Houston Conference – Part One

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
Over the past four decades property ownership has changed – and not necessarily for the better.  In the old days one’s home was considered one’s castle and came complete with all the inherent rights of ownership.  The owner was free to live in relative peace and quiet.  But those days are long gone.  In today’s brave new world folks live in “units” where all the decisions pertaining to their house and a portion of their private lives is made by other people.  The owners in many homeowner associations are not free to exercise their right to choose the plants in the yard,  the color on the house or the type of window treatments.  Even such things as garden hoses, mulch and plants must be “approved”.  Some people think it is OK to live like that.
 
But not everyone……
 
Homeowners across the country are fighting to regain control over their own lives and their own homes.  Many homeowners have become involved with in the legislative process and some grass roots organizations have hosted conferences – for the homeowners.  On October 11, 2008 Texas homeowners from all over the state met in Houston to talk about their homes, their rights and their lives.  Despite the fact that hurricane Ike had knocked out power lines, collapsed houses, punctured holes in roofs, uprooted trees and otherwise disrupted lives leaving many without electricity and internet connectivity for several weeks, the Texas folks still managed to get together and talk about their problems and how they wanted to have them solved. 
 
On the Commons today we will drop in for a little while and eavesdrop on some of the conversations that took place.  We’ll hear about a partial list of the issues homeowners all over the country face and listen to some of the ideas they have of how to fix things.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, October 18, 2008.

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Senator Mike Schneider

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
When there are no consequences to bad behavior, there is no limit to how bad people can get.  That is the situation in the 300,000 residential associations nationwide.  While the residents have been controlled and penalized for violating the most idiotic of rules, those adopting and implementing the stupid rules in these gulags have enjoyed free rein to enjoy their reign of terror.  Attempts to impose limits on their powers and authority have been met by cries of horror, “but no one will run for the board if they are held accountable”.  And so communities have been transformed into developments where fear, terror and abuse are the norm. 
 
For  years frustrated homeowners have been called malcontents and been told their only remedies are to hire an attorney, toss the bums out or move.  Well, the FBI has decided to look into some of the allegations of fraud and wrong doing in Nevada.  Is the current scope of their investigation limited to construction defect litigation fraud?  How serious are they about investigating things like election rigging, improper foreclosures, embezzlement, and all the other abuses associations are capable of?  The list of complaints in condo and homeowner associations is endless.  Will this investigation find many of the problems homeowners have been complaining about?  Will there be serious reforms or will we still hear the same old song and dance about HOAs being a matter for civil litigation?  Will property owners FINALLY assert their rights to more choices in housing, better protections under the law and more real remedies than simple placebos? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Senator Mike Schneider.  Senator Mikey, as he is known, was one of the first to introduce legislation creating the office of the ombudsman in Nevada.  Over the past decade or so, the oversight has gone through many changes to the point where Nevada now has an entire panel to oversee associations and provide a place for homeowners to go for help.  One of the biggest problems is that this panel is made up entirely of industry members, people with an interest in protecting the status quo.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, October 11, 2008.  We’ll find out how well this panel has worked and why, with so many people allegedly providing some desperately needed adult supervision, is the FBI investigating HOAs, management companies and attorneys.  We’ll also find out whether or not they are all members of CAI.  You wont want to miss this one.

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Jan Bergmann

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
Every single day there is at least one HOA/condo story in some part of the country.  Whether the headline grabber happens to be someone who is denied the right to fly Old Glory, or exercise the right of free speech, or freedom of religion or a homeowner who neglected to get a hose approved, or shutting down children’s lemonade stands on common areas for fear of “lowering property values”.  Proponents of all the rules, regulations, restrictions, penalties, foreclosures and fines, to name just a few,  would have us believe that living in fear and misery is good for us and the only way to protect property values.  But what do the homeowners have to say about it?  Do people want to be harassed, abused, penalized?  Do they really want to live in fear of losing their homes and live in absolute terror of what their associations would do to them?
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Jan Bergemann. Jan, the tireless president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice (www.ccfj.net ), has done some pretty amazing things for the members of his organization.  CCFJ has recently conducted a survey of people who have an interest in HOAs in Florida.  The participants include industry professionals as well as homeowners.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, October 4, 2008.  We’ll find out about the survey and what the results reveal.  We’ll also find out whether or not Americans want to live under such harsh and dictatorial conditions. 

 

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Kent Nauman and Jean Winters

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation. 
 
The opposite of order is, I am told, chaos and heavens, we really can’t have that.  Therefore, in an orderly society we follow the rules.  So rules are rules and we are to obey them.  At least that is what the rule books all say.  There are harsh penalties for violating some rules. I am not talking about laws here, but rules.  And in a civilized society I quite agree with the notion of adhering to certain norms and accepted standards but does that mean we have to obey every single rule that some bright spark entered into a rule book someplace?  And what about the rules that are so ludicrous?  If the rules harm us, are we required to endanger ourselves for the sake of a rule?  And how on earth do we end up with such stupid rules in the first place? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Kent Nauman. Kent, a condo owner,  has experienced firsthand what happens when he violated a leash rule adopted by the board of his association.  The rule limits the length of pet leashes to 4 feet but a short leash on his two dogs would cause him to fall.  We’ll  hear more about this particular rule and we’ll find out how it affects Kent, why following it would cause him harm and the next step in this 6 year battle.  During the second half of the show we are joined by Jean Winters.  Jean is a Florida attorney who got her law degree after having had a long career as an electrical engineer and now is in a select group of attorneys who represent homeowners, as well as some homeowner associations.  Jean has a lot of insight in what is happening in Florida’s many condo and homeowner associations.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, September 27, 2008.  We’ll find out about stupid rules, abusive boards and attorneys who try to make some sense of it all.

 

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Don Corace

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Owning property is a fundamental aspect of the American Dream.  Whether the property is just a small lot with a house or business on it, a ranch or a farm or several acres of raw, undeveloped land, it represents the fruits of the owner’s labors.  There is a tacit understanding that ownership conveys rights and control over one’s holdings.  Or it should.  However, over the years federal, state and local mandates, laws and policies have chipped away at the rights that are inherent with ownership. 
 
And what are the laws and who are the agencies that could potentially strip you of your use and enjoyment of your home? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Don Corace. Don is a long time developer, businessman and author of the must read Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights and How We Can Fight it.  The book is well organized in an easy to read format, explaining the laws and the agencies charged with administering them.  However, the best part of the book are the dozens of stories woven throughout the pages that illustrate the horrors and abuses inflicted on the owners and the absurdities of enforcing some of these laws.  Don has testified before Congress on issues related to property rights and is a much sought after speaker and media guest.  Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, September 13, 2008.  We’ll talk about the laws, the abuses and some of the stories.  We’ll also find out what we, as citizens, can do to stop the tide of abuses from completely taking over.  You won’t want to miss this one.  You can visit Don’s web site at www.governmentpirates.com   

 

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Tom DeWeese

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
When mandatory membership associations first came on the scene, developers feared housing consumers would shy away from these new fangled developments where the owners would give up some of the rights and individual choices inherent with property ownership.  In the 60’s and 70’s Americans could never have foreseen a life where every little aspect of their homes and private lives would be micromanaged.  The notion that they would have to get permission for everything, from where to park to what to plant and whether or not they could have pets and kids, was unfathonamable.   That sort of thing happened in other countries, not here!  How very un-American!  But over the next decades, American property owners lost more and more rights, rights they took for granted and believed they will always have. And now those same forces that cajoled and cooed and convinced Americans that giving up their rights would protect them, would protect their property values, would protect their neighborhoods are at it again.  Only now “they” are bigger and the stakes are higher.
 
So how much more are we willing to lose?  How far is too far?  At what point do Americans decide they have lost enough and are not willing to lose more rights and assets? 
 
And when that point finally comes, will there be anything left to salvage?  
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Tom DeWeese.  Tom is the founder and president of the Virginia based Amercian Policy Center.  , a grass roots action and education foundation.  He believes that well informed citizens are the best hope we have of preserving the promise that is America and in that vein that he publishes several newsletters and is very active on the speaking circuit, alerting Americans to the perils lurking in the shadows.  Tom has the ability to connect all the seeming unconnected issues and weave them into a pretty scary picture. Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll talk a little about eminent domain, the trans Texas corridor, Smart Growth, Going Green and a whole host of other hot topics.  This is a must listen show.

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Melanie Mckeddie

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.
 
Homeowner associations provide the most hospitable environment for fraud, embezzlement, harassment and abuse of any organization in the United States.  Claiming the relationship between the HOA and the unit owner is a private, contractual one, law enforcement and legitimate government agencies refuse to investigate allegations of wrong doing, leaving the owners to fend for themselves.  We have all heard the horror stories of individual homeowners being victimized and terrorized by the bullies on the board,  their legal henchmen and management.  Quite often those who have been targeted for abuse are too afraid to speak up and fight back, thus allowing the injustices, abuses and horrors to continue.  But what happens when an entire development is “hijacked” and held hostage?  Is there a way out for the owners? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Melanie McKeddie. Melanie is an attorney in Arizona who, along with other attorneys in her firm, specializes in HOA law but in a complete departure from the other experts in the field, Melanie and her colleagues represent primarily the owners.  One of the cases that she is currently working on involves probably the worst abuse of power yet.   According to documents filed with the court, the president of the association is a convicted felon and disbarred attorney.  And that’s just for starters.  Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll find out what this law suit is all about, get to meet some of the characters who have been named as defendants in this case and learn just how bad things can get in a mandatory membership association and just how low property values can drop in an HOA.  You won’t want to miss this one.

On the Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions

 

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Tyler Berding

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.

The post war economic boom made it possible for Americans to move out of the urban centers and still work “downtown”.  Roads were built, cars were financially feasible for many families and the call of the less congested suburbs was hard to resist.  A car in the driveway and a single family home, surrounded by a white picket fence became the embodiment of the American Dream.  Over the next several decades the suburbs exploded.  The builders built more and more housing. schools, retail spaces, parks, roads – and the people came – in droves.  Along the way, the notion of helping local municipal governments financially by establishing, and requiring,  homeowner associations to assume many of their responsibilities also became a part of this brave new world.  Condominiums were part of this changing landscape as well.  We know how the last fifty years changed the way Americans lived, but what does the future hold? 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Tyler Berding. Tyler, an attorney and a founding partner of the California firm of Berding Weil, represents associations in California.  He maintains a blog at http://www.condoissues.blogspot.com/ where he writes fairly extensively about the issues that affect this particular type of housing.  In a recent blog post titled “Predicting the Future of Community Associations” he looks through his crystal ball and shares his vision of what the next half century will bring in condos.  Some of his observations about today’s projects are dead on and some of his visions would take American homeowners in yet another direction.   Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll talk about lessons learned and hear some of his thoughts on where we may be headed with this experiment in communal living.  Will it be a brave new world or a scary place to be?  Tune in and you decide.

On the Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions.

 

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Jan Bergmann

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.

The silver linings in the storm clouds gathering over condo and homeowner associations in America these days are very tarnished.  The many promises have lost their sparkle and there just doesn’t seem to be enough polish to fool the folks with empty promises any more.  Recent events, law suits and headlines prove that the glitter was really fool’s gold.  The last great hope of restoring some sense in our neighborhoods may be found in the hallowed halls of our state capitols.  But how do our legislators determine what will work and how we can return a sense of “community” to our neighborhoods. 
 
On The Commons this week we are joined by Jan Bergemann Jan, president of the Florida based Cyber Citizens for Justice, has been working tirelessly with his organization to find out from the residents how they would like to see things done in their neighborhoods.  In a sense of true democracy, CCFJ has created a survey and plan on holding town hall meetings to come up with proposed legislation based on the wishes of the citizens.   Please join us On The Commons.  We’ll talk about the survey, the hot topic in Florida right now, the sheer stupidity of what many boards and associations do, some of the law suits and the complete and utter waste of money that seems to be the norm in a flawed housing scheme. 

On the Commons is produced by OTC Multimedia Productions.

 

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Julio Robaina

Hosted and produced by Shu Bartholomew, On The Commons is a weekly radio show dedicated to discussing the many issues surrounding mandatory homeowner associations, the fastest growing form of residential housing in the nation.

Mandatory membership residential associations have been plagued with major problems right from the very beginning.  Initially, the “solution” to the problems was to educate all concerned but after several decades of instructing everyone it became abundantly clear that “education” was not the answer.  Frustrated, homeowners turned to their legislators looking for relief from the horrors that had become part of their daily lives.  However, many of those lawmakers had no idea how to tame the monster they created so they turned to the very people they allegedly intended to regulate for help in writing the bills.

Today most, if not all, state legislative bodies go through the routine of tweaking and rewriting state statutes regulating HOAs and condos.  Despite this annual rite, the problems in residential America  persist and multiply.  And still, some of these legislators turn to the same people year after year, heeding their advice. 

But not all legislators remain in the fog that has enveloped them since the beginning of this saga.  And one legislator stands out. On The Commons this week we are joined by Representative Julio Robaina. In a complete departure from the “business as usual” way of dealing with the ongoing problems, Florida Representative Robaina traveled the length and breadth of his state to talk to the people who live in associations.  He did this not once, but twice.  Armed with first hand knowledge of the real problems, with a deep understanding of the frustrations and inequities that existed, he returned to Tallahassee to write legislation inspired by the owners and designed to protect private property from the horrors and abuses of a system gone amok.  The result is a massive rewrite of the Florida Condo Act.   Please join us On The Commons this Saturday, July 12, 2008.  We’ll talk about the hearings and the new Condo Act.  Some of the provisions, and the need for them, were even a surprise to me.  You’ll understand why I call him the Energizer Bunny and why I believe he is the model legislator. Read the changes here: 

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On the Commons is Produced by OTC Multimedia Productions.

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News and Views About Homeowner Associations