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Tragedy in Florida HOA

This blog has moved to http://www.NeighborsAtWar.com

But please don’t neglect to follow this story.

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What First Amendment?

I had an odd phone call from a friend late last year, a few weeks before my book came out. I won’t share too many personal details, but this gentleman is retired, a wonderfully decent man who is well-loved in the community.

But he was next to tears as he said, “Do you know anything about Homeowners Associations?” With what I’ve been through over the past few years, I almost had to laugh. But I asked him to continue.

He told me that he’s lived in his suburban home for the past thirty years and it has never had an HOA. There’s nothing in his original real estate documents and he’s never paid dues to anyone. But he was stunned when someone knocked on the door and said the neighborhood was now represented by a Homeowners Association. The visitor noted a couple of things in my friend’s back yard that were not approved by the new board. One was a back fence that was six or so inches taller than nearby ones. The second was a little white gazebo in the back yard. It was unapproved and had to be removed.

“What do I do?” my friend asked.

For many years this gentleman has conducted weekly Bible studies in his home, not many people, probably just as many as you could fit into a small backyard gazebo. But apparently someone had complained and had called a meeting where a majority of those who showed up voted to reinstitute an HOA that’s been absolutely inactive for the past three decades.

I happen to know this neighborhood. It’s very clean, well-groomed with several dozen tidy one-story, mid-to-upper scale homes. But I also learned that this newly formed HOA is now represented by one of the most powerful, most aggressive HOA law firms in the country. At 70 years old, my friend doesn’t have the resources to go to court.

I do know something else. This gentleman’s Bible studies are going to have to come to a close.

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Another HOA Blasted by an Embezzler

Yes, Virginia, there really IS a Santa Claus. Except that she lives in Prescott, Arizona, and she’s been heavily ‘gifting’ herself with wads of cash. HOA cash. At last count, the total was $33,000. She’s being asked a few questions by the local gendarme, but heck, it’s Christmas. And surely homeowners in the Beaver Creek Village POA would have given her that money anyway. Get ready, Suckers, for the special assessments.
http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_northern_az/prescott/kala-pearson-accused-of-embezzling-from-n-arizona-homeowners-association

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The Horrible Newtown Tragedy

I really shouldn’t take space on this HOA Hell Blog to comment on the horrific mass murders of small children in Connecticut. But since HOA board meetings have also experienced some mass shootings by deranged homeowners, I do have some observations about the current anti-gun hysteria. I am a supporter of the Second Amendment and the reasoning behind it. And yes, I support any law that would take guns out of the hands of criminals, drug gangs, children, untrained gun owners and the mentally ill.

But consider this: not a single one of the current gun-ban proposals will work. Just last week, an Illinois judge ruled that a gun ban in that state was unconstitutional.

And there is the rub. The U.S. Constitution. If firearms are to be banned the only appropriate way to do so is to change the Constitution. I’m not advocating it. I’m just saying it.

I’m also linking to a related news story that most of America probably missed.

http://news.yahoo.com/texas-town-allows-teachers-carry-concealed-guns-081017416.html

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Finally, A Good Court Decision!

It’s not often that the lowly homeowner has much of a chance of getting a fair hearing in court. The vast majority of all rulings are against the homeowner and in favor of the private non-profit corporation. And many’s the judge who’s told a miserable homeowner that he or she should have read his covenants before signing the real estate documents.

Last week’s ruling, though, by the Supreme Court of Virginia was a clarion call to the National Homeowners Association Movement that it can’t stomp on the homeowner’s Constitutional rights forever. Basically the court ruled that the Shadowood Condominium complex in Reston, Virginia cannot assess fines against residents because there was no such permission granted in the development’s master deed. Bam! Pow!

Stone-faced attorneys in Virginia said the ruling will have a profound impact on 10,000 Homeowners Associations across Virginia. It certainly will have a profound impact on lawyers who make a fancy living from dragging homeowners into court over stupid covenant violations.

Just reading about the wrongdoing by certain Shadowood officials over the years is enough to make one weep. Millions of dollars spent on ‘improvements’ with no accounting oversight. Tens of thousands of dollars paid to certain HOA board members for ‘services rendered’. Towing cars right before Thanksgiving. Turning off the heat and air conditioning to ‘punish’ rule-breakers. It’s ugly, and I’ve linked to the Washington Post’s story below.

Law professor Evan McKenzie predicted in his last book, Beyond Privatopia, that Homeowners Associations were going to face a day of reckoning. He was precognizant, a man of real genius.

Folks, the mightiest dam in the world can collapse. The collapse, no matter how large, starts out with a microscopic fissure somewhere.

This dam has not yet collapsed.

But it will.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/restons-shadowood-condominiums-make-new-va-case-law-cant-impose-fees-on-rule-violators/2012/12/13/52fb582c-4554-11e2-9648-a2c323a991d6_blog.html

 

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I Need Some Help, Here

I’ve gotten some emails from Maryland asking the impact of the proposed state proposal to change the status of the Columbia Association (an HOA) into a ‘newly created’ nonprofit community services corporation, whatever that is. Any help on understanding this issue would be hugely appreciated. A public answer here, or private (NeighborsAtWar@hotmail. com), and I will be eternally grateful.

Current news at the link below:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/columbia/ph-board-tables-hoa-bill-20121120,0,1314067.story

 

 

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HOAs Demand Police Power!

More and more Homeowners Associations around the country are actually demanding and getting police powers. Most homeowners are standing idly by and letting it happen.

In Illinois, in Colorado, in Florida and elsewhere HOA boards are purchasing traffic radar equipment and handing out speeding tickets. Fines against speeding homeowners can run anywhere from 50 to 3500 dollars! All by itself, that’s an outrage. But like gasoline thrown on a campfire, HOAs are actually fining homeowners when their guests are caught speeding!

As crazy as it seems, a case bubbling through the court system in Illinois has actually made it to that state’s supreme court.

Homeowner Ken Poris lives in the Lake Holiday Property Owners Association. Four years ago he was issued a ticket for going 34 in a 25, and he’s been fighting it ever since. He wasn’t pulled over by the cops. He was pulled over by the HOA’s private security guard. The guard even confiscated Polis’s driver’s license. The Lake Holiday HOA claims it has an unrestricted right to fine homeowners, EVEN IF THE HOMEOWNER HIMSELF WAS NOT IN THE CAR!

This private security guard’s radar was not even licensed as required by federal law.

Something has gone seriously awry in the American Homeowners Association Movement. If you, Dear Reader, are not screaming from the rooftops about this fraud, this complete collapse of Constitutional rights, then you will mightily deserve the society you get!

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/39/3956.asp

 

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Good Lawyers? God Forbid!

It’s not often that I post blogs from lawyers or law firms in the HOA industry. But when one of them truly ‘gets it’, they deserve praise. Jean Winters, an attorney who frequently blogs and answers questions in Florida’s Sun Central, occasionally shows a spark of brilliance. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t pass such material along.

http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/condoblog/2012/11/thanksgiving-a-time-of-reflecting-on-how-to-create-harmony-in-your-community.html

 

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Sign The Petition, Dummy!

LOL! Forgive me, but I’m corrupt enough to use any kind of inflammatory headline to get you to read deeper. And no, of course you are not dummies…UNLESS you refuse to consider signing the petition to the White House composed by George Staropoli, a man who is a giant in the world of HOA reason and Constitutionalism.

The left is all abuzz about a few on the right who are proposing seceeding from the Republic because of the results of the last election. First, those well-meaning people have an absolute right to propose secession to express their opinion. Second, secession won’t work, that’s what national elections are all about. If you don’t like it, vote for someone new in the next election. Just change it.

But the third point is a whopper! And it took someone of Staropoli’s clear-headed thinking to come up with it.

Homeowners Associations, as private non-profit corporations, preside over traditional neighborhoods, acting exactly like traditional governments. They impose taxes, create laws that govern private behavior, exert police power or police-like power, levy fines, and often seize and auction the homes of tragic ‘miscreants’ who don’t understand the de-fact powers possessed by Homeowners Associations.

Folks, whether you accept it or not, Homeowners Associations have already seceeded from the Union. That’s right! They constitute a parallel government that often operates outside the confines of traditional Constitutionally controlled government. And that’s scary.

Across the country there are thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of cases where HOAs have taken thuggish legal action against homeowners for no other reason than they are black, oriental, hispanic, gay, single, female or handicapped. Federal discrimination laws be damned!

So, to bring this full circle: George Staropoli is circulating a petition to the White House to try to show the growing movement of homeowners who’ve educated themselves and become concerned about this “Shadow Government.” It is definitely a matter of concern. 20% of our populace now lives in neighborhoods where a member cannot rely on traditional Constitutional protections.

So, Dummy! Click on the link below, and SIGN THE PETITION!

http://pvtgov.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/white-house-petititon-to-defend-us-citizenship-of-people-in-hoas/

 

 

 

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