AZ SB 1088 is an unconstitutional and selective impairment of a contract bill

Arizona’s SB 1088 bill seeks to invalidate CC&Rs that require approval by a homeowner to allow any visitor access to the homeowner.  It specifically deals with — and is only meaningful with respect to gated communities which are gated for a very good reason — not hindering process servers access to a homeowner defendant.  It is punitive with a $250 “civil penalty” for anyone violating this law.

Background 

Under our laws and judicial system a plaintiff must service notice of a lawsuit upon a defendant as required by the Constitution.[1]  It is well known that there are people who act to avoid being served notice, which stops any lawsuit from moving forward. However, the law does allow for posting the summons notice to the public notices page of a newspaper in the event the defendant cannot be personally contacted.[2]

Impairing the obligation of contracts

The proponents’ argument would be generally along the lines that “due process under the law” triumphs over any contract infringement violation as a matter of public policy and for the general good of the people. An HOA covenant cannot hinder constitutional due process of law and the equal application of the law to a person, not necessarily an HOA, who is suing a defendant in such an HOA.  It’s not fair they would cry, referring to the greater good served outside the HOA.

But, the bill seems to be unnecessary as there are other means to satisfy civil procedure process servers.  It would also not pass judicial scrutiny[3] required to deny constitutional rights under contract infringement.  The bill seems to be sponsored as a request from a constituent facing some problem that lacks merit, considering the alternative methods available for service notice by process servers.

Selective enforcement of the law

It is long held doctrine that a government cannot pick and choose what laws to enforce or to ignore, and still be seen as a legitimate government.  The entirety of the covenants in a declaration of CC&Rs — allegedly constituting the voice of the people in a private contract to not be bound by the Constitution and the laws of the land — contains many, many covenants that violate the protected rights of the people.

Yet the state stands idly by and does nothing to end these private contractual violations of the constitution’s requirement for the equal protection of the law.  The CC&Rs are a mockery of due process protections, of fair elections, of eminent domain protections, of cruel and unusual punishment by foreclosure rights, of contract law misrepresentation and full disclosure violations, of the failure to provide civil penalties against HOA violations of the law, etc.

They are either ignored or have the “blessings” of the legislature as a result of laws that coerce compliance with the HOA, cooperate with the HOA, or closely interact with the day-to-day operations of the HOA. Any of which would make the HOA a state actor subject to the Constitution.

SB 1088 is a selective impairment of contract obligations while other infringements of the laws are allowed to stand. Adopting this bill would be a mockery of the law.

 

References

[1] 14th Amendment, “Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

[2] Ariz. R. Civ. P., 4.1(n). “Where the person being served . . . has avoided service of process . . . then service may be by publication  . . . . “ Also, Rule 4.1(m) allows for “alternative or substituted service.”

[3] Judicial scrutiny relating to constitutional rights requires a compelling and necessary government interest, not a general government interest, to deny protected rights.  See, in general, Arizona’s HB 2382 is an unconstitutional violation of eminent domain law.

Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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To be or not to be a mini or quasi government? Hyatt said ‘yes’

The controversy over whether or not HOAs are mini-governments or quasi-governments needs to be fully understood.  While I have written extensively on this topic,[1] allow me to take another peek into the controversy.

As an eye opener to many, I have extensively quoted Wayne Hyatt’s[2] 1976 statement on HOAs as mini-governments, as cited in the 1983 California case, Cohen v. Kite Hill.[3]  (My emphasis).

 

In a thoughtful article[4] . . . Hyatt and Rhoads note the increasingly “quasi-governmental” nature of the responsibilities of such associations: “The other essential role directly relates to the association’s regulatory powers; and upon analysis of the association’s functions, one clearly sees the association as a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government. As a ‘mini-government,‘ the association provides to its members, in almost every case, utility services, road maintenance, street and common area lighting, and refuse removal. In many cases, it also provides security services and various forms of communication within the community. There is, moreover, a clear analogy to the municipal police and public safety functions. 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. Terminology varies from region to region; however, the duties and responsibilities remain the same.”

“Because each owner automatically becomes a member of the association upon taking title … the association has the power, and in many cases the obligation, to exert tremendous influence on the bundle of rights normally enjoyed as a concomitant part of fee simple ownership of property.”

“With power, of course, comes the potential for abuse. Therefore, the Association must be held to a high standard of responsibility: “The business and governmental aspects of the association and the association’s relationship to its members clearly give rise to a special sense of responsibility upon the officers and directors…. This special responsibility is manifested in the requirements of fiduciary duties and the requirements of due process, equal protection, and fair dealing.” [Sound familiar?]

Yet, this recognized international figure’s statements were ignored and not cited in a number of subsequent decisions. Instead, the courts preferred the antiquated, non-HOA decisions of the 1946 and 1948 “company town,” public functions test decisions in Marsh v. Alabama and Shelly v. Kraemer. These decisions predated the current HOA concept and legalities created in 1964 and were relied on.[5]  Like the “walking dead,” Marsh should be shot in the head and put away for good!

Now, to fully understand the issue we need to play the lawyer game and examine and parse the meanings of words and phrases.  Sorry, we must because that’s what HOA attorneys do — they can’t help it.

What is a mini-government? A quasi-government?  Following the recognized common meaning of words doctrine, “mini” means small and “quasi” means like.”  So, are we talking about small public governments? If so, I think this term answers the question that HOAs are small public governments.

Or are we talking about governments like public governments?  “Like” implies not really, but has the feel, or aura, or legalities of a public government.  If so, to what extent does a government become a public government?  How much “likeliness” is needed?  To what extent should homeowners have “like” constitutional protections?  All of them or some?  Or just some that give the appearance of constitutional rights and freedoms?

It seems that HOAs already have a number of “like” protections, but totally deficient and failing to protect the people.  They treat the HOA members as if they are “like” US citizens, having surrendered their citizenship.  This cannot be tolerated in a nation that prides itself as the ideal democratic country in the world.  Not at all!

It’s time to stop playing the HOA lawyer “word games” and accept the reality that HOAs are outlaw governments and must be held accountable under the Constitutional, as is required of all other governing bodies including those under Home Rule statutes.

References

[1] See in general: Do state HOA Statutes Establish HOAs as State Actors? (2007); The Constitutionality of state protected homeowners associations (2009) (Discussion on Hyatt’s view); HOA Case History: state actors or mini/quasi government (2011).

[2] 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.

[3] Cohen v. Kite Hill, p. 5-6, 142 Cal App 3d 642 (1983), citing Raven’s Cove Townhomes, Inc. v. Knuppe Development Co. (1981) 114 Cal.App.3d 783, 799 [171 Cal.Rptr. 334]). Cohen has been cited in Terre Du Lac Ass’n, Inc. v. Terre Du Lac, Inc., 737 S.W.2d 206 (Mo. App. 1987); Damon v. Ocean Hills Journalism Club, 85 Cal. App. 4th 468 (2000).

[4] “Concepts of Liability in the Development and Administration of Condominium and Home Owners Associations” 12 Wake Forest Law Review at page 915, (1976).

[5] Brock v. Watergate, 502 So.2d 1380 (Fla. 4 Dist. App. (1987) (close nexus dicta); Midlake v. Cappuccio, 673 A 2d 340 (PA. Super. 1996); S.O.C. v. Mirage Casino-Hotel, 43 P 3rd 243 (Nev. 2001); Westphal v. Lake Lotawana, 95 S.W.3d 144 (Mo. App. 2003) (“Mr. Westphal fails to cite any authority to support his argument that the action of a quasi-governmental entity is state action.”)

Letter to Sen. Rubio on necessity of national HOA reforms

August 10, 2015

open email letter

Dear Senator Rubio,

In 2008 as FL Speaker of the House you created the Select Committee on Condominium and Homeowner Association Governance (FL legislative HOA committee gets subpoena power).  I attended the Tampa hearing and edited the public domain video of the hearing.  These clips can be found at http://YouTube.com/HOAGOV.

Your help, as candidate for the presidency and as the future President of the United States, is needed to return some 20% of Americans to the American Zone. HOAs are unconstitutional private governments strongly supported by special interests with the help of state legislatures, as you may well know.  Please understand that HOAs can function as local state entities that will provide due process and the equal protection of the laws to homeowners who were mislead about what HOA life is really all about.  It is a national issue!

For your easy reading, and that of your staff, the fundamental constitutional defects are presented in 3 documents that contain substantial legal authority and evidence.

Please read:

HOA Member Declaration of US and State Citizenship
HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government
HOAGOV Education Series

The future of America is the continued social and political decay of the principals and values that founded this great nation unless you continue HOA reforms on a national level.  America must be protected from constitutional rejection by means of alleged private contracts that cross the line from property interests to the creation of private governments, governments that are not subject to the 14th Amendment!

You can awaken the people to the silent special interest and state support and acquiescence of private authoritarian governments by calling attention to the un-American HOA legal structure during your campaign.

Respectfully,

George K. Staropoli
602-228-2891
Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 11:34 am  Comments (1)  
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HOAGOV EDUCATION SERIES: understanding the real lives of HOA members

My purpose for the Education Series, taken from a collection of my Commentaries (WordPress blog), is to present the other side of the HOA legal concept that has been intentional kept hidden from the public, the media, and the legislators.  Homeowners associations (HOAs) — generic for POAs, CIDs, planned communities, and condominiums — have become an institution and are unquestionably accepted as “that’s the way it is.”

Over the years, the general public has heard only the benefits of HOA regimes, but has heard nothing about the means to achieve these benefits. The rationale, I suppose, is that the end justifies the means. This quiet acceptance of the HOA private government regime came to be as a result of aggressive lobbying by the HOA special interests, also known as HOA stakeholders (homeowners not included). The media, that was granted 1st Amendment freedom of speech rights in order to ensure a properly informed electorate, failed its obligations by remaining silent.  Nothing bad, seriously bad, about HOAs is publicized by the media. As you can read in my post on George Orwell’s 1984, the Ministry of Truth (a 1984 agency) parallels Goebbels’ Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda:

The Ministry of Truth uses control over the education system and the communications media to keep the masses in a state of ignorance and incapable of perceiving the facts of their manipulation. By controlling all sources of information, and playing one ignorant group off against the other, they ensure that effective opposition does not arise. While the masses attempt to make sense of the false reality fed to them in the schools and on the telescreens, the elite manipulators that write the scripts laugh at their confusion.  (Freedom is Slavery, The Modern History Project, April 24, 2015).

The Commentaries listed below present a broad picture of the current conditions, culture and environment relating to living in an HOA controlled home.  Violations of the Constitution’s equal protection of the laws and inadequate due process protections, pro-HOA state laws, legislative support for HOAs, the national business lobbying organization misleading the public that it is an unbiased educational organization, and the HOA attorneys and managers are all presented and discussed in these posts.

For readers who are interested in the history of how HOAs came to be can read my 121 page analysis, with references and legal authorities: The Foundations of Homeowners Associations and the New America.

Become informed.   Please read on.

 READING MATERIALS (click on links to access posts)

 A.    Constitutional issues

  1. HOA Member Declaration of US and State Citizenship
  2. HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government (complete series as PDF)
  3. CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government
  4. HOAs violate local home rule doctrine and are outlaw governments
  5. The unconstitutional delegation of implied rulemaking powers to HOAs
  6. Unconstitutional delegation of power to HOAs
  7. HOA reforms needed to guarantee U.S. Constitutional protections
  8. model HOA regulatory agency bill

  B.   HOA oppression

  1. Why do people harm others in HOAs?
  2. George Orwell’s 1984 is alive and well in HOA-Land

  C.   Community Associations Institute (CAI)

  1. Misrepresentation:  CAI comes with unclean hands
  2. Will the real CAI standup: its contradictory beliefs, pronouncements and goals
  3. CAI: the HOA form of government is independent of the US Constitution
  4. HOA constitutionality will cause the collapse of CAI

Now comes HOA taxes or assessments

In Biggs v. Betlach[1] instead of an issue of public or private agency we have the question of what’s a tax and what’s an assessment. The pro – con briefs are very instructive as relating to the HOA question of: Are HOA assessments like public taxes or like fees and assessments? If HOA assessments are clearly a tax, if public, then we have one more argument that HOAs function as public entities.

The case involves a group of AZ legislators seeking to have a federal Medicaid expansion bill declared unconstitutional, because the bill deals with tax increases and requires a 2/3 vote, which did not happen. (Why it was sent to the Governor is a guess, except they probably thought Governor Brewer would veto it, but she didn’t). Skipping the other issues in this case, I deal with what’s a tax and what’s an assessment as argued in the Goldwater filings.[2]

Note the clear statement of what’s a tax and what’s an assessment. Goldwater cites several references (not provide here) in its brief presentation of the law regarding taxes:

“In Arizona, taxes are defined as levies that are mandatory and not calculated based on the service received, whereas fees are voluntary and related to the benefit received by the paying entity, and assessments are levied against property that is specially benefitted by the improvement they fund.”

For example, “[O]ne key difference between university tuition and the [Medicaid] tax – university tuition is a fee, not a tax, because it is collected in direct exchange for a service provided and benefit received – specifically, education.” Similarly, we have various license fees, registration fees, etc. that are paid for a service of personal benefit. To help make it clearer, although the term “property assessment” is used quite often, it does not refer to the valid property tax but to the monetary valuation of the property, which is used to determine the amount of tax. It is a tax.

Goldwater goes on to argue that the purpose of a law cannot trump and supersede the constitution, nor can the legislature interpret what is constitutional. The position that a law serves “To promote effective government administration and pragmatic problem solving” is viewed as “Defendant’s preferred ‘public policy’ cannot trump voter intent or supersede constitutional provisions.”  Does that sound familiar?  HOAs provide benefits and, implicitly, therefore the laws and Constitution can be ignored?

Particularly relevant to HOAs is the argument that,

“Constitutional restrictions on legislative authority cannot be waived by the legislature itself, especially in collusion with special interests who benefit from the unconstitutional act. . . . The legislature cannot delegate to another branch of government—least of all an unelected administrator—the quintessential legislative power: the power to tax.”

So, forgetting about under what laws HOAs are created, what say you about HOA assessments as taxes and hiding behind a corporation structure[3] whose constitutionality is defended by the legislature and not the courts. In HOA-Land, while the names have been changed to protect the guilty, their functions are basically the same. The HOA assessment is a tax hiding behind a corporation shield.

Notes

[1] CV2013-011699, Maricopa County Superior Court, yet to be decided. Biggs is the Senate President with numerous legislators as co-plaintiffs. Betlach is an agency director. Prominent constitutional lawyers from The Goldwater Institute (for plaintiffs), the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, and The William E. Morris Institute for Justice (for defendants, the state) are involved,

[2] PLAINTIFFS’ REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; PLAINTIFFS’ COMBINED RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S AND INTERVENORS’ MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT.

[3] See corporations cannot be used to evade Constitution and CC&Rs are a devise for de facto HOA governments to escape constitutional government

Published in: on July 22, 2015 at 5:21 pm  Comments (1)  
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