Saturday, April 09, 2011

HOA goes after woman's garage as 'community center'

A Tierrasanta homeowners association is cracking down on a 70-year-old woman whose garage has become a neighborhood gathering place of sorts, with folding chairs, a television and ample Chargers paraphernalia. The Villa Portofino association has fined Marylin Weber $120, saying she can’t use her garage as living space. Weber is refusing to pay the fine or back down, saying her garage is the community center in her neighborhood. The door is often open and neighbors stop by to knit, watch Jeopardy or celebrate birthdays.
One of the basic principles of Privatopia is HOAs serve to build community spirit. After all, the private local government industry markets them as "community associations." However when community evolves naturally as this story illustrates, HOAs can be decidedly anti-community.

HOA foreclosures come with price tag in troubled real estate market

As for the Leiders' former Brier Creek home, while the HOA foreclosed on them back in 2009, two years later the HOA still has the deed on it.
The HOA has now paid thousands on the home insuring it and maintaining it all while the home sits empty, because Bank of America still holds the mortgage on the home. The bank is still owed all the money from the mortgage and has a lien on the property preventing it from being sold until it's paid off.
HOAs like the county tax collector foreclose when property levies go unpaid.  But with properties heavily burdened with mortgage debt and difficult to liquidate in the current real estate market, HOA foreclosures don't necessarily result bringing accounts current and instead increase the liability side of the ledger.

Homebuilder Pasquinelli files for bankruptcy

"The bankruptcy petition is a dramatic turn of events for Pasquinelli, which started building homes in the Chicago market in 1956, and whose business expanded under the Pasquinelli and Portrait names to Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, George, Florida and Texas. A civil lawsuit filed against the company last year said as of 2006, the company's annual revenues had surpassed $580 million...The filing adds Pasquinelli to the list of longtime local homebuilders whose names have disappeared from the Chicago area residential construction scene. Competitors like Kirk Homes and Kimball Hill Homes also enjoyed the housing market's bubble before it burst and they were forced to fold."

Until the big collapse in 2008, Chicago was the main exception to the dominance of national home builders. In this area, there were lots of strong local home building companies and developers. But they didn't survive the collapse of the market, so if the new housing market ever comes back (and I don't assume that it will) it will be national, publicly traded firms that do the building. Just as family farms gave way to huge corporate farming conglomerates, so the home building industry seems to have turned into a mega-market where corporate goliaths swat away at each other like Transformers. Where does that leave the home buyer? Tons of relatively meaningless choices about carpets and windows and no choice about whether you will have an HOA.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

CCHAL announces progress on SB 561

Evan -- please post news of our victory in California's Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. SB561 is legislation that protects both homeowners and associations from the predatory business practices of debt collectors during the assessment collection process. The bill is sponsored by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law in partnership with the California Alliance for Retired Americans. California State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is carrying the measure.

Marjorie Murray, President
Center for California Homeowner Association Law
Oakland, CA 94612

Sent: 4/5/2011 6:32:58 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Senate Judiciary Approves SB561 4-1: Bill Protects both Homeowners and Associations

The California Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 this
afternoon to approve SB561, legislation targeting the
predatory practices of association debt collectors. The
author of the bill is Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett
[D-San Leandro.] AYE votes were Noreen Evans [D-Santa
Rosa], Mark Leno [D-San Francisco], Sam Blakeslee [R-San
Luis Obispo] and Corbett.

The bill voids any foreclosure action based on contracts
that violate the state laws protecting the rights of the
homeowner or the duties of the association board during
assessment collection. The bill targets in particular
contracts that violate existing law (Civil Code 1367.1(b)
prescribing how homeowner payments are to be applied to
the debt: assessments FIRST and debt collector profits
LAST – and only after the assessments are paid in full.

This consumer protection law was created by Congresswoman
Jackie Speier when she was in the California Assembly.

Seniors – with a lot of equity in their homes – are
especially vulnerable to these predatory practices. Debt
collectors coerce seniors into signing contracts under
which the homeowner “agrees” that his payments will go
into the debt collector’s wallet instead of to paying down
assessments owed as required by EXISTING law (Civil Code
1367.1(b). Because the debt collector isn’t paying down
the assessments, the homeowner is catapulted into the
foreclosure process.

“This is irrational behavior on the part of HOAs,” said
Marjorie Murray, President of the Center for California
Homeowner Association Law. “Why do associations hire a
debt collector to go after the assessments but then allow
the debt collector to keep the money instead of turning it
over to the association that hired them? This makes no

SB561 also targets debt collector contracts that prohibit
boards from meeting with homeowners to work out a payment
plan or to let the homeowner dispute the debt. The
typical contract penalizes boards that communicate with
the homeowner after the account has been turned over to
the debt collector: the association becomes liable for all
the collection costs.

Associations and debt collectors have been sued repeatedly
for these practices: Fuller v Association Lien Services,
Santaella v Angius & Terry, Chen v Association Lien
Services among many others.

Co-sponsors of SB561 are the Center for California
Homeowner Association Law and the California Alliance for
Retired Americans (CARA). Supporters are Congresswoman
Jackie Speier, AARP, Consumer Attorneys of California,
OWL, Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer
Reports; Consumer Federation of California; Gray Panthers,
Californians for Disability Rights, among others.

A fact sheet on SB561 is on the CCHAL website at

The bill goes next to the Senate floor.

CCHAL NewsBrief
April 5, 2011

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

Home Owner Associations Growing In Power While With Little Oversight Or Transparency |

Home Owner Associations Growing In Power While With Little Oversight Or Transparency |
Thanks to Fred Fischer for sending this link.

Senator wrote HOA bills while working for HOA - Sunday, April 3, 2011 | 2:01 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

Senator wrote HOA bills while working for HOA - Sunday, April 3, 2011 | 2:01 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun: "Carson City — Sen. Allison Copening has introduced seven bills to regulate homeowners associations this session, the product of nearly 18 months working with industry experts. During hours of hearings on her bills over six weeks, Copening, D-Las Vegas, did not disclose that she is also employed by an HOA. On Friday, after the Las Vegas Sun contacted her with questions about the bills, she disclosed that she works for a homeowners association for Del Webb, a subsidiary of one of the country’s largest builders, which has taken an active role in shaping the legislation she introduced. "
Thanks to Fred Pilot and others who sent me this. Having a conflict of interest is bad enough without adding to that the failure to disclose the conflict.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Empty houses taking toll on Valley

On a typical block in metro Phoenix, there's at least one empty home, often several. Overbuilding during the housing boom, record foreclosures during the subsequent crash and a significant drop in population growth have led to more than 100,000 vacant homes across the region, five times what was once considered normal. With an average of three people per residence, the swath of vacant homes is equivalent to a city bigger than Chandler sitting empty.
This is deep in the heart of Privatopia.  These vacant homes demonstrate how excess leverage and irrational exuberance can decimate an entire industry, spurring overbuilding and creating tons of excess inventory by packing what would normally be 15 years of growth into five.  It's no wonder new home starts are at their lowest levels since the late 1940s.

Feathers fly


Feathers fly Saturday as Sacramento celebrates International Pillow Fight Day at Fremont Park. From Topeka, Kan., to Tunis, Tunisia, cities posted events on Facebook. It's part of the Urban Playground Movement, which aims to get people off the couch and into the urban living room. 
This looks like it would be a great way to blow off steam in Privatopia.  But surely all of those feathers would violate some HOA rule.

HOA Wants To Ban Kids From Playing Outside - News Story - WFTV Orlando

HOA Wants To Ban Kids From Playing Outside - News Story - WFTV Orlando:
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. -- A neighborhood homeowner's association in Volusia County is causing some controversy after it proposed banning kids from playing outside in their own yards.

Officials at the Persimmon Place subdivision in Edgewater are pushing a measure to ban kids from outdoor playing in the community, unless they have an adult with them at all times.

It has become impossible to satirize HOAs. Every absurd and oppressive thing you can imagine has actually been done. Thanks to Rodney Gray for the link.