Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ukraine approves list of state-owned enterprises for privatization | KyivPost

Ukraine approves list of state-owned enterprises for privatization | KyivPost: "Jump-starting a process that has been stalled for more than two years, Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers on May 10 approved a list of 26 large state-owned companies for privatization. The sale of the state’ stakes in the large companies is expected to bring in Hr 21 billion, or $800 million, to the budget this year- seven times more than privatization raised in in 2017. In addition, the government also approved a “general” list of more than 700 enterprises that are to be privatized over the next three years, Economy Minister Stepan Kubiv wrote in a Facebook post on May 10."

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This isn't fooling the public, though: "According to a sociological survey conducted by the Center for Economic Strategy in November of last year, 80 percent of Ukrainians think that only oligarchs will benefit from the sale of state-owned enterprises." Privatization in neighboring was a massive transfer of trillions of dollars from the government to a small number of people who became known as the oligarchs, and they helped to turn the country into a kleptocracy.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Oregon Business - New kid on the block: The urban gated community

Oregon Business - New kid on the block: The urban gated community: "“You could literally not leave the building,” says Christian Haggarty, a 48-year-old sales manager who lives at Rivage with his wife and their dog. “Sometimes it feels like living in a resort. You have to grocery shop, but you could spend the rest of your time there.” "

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No, thanks.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Woman says her home's being destroyed in the midst of HOA battle - KXAN

Woman says her home's being destroyed in the midst of HOA battle - KXAN

"AUSTIN (KXAN) - An Austin woman says the foundation is beginning to crack under her home after her HOA refused to let her remove an invasive tree in her yard. "

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This looks like one of those cases where the HOA changes their position.

HOA embezzler’s trial to begin | Local News | smdailyjournal.com

HOA embezzler’s trial to begin | Local News | smdailyjournal.com

"The trial for a man accused of scheming to embezzle nearly $2.8 million from the San Mateo Woodlake Condominium Association between 2007 and 2013 is set to begin Wednesday, more than five years after he and a co-conspirator were initially accused of the scheme, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office."

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These HOA embezzlement cases rarely go to trial.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Olathe HOA files police report, calls meeting over shortfall | The Kansas City Star

Olathe HOA files police report, calls meeting over shortfall | The Kansas City Star: "An Olathe HOA has filed a police report and called a special meeting to discuss concerns about its former property manager that it says in a related lawsuit could cause "irreparable harm" to the neighborhood.

Parkhill Manor Homes Association said in the lawsuit that Jonathan Young and his company, Haven Property Management, have "failed and refused to deliver plaintiff's corporate books and records and bank accounts."

The HOA notified homeowners of the problem in a letter sent last week."

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Koch Bodyguards Got Police Badges From Same Tiny Town as Mercer - Bloomberg

Koch Bodyguards Got Police Badges From Same Tiny Town as Mercer - Bloomberg

These rich people love becoming a law unto themselves. What puzzles me is that ordinary people buy this anti-government propaganda, when government is the only thing that can protect them against private tyranny.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Opinion | America’s Federally Financed Ghettos - The New York Times

Opinion | America’s Federally Financed Ghettos - The New York Times:

The federal government's policies favored one-race neighborhoods for decades. The racial segregation we see around us today is the intended result of public policies and private actions.

Opinion | America’s Federally Financed Ghettos - The New York Times

Opinion | America’s Federally Financed Ghettos - The New York Times:

The federal government's policies favored one-race neighborhoods for decades. The racial segregation we see around us today is the intended result of public policies and private actions.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Civil Process Service Rules in Gated Communities - EIN News

Civil Process Service Rules in Gated Communities - EIN News: "California Code of Civil Procedure § 415.21 provides:

(a) Notwithstanding any other law, any person shall be granted access to a gated community for a reasonable period of time for the sole purpose of per-forming lawful service of process or service of a subpoena upon displaying a current driver’s license or other identification, and one of the following:

1) A badge or other confirmation that the individual is acting in his or her capacity as a representative of a county sheriff or marshal, or as an investigator employed by an office of the Attorney General, a county counsel, a city attorney, a district attorney, or a public defender; (OR)

2) Evidence of current registration as a process server."

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So they can run, but they can't hide.

Summerville HOA and others sued for breach of contract | WCBD

Summerville HOA and others sued for breach of contract | WCBD: "SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) - A Summerville subdivision homeowners association, along with others, has been sued for breach of contract and other claims.

​In a lawsuit that was filed on March 20 in the Dorchester County Court of Common Pleas, Halcyon Real Estate Services owner David Peterson claims that the White Gables neighborhood homeowners association broke a new contract for landscaping and a contract for property management for the neighborhood. It then alleges that the contract was given back to its former manager, Community Management Group.

There are also claims of harassment, stalking, libel and slander against Peterson"

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Another nasty HOA lawsuit.

Homeowner trying to grow bluebonnets is frustrated with HOA fines

Homeowner trying to grow bluebonnets is frustrated with HOA fines:

The story goes into careful detail about this saga.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Franklin veteran fighting HOA to keep flag outside his home - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Franklin veteran fighting HOA to keep flag outside his home - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX: "FRANKLIN, OH (FOX19) -
A Franklin veteran feels his patriotism is under attack after his homeowner's association asked him to take down the flag in front of his home.

Wayne Marchant feels a sense of pride every time he walks past the American flag.

"I feel good about it," said Marchant.

On Friday, though, he says he was disgusted when he got a letter in the mail from the Manager of the Renaissance Homeowner's Association stating that the flagpole is a violation of the community rules.

"They have HOA members that periodically drive through the neighborhood looking for anything that might be a violation of the HOA rules. They noticed that in their words 'the flagpole had been erected in our front yard,'" said Marchant.

The letter says the flagpole needs to be removed or modified. He's not sure what the modification would be, but he says this flag has been outside of his home for the past eight years. It was a gift from his wife."

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It's interesting that nearly all these situations involve the HOA saying the flagpole is the problem, but the media always say that they are making the owner take down the flag. Flag is one thing. Flagpole is another.

Homeowner fights HOA over religious statue removal request

Homeowner fights HOA over religious statue removal request: "RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - Is a homeowners association limiting religious expression in the front yard of a Rio Rancho man's home?

One neighbor is asking that question after he was recently told by a homeowners association to remove a statue of a Catholic saint from his yard, years after he says he was given permission to put it up.

The man who owns the home, Bill Maldonado, says his small, roughly two foot tall Our Lady of Guadalupe statue has been in his front yard for nearly a decade.

But just last week, right before Easter, Maldonado says his Hidden Valley Homeowners Association told him he had two weeks to remove the statue.

Maldonado called it upsetting.

I was not very happy when I received the letter," said Maldonado. "And to make things even worse, it's Holy Thursday of Holy Week."

In their letter, Hidden Valley Homeowners Association called the unmounted statue an "Architectural Control" change, writing "statue not approved.""

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He says he has "my right for religious expression," and that it has been there since 2009.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

California Has a Controversial Plan to Solve Its Housing Crisis. Drivers Aren’t Going to Like It. – Mother Jones

California Has a Controversial Plan to Solve Its Housing Crisis. Drivers Aren’t Going to Like It. – Mother Jones: "SB 827 would allow developers to bypass nearly all local zoning requirements within a half mile of a major transit stop, and build multi-family housing between four to eight stories high with no parking space requirements. (The state defines transit stops as a rail, ferry, or bus stop with two or more lines that run at least every 15 minutes.) “California is in a deep housing crisis—threatening our state’s environment, economy, diversity, and quality of life—and needs an enormous amount of additional housing at all income levels,” bill sponsor and California Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener said in a Medium post. Wiener believes that the legislation will promote the construction of more housing; bring down housing costs by increasing supply; and create communities that emit a smaller carbon footprint by relying less on cars. Transportation makes up roughly a quarter of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and 39 percent of California’s."

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The idea is to do something about the insane cost of housing and the housing shortage in California while dealing with the environmental issues. The solution: let builders do whatever they want as long as it is within half a mile of a public transportation stop.

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Scott Pruitt’s $50-per-night condo looks really bad - The Washington Post

Scott Pruitt’s $50-per-night condo looks really bad - The Washington Post:

It just gets worse and worse. He was renting by the night at a ridiculous rate of $50 per night, and his benefactor is a lobbyist for the industries Pruitt is supposedly regulating. If Obama had appointed anybody who did this, that appointee would already have been fired or impeached.

Friday, March 30, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Pruitt's EPA security broke down door to lobbyist condo - ABC News

EXCLUSIVE: Pruitt's EPA security broke down door to lobbyist condo - ABC News: "ABC News first reported Thursday that Pruitt had lived in the condo in 2017, during his first six months in Washington. The condo is in a prime location – less than a block from the U.S. Capitol complex – and other apartments in the building complex have rented for as much as $5,000-a-month, according to a source familiar with a neighboring lease.

The EPA allowed Bloomberg News to review copies of canceled checks that Pruitt paid to the condo owner. The news outlet reported that the checks show varying amounts paid on sporadic dates -- not a traditional monthly "rent payment" of the same amount each month, according to Bloomberg. In all, Pruitt paid $6,100 over six months to the limited liability corporation for the Capitol Hill condo co-owned by Vicki Hart, whose husband J. Steven Hart is chairman of a top D.C. lobbying firm and who is registered to lobby for several major environmental and energy concerns."


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Pruitt runs the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has hated for his entire professional career. He has been living in a luxury condo co-owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbyist. He has paid a total of $6100 in rent over six months. Market rate rent for six months would have been more like $30,000. I wonder what Trump voters who wanted to "drain the swamp" think of this. Probably fine with it.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Privatization is really a plan to dismantle Social Security

Privatization is really a plan to dismantle Social Security:



Of course it is. Many privatization plans are just ways of taking assets that were built, maintained, and paid for by the public, through tax dollars, and handing them over to private business corporations. Schemes like that are just legalized theft of public assets.

Santorum: Instead of calling for gun laws, kids should take CPR classes - CNNPolitics

Santorum: Instead of calling for gun laws, kids should take CPR classes - CNNPolitics:



"How about kids instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that when there is a violent shooter that you can actually respond to that," Santorum said. A former US Senator (R-Pennsylvania) says that ordinary people should not use collective action to pressure the government to change the laws and solve collective problems. Let that sink in, because this is what his party is all about these days. The government is there to do the bidding of the rich and powerful, who are exquisitely organized for that purpose. Ordinary people should stay out of politics and focus on their private lives. Never mind that their private lives are profoundly affected by the collective action of the rich and powerful.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Lamplight Village, update

Remember the HOA in Las Vegas, where a swing set collapsed and severely injured a 15 year old boy, and somehow a $2 million dollar demand was turned down, and then the jury returned was a $20 million dollar judgment against the HOA? The owners have been facing the spectre of paying something like $90,000 each to pay the excess judgment. But according to their Facebook page, all is well. And we know we can trust Facebook, right? :-)  So let's see what the newspapers have to say.

State will not ‘take over’ a condominium association or HOA

State will not ‘take over’ a condominium association or HOA: "Question: What is the legal standard for the state to intervene and take over an HOA? What is the procedure to initiate the state to investigate an HOA? —"

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The answer this attorney gives it basically, the state doesn't take over associations, but sometimes a court may appoint a receiver. The attorney mentions cases of fraud, but I think it is more often done if an association is falling apart and becoming nonfunctional, or if the BOD refuses to pay a court-ordered judgment.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Welcome to Zucktown. Where Everything Is Just Zucky. - The New York Times

Welcome to Zucktown. Where Everything Is Just Zucky. - The New York Times: "In just a few years, Facebook built a virtual community that linked more than two billion people, an achievement with few precedents. Now the social network is building a real community, the kind you can walk around. It is a project with many precedents in American history, quite a few of them cautionary tales about what happens when a powerful corporation takes control of civic life."

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Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link to the latest step in Facebook's efforts to take over the world. They've done a great job wrecking the entire concept of truth in our electoral system, so no doubt this community-builder stage in their world domination strategy will go equally well.

The Spread of 'Billionaire's Bay,' the Glut of Million-Dollar Homes Across San Francisco - CityLab

The Spread of 'Billionaire's Bay,' the Glut of Million-Dollar Homes Across San Francisco - CityLab: "Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of $1 million+ homes in San Francisco grew a gobsmacking 37.8 percent, rising to represent 57.4 percent of the homes in the city.

In San Jose, 46.3 percent of homes now cost more than $1 million, an increase of 28.9 percent. And in Oakland, an astonishing 19.7 percent of homes hit seven figures in 2016, a growth of 14.5 percent since 2012. Oakland today boasts a higher percentage of $1 million+ homes than San Francisco did four years ago—a figure that ought to give Oakland residents pause."

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The California housing market has gone nuts, and nowhere is it crazier than in the San Francisco Bay area.

Washington D.C. Appellate Court Holds Foreclosure of Condominium Lien Extinguished First Mortgage Despite Condominium Association’s Representations to the Contrary - Lexology

Washington D.C. Appellate Court Holds Foreclosure of Condominium Lien Extinguished First Mortgage Despite Condominium Association’s Representations to the Contrary - Lexology: "The District of Columbia Court of Appeals recently held that a condominium’s foreclosure of a “super-priority” condominium lien extinguished an otherwise first-priority mortgage on the property, despite the fact that the association’s notice of sale and deed to the third-party purchaser stated that the sale was “subject to” the mortgage. See Liu v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 2018 WL 1095503 (D.C. Mar. 1, 2018)."

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This association superlien policy is controversial. In this case, I wonder if it will stand up to an appeal, because the association stated that the sale was "subject to" the first mortgage lien.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Nursing Home No More: The New Trend Is Aging With Your Friends

Nursing Home No More: The New Trend Is Aging With Your Friends:

This is about cohousing for seniors, which is an interesting alternative to seniors communities designed and run by large-scale developers and other mass-produced housing for retired people.  Contrary to what the article says, cohousing is not a "new trend." It has been around in Europe and the US since the 1980s, but it has not caught on in this country. It involves common ownership, but the residents set it up themselves and make their own rules.  The problem seems to be that it takes a lot of work and capital, and so far there haven't been many people willing or able to do it. It is much easier to respond to an ad about The Villages in Florida and walk into a turnkey, corporate-designed, large-scale seniors-only community with golf courses and swimming pools everywhere.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

St. Boniface Church Is Resurrected as a New Condo Development | Chicago magazine | April 2018

St. Boniface Church Is Resurrected as a New Condo Development | Chicago magazine | April 2018: "In a nod to the church’s charitable history, Northwestern Settlement, a social services agency, plans to move its offices into the new building. The nonprofit’s space will include four affordable housing units.

Skoulsky says that it’s still too early to give a price range for the units in the main part of the development, Skoulsky says, though he does concede that, given the size, “the prices may push the neighborhood.” (The average condo in Noble Square now goes for $511,000, according to Redfin.) Better hope you find some pennies from heaven scattered on the sidewalk."



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This is a historic church that has been closed for several years. It will reopen as a high-end condo development. It's nice that there will be a social services agency there, and four units that are "affordable," but it is another example of trends in the housing market since the crash of 2008, where developers are interested in building for the rich.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Completion of Preparatory Work on Gated Communities Legislation Anticipated by 2019/20 - Jamaica Information Service

Completion of Preparatory Work on Gated Communities Legislation Anticipated by 2019/20 - Jamaica Information Service: "The proposed Act aims to address issues associated with town houses and gated communities that are not currently covered by legislation.

They include non-payment of maintenance fees, dispute resolution, violation of by-laws and other communal living arrangements.

Noting that the Act could, arguably, represent the last major piece of legislation required to streamline the entire real estate sector into “good order”, Dr. Chang said the consultations were timely.

This, he pointed out, against the background that “we are going to see more and more town houses, gated communities and expanded apartment complexes; so we need the appropriate legislation to ensure that properties are properly maintained and developed”."




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In Jamaica, as in so many other places, common interest housing is the way the housing market is going.

Man says battle with Olathe HOA proves need for proposed KS law | The Kansas City Star

Man says battle with Olathe HOA proves need for proposed KS law | The Kansas City Star: "Scott Wircenske’s eight-year battle with his HOA started with a simple request.

The Parkhill Manor Homes Association had just awarded a property management contract to one of its own board members, and the Olathe homeowner wanted to know whether the job had been put out for a bid.

“This man had been on the board in 2008 and then all of a sudden in 2009 he becomes the property manager, and he’s also a homeowner,” Wircenske said. “It smelled really bad. I wanted to know, ‘How did we arrive at this? How did we pick him?’ And basically, the response has been, ‘Go away and mind your own business.’ ”"


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This is a familiar story. Unregulated private government is a fertile ground for conflicts like this.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Oxberry pays HOA dues to get neighborhood support for luxury retail project - Houston Chronicle

Oxberry pays HOA dues to get neighborhood support for luxury retail project - Houston Chronicle:

Here you go, folks. Local democracy in action. Money for votes.



"Oxberry Group compensated nearly 200 residents in a deed-restricted neighborhood to approve plans for a high-end shopping center in the Tanglewood area.

The Houston developer donated $100,000 to the Briarcroft community association and paid one year’s worth of HOA dues — about $625 per household — to any Briarcroft homeowner who voted in favor of its Shops at Tanglewood project. It also held neighborhood meetings, sent informational mailers and knocked on doors to get signatures.

Sean Jamea, an Oxberry co-principal and an attorney, said there’s “nothing wrong” with swaying votes in this manner.

“It’s been happening in Florida for decades,” he said. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. We wanted the Briarcroft neighborhood to prosper with us as we build this shopping center.”"



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Getting Started – Choosing Between a Co-op and a Condo - The New York Times

Getting Started – Choosing Between a Co-op and a Condo - The New York Times:

If California gets serious about building more high-density housing (see my post below), they should consider housing cooperatives. New York City has more co-ops than condos. Chicago has lots of co-ops, including limited equity co-ops that remain affordable.

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"There is no question that there are more co-ops than condos in New York City, but the gap has been narrowing in recent decades. 'In Manhattan, it’s about 75 percent co-op versus 25 percent condo,' said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the Miller Samuel appraisal firm. 'In the early 1990s, it was about 80/20, and in the mid-1980s it was 85/15.'”

In California, Momentum Builds for Radical Action on Housing - CityLab

In California, Momentum Builds for Radical Action on Housing - CityLab: "Cities around the world are dealing with severe housing shortages and inflated housing costs. But nowhere is housing such a potent political issue as in California, whose unique geography, state policies, and activist culture have combined with a poorly distributed economic boom to create a “perfect storm”—the chosen words of multiple sources for this story.

"

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This is what political scientists call a "policy window," a time when legislators are looking for solutions and there is an opportunity for interest groups who may have been ignored to get the ear of somebody looking for a bill to push.  Ideas that can be framed as solutions to the "housing crisis" will be considered. The most obvious problem is that owner-occupied housing in much of California, especially southern California and the San Francisco Bay area, is insanely expensive. Why? Many people say it is all about the law of supply and demand, and that the supply of housing is inadequate to meet the demand. The solution they propose is for cities to allow construction of more high-density housing. Cities are generally reluctant to do this, so State Senator Scott Weiner is proposing that the state should force cities to issue building permits for high-density construction near transit hubs. That would mean condominiums and apartment buildings. Condominiums are the go-to idea for legislators every time somebody proposes to make owner-occupied housing more affordable. But the problem is that we just found out the hard way, when the housing market tanked in 2006-2007, that selling condominium housing to people of moderate income is a  risky proposition.  I could go on about this, but I think I've made that point enough times for now.  However, that experience won't stand in the way of doing the same thing all over again, because when it comes to home ownership in this country, there is no mistake that we won't repeat.

Monday, March 12, 2018

You Care About the Subdivision Regulations, You Just Don't Know It (Yet) — Strong Towns

You Care About the Subdivision Regulations, You Just Don't Know It (Yet) — Strong Towns: "Basically, local subdivision regulations govern the division of land, which includes everything from a simple lot split to the creation of new neighborhoods from pastureland.  Among other things, they establish rules for the creation of lots, blocks and streets, and provide for the establishment of easements, parks, and public rights-of-way.

Making modest, intelligent changes to this document can have enormous impacts because new neighborhoods tend to be mass-produced at a large scale.  If your city hasn’t re-evaluated its subdivision regulations in a while, you’re probably still replicating bad ideas from the 1970’s — creating inflexible, and auto-centric places.  If this is the case, it's time for a change."

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Middle Class neighborhoods must be focus for some cities

Middle Class neighborhoods must be focus for some cities:

Interesting question--should cities focus on helping distressed neighborhoods, or strengthening middle class neighborhoods?

Can mass timber help California build its way out of the housing crisis? - Archpaper.com

Can mass timber help California build its way out of the housing crisis? - Archpaper.com:



Mass timber means using wood for the load-bearing structural components of buildings up to 18 stories high. California's housing costs are insanely high and there is a housing shortage. There aren't enough millionaires to buy the currently housing stock, apparently.  Thoughts are turning to high-rise, high density residential construction made of wood.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Ben Carson's housing agency drops pledge to end housing discrimination | US news | The Guardian

Ben Carson's housing agency drops pledge to end housing discrimination | US news | The Guardian: "The US housing department, helmed by the former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, has proposed a new mission statement in which the pledge to build “inclusive” communities “free from discrimination” is removed.

The proposal comes just two weeks after the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services changed its mission statement to eliminate a passage that described the US as “a nation of immigrants”."

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What's next? Maybe they will hang a sign around the Statue of Liberty that says "Whites Only."

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Bills Affecting Community Associations | CAI Illinois

Bills Affecting Community Associations | CAI Illinois:
Here's one:
HB5744 (Rep. Drury) ATTORNEY FEE AWARDS TO UNIT OWNERS/ELIMINATION OF FEES IN DEMAND NOTICES. The bill amends Section 9.2 “Other remedies” of the Illinois Condominium Property Act. The bill would require that attorney’s fees incurred in sending and serving a collection demands under the Forcible Act be EXCLUDED from an owner’s assessment account. Additionally, contrary to most governing documents, the bill provides that if an owner is the “substantially prevailing party” in any litigation or arbitration (including a collection action) involving an association or its board, the court shall award that owner his or her attorney’s fees and costs. On February 16, 208 this bill was referred to Rules Committee. This bill is identical to HB3755 introduced in 2017 by Representative Drury.

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=5744&GAID=14&GA=100&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=111835&SessionID=91

'

Homeowners facing $20 million jury verdict over swing set that left boy disabled demand answers from Lamplight Village HOA - KTNV.com Las Vegas

Homeowners facing $20 million jury verdict over swing set that left boy disabled demand answers from Lamplight Village HOA - KTNV.com Las Vegas:

The association turned down a policy limits demand of $2 million and then lost the trial and got hit with a $20 million verdict. Guess who is liable to pay the debts of the association, including massive verdicts like this? The owners. And of course everybody is shocked to discover that this the way things work in a common interest community. I've been talking about this liability problem for a long time now, but every time it happens, people act surprised. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Creekside Golf Club owners sue HOA board for reserve fund spending

Creekside Golf Club owners sue HOA board for reserve fund spending

"Creekside Golf Club’s owners have asked a judge to remove the board of an adjacent homeowners association and put the HOA into receivership. It’s the latest volley in a two-year legal battle that will decide whether the club’s owners, developers Larry Tokarski and Terry Kelly, can close the South Salem championship course and turn it into a residential subdivision. The developers say the six members of the Creekside Homeowners Association Board, all of whom own golf course-view homes, illegally used the association’s reserve account to pay for an April 2016 lawsuit alleging the course must remain open indefinitely. That bankrupted the association, raising monthly assessments for the many homeowners whose property values would not be affected by the course’s closure, the lawsuit alleges."

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I haven't looked up any of the pleadings, but this looks like an unusual situation. The golf course owners seem to be claiming there is no contractual or property rights connection between the golf course and the residential properties, so they can turn the course into a subdivision if they want to.  But the HOA said that buyers were promised in their original covenants that there would be a golf course next door.  Deborah Goonan did a long post on HOA conflicts involving golf courses that mentions this case and others.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Autonomous Vehicles Are Coming, and California Isn’t Ready – Streetsblog California

Autonomous Vehicles Are Coming, and California Isn’t Ready – Streetsblog California

"Reynolds, testifying to the committee, said that as currently worded the federal act would prohibit states and cities from adopting, maintaining, or enforcing “any rules or standards regulating the design, construction, or performance of AV systems with respect to safety, data recording, cybersecurity, human-machine interface, crash-worthiness, post-crash behavior, or automation function.” It would also prohibit states from promulgating any rules on any other issue regarding AVs, including requiring any of them to be electric or subjecting them to VMT fees. It would nullify S.B. 1298, which in 2012 called for the California Department of Motor Vehicles to create safety rules for testing AVs in the state, and it could potentially nullify the rules that resulted from that law as well as prevent the DMV from updating them—although they sorely need updating, and the DMV is in the process of doing so. The act, said Reynolds, “jeopardizes the state’s ability to regulate safety, congestion, and environmental benefits of AVs. Preemption is a feature, not a bug.”

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The rest of the developed world is enjoying high-speed rail, and we are dithering while trains go off the tracks, bridges teeter on the edge of collapse, and we have a multi-trillion dollar deficit in just fixing the infrastructure we already have. The rest of the developed word is planning cities around a (very near) future of electric, self-driving, shared vehicles, with homes powered by solar energy. We are under the boot of a federal government that is bought and paid for by big oil.

What's Missing From the Housing Recovery? New Condos | realtor.com®

What's Missing From the Housing Recovery? New Condos | realtor.com®: "With the last financial crisis now firmly in the rearview mirror, builders are swinging their hammers again and putting up sorely needed new homes. But something’s missing amid all the scaffolding: condos.

Their absence is already being felt by first-time and cash-strapped buyers contending with record-high home prices thanks to the lack of properties on the market. Condos, which are often more affordable than traditional single-family houses with backyards, may seem like a solution. But builders are shying away from putting them up, even in urban areas, where they're often the most concentrated. Why?"

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To put it bluntly, the answer is because growing income inequality makes it more attractive to build luxury homes for rich people, and because building cheap condos leads to construction defect litigation.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Trump administration wants to sell National and Dulles airports, other assets across U.S. - The Washington Post

Trump administration wants to sell National and Dulles airports, other assets across U.S. - The Washington Post:



This kind of privatization amounts to selling off valuable public assets to rich investors. Trump and his cronies are strip-mining the public sector. Public lands and public infrastructure are set to be plundered by the 1%. Anything that can turn a profit will be lost to the public and converted to private ownership, put under a long-term lease, or subject to private extraction rights for mining, grazing, logging, etc.

Bundy-backing Vegas councilwoman threatens critics at meeting: ‘If I hear a boo I will have marshals remove you!’

Bundy-backing Vegas councilwoman threatens critics at meeting: ‘If I hear a boo I will have marshals remove you!’

This is right-wing, gun-toting, Cliven Bundy supporter Michele Fiore again. The article says that she became angry after a citizen asked her why she was checking her phone during the meeting. As this article notes, she received some attention a while back, when she was running an HOA meeting and did the same thing. It's interesting that she considers herself a great advocate for freedom from tyrannical government, but when she is the one wielding power, she threatens people with arrest for disagreeing with her too vigorously for her taste. At the HOA meeting, "Fiore quickly ordered city marshals to remove someone who asked her a question about the sale, and a disabled veteran who lives nearby decided to start recording video on his phone."

Monday, February 12, 2018

Trump unveils infrastructure plan: Here's what's in it - Feb. 11, 2018

Trump unveils infrastructure plan: Here's what's in it - Feb. 11, 2018:

You can read the whole thing if you want to, but it doesn't amount to much. Let me boil it down for you.

1. It claims to be a $1.5 trillion dollar federal infrastructure plan.

2. It isn't.

3. It proposes that the federal government would spend only $200 billion dollars, spread over ten years.

4. The rest of the money would magically appear from state, local and (of course) private sources, because...incentives!

5. The American Society of Civil Engineers says we need to spend $4.59 trillion in order to address our aging, inadequate, underperforming, and in some cases dangerous infrastructure.

6. So this proposal is ridiculous. Even if the federal government were actually putting $1.5 trillion to this purpose, it would be less than one-third of what is needed. To chip in $200 billion over a decade is a joke. And to expect cash-strapped state and local governments to pony up these sums is absurd.

7. As for the magic of the private market, all I can see here is the usual Republican smoke and mirrors. They want to sell off public assets (privatization), and create "incentives" for banks to lend and for vendors to do what government should be doing. 70% of the criyeria for obtaining federal funding is getting private money. "The evaluation criteria would be
o the dollar value of the project or program of projects (weighted at 10
percent);
o evidence supporting how the applicant will secure and commit new, non-
Federal revenue to create sustainable, long-term funding for infrastructure
investments (weighted at 50 percent);
o evidence supporting how the applicant will secure and commit new, non-
Federal revenue for operations, maintenance and rehabilitation (weighted
at 20 percent);
o updates to procurement policies and project delivery approaches to improve
efficiency in project delivery and operations (weighted at 10 percent);
o plans to incorporate new and evolving technologies (weighted at 5 percent);
and
o evidence supporting how the project will spur economic and social returns
on investment (weighted at 5 percent)."

8. There is a fundamentally flawed assumption under all this. They always claim that private businesses, that are all about making profits, are going to do things that government has been doing. But the reason government did most of these things is that they are necessary, but not profitable, tasks. So as a general rule, private businesses don't take on such tasks, unless they can make a quick profit and then bail, or unless they can do "cream-skimming" and service only the affluent customers.

8. So if you like expensive toll roads and bridges and tunnels and trains and airports, all of which go to and from places affluent people want to go, then you may get something out of this plan.

9. But for the most part, this "plan" is a bust.


Friday, February 09, 2018

Michigan governor admits his prison food privatization scheme has failed – ThinkProgress

Michigan governor admits his prison food privatization scheme has failed – ThinkProgress

Michigan voters elected this anti-government dunce. Ask people in Flint how that worked out for them. Now he has deprivatized the prison food service because privatization was such a disaster.

Fake homeowners association files real liens on Northland neighborhood after fake bills go unpaid | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports

Fake homeowners association files real liens on Northland neighborhood after fake bills go unpaid | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports

"KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For years, people living in a quiet neighborhood in the Northland ignored the invoices that arrived in their mail demanding payment to a homeowners association. “Just want to let you know it's a scam,” Tony Navarro said he was told when he moved to the Summerfield subdivision. “This is not an HOA neighborhood at all. There are no monthly fees.” But then, just before Christmas, a $445 lien was filed against Navarro’s home and more than 30 others. The reason? For not paying dues to the Summerfield Homeowners Association. An HOA that has no board and provides no services...We tried to talk to Lovell, but she wouldn’t even open the door of her home. Speaking behind a window, she told us she had no comment. Later Lovell’s attorney wrote to FOX4 that Lovell thought the neighborhood should have an HOA to pay for the upkeep of the lot containing the neighborhood’s drainage basin. FOX4 Problem Solvers found it surprising that Lovell cared since she lives in Independence -- far from the Summerfield neighborhood. We also wanted to speak to the other person behind the fake Summerfiled HOA, but he was even harder to reach. Al Roberts is in federal prison, convicted of $3 million in mortgage fraud. "

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With local and state governments taking no responsibility for the conduct of CID private governments, there is all kinds of room for people to move into that vacuum. Fraud, embezzlement, association takeover, financial mismanagement--these things could be made less frequent with proper oversight.


Neighbors owe HOA thousands after missed payment - ABC15 Arizona

Neighbors owe HOA thousands after missed payment - ABC15 Arizona

"Scottsdale - Neighbors Ted Koch and Chad Lakridis don't know each other, but both have the same story.  They live in the Desert Ridge Community Association which they both say is unfairly billing them thousands of dollars because of a $15 late fee."

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The Michigan town where only Christians are allowed to buy houses | US news | The Guardian

The Michigan town where only Christians are allowed to buy houses | US news | The Guardian

"The Christian exclusionary component was introduced in the 1940s. This was a time of heightened racial anxiety and antisemitism in the US, with swaths of Jewish refugees denied asylum from Europe – an act supported by a majority of the American public. The Christian-only clause was introduced together with a white-only clause, which the association eliminated the following decade. Catholics were given a 10% quota, which was eventually dropped. Over the years, however, the Christian-only requirement was, if anything, reinforced. The lawsuit charges that Bay View Association, although private (some private entities including gentlemen’s clubs or the Boy Scouts, for example, historically have been able to discriminate), acts in effect as a governmental entity, endowed with the powers to police and enforce laws. As such, the lawsuit claims, it is engaging in religious discrimination in violation of the US and Michigan constitutions, Michigan’s civil rights act and the Fair Housing Act. Mike Steinberg, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, believes the lawsuit is an “open-and-shut case”.

---------------

Interesting case that raises the question of whether and under what circumstances a private organization should be treated as if it were a government. I will be following this.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of: land | Brett Christophers | Opinion | The Guardian

The biggest privatisation you’ve never heard of: land | Brett Christophers | Opinion | The Guardian:



"All told, around 2 million hectares of public land have been privatised during the past four decades. This amounts to an eye-watering 10% of the entire British land mass, and about half of all the land that was owned by public bodies when Thatcher assumed power. How much is the land that has been privatised in Britain worth? It is impossible to say for sure. But my conservative estimate, explained in my forthcoming book on this historic privatisation, called The New Enclosure, is somewhere in the region of £400bn in today’s prices. This dwarfs the value of all of Britain’s other, better known, and often bitterly contested, privatisations."

----------------

And what did we do here in the US? We quietly privatized a vast array of local government services, and effectively privatized the land, where CIDs are located. 

Monday, February 05, 2018

When a Co-op Board Misbehaves - The New York Times

When a Co-op Board Misbehaves - The New York Times: "Ms. Liang and other shareholders have learned through their efforts that because there is no agency responsible for regulating co-op and condo board behavior, there is little recourse for shareholders if they believe a board is misbehaving, other than to take on the significant expense and time required to file a lawsuit."

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People keep discovering this for the first time.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Insurance Law Report: January 2018 - Phelps Dunbar LLP

Insurance Law Report: January 2018 - Phelps Dunbar LLP:

Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link. He notes that it seems like the condo construction defect suit will always be with us. Why are there so many of these suits? I would say it flows from the dynamics and incentives of the real estate development industry.

1.The developers and general contractors all want to maximize profits, which means they all want to minimize costs. So there is always a temptation to cut corners on materials and workmanship. The same goes for the subcontractors in all the trades. Not everybody does this to the same degree, but that practice increases the risk of defects in original construction.

2. And then a great deal of the housing stock is, by definition, constructed during boom periods, when the supply of skilled labor is exhausted in the places where the most housing is going up. Relatively unskilled and inexperienced workers can find work easily.

3. Many of the people who build condos are thinking in terms of immediate profits from quick sales. Contrast this with somebody who builds an apartment complex and intends to draw income from it long-term.

4. There are condos at various ends of the price spectrum. The higher you go, the greater the expectation of quality. During the last housing boom, when the financing was so easy to get, there was a lot of condo housing constructed for people of low to moderate income. Some of that wasn't particularly well-built.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Benefits of living in mixed-income neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles. – JUA Blog

Is it all in the eye of the beholder? Benefits of living in mixed-income neighborhoods in New York and Los Angeles. – JUA Blog

This is a blog post that summarizes an article in the Journal of Urban Affairs by my friend Renaud LeGoix, Elena Vesselinov, and Mary Clare Lennon. The article looks at mixed income neighborhoods and examines what they do and don't accomplish for their residents.



"In this article, we discuss the differences between “design-politics” and “organic” mixed-income neighborhoods. Design-politics neighborhoods are communities influenced by the federal housing policies in integrating former public housing residents with higher income groups. It is believed that such income integration will be beneficial to lower-income groups, where through better housing conditions and role-modeling they will create better lives. The question is do policy intentions correspond to reality, thus the title of the paper, “Is it all in the eye of the beholder?” Is this policy a wishful thinking or a reality?"



  The full article is available free at this link.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

"Privatization Is Bad," says British writer

Privatization Is Bad

"One of Britain’s largest government contractors, Carillion, announced bankruptcy on Tuesday, leaving its 20,000 UK employees unsure of their future and causing layoffs at its subcontractor. The company was £1.5 billion in debt. Whoops! The company is woven into basically every part of the public sector in Britain, from school meals and hospital cleaning to housing for the military."

-------------------

This article explains how the era of privatization brought about government dependency on private contractors, so that if and when a major contractor fails, government doesn't have the staff or the expertise to take over from the contractor. I see the same problem in the US. What happens when cities take a cash payment for a major public asset, such as a bridge or highway, and then the new owner or lessee goes bankrupt? That can also be a strategic bankruptcy, where the corporation doesn't want to put money into an asset to rehab it and decides instead to move their money elsewhere and liquidate the entity that owns or leases the asset. Or when the city happily lays off a lot of employees because they contracted out the public school food service, or he janitorial service, or the teaching, if the contractors don't get the job done? Or if they don't turn enough of a profit and just go out of business? The problem is that before privatization we could be sure that government would continue doing these things, and it doesn't matter whether those activities are profitable or not. After privatization, we don't know that. On the contrary, we know that private corporations do things only as long as they are making a profit. This is where all this nonsense about making government operate like a business comes back to bite us. Governments do things that, by definition, don't turn a profit. When we turn those things over to private corporations, we run the risk that the corporations will bail out on us, and then government has lost the ability to pick up the function without a lot of lost time and extra expense.

And, as this article notes, that profit-seeking creates other problems. Bizarrely, governments end up paying private vendors extra money because of guarantees that are written into their contracts. This has been a huge problem with the Chicago parking meter privatization fiasco. It happened in the UK, too: "This is what happens when you outsource what should be government services, and particularly when you outsource so much to one company: you introduce the likelihood of a whole new kind of total fucking disaster, where the terrible, risky, profit-driven practices that characterize the private sector get mixed in with services that absolutely should not be subjected to that kind of risk, like schools and hospitals. Introducing a profit element to public services can only end in corner-cutting, under-providing and over-charging, and spending more than you would if the government just did it themselves. You end up with a ridiculous situation, where, for instance, Britain’s public health service, which is already underfunded, pays an £82 million settlement to a private company who sued because they didn’t win a contract."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Money man: U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer helped Trump win the presidency — but what does he really want?

Money man: U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer helped Trump win the presidency — but what does he really want?: "“The ultra-wealthy of today differ from the ultra-wealthy in past eras in that they have, a lot of them, no stake in the infrastructure of society,” Magerman said. He’s seen that their wealth does not depend on the health and stability of the country. In fact, they get rich on volatility and instability."

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This is one of the main arguments I made in my first book on the rise of private communities. The rich now have their own parallel state of private institutions, and that's where they live, and many of them are like Mercer--they believe that they don't need public government, and everybody who isn't rich is a parasite. They believe that government is just a way for the parasitic many to steal from the productive few. The notion that ordinary people are working their butts off to generate surplus value for the Mercers of the world is lost on them.

Gated communities stepping up security after violent trail of crime alleged on Spring murder suspects | abc13.com

Gated communities stepping up security after violent trail of crime alleged on Spring murder suspects | abc13.com

SPRING, Texas (KTRK) -- Gated communities are increasing security after two violent home invasions and one that ended in the murders of a beloved Spring couple. Jenny and Bao Lam, both 61, were ambushed in their garage in the Northgate Forest subdivision last week. The three suspects - Khari Kendrick, Aakiel Kendrick and Erick Peralta - then robbed, tortured and shot them to death, according to Harris County Sheriff's investigators. All three have been charged with capital murder. Two days earlier, authorities believe they were in the Champion Lakes Estates community near Tomball...One suspect got into the neighborhood, despite the front gate, on foot. He then looked for an open garage door and caught the male victim off guard. Once inside, he forced the victim to give him the gate code to get his alleged accomplices and their car inside."

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Horrible story. It shows how little security is provided in many gated communities. Gates along don't do much to protect residents from people who are determined to get in.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Amazon shortlists 20 cities for second headquarters | Technology | The Guardian

Amazon shortlists 20 cities for second headquarters | Technology | The Guardian:

Chicago is on the short list. But it is embarrassing to see how some of these cities prostrated themselves before the great God Amazon: "Amazon has claimed its new $5bn headquarters will create 50,000 new jobs and the prospect of securing its favour set off an aggressive charm offensive with cities offering huge tax breaks and even sending gifts, including a giant cactus, to attract the company’s attention. Calgary in Canada offered to change its name to Calmazon or Amagary if it won and a local business group offered to fight a bear to win Amazon’s approval. It did not make the list."

The Privatization Agenda Goes Bust

The Privatization Agenda Goes Bust: "The collapse of Carillion, the mammoth UK government contractor that went bankrupt Monday, was wholly made in Britain, although it has negative consequences internationally.

The reason for Carillion’s bankruptcy, which puts vital public services and thousands of jobs at risk, is that the firm and its component companies grew fat during the first phase of neoliberal economic policy and could not cope with the more recent phase, austerity."

------------------------

The record of privatization, after close to 40 years of evaluation, is mixed at best, but it has been profitable for contractors. However, most of those studies are from the pre-2008 era. This article suggests that in the post-2008 environment, austerity policies have put government on a starvation diet. If government doesn't have the money to pay for construction and repair of infrastructure and provision of services, then firms that want to perform those tasks on a privatized contractual basis are in trouble. 

San Rafael condo owners hit with $145,000 special assessment

San Rafael condo owners hit with $145,000 special assessment

"Members of the 36-unit Pinnacle Condominium Association in San Rafael have approved a special assessment that will result in each condo owner having to pay $145,000 to fund a $5.22 million exterior repair project. “That is a major special assessment for a building this size,” said Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law in Oakland, a clearinghouse for consumer education and referral services for the estimated 9 million California homeowners who now live in a common interest development."

-------------------

This is a long and detailed article about a terrible situation in an old development, built in 1980, that now needs new siding and roof decks. The assessment received 18 "yes" votes. The problem here is that no condo development, no HOA, should ever find itself in the situation of needing a massive special assessment to fund repairs for major building components that have just worn out over time. Boards are supposed to make sure that monthly assessments over decades include enough of a contribution to reserve funds that, when the time comes for a new roof or siding or decks, it is affordable without a six-figure special assessment. As Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, put it, “Homeowner associations are required by law to do reserve studies every three years to determine how much they should be saving for capital items like roofs and building infrastructure,” Murray said. “The idea is that boards should plan ahead and save in reserves so that special assessments aren’t necessary.”

And there are reserves, to the tune of $800,000. That won't fund a $5 million repair, but Marjorie also questions why the association has decided to use only $300,000 of their reserves.

There are other questions raised in the article, such as whether this repair plan is the only way to go, and whether the association should get more opinions and try to reduce the cost. But it still comes down to the fact that the reserves are too low to pay for repairs to an old building, and the unwillingness of today's owners to reserve enough money now to pay for future repairs that will benefit future owners. Attorney Tyler Berding has been talking about this problem forever. I have been saying for years that condominium housing demands more from the financial and social resources of owners than many, even most, of them are prepared to deliver. Here you have Exhibit A. In order for this form of housing to function in the long term, and to avoid catastrophic special assessments that drive people into debt or out of their homes, there needs to be government financial oversight of all condominium associations. Stricter reserve study requirements, agency oversight, and mandatory public disclosure of reserve funding levels need to be considered.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rent or own? The affordability conundrum

Rent or own? The affordability conundrum: "ATTOM Data Solutions reports that 64 percent of Americans now live in places — mostly big metro areas on the East and West coasts — where it is more affordable to rent than own. That means the monthly cost of a mortgage, mortgage interest, insurance and property taxes on a median-priced home in the area will eat up a larger percentage of the average monthly wage there than paying rent on a typical three-bedroom apartment."

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It isn't just the the cities on both coasts. The same is true of Chicago, as well as Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Denver, and Austin. The reason is that in all these places, housing prices have inflated.


The Rise of the Backyard 'Granny Flat' - CityLab

The Rise of the Backyard 'Granny Flat' - CityLab

Yet another good idea that HOAs probably won't allow.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Can Government Officials Have You Arrested for Speaking to Them? - The Atlantic

Can Government Officials Have You Arrested for Speaking to Them? - The Atlantic

The US Supreme Court has this issue before them.  HOA and condo board members aren't government officials, but it will be interesting to watch this case.

It's Becoming Increasingly Hard For California Homeowners To Get Insurance : NPR

It's Becoming Increasingly Hard For California Homeowners To Get Insurance : NPR

"Insurance companies are increasingly dropping homeowners in California because of wildfire risk. There's concern the problem will grow worse after this year's destructive fire season."

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Insurance companies have freaked out about property insurance risks in California in years past. Fires, floods, 100-year storms, landslides earthquakes--these events are hard to build into their premium calculations. But homeowners need property insurance, so we shall see what the state legislature has to say about this.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is Actually Pence's—And It's All About Privatization

Trump's Infrastructure Plan Is Actually Pence's—And It's All About Privatization

"Pence and his allies like to boast about how Indiana sold control of major roads to private firms, claiming the move prompted corporations to invest money in infrastructure that would otherwise have been funded by taxpayers. But opponents say Indiana made some bad deals that offer a cautionary tale of get-rich-quick scheming, secrecy and cronyism that led the state to sell off valuable assets that were then wildly mismanaged."

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This "plan" probably will not lead to construction or maintenance of essential public infrastructure. It is more likely to foster a series of boondoggles in which state and local governments sell off valuable public assets--highways, bridges, etc.--to corporations that will strip them of their value for quick profits

Affordable housing bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

Affordable housing bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown | The Sacramento Bee

"Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a robust package of housing legislation aimed at addressing California’s unprecedented affordability crisis."
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This article is from a few months ago, but I think these bills just went into effect. Across much if not most of California, housing is absurdly expensive. In major cities, San Francisco being the most dramatic example, middle class families can't afford to buy a home, and rents are absurdly high. The term "gentrification" doesn't even begin to describe it, because even people who would be considered gentrifiers in Chicago or Atlanta can't buy a home in San Francisco. Similar but somewhat less serious problems exist elsewhere. Median home prices in California are approaching $550,000. There are other problems that spin off from this, such as homelessness, traffic congestion and air pollution resulting from long commutes to work, and segregation by income and wealth. California is beginning to address their affordability crisis, but I think it will be a long and difficult process. Of course, condominium and HOA-run housing were intended to make housing more affordable by increasing density. But now CIDs are so ubiquitous that probably that solution has exhausted itself. Virtually all new housing in California is in CIDs already, and prices are still sky-high.  Here's an article from last June,  where they note that the average condo in San Francisco now sells for $1.2 million, and "For even more perspective, down in Los Angeles—hardly a cheap place to live in its own right—the California Association of Realtors estimates that the average home (house or condo) cost around $480,000 in April. In Orange County it was $775,000. In Santa Cruz, $815,000. But in San Francisco: $1.4 million for a house or condo, very close to Paragon’s own figure and nearly double some of the record highs everywhere else."

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying - The Washington Post

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying - The Washington Post: "In Sydney, temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the hottest it has been since 1939."

-------------------

While Republicans in the US make the ridiculous claim that cold weather in the winter here means that there is no global warming, there is a heat wave in Australia that is killing bats by the hundreds. Koalas have to be sprayed with water to keep them cool. Asphalt roads are melting.

And of course, extremely cold weather is also evidence of global warming, because it means that the jet stream is losing its ability to hold Arctic air near the North Pole, where it belongs. So, when it gets so cold in Florida that iguanas are falling out of trees, that is consistent with the patterns of extreme weather that climate scientists have been predicting for years. There is also increasing evidence that the Gulf Stream may be slowing.  And of course the Arctic is melting.

Johannesburg's gated communities echo apartheid-era segregation in South Africa — Quartz

Johannesburg's gated communities echo apartheid-era segregation in South Africa — Quartz:

"In order to gain access to an unremarkable suburban road, South Africans have become accustomed to parting with their most personal details. At barriers erected across public roads, people who want to cross into this protected zone fill in their name, surname, cellphone, identity and car registration numbers, and then the exact time of their entry.

The law says they don’t have to when driving on a public road, but most people don’t give a second thought to handing over data in exchange for a sense of personal security in a city like Johannesburg with a reputation for high contact crimes, like murder and robbery.

This payoff, however, has created pockets of development—ranging from middle class suburbia to opulence—walled off from South Africa’s socio-economic reality. It has not only exacerbated inequality by making those beyond the wall invisible, gated communities show how short South Africans’ memory is about restricting the movement of the disenfranchised."

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Gated private communities are 15% of the real estate market in Gauteng, which is the area around Johannesburg and Pretoria. Half the gated communities in South Africa are in Gauteng. Obviously South Africa has a long and loathsome history of racial oppression by the white minority, and now that legal Apartheid is in the past, new forms of segregation have become prevalent.

Monday, January 08, 2018

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does. - Vox

We can draw school zones to make classrooms less segregated. This is how well your district does. - Vox

Veteran says HOA won't allow him to fly American, Marine Corps...

Veteran says HOA won't allow him to fly American, Marine Corps...:



And the homeowner waxes poetic about his flags, except that this dispute isn't about flags--it is about flagpoles. I think that is pretty clear, but local media love this "HOAs hate the American flag" meme, so they make that the headline and the first paragraph. So here's what the association says:



"In this particular case the homeowner installed two 20-foot flagpoles on both sides of his driveway (one on each side) without first submitting the plans or seeking approval. The problem is that oneof the poles is in a utility easement, both poles are within the 25-foot building setback line and the restrictions (and Texas Property Code) only allow for the installation of one flagpole. We have already reached out to the veteran to let him know that the issue is not the flags and are awaiting a response. We are certainly willing to continue to work with this veteran in relocating one of his poles and would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to thank him for his personal sacrifice and service to our country."

Auburn Community Upset after HOA Tells Them to Leave Garage Doors Open | FOX40

Auburn Community Upset after HOA Tells Them to Leave Garage Doors Open | FOX40:



"AUBURN, Calif. — Residents in a community in California are being forced to open their garage doors during the day. KXTL reports the neighborhood’s homeowner’s association said residents need to keep their garage doors up from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The policy started after one homeowner was caught allowing people to live in his garage. Many residents say they’re afraid to leave their belongings out in the open, and they’re rather have their garages inspected. Residents who don’t follow the new law will have to pay a $200 fee."

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OK, I thought I'd seen or heard it all, but this is a new one on me. Good grief.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Longtime L.A. Times contributor Donie Vanitzian remembered as champion of homeowner rights – LA Times

Longtime L.A. Times contributor Donie Vanitzian remembered as champion of homeowner rights – LA Times

This is an awful tragedy and a terrible loss. Donie Vanitzian was a great champion of homeowner rights, co-author of two books on common interest housing, and a long-time columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her column on HOA and condo issues has been running since 2001.

It appears from the stories that she was killed by her husband, who has been charged with her murder.