blog

Where Georgia is ahead of the curve: The privatization of political rallies | Political Insider blog

"The incident at Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville was, in fact, a precursor to a new, defining feature of politics in 2016 – the privatized presidential rally. Other candidates have engaged in culling potential disruptors – whether inconvenient reporters or suspected counter-demonstrators — from their mass gatherings. Prior to Georgia’s primary earlier this month, two black college students were ejected from a Hillary Clinton rally at Atlanta City Hall by police, for scrawling “Black Lives Matter” on the back of a campaign sign. But it is the Republican campaign of Donald Trump that has carried crowd (and press) control to a new extreme. Two things you can always count on at his raucous rallies: Loud music, and the disembodied male voice that makes it clear that “this is a private event paid for by Mr. Trump.”


Well, of course Trump uses "private property rights" to silence freedom of speech. He's a real estate developer, after all, and they figured out that game a long time ago. This is why so many CID residents get in trouble for political expression--they are on private property and under the rule of a private government, courtesy of a real estate developer and a local government that (wink wink) knew nothing, nothing.

You know what is really funny?  There are some people who consider themselves homeowner activists who support Trump.  How clueless is that?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

CAI supports federal legislation to give income tax deduction for association assessments

CAI Government Affairs Blog

"U.S. Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced a measure that would allow homeowners in community associations who earn $115,000 or less in annual income to deduct up to $5,000 of their association fees and assessments from their federal tax liability. Community Associations Institute (CAI) has expressed support for the bill. The federal legislation will benefit many of the more than 66 million Americans who live in homeowners associations, condominium communities, cooperatives and other planned communities."
Stay tuned--let's see if this Democrat-sponsored bill goes anywhere in a Republican-dominated, Tea Party-crazed, House of Representatives.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Thoughts on micropolitics and macropolitics

When I first started writing about CIDs, I realized that there were two sets of issues I wanted to write about, and I divided them into micropolitics and macropolitics. Micropolitics means all the things that go on inside associations that are ruled by private governments, and for me the most important issues have to do with the relationship between unit owners and their BOD. Macropolitics refers to the relationship between associations and the rest of society, such as governments and developers. One important issue of macropolitics is to what extend this type of real estate development contributes to segregation--by race, income, age, and other factors.

Both these issue areas are important.  Unfortunately, many people are intensely interested in issues of micropolitics, but don't care about the macropolitics issues at all.  This is really too bad.  It speaks to a lack of political awareness that undermines a lot of the activism people are involved with. When people trot off to the state capitol to make impassioned pleas for the rights of CID unit owners, claiming oppression at the hands of BODs and professionals, they run into legislators who may be unsympathetic.  Why? Because they are thinking of these activists as over-privileged homeowners who have voluntarily isolated themselves from the rest of society in exclusive enclaves, and who now want to remake the deal they agreed to.When I tried to interest foundations in studying this subject and doing adult education, I ran into the same stereotype there.

Over the years I have done everything I could to dismantle that perception. I have written and talked about municipal mandates, adhesion contracts, lack of choice in the housing market, conscripting moderate and even low income people into condos and townhomes, and so forth. But the perception is still there.

I think if owner activists tried to link their causes with those of other interest groups that have larger concerns and broader constituencies, such as consumers, seniors, affordable housing advocates, for example, it would make their activism more effective. It would help to dispel the spoiled rich suburbanite/gated community stereotype.

I also think that people need to give more thought to association finances. This is both micro and macro politics. How can you claim to be an advocate for owner interests if your burning passion is to see associations disintegrate financially from being unable to collect overdue assessments?  The owners you claim to care about are the ones who would get hurt. The issue is not whether they should be able to collect assessments from every owner. Of course they should, because the owners who pay end up carrying the burden of those who don't. And defunct associations hurt all the owners and the surrounding communities, with some level of local government left with the problems. The issues that need attention are about how and what associations should be able to collect--what practices are unfair or abusive, how should assessment levels be determined, what fees and charges should be permissible, etc.

Finally--this type of housing is not going away. It is here to stay. In fact, it has been spreading all over the world. Spending time and energy trying to abolish CID housing is unproductive and reveals a lack of understanding of why this is happening. Local governments are not going to go back to the days when they used taxing and bonding capability to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to support private residential development. They are too busy trying to find money to fill potholes and keep bridges from collapsing. Developers, state legislators, lenders, and federal bureaucrats have institutionalized CID housing and will continue to be the norm in new construction in the years to come.

Woman convicted of looting homeowners associations in Simi Valley, Calabasas

Woman convicted of looting homeowners associations in Simi Valley, Calabasas: "The owner of a now-defunct management company in Thousand Oaks has been convicted of systematically looting hundreds of thousands of dollars from two homeowners associations in Simi Valley and Calabasas.

Kristin Davis, 46, was found guilty this month by a Ventura County Superior Court jury of stealing from the Big Sky Homeowners Association in Simi Valley and the Oak Park Calabasas Homeowners Association, which her company managed."


One of these, Oak Park Calabasas, was involved in numerous mega-lawsuits a few years ago arising out of insurance claims and breach of contract disputes.

Dozens of Lowcountry homeowners associations sue property manager | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WCIV

Dozens of Lowcountry homeowners associations sue property manager | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WCIV: "CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — "More than 50 homeowners associations from Seabrook to Summerville filed a lawsuit this week alleging that a property manager billed at least some of them for services that weren't provided.

The nearly five dozen plaintiffs filed the lawsuit Monday in Charleston County Circuit Court alleging that Marshland Communities and its owner, Karen Colie, misappropriated funds from at least some of them."


The manager says she "made some terrible mistakes in an effort to stay afloat and it has caught up with me."  The temptation to do these things has proven too great for many managers and officers, who have helped themselves to association funds in one way or another. With owners often not paying much attention, and little if any government oversight, it is easy to see why this happens to often.

Inside the "Disney for Adults" That Could Help Deliver Florida to Donald Trump | Mother Jones

Inside the "Disney for Adults" That Could Help Deliver Florida to Donald Trump | Mother Jones:

"The largest retirement community in the United States is home to 49 golf courses, dozens of restaurants, a college, an app, and three movie theaters spread across three counties in an area larger than Manhattan. Since the first trailers popped up in cattle country an hour north of Orlando, Florida, four decades ago, the Villages has swelled to a population of more than 114,000 people; almost all are over the age of 55, white, and drive around the community in golf carts that can be outfitted to resemble taxis, fire trucks, or tanks. Residents refer to the place as "Disney for adults." In addition to being one of the most quintessentially Florida places on Earth, the Villages is one of the most Republican places in Florida. For years its politics were dominated by H. Gary Morse, the late conservative megadonor who built the community and helped send Marco Rubio to the Senate six years ago and Mitt Romney to the nomination in 2012. On Tuesday night, voters there will go a long way toward determining who comes away with the state's 99 delegates. Rubio, who spoke to an overflow crowd at a rec center here on Sunday, is staking his political future on a strong showing. But lately, everything is turning up Trump."


The Villages is a monster retirement community in Florida that has a number of HOAs within it, but they all operate under the ultimate power of a special district that is about as undemocratic as any jurisdiction can be. I did a paper on it last year that will be a book chapter soon. But the interesting angle in this article is that a recent straw poll indicates The Villages is overwhelmingly pro-Trump. If the general election vote in Florida is close, what happens in The Villages could tilt the election to Der Drumpenfuhrer. Why is it Trump Country? "In many respects, the villages is a kind of Donald Trump Fantasyland, a world devoid of Muslims or almost any people of color, where the golf is always free and America has always been great."