Saturday, March 08, 2008

Condo owners seek more power - Greenwich Time

Condo owners seek more power - Greenwich Time: "A bill pending before the state legislature would create an eight-member Connecticut Community Association Commission within the state Department of Consumer Protection. Appointed by the governor, the group would have the authority to investigate and resolve complaints lodged against condominium associations and their governing boards. The bill has the backing of state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who testified in favor of the legislation yesterday before the General Law Committee. Blumenthal said yesterday the rights of condominium owners are 'all too frequently disregarded.'"
Yet another state is added to the list of places where the state legislature recognizes that owners rights are suffering at the hands of HOA and condo boards. California, Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland...and on, and on. Now, Connecticut. Apparently these legislators don't accept the message from the industry that everything is just fine in Privatopia.

PROPERTY FOCUS: Neighbour Vs. neighbour - Business news

PROPERTY FOCUS: Neighbour Vs. neighbour - Business news: "The draft bill of Bulgaria’s Condominium Act is ineffective and has been written in such a way as to serve the interests of the heating, water and electricity utility companies, professor Vladimir Petrov from the Civil Association against Corruption and Illegal Construction said, as quoted by Dnevnik daily."
Different country, same general idea?

Thursday, March 06, 2008 - News - Chinch bugs, Florida law, HOA craziness: "PARRISH -- A homeowner who faces fines for installing a Florida-friendly yard is among a group campaigning to oust the homeowner association board in River Woods. Jim Copas has been in dispute with the board of the subdivision off Old Tampa Road since he and his wife, Cynthia Zanella, ripped out their chinch bug-ridden lawn and laid shell last year. Their yard is certified by Manatee County as a Florida-friendly yard, one that conserves water and needs almost no fertilizers or pesticides. A 2001 state law prohibits homeowner associations from banning Florida-friendly yards. River Woods board members, however, say the couple needed permission to change the landscape and that it could harm property values in the community."
Another HOA board that is "stuck on stupid"? Maybe there is something about the position of HOA director that brings out the worst in otherwise decent people.

By the way, what is a "chinch bug" and can I rest assured that they don't like Illinois winters?

My Way News - Homeowner Equity Is Lowest Since 1945

My Way News - Homeowner Equity Is Lowest Since 1945: "NEW YORK (AP) - Americans' percentage of equity in their homes fell below 50 percent for the first time on record since 1945, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Homeowners' portion of equity slipped to downwardly revised 49.6 percent in the second quarter of 2007, the central bank reported in its quarterly U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts, and declined further to 47.9 percent in the fourth quarter - the third straight quarter it was under 50 percent. That marks the first time homeowners' debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945. The total value of equity also fell for the third straight quarter to $9.65 trillion from a downwardly revised $9.93 trillion in the third quarter."
This is scary.
Nevada County Local News: Embezzle case: Balch changes her plea to guilty - "In front of six elderly victims in court Thursday, the wife of a former Nevada City mayor pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $100,000 from their homeowners association, of which she was treasurer."
Yet another "isolated incident" that in no way implies there is any larger problem with embezzlement and other misuse of association funds by those entrusted with them. Move along. Nothing to see here.
Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Vultures Ripping Apart Roofs, Chewing Cars - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando

Vultures Ripping Apart Roofs, Chewing Cars - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando: "City officials said little can be done about the hundreds of black and turkey vultures because they are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act."
You can't even scare them away. You have to stand there and watch while they eat your roof and your car. Maybe the Migratory Bird Treat Act needs an amendment? Just suggesting...

Monday, March 03, 2008 - Real Estate - Real estate and homes news stories about Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties in Florida, from the newspapers of record. - "If you have a problem with your condominium association, there is a place to try to get relief, or at least an explanation of your rights.

Created by the Florida Legislature in 2004, the Office of the Condominium Ombudsman has become a resource for unit owners, board members, condominium associations and others.

So far, lawmakers have not created a similar office for homeowners associations, but one is being considered."

Nice photo of Danille Carroll. The last line in the piece quotes her as saying something I said when we were both speaking at Frank Askin's conference in New Jersey: "You are only one election away from having a bad condo board." And that is the Achilles Heel of this entire institution. - Queens Building Uses 'Mosquito' To Quiet Teens: "QUEENS (CBS) ― Teenagers who hang out inside one apartment building in Jamaica, Queens are getting an earful these days. A new security device called 'The Mosquito' has been installed in the lobby of a building on 170th St. where there have been chronic problems with noisy teens. The wall-mounted device emits a high-frequency screech that can only be heard by people aged 13 to 25. Most older people cannot hear it."
You mean to tell me that there is a "high-frequency screech" that is actually worse than the music they pay for? I don't believe it. Soon that screech will be the most-downloaded mp3 file on the planet.
My Way News - Luxury Homes Burn in Apparent Eco-Attack: "WOODINVILLE, Wash. (AP) - Three seven-figure dream homes went up in flames early Monday in a Seattle suburb, apparently set by eco-terrorists who left a sign mocking the builders' claims that the 4,000-plus-square-foot houses were environmentally friendly. The sign - a sheet marked with spray paint - bore the initials ELF, for Earth Liberation Front, a loose collection of radical environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks since the 1990s."
I hope they find a nice set of cozy prison cells for these folks. But it may not be so easy to catch them.
Court may consider broadcast decency rules - The Boston Globe: "WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court this week may reopen for the first time in more than 30 years the debate over what qualifies as an 'indecent' broadcast...The issue before the court now is delicately described as the problem of 'fleeting expletives' in over-the-air broadcasts, which are still regulated. Television viewers who watch some of the entertainment industry's award shows may be familiar with the phenomenon."

The Federal Communications Commission licenses broadcast stations to use particular frequencies, and requires them to avoid "indecency" as a condition of keeping those licenses. Celebrities delight in dropping "F-bombs" here and there to show how cool they are and get free publicity. What should happen to the station that broadcasts it?
MyFox Chicago | Prepare to Pay More in Sales Tax by November: "'Chicago now has the unfortunate notoriety of having the highest sales tax in the country, and our region will now be a more expensive place to visit, live, work and operate a business,' said Jerry Roper, head of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. 'The people of our region should be outraged.'"
Chicagoans have the privilege of being governed by Democrats at the state, county, and municipal level. That means lots of free stuff being paid for by business and the middle class through high taxes. Would you locate your retail business in the city with the highest sales tax in the USA?