Friday, February 24, 2006

TUPCA.ORG Texas Uniform Planned Community Act
Look what's brewing in the Lone Star State. Thanks to Sharon Reuler, the TUPCA Coordinator for the Texas College of Real Estate Attorneys, for the pointer.
Uniform Law Commissioners' website on modifications to Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act

Don Nordeen sent me this link a while back and I forgot to post it. This is worth keeping track of. Adoption of UCIOA is on the legislative table in New Jersey at this moment.
The ABA takes notice of the Twin Rivers case with an interesting perspective from David L. Hudson, Jr. Thanks to Don Nordeen for this link:

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote a Harvard Law Review article in 1977 calling for the use of state constitutions as a greater protector or "font" of individual liberties. The former justice from New Jersey likely would have smiled at a recent groundbreaking ruling from his home state. The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, ruled Feb. 7 that privately owned homeowner associations may be subject to free speech and other guarantees under the state’s constitution. Committee for a Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners’ Association, No. A-4047-03T2.
... - News - Police: Man Angry About Slamming Door Killed Neighbor
BELLEVIEW, Fla. -- It's an unusual motive for murder. Investigators in Belleview said slamming the door drove a man to kill his next-door neighbor in Marion County. Investigators believe Betty Shepperd was murdered over something that sounds extremely trivial. They said 45-year-old Vito Loiacono was irritated that Shepperd was slamming the door at night and waking him up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

CAI: New Jersey Appellate Court Hands Down Significant Constitutional Ruling
Thanks to Don Nordeen for this link. The Community Associations Institute has now revised their earlier reaction to the Twin Rivers decision, which I linked to some time ago. Now they have a more detailed legal analysis of the case that emphasizes the ways BODs are still allowed to wield enormous power over residents, even with the constitutional limits on infringing expressive liberties. The lawyer who wrote it, Michael Karpoff, correctly points out that the business judgement rule still applies to non-expressive conduct.

He also emphasizes that "there is no need for governing boards to panic" over the decision. Think about that. If boards had to respect the New Jersey Constitution, they might panic? Why aren't New Jersey's municipal officials in a perpetual anxiety attack? They have been respecting the state Constitution ever since it was written.

Karpoff concludes with this: "Moreover, the Twin Rivers defendants plan to appeal the appellate court's decision to the New Jersey Supreme Court, so the final word on members' speech rights still has not been spoken." So, CAI is still hoping that the New Jersey Supreme Court will silence these disobedient association members for good and all, and put their expressive liberties at the mercy of their board of directors as nature intended. I imagine CAI will drag out the usual parade of horribles that will ensue if HOA members are allowed to display political signs, use their community meeting room, and have fair access to the association newspaper.

I can add one more item to Karpoff's list of reasons for HOA boards not to panic: it's an appellate court decision, and boards frequently disregard those anyway. :-)
Homeowner boards can't exclude democracy
Nice op-ed by law prof Paula Franzese and Twin Rivers plaintiff Margaret Bar-Akiva. Thanks to Gregory Machyowsky for the link. Registration required.

Throughout the nation, private residential subdivisions controlled by homeowner association boards have become Goliath-like manifestations of a phenomenon known as privatization. Increasingly, we are witnessing the rise of "fortress America" as, behind gates and walls, residents agree to relegate to private contract and governing boards a host of matters traditionally considered to be within the public and governmental domain. The resultant loss of individual autonomy comes at a dear price, while the divide between the "us," however conceived, and the "them" widens. More than 250,000 homeowner associations now exist, and more than 50 million Americans live in a condominium, cooperative, planned, walled or gated community. These "privatopias can be anything but. Often preying on residents' desires for security, stability and preservation of property values, homeowner associations have created privatized regimes of governing rules to regulate everything from architectural style, the color of one's shutters, the permissibility of pets, screen doors and basketball hoops to the posting of signs and the flying of flags.

LA Daily News - Mystery blob eating downtown

A mysterious black blob attacked downtown Los Angeles on Monday with a tar-like goo that oozed from manholes, buckled a street and unmoored a Raymond Chandler-era brick building, firefighters said. About 200 residents were forced to flee as a hazardous materials team and dozens of firefighters worked throughout the day to identify what was first deemed "a black tarry substance" and later morphed into a "watery mud." While outside temperatures struggled to break 60, sidewalks in the vicinity steamed at 103 degrees, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers said.

States Curbing Right to Seize Private Homes - New York Times
This is a very encouraging reaffirmation of property rights, as state legislators work to protect us against municipalities abusing the power of eminent domain under the horrendous Kelo v. New London decision.

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government's power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes. The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court's 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.