Lost Constitution webinar #3 available

Veritas para justitia

(truth for justice)

The Restoring the Lost Constitution to HOA-Land webinar introductory series has concluded with #3.  The accompanying # 3 script here: here.

The three introduction to the Plan videos can be found here:

#1, https://vimeo.com/421950279
#2, https://vimeo.com/426813340
#3, https://vimeo.com/427795232   

It can be viewed here:  https://vimeo.com/427795232 and

The overall intent and purpose of this webinar series is the education and reorientation of HOA members, especially the board of directors,  to long ignored issues of constitutional validity; issues that the public will not find in the propaganda from the Evil Empire. It is an introductory presentation and  required reading to better understand my proposed action plan set forth in A Plan Toward the Restructuring of the HOA Model of Governance, now on Amazon.com[1]

I continue to read that more and more homeowners are surprised why they lose in court, and before their legislature and before their board of directors.  I believe that a good part of these failures is because the issues at hand run very deep and are not the superficial day-to-day operational issues facing homeowners, not that they are not important.  The successful resolution can only come from standing behind the broadest levels of authority and exposing the many violations by our elected officials at all levels: the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence which constitute the organic laws of America.[2] 

Every argument not raising these democratic principles is a tacit recognition that serves to accept the validity and constitutionality of the HOA legal scheme and governing model, and of the laws in support of HOA-Land.  You lose from the start!

Notes


[1] Visit Amazon. (June 11, 2020).

[2] Organic law is the fundamental basis of a government. The Homes Association Handbook and UCIOA constitute, in my view, the organic law for HOA governed planned communities. In contrast, the U.S. Code defines the organic laws of the United States to include the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance, and the U.S. Constitution. (US Statutes At Large, 1789 –1875, Vol. 18, Part I, Revised Statutes (43rd Congress, 1st session), p. v and vi). The organic laws of HOA-Land are replacing the organic laws of the US as applied to local government.

UCIOA (HOA) revisions in the works

The Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (UCIOA) and Uniform Condominium Act (UCA) are currently in draft mode. (Essentially, they are being treated as one). As a model for states to adopt as their HOA laws, UCIOA was first introduced in 1982 and currently has 9 states adopting some version of UCIOA and some 14 states adopting UCA, the uniform condo act.

Among the changes being considered are amendments to governing documents (§1-206), owners and duties of the association (§3-102), executive board members and officers (§3-103), voting and ballots (§3-110), and assessments (§3-115).

A meeting of the drafting committee will be held this Friday and Saturday, April 3 & 4. The committee consists of lawyers generally appointed by their state Governor. Invited to attend are persons who have indicated an interest in the workings of the committee, designated as Observers. Observers are expected to contribute to the discussion of the issues and can submit amendments for consideration. Sort of like a citizen submitting a proposed bill to his legislator.

Not to be surprised, former CAI president and active NJ CAI member David Ramsey is an Observer.

In 2008, in response to David Kahne’s AARP paper on HOA member rights and the works of others including political scientists, a Member Bill of Rights was adopted as a separate add-on to UCIOA. It never took off. And still the ULC (Uniform Law Commission) has not revisited constitutional protections for members in spite of several bills advancing those rights in 3 states.

Read more about the objectives and purpose of ULC.

Reorienting the HOA board: business judgment rule

Mentoring: Reorienting HOA board – business judgment

consulting SIG image1HOAs love business judgment rule (BJR) that can be found in too many court opinions including, as a prime example, the infamous NJ Supreme court opinion in Twin Rivers.

First, the business judgment rule protects members from arbitrary decision-making. . . . Our Appellate Division has uniformly invoked the business judgment rule in cases involving homeowners’ associations.[1]

In CAI’s amicus brief in the above case, argued that “the settled legal principles” of the business judgment rule

permit community association trustees to fulfill their fiduciary duties and to exercise judgment in balancing the needs and obligations of the community as a whole with those of individual homeowners and residents, without undue judicial interference.[2]

As can be noted, the CAI brief equates the HOA interests with the members’ interests and that it is acting in the best interests of the members subject to “the needs and obligations of the community.” Sort of confusing doubletalk me thinks.

Wayne Hyatt is quoted (p. 9) that the business judgment rule

defends the procedure under which the board has acted and the right of the board to be the sole arbiter of the issue involved. The result is that if the procedure is valid, the court will not second guess the substance of a board’s action. Consequently, the court upholds the decision without subjecting the wisdom of the board’s action to judicial scrutiny.[3]

In California’s Lamden v. La Jolla,

[A] hallmark of the business judgment rule is that, when the rule’s requirements are met, a court will not substitute its judgment for that of the corporation’s board of directors. . . . [A]nyone who buys a unit in a common interest development with knowledge of its owners association’s discretionary power accepts ‘the risk that the power may be used in a way that benefits the commonality but harms the individual.’ “[4]

I cannot overstate the profound damaging effect by the courts as they continue to ignore HOAs as de facto governments and treat them as a pure real estate corporation. The School has performed an excellent job in creating a supportive mindset. Their demonstrable ignorance can only stem from the thorough indoctrination by the CAI School of HOA Governance that flows from the HOA “bible,” The Homes Association Handbook (cover page link).[5]

The BJR serves to protect the BOD from member lawsuits where the issues center on the BOD’s broad discretionary powers. Essentially the basis of BJR presumes that the BOD knows better about managing the HOA than the judge and, after all, the members chose the directors. In a cop-out not me attitude the judge simply goes along with the BOD’s position. YOU LOSE!

It is a very effective argument, tactic, because the homeowner and his attorney do not challenge this view that the BOD knows best. There is no rebuttal arguing that the BOD is practicing bad management, or is acting inconsistent with their obligation to act in members best interest – not in the best interest of the HOA. There is the presumption that the members’ interests are totally found in the governing documents and none other exist. It is an attitude in contrast to our Bill of Rights, Amendments 9 (enumeration clause) and 10 (rights delegated to the people).   Under the HOA “constitution,” any non- specified prohibitions or rights belong to the HOA and not its members.

Once again I’m touching upon a defect in the HOA legal scheme. Under corporation law the BOD is responsible to the HOA association. True! But the CC&Rs override that law. Why?  Let’s not forget that we have a PRIVATE contract agreed to by the members requiring the BOD to function in the best interest of the members.[6]  The private contract defense works for the members and not the BOD What’s fair is fair! Right?

In order to move past many of the persistent HOA problems and issues the BOD, as well as the legislators and courts, must adjust their views and mindset with respect to the HOA scheme. To restore equality before the law HOAs must be viewed as another form of local public government. The reorientation of the BOD comes first. There are ample materials, courses, seminars and public education, a substantial precedents and history on how to function as a public government and still protect and retain the private nature HOA community.

Notes

[1] CBTR v. Twin Rivers, 929 A.2d 1060, II, (N.J. 2007).

[2] CAI amicus brief, CBTR v. Twin Rivers (N.J. Super. App. Div. Docket C-121-00 2004).

[3] Id.

[4] Lamden v. La Jolla, 980 P.2d 940, Calif. 1999).

[5] The Homes Association Handbook, MARYJO CORNISH, Editor, Urban Land Institute, TB#50 (1964). Its Foreword omits any concern about the homeowners or constitutional government. See cover pages that provide evidence of lack of local government concern as part of the purpose of TB50. See Analysis of The Homes Association Handbook.

[6] See “HOA contractual mission” in Restructuring HOAs – intents and purposes.

Toward a democratic HOA subject to the Constitution

The news is good lately as several state legislatures have and are dealing with substantive HOA reform legislation that confronts the HOA legal structure as un-American. California’s SB 323 passed into law last year amid the hostility of CAI; Florida’s HB 623 is in the legislative process of becoming law; and Arizona’s SB 1412 is just starting out in the legislature.

The substantive amendments to state laws are:

SB 323 (CA) — seeks to introduce fair elections procedures for HOAs, addressing one of my 6 substantive defects in the HOA legal scheme.  Deborah Goonan’s excellent discussion of this bill[1] brought to my attention a second defect in the HOA legal scheme, the lack of enforcement of the law.

“A member of an association may bring a civil action for declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of this article by the association. . . . “A member who prevails in a civil action to enforce the member’s rights . . . the court may impose a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation.”

HB 623 (FL) —

“This provision will amend 718 F.S. so any bylaws, or reasonable rules or regulations of the association which diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the Fourteenth Amendment[2] to the United States Constitution or Art. 384 II of the State Constitution and would be void and unenforceable without further action of the association. However, the provision states that the association may record a notice in the public records of the county in which the condominium is located evidencing its intention to not enforce such provision, it would foolhardy for them to do so. This has been overdue in our quest for achieving equal rights.”[3]

Much to my surprise Eric Glazer, of FL HOA & Condo Blog and host of HOA Condo Craze, warns of danger if HB 623 is made law.[4]

To simplify, the 14th Amendment made The Bill of Rights (The first ten amendments to the Constitution) applicable to the states.  So, this law basically says no provision of your governing documents can infringe upon the rights you have under the Bill of Rights.  All of you know several of these rights such as the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

There is plenty of law out there that says when you move into an association, you may give up some of the rights you may ordinarily have in your private home. You do this by agreeing to be bound by the governing documents.

SB 1412 (AZ) — seeks to prohibit HOAs and condos from restricting political free speech. Members are permitted to associate, meet, discuss, show signs regarding political activity.

“NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION IN THE CONDOMINIUM DOCUMENTS, AN ASSOCIATION MAY NOT PROHIBIT OR UNREASONABLY RESTRICT A UNIT OWNER’S ABILITY TO PEACEFULLY ASSEMBLE AND USE PRIVATE OR COMMON ELEMENTS OF THE CONDOMINIUM IF DONE IN COMPLIANCE WITH REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE USE OF THAT PROPERTY ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OR GROUP OF MEMBERS MAY ORGANIZE TO DISCUSS OR ADDRESS PLANNED COMMUNITY BUSINESS, INCLUDING BOARD ELECTIONS OR RECALLS, POTENTIAL OR ACTUAL BALLOT ISSUES . . . .”

I cannot emphasize that these bills have a very large umbrella covering many issues found at fault in HOAs. They provide the legal authority supporting many, many complaints, even those where the homeowner is just not happy with the way the HOA is run. In these cases, the HOA hasn’t really violated any law of the governing documents per se. The complaints should their focus on the lack of fair elections to remove wayward boards, or due process and equal protection of the law violations. The 14th Amendment applies!

What is needed is the strong support for the champions of these bills, Sen. Bob Wieckowski in CA, Senator D. Farnsworth in Arizona, and Representative Jason Shoaf in Florida. The California bill made law was achieved, in my opinion, with the help of the strong support of Marjorie Murray of CCHAL.[5] They fought and are fighting the system — state legislatures do not favor HOA reforms.

References

[1]California HOA elections bill update (March 2019)”, Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities.

[2] The 14th Amendment. Section 1 state prohibitions against laws denying due process of law and the equal protection of the laws, and abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens.

[3] Comment number 6, CCFJ.net, Milena Macias, Esq. (Feb. 4, 2020).

[4] “A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE LAW THAT HAS DANGER WRITTEN ALL OVER IT”, Florida HOA & Condo Blog, Eric Glazer, Esq. (Feb. 3, 2020)

[5] Center for California Homeowner Association Law.

 

 

 

 

HOA-Land Nation publication to aid constitutionality

The important question of HOA constitutionality has generally been avoided and given token lip serve by all interested parties: homeowners, homeowner rights advocates, state legislators, real estate departments, attorney generals, nonprofit private entities proclaiming a defense of the Constitution, and the media at large.

Even the renowned Wayne Hyatt’s[1] statement in 1976 went ignored.

“One clearly sees the association as a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government.   All of these functions are financed through assessments or taxes levied upon the members of the community, with powers vested in the board of directors, council of co-owners, board of managers, or other similar body clearly analogous to the governing body of a municipality.”[2]

Clearly challenging the constitutionality of the HOA model of local government and legal scheme is well beyond past due. To correct this horrific and inexcusable oversight I have published, The HOA-Land Nation Within America,[3] a white paper, an exposé of the HOA legal scheme violations of the Constitution. The eBook and paperback editions can be found on Amazon.

This task of constitutional HOA reforms may appear overwhelming and almost impossible to achieve, but constitutional HOA reforms can happen. It will take tremendous effort and perseverance, and a “never give up” mentality. David Cole passionately makes this point[4]

“If Americans now and in the coming years insist that . . . our most fundamental values, including equality, human dignity, fair process, privacy, and the rule of law, and if we organize and advocate in defense of those principles,” we will succeed in bringing about the necessary fundamental and constitutional reforms to the HOA legal scheme in existence since the HOA “bible” was released in 1964. In order to accomplish this important task, “it will take a persistent civil society, a vigilant media, brave insiders, and judges and other government officials who take seriously their responsibility to uphold the Constitution. But first and foremost, it will take an engaged citizenry.”

The defense of liberty depends . . . on citizens engaging collectively to fight for the values they believe in. . . . The preservation of liberty through a written constitution . . . has survived . . . because ‘we the people’ have consistently taken up the charge to define, defend, and develop liberty in our own image, so that it reflects our deepest commitment , not just those of a privileged elite who do not represent us.”

It falls upon the homeowners in HOAs, as has always, to advance constitutional arguments that are valid and credible.    And that takes knowledge and understanding of the issues.  The HOA-Land Nation, and other of my publications and Commentaries, as well as those of others, provide the “ammunition” that will pass the valid and credible challenges to be expected from CAI and other lawyers, provided the arguments do not get bogged down in irrelevant arguments from the opposition.

CAI cannot handle a broad Bill of Rights challenge. Period!  I have never been challenged  by CAI because they well know that they are defending the defenseless.

Read the book, paperback or eBook, and spread the word.  Use it in those many HOA violations where state statutes support the HOA.  Work to hold seminars and conferences to openly discuss the issues raised in The HOA-Land Nation.  Expose their defense of HOAs, now!

 Notes

[1] Wayne Hyatt was a prominent figure in the promotion of HOA-Land as well as an important person in creating CAI in 1973, serving as its second president.

[2] I have extensively quoted Wayne Hyatt’s 1976 statement on HOAs as mini-governments, as cited in the 1983 California case, Cohen v. Kite Hill.

[3] I have concluded that there exists an HOA-Land Nation within America that is comprised of fragmented and local HOA governments across the country and have designated them collectively as “HOA-Land.”  The commonality of their declarations of CC&Rs, flowing from the 1964 Homes Association Handbook (ULI publication), their shared beliefs, values, traditions, and institutions qualify HOA-Land as a nation.

[4] David Cole, National Legal Director of the ACLU, Engines of Liberty, Basic Books (2016).