HOA, condo & co-op news roundup (Sept 16, 2019)

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

HOA says officer can park cruiser in driveway after all; condo balcony collapses injure more than a dozen people; dispute between POA/City leaders gets out of hand;  condo association continues to fail; coyotes jump short HOA fence and kill family dog.


Florida HOA reverses course, says police officer can park her cruiser in the driveway

In the last HOA news roundup, IAC featured reports about Cross Pointe HOA of East Lake Woodlands, Florida. The HOA chose to fine a police officer for parking her police cruiser in her driveway.

Holiday Isles Management informed the officer and her husband that HOA rules reqire all commercial and government vehicles to be parked out of sight, in the garage.

But the family’s attorney, Kelly Blum, released a statement saying Cross Pointe HOA decided to allow the officer to park her vehicle in the driveway after all. But not out of the goodness of their hearts, mind you.

You see, it turns out that a previous HOA board of directors gave the officer approval to park the cruiser in the driveway. So the officer is “grandfathered in,” and doesn’t have to abide by the rule to keep the vehicle in the garage.

But — and in HOA-ville there’s almost always a but — the HOA’s attorney insists that all future owners and residents of Cross Pointe must park commercial and government issued vehicles in the garage, not the driveway.

Pending legislation?

Politically, this is a bad move for the HOA, because now Florida Legislators are planning to introduce a new bill that will prevent HOAs from making such “unreasonable rules.” It’s bad PR for the community, there’s no doubt about it.

But, is legislation carving out an exception for police officers the answer to unreasonable HOA rules?

If the Florida Legislature really wants to uphold the rights of its residents, it needs to consider state law that broadly upholds the property rights of each individual. Legislators should rein in the power of HOAs to abuse their powers, and reject the HOA industry’s stance that housing associations are “private” and “non-governmental” entities that can more or less ignore basic Constitutional constraints.

Perhaps the Legislature should outlaw all HOA rules against parking vehicles in the driveway, as long as those vehicles don’t create a safety hazard. (For example, blocking pedestrian walkways or driver views of intersections.)

Why shouldn’t any resident who drives a standard-sized commercial or marked government vehicle be permitted to park in their driveway instead of a garage?


HOA now allowing Clearwater police officer to park cruiser in driveway (FL)
By Heather Leigh | WFTS | Sept. 11, 2019

Dozens injured in California, New Jersey balcony collapses

A third and second story balcony of a 7-unit condo building collapsed in Wildwood, NJ, on Saturday, inuring 19 people. Several members of the Branchville Hose Company #1, and their family members, were taken to local hospitals and trauma centers. Most were released by Sunday.

The firefighters were in town for the New Jersey Firemen’s Association Convention. Witnesses say they heard a crackling noise, before the upper two decks “pancaked” downward, trapping people between the deck boards.

According to one local report, a hip roof that extended over the decks was left unsupported. Experts were preparing to shore up the roof, pending an investigation as to the cause of the collapse.

The Wildwood incident follows on the heels of a similar balcony collapse in Mountain View, California. Last Wednesday, the second story deck of a condo building collapsed, injuring one person.

The cause of that accident is also under investigation.

Both incidents add to a growing list of similar accidents involving 30-50 year old condo and apartment buildings with unsafe, aging decks and balconies. California recently passed a state law mandating regular inspections of suspended decks and walkways, and IAC expects more states to enact similar regulations.


At least 19 people injured in Wildwood balcony collapse, investigation underway
AHMAD AUSTIN & DAVID DANZIS Staff Writers, The Press of Atlantic City
Sept. 15, 2019

Mountain View condo balcony collapses, injuring one
Several people were on the second-floor balcony when it gave way Wednesday night, firefighters say (CA)
by Kevin Forestieri / Mountain View Voice / Uploaded: Thu, Sep 12, 2019, 9:50 am

Diamondhead, Miss. POA Prez files assault charges against city’s mayor

Regular readers of IAC might recall previous posts about the community of Diamondhead, Mississippi. Diamondhead was originally developed as an HOA-governed resort/golf community, but was later incorporated as a city in its own right.

The City of Diamondhead provides many public services to the community, but the Property Owners’ Association (POA) continues to exist, for the purposes of enforcing restrictive covenants, and advocating for preservation of the golf course and various other community amenities.

Diamondhead’s covenants are set to expire in 2020. The POA will lose its power to collect mandatory fees from property owners, so it’s working with the City to develop alternate plans to support Diamondhead amenities.

But the discussion got a bit heated at a September 4th meeting of the Community Collaborative, leading to an altercation between POA President Bob Marthouse and city mayor, Tommy Schafer.

The official police report alleges Schafer yelled obscenities at Marthouse, and that, when Marthouse stood up to leave the meeting, Schafer shoved him to the ground.

Schafer’s attorney, Tim Holleman, claims there’s “no substance” to Marthouse’s accusations of assault. A full investigation is underway.

In the meantime, the POA President has filed a motion to remove Schafer from the Community Collaborative, and to replace him with Mayor Pro Tem Depreo.

With this kind of “collaboration” between the city and the POA, mutual solutions seem to be out of reach.


Diamondhead POA president files assault charge against mayor
By Renee Johnson | September 9, 2019 at 4:02 PM CDT – Updated September 10 at 6:58 AM


Fire, delinquent water utility payments plague Birmingham condo association

ABC 33/40 reports on the plight of residents of Woodside Condominiums in Center Point, Al.

Following a fire on September 4th, Birmingham Water Board shut off water to the housing complex for five days. Earlier this month, IAC posted an article about Woodside condo association’s $136,000 past due water utility payments, which prompted the Water Works to shut off supply to the complex.

The good news: fortunately, no one was killed in the condo fire. One man injured his back when he rescued four children, catching them as they jumped off the balcony to escape the fire. Four condo units were completely destroyed by the flames.

By September 13th, the condo association paid a mere $2,000 to the Birmingham Water Board. Water has been turned back on for 45 days, giving the condo association a chance to agree to a full payment plan. It also gives tenants the opportunity to move out, if they want to avoid another utility shut of in the near future.

The condo treasurer says she doesn’t have enough money to pay the water bill, because landlords aren’t paying their condo fees. One landlord interviewed by local TV stations says his tenants aren’t paying the rent, so he can’t pay his condo fees.

It’s obvious that the “affordable” Woodside condominium community is in its final stage of existence.


Witness: Man injured saving children from apartment fire in Center Point
By WBRC Staff | September 4, 2019 at 5:27 AM CDT – Updated September 4 at 6:30 PM

Following fire, Woodside Condominium neighbors on day 5 without running water
Ashely Gooden | ABC 33/40 | September 8, 2019

Short-term water deal reached for Center Point residents
WVTM 13 | Updated: 10:26 PM CDT Sep 13, 2019


Developer’s master plan didn’t consider the threat of coyotes (NV)

Owners of small pets in Wingfield Hills area of Spanish Springs, be on the watch for coyotes. Homeowner Bill Green lost his small dog several weeks ago, when a coyote jumped over his 42-inch-high rear fence and snatched up Bella — his 12-year-old miniature pinscher.

After the loss of a family pet, Green explained to KOLO8 News Now that the coyote attack might have been prevented, if his HOA had allowed a 6-foot tall fence at the rear of his property.

After some investigation, KOLO8 news discovered that original developer of Wingfield Hills required the low “view” fence at the rear of all lots adjacent to a nature trail in the community.

The HOA can change its fence restrictions, but only if enough homeowners agree to allow 6-foot privacy fencing bordering the common area. ♦


Coyote took family dog, but they can’t build a fence to prevent it
By Ed Pearce | KOLO8 News Now
Posted: Wed 6:58 PM, Aug 21, 2019  |
Updated: Thu 12:38 PM, Aug 22, 2019

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