Professor Frank Askin

For the past four decades homeowner associations have diminished the rights that traditionally were part of property ownership. These changes have been subtle and gradual with virtually no input from those most affected. In fact, there has been no debate about these changes, as Professor Evan McKenzie has been pointing out for almost 20 years. The bulk of the data collected and information disseminated has been one sided in this issue. But is all that about to change?

On the Commons with us this week is Professor Frank Askin. Professor Askin is a law professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, a long time member of the ACLU and founder and director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at Rutgers. He has successfully argued to protect the Constitutional Rights of the citizens of New Jersey and is currently waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on whether homeowners leave their constitutional rights at the entrance of a controlled development in the Twin Rivers case, . He is the author of Defending Rights: A Life in Law and Politics. He was part of the conference on Homeowner Associations held in Trenton, New Jersey in May. Please join us On The Commons. We’ll talk about the importance of the conference and whether this is the first step in allowing the homeowners to take a more active role in participating in the debate that affects them. Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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Margaret Barakiva

The sheer number of mandatory membership homeowner associations has exploded nationwide. The problems and the horror stories have also multiplied over the years. The explanations, excuses and suggested “cures”, however, have remained the same. For the past four decades one group has led the debate and the discussion and controlled the agenda of this new form of housing. The very people who need to be included in the debate have been intentionally left out, but times they are a changing.

On the Commons with us this week is Margaret Bar-akiva. Margaret, a plaintiff in the Twin Rivers case in New Jersey, and founding member of the New Jersey based Common-Interest Homeowners Coalition http://www.c-ihc.org/ , in conjunction with the Rutgers Schools of Law in Camden and Newark and Seton Hall School of Law, organized a well attended conference in Trenton, NJ in May. Please join us On The Commons. We’ll find out all about the conference and talk about the importance of having the homeowners and housing consumers controlling the agenda. Fads come and go. When the fads in food, fashion or fun or fade out, the impact they leave is little more than a memory or a faded photo of mini skirts, disco balls or skinny ties stuck in an album somewhere. Food, fortunately has a shelf life and Pac Man has been replaced with other games. Unfortunately not all fads are that easy to replace.

What happens when we find out, after having spent time, effort and loads of money, that the “solution” to a particular problem is not a solution at all but instead has exacerbated the problem? Can we cover it all up with pretty words? Copyright OTC Multimedia Productions 2007

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