Saturday, July 05, 2008

‘Nightmare’ condo fees after foreclosure | Business | | The Providence Journal

‘Nightmare’ condo fees after foreclosure -- The Providence Journal: "When McGarry took over as condo association treasurer in April, she quickly learned that the association had been in financial trouble even before the two owners defaulted. Although monthly fees had been raised from $195 to $225 in November, there was no money in reserve, and water, heat and electric service were about to be shut off. McGarry raised the condo fee to $275 and obtained a personal credit-card loan of $4,800 to pay past-due bills and retain a lawyer to help her collect back fees. “I was the only one who could get a loan,” she said. McGarry’s situation is extreme, but it’s not uncommon. Other condominium associations are facing problems because of owners who can’t or won’t pay common expenses, according to state Rep. Patricia Serpa, D-West Warwick. Many owners who get into financial trouble stop paying condo fees months before they default on their mortgages, according to Edmund Allcock, a lawyer representing the New England chapter of the Community Association Institute."
This is an 8-unit condo and two people stopped paying. These small condo buildings are especially risky.

Mother of all foreclosures

Mother of all foreclosures: "It is without the doubt the largest housing-related foreclosure yet in the Manteca-Lathrop market. Hundreds of lots in Beck Properties' highly-touted Oakwood Lake Shores and two sister developments in Mossdale Landing are now in the foreclosure process."
This is in San Joaquin County, California.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Pictured: The floating cities that could one day house climate change refugees | Mail Online

Pictured: The floating cities that could one day house climate change refugees | Mail Online: "An architect has come up with an innovative answer to rising sea levels - a city that floats around the world. The self-contained 'Lilypad' city will be home to around 50,000 'climate refugees' from the worst hit areas - including London."
Not me. I intend to live in a dirigible.

Analyst sees 'ghost town' in Inland Empire | L.A. Land | Los Angeles Times

Analyst sees 'ghost town' in Inland Empire | L.A. Land | Los Angeles Times: "A financial analyst fresh from a tour of construction sites in the Inland Empire is warning Wall Street of a 'ghost town' where finished homes sit vacant and additional homes are still under construction.

'At several properties, there were a significant number of fully built homes sitting vacant along with a large number of additional homes still under construction,' Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst Aaron Deer wrote today after touring developments in Corona and Ontario. 'At one master plan community, the entire development appeared to be vacant -- with the exception of crews working on new construction, it was a ghost town.'"

And of course the majority of this "ghost town" construction is in what are supposed to be HOAs.

Couple Who Let Lawn Die to Save Water Face Fine - Oddities - redOrbit

Couple Who Let Lawn Die to Save Water Face Fine: "[W]hen Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a statewide drought June 4, Hartridge decided it was only right to let her front lawn die to save water. 'The whole water conservation ethic is very important to me,' said Hartridge, a state employee who bikes or rides the bus to work. But that ethic didn't agree with her neighbors, or with the city. Before Hartridge could plan new landscaping, a neighbor complained to the city about her brown lawn, and the Code Enforcement Department slapped the family with a citation. Their small brick home was declared a 'public nuisance' in violation of city code section 17.68.010, which states that front yards 'shall be irrigated, landscaped and maintained.' A $746 fine will be next unless they correct the violation."
The City of Sacramento is doing this. In a drought. Yet another example of a municipality acting like a stereotypical HOA.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 Worldwide

Foreclosures increase in LA and Miami: "New foreclosures almost quadrupled in Los Angeles and doubled in Miami in the second quarter, with as much as $5 billion worth of loans going bad in L.A. alone, the online real estate data company reported. The number of homes scheduled for auction in Los Angeles rose 14,505 compared with 3,797 in the same period a year earlier, PropertyShark said in a report distributed by e-mail. In Miami-Dade County, the number climbed to 2,677 from 1,282."
We haven't seen the bottom of the housing crash yet.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

'Eco-towns' will fall victim to economics - Telegraph: "Protesters gathered outside Parliament yesterday to voice their opposition to the Government’s plans for a string of new “eco-towns” across England."
More government-sponsored utopianism. This hearkens back to the Garden Cities that were based on Ebenezer Howard's ideas.

Starbucks closing 600 stores in the US: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Starbucks closing 600 stores in the US

I guess that would constitute a sign of a slowing economy. But why on earth people pay $4.00 for a cup of burned coffee escapes me anyway. I realize many people like the social experience of Starbucks, and that's worth something. But the coffee is so overpriced that it resembles the housing bubble....hey! Maybe I'm onto something here.

Chicago, city of broad strictures --

Chicago, city of broad strictures -- "The fact is, a lot of 'little soft cities' have become brassier and freer and, well, funner than Chicago.

At Reason Magazine, we recently took a look at how the 35 most-populous cities in the United States balance individual freedom with government paternalism. We ranked the cities on how much freedom they afford their residents to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, gambling and food. And, for good measure, we also looked at the cities' gun laws, use of traffic and surveillance cameras, and tossed in an 'other' category to catch weird laws such as New York's ban on unlicensed dancing, or Chicago's tax on bottled water.

The sad news, Chicagoans, is that your town came in dead last. And it wasn't even close."

Chicago under Dictator-for-Life Richie Daley is now the most repressive and paternalistic city in the nation. Take that, homeowner and condo associations!

Witnesses: Man brought unloaded gun to party : Local : Redding Record Searchlight

Witnesses: Man brought unloaded gun to party in gated community--beatdown ensues: "LAKE CALIFORNIA -- Following a ruckus at a house party, a 40-year-old Cottonwood man and a group of partygoers fended off a man armed with an unloaded shotgun early Saturday inside this gated community, according to authorities.

Tehama County sheriff's deputies responded to a disturbance at Covington Mill Road at 12:58 a.m. When they arrived, they found eight to 10 people fighting, deputies reported Monday."

I could see this happening in a trailer park or the Jerry Springer show, but aren't gated community residents supposed to show a little more decorum?

Obama's Katrina - By Mickey Kaus - Slate Magazine

Obama's Katrina - By Mickey Kaus - Slate Magazine: "Obama's career has been unusually limited for a presidential contender. Housing and 'community development' has been a big part of it. If the result has been a disaster in which Obama's friends made lots of money while his poor constituents lived in dangerous squalor, that seems like a big warning sign, no?"
See below. With the media functioning as PR flacks for the Obama campaign, I wonder how much of the man's actual record and bizarre reversals of position will be covered.
Grim proving ground for Obama's housing policy - The Boston Globe: "CHICAGO - The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can't afford to live anywhere else.

But it's not safe to live here."

Think Obama is a policy genius? Read this. - Cook County Tax Hike In Effect, Businesses Furious - Cook County Tax Hike In Effect, Businesses Furious: "As CBS 2's Joanie Lum reports, a 1 percent sales tax increase is in effect Tuesday, hiking the sales tax in the city of Chicago to 10.25 percent. By comparison, the sales tax in Lake and Will counties is 7 percent, and in DuPage County, it's 7.25 percent. A sales tax of 10.25 percent is also significantly higher than the sales tax in other major cities. The next highest rate in the country is in Memphis at 9.25 percent. New York, Los Angeles and Dallas all have a sales tax of under 8.3 percent, Phoenix has a tax of 6.3 percent, and Denver's sales tax is only 3.6 percent. The Cook County Board voted to raise the sales tax at the end of February, after a five-month stalemate on the 2008 budget. Board President Todd Stroger and his supporters ultimately prevailed, saying the tax hike was necessary to provide health care and other services."
Chicago now has the highest sales tax in the US, at 10.25%, in order to fund the city's welfare state and pay exorbitant salaries to Todd Stroger's friends and relatives for the non-jobs the don't do.

Businesses are outraged, but with a Democratic city government, county government, and state government, they have no legitimate voice in politics. Everything is framed in terms of the Democrats and their constituencies. Their only route to influence in this state is through corruption: payoffs and campaign contributions to the Democrats and the few Republicans who are part of what columnist John Kass calls "The Combine." That, of course, is dangerous with the Feds lurking around. And we are now on the verge of electing as President of the US a man who came straight out of the Chicago machine.

Homeowners or Condominium Association Fees: Nondischargeable, But Maybe It’s Not a Problem : Bankruptcy Law Network

Homeowners or Condominium Association Fees: Nondischargeable, But Maybe It’s Not a Problem : Bankruptcy Law Network: "Section 523(a)(16) of the bankruptcy law, as amended by the 2005 Bankruptcy Reform Act, makes homeowners or condominium association fees nondischargeable, but only if the association fees arose after the date the bankruptcy was filed, and only for so long as the debtor has an ownership interest, or some other equitable interest, in the property. A post-bankruptcy sale or foreclosure of the debtor’s interest in the property, once fully completed, ends any further accumulation of association fees.

For debtors who are keeping their townhouse or condominium notwithstanding their bankruptcy filing, the nondischargeable nature of post-bankruptcy association fees is not a problem. However, debtors who plan to surrender their townhouse or condominium in the bankruptcy are vexed by the question of what to do about post-bankruptcy association fees."

The solution: the bank will have to pay the fees in order to sell the property. - Law Banning Annoying People During Pope's Visit to Australia Criticized - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - Law Banning Annoying People During Pope's Visit to Australia Criticized
SYDNEY, Australia — New regulations making it a crime to annoy or inconvenience people gathering in Sydney during Pope Benedict XVI's visit later this month were criticized Tuesday as a heavy-handed blow to free speech.

The laws will apply in dozens of areas of downtown Sydney — including the city's landmark opera house, train stations and city parks — that are designated venues for World Youth Day, a Catholic evangelical festival at which the pontiff will conduct mass and lead prayer meetings.

The regulations give police and emergency services workers power to order anyone to stop behavior that "causes annoyance or inconvenience to participants in a World Youth Day event," according to a New South Wales state government gazette. Anyone who does not comply faces a 5,500 Australian dollar (US$5,300) fine.

So can any gated community inmates top this? When James Madison, et al., said government power has to be limited because neither the majority nor any minority can be trusted with unlimited power, they had a point.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Our little emperors: does worrying do more harm than good? - Times Online

Our little emperors: does worrying do more harm than good? - Times Online: "A US academic has coined the term kindergarchy – a new (affluent) world order in which children rule. “Children have gone from background to foreground in domestic life with more attention centred on them, their upbringing [and] their small accomplishments,” wrote Joseph Epstein, a recently retired lecturer at Northwestern University, in The Weekly Standard, a US magazine."
I think Epstein's next words were, "Get off my lawn!"

Maybe he doesn't get the principle behind praising these "small accomplishments." Kids develop confidence by experiencing success, and if you reward them for doing well in school and so forth they will probably direct their energies in socially useful directions. That way they become successful members of a productive society.

Otherwise, they might turn into crabby university professors.

My Way News - Ex-Army scientist to get $5.8M in anthrax lawsuit

My Way News - Ex-Army scientist to get $5.8M in anthrax lawsuit: "WASHINGTON (AP) - A former Army scientist who was named as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks will receive $5.8 million to settle his lawsuit against the Justice Department. Steven Hatfill claimed the Justice Department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case."
Remember the 9/11 anthrax scare? This gentleman had nothing to do with it. But that didn't stop the Justice Department from publicly declaring him a "person of interest." Now we, the taxpayers, are paying for that folly.

The BIG One - WTAM 1100

I'm from FEMA and I'm here to help you...: "(Cedar Rapids) According to police a contracted FEMA housing inspector nearly hit a Penford Products employee with his car and then got out of the car slamming the man with a golf club.

FEMA housing inspector Vincent Koley, 74, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after the 11:30 a.m. incident, the Cedar Rapids Police Department reported.

Koley stopped the car and jumped out, police said. Tom Kramer told him to slow down and that he was in the cross walk. Koley replied that 'he didn't have to slow down, he was with FEMA,' police said. The two argued for a minute, and when Kramer turned to walk away, Koley took a golf club out of his car and struck Kramer across the arm, breaking the golf club."

Yeah, and don't eat tomatoes, either. Well, maybe it's not the tomatoes, but don't eat them anyway. And get out of the way, because FEMA is coming through.

We are the federal government, here to help you.