Saturday, January 27, 2007

Potomac News Online | Sign posting bill delayed
Thanks to Chris Casey for the link to this update on the effort to give basic First Amendment rights (posting political campaign signs) to HOA residents in Virginia. He notes in an email that the opposition has slowed things down for a week by seeking amendments. As I noted earlier, the local CAI chapter is opposing the bill because they think campaign signs are ugly. Chris promises more detail later on his blog at

When the 2004 presidential race began heating up, Chris Casey, a Web site designer for Democratic candidates, felt the urge to plant a political sign in his yard. Casey knew 14 years ago that when he bought his house in Montclair, he signed property owner covenants prohibiting him from posting most signs in his yard. But Casey posted his John Kerry for president sign and in short order received a letter in the mail. It was a notice from the Montclair Property Owner Association that Casey had violated his covenants and faced a fine if he didn't comply...A bill sponsored by Sen. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller, D-36th, was scheduled to be heard but was rescheduled when both sides, including a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union, could not agree on an amendment...Puller's bill suggests that no property owner association prevent a resident from posting political signs, an argument similarly addressed by a Supreme Court ruling in 1994. In the case of City of Ladue v. Gilleo, the court ruled that a government could not prohibit signs being posted on private property based on their content. Casey used this case in arguing for his right to free speech in Montclair. | 01/27/2007 | These streets aren't made for walking
Thanks to Fred Pilot for this link, which is a real news story and not, I repeat, NOT a parody from The Onion of gated community baskethead repressiveness:

Get caught walking in the middle of the streets in Discovery Bay's Lakeshore neighborhood these days and it could cost you $50. The Lakeshore Residential Owners Association recently enacted a rule that prohibits people from walking in the streets of the gated 450-home community. The rule is meant to protect pedestrians and keep people from blocking traffic, said Carlos Tabarini, president of the association that governs the neighborhood. "It's intended for safety and good neighborly conduct," Tabarini said. "I don't think it's strict."

Friday, January 26, 2007

Elderly, angry Plimmerton man turns tagger - New Zealand
Here's a fellow with a unique way of expressing his dissatisfaction with housing design trends in his neighborhood.

Anger at an invasion of "Beijing-like" flash mansions has driven an elderly Plimmerton historian to tag a neighbouring house. The 75-year-old has escaped police charges but is vowing to continue his crusade to preserve the ambience of the historic seaside resort. Roger Beauchamp - president of the Porirua Historic Association and Porirua Historic Places Trust representative - said extreme frustration drove him to tagging, a vice usually the domain of errant teenagers. He spray-painted "shit" on neighbour Pat Quin's house in Moana Rd. | Alaska's news and information source | Massive snowfall causes city to shrink
Another global warning alert, this one from Alaska, where the municipality of Anchorage is way over budget on snow removal:

Anchorage, Alaska - Anchorage has been hit with more than 74 inches of snow this season, and according to the city, it's reaching a crisis level, with snow removal on the streets becoming a big problem...The city is already $2 million over budget for snow removal this season, and says the situation is nearing crisis, with clearing crews working six day weeks. And it won't be completely done until the white stuff turns into the wet stuff.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

BREITBART.COM - Existing Home Sales Plummet in 2006
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of existing homes fell in December, closing out a year in which demand for homes slumped by the largest amount in 17 years.
The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes were down 0.8 percent last month, a bigger decline than had been expected. For the year, sales fell by 8.4 percent, the biggest annual decline since 1989, when existing home sales fell by 14.8 percent. The sales figure underscored the sharp contraction that is going on in the once high-flying housing market, which before last year had set sales records for five straight years. Even with the sharp drop in sales last year, the median price of an existing home sold in 2006 managed to rise a slight 1.1 percent. But that was far below the double-digit gains during the boom years. The median home price had risen by 12.4 percent in 2005.

WCBS NEWSRADIO 880 - NJ Cracks Down on Talking on a Cell Phone While Cycling
More evidence that public governments are competing with HOAs to see who can be more intrusive and meddlesome? You be the judge.

A legislative committee has approved a bill that would make it illegal for people to use a hand-held telephone while riding a bicycle on a public road. Hands-free devices would be allowed and lawbreakers would face fines ranging from $100 to $250. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, a bill sponsor, said the measure is meant to protect bicyclists and the people they may strike when riding and yakking at the same time. ``That is, in our judgment, a danger to pedestrians as well as to the bicyclists themselves, due to the fact that now they have one hand on the handlebars, they're talking to someone and they're on a public highway,'' said Bramnick, a Union County Republican.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More evidence of the scourge of global warming...
Weather forecasts released Thursday suggested that the cold weather expected to hit the U.S. Midwest between Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 will now persist longer than previously expected. One model run by meteorologists at MDA's EarthSat Weather Group in Rockville, Md., forecasts "the coldest outbreak in years" for large parts of the U.S. between Feb. 2-6.
White Atlanta suburbs push for secession - Yahoo! News
ATLANTA - A potentially explosive dispute in the City Too Busy to Hate is taking shape over a proposal to break Fulton County in two and split off Atlanta's predominantly white, affluent suburbs to the north from some of the metropolitan area's poorest, black neighborhoods. Legislation that would allow the suburbs to form their own county, to be called Milton County, was introduced by members of the Georgia Legislature's Republican majority earlier this month. Supporters say it is a quest for more responsive government in a county with a population greater than that of six states. Opponents say the measure is racially motivated and will pit white against black, rich against poor. "If it gets to the floor, there will be blood on the walls," warned state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat and member of the Legislative Black Caucus who bitterly opposes the plan. Fort added: "As much as you would like to think it's not racial, it's difficult to draw any other conclusion."...Residents of north Fulton represent 29 percent of the county's population of 915,000 but pay 42 percent of its property taxes, according to a local taxpayers group. A split would lead to the loss of $193 million in property taxes alone for Fulton County.


This is a pretty drastic measure. Does anybody know how prevalent HOAs are in north Fulton County?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Chi-Town Daily News: Candidate for Chicago City Council calls for moratorium on condo conversions
Thanks to Nancy Levy for this link:

Chris Adams, candidate for 49th Ward Alderman, called Friday for a 12-month moratorium on new condominium conversions in Rogers Park and announced he would create a 49th Ward Low Income Housing Trust Fund – the first of its kind in Chicago – as part of a strategy to stem the decline in affordable housing in the 49th ward...Condo conversions in Rogers Park have dislocated numerous families and driven others out of the community altogether, threatening the cultural and economic diversity on which the community prides itself. Adams said Ald. Moore’s set-aside policies have been ineffective. A report by the Lakeside Community Development Corporation linked the rapid increase in the number of new condominiums in Rogers Park to a sharp decline in rental units. According to the Lakeside report, Rogers Park has lost 3,600 rental units in just the last four years.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

LIS > Bill Tracking > SB964 > 2007 session
Check out the summary and see what CAI is so much against. Note that the associations are allowed to impose reasonable restrictions.

Summary as introduced:
Property Owners' Association Act; display of political signs. Provides that, except as otherwise expressed in the declaration, no declaration or association's rules and regulations or architectural guidelines shall restrict or prohibit the display by a lot owner on his lot of a candidate sign or a sign that advertises the support or defeat of any question submitted to the voters in accordance with state election law. For the purposes of the bill, "candidate sign" means a sign on behalf of a candidate for public office or a slate of candidates for public office. The bill provides, however, that an association may restrict the display of such signs (i) in the common areas or (ii) in accordance with federal or state law, and may establish reasonable restrictions as to the size, place, duration, and manner of placement or display of such signs, except that no restriction on the duration of the display of such signs shall be less than (a) 30 days before the primary election, general election or vote on the proposition or (b) seven days after the primary election, general election, or vote on the proposition. The bill also requires the association disclosure packet to contain a statement of any restrictions on the size, place, duration, and manner of placement or display of such signs. The bill contains technical amendments. The bill also clarifies that the display of the flag of (i) the United States, (ii) the Commonwealth, (iii) any active branch of the armed forces of the United States, or (iv) any military valor or service award of the United States also includes display on mailboxes and similar structures.
Here, courtesy of Chris Casey, is a website devoted to establishing basic freedom of speech for residents of Virginia's HOAs. There is a bill, SB 964, in the Virginia state legislature that would prevent HOAs in VA from squelching political speech at campaign time. Of course, CAI's Virginia Legislative Action Committee is opposing it, saying, "Imagine the homes in your community taking on the appearance of a local state highway at election time!! Not a very pretty sight."

This is just shameful. To me, that statement says all you need to know about CAI's disdainful attitude toward democracy. This is an organization that started out in 1973 with a belief in participatory local democracy. Read their early publications. HOAs were to be all about re-creating the New England town meeting. But eventually CAI became entirely a trade association, and as it was taken over by lawyers and managers, CAI has become increasingly committed to replacing local democracy with top-down, authoritarian property management. That way, the professionals who constitute CAI become the real government of the nation's HOAs. The professionals know that the volunteer directors just don't have time or the expertise to do the job alone, and even if they can, they still can't command respect from the members without the constant threat of litigation by the association's attorney.

I hope this anti-democratic statement is brought to the attention of the state legislators who pay for all those campaign signs that offend CAI's delicate sensibilities at election time.