HOW TO KILL A PERFECTLY GOOD IDEA!
COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LIVING STUDY COUNCIL MEETING IN TAMPA
Opinion By Jan Bergemann
Published March 16, 2009
It looks like our elected government officials haven't figured out yet how serious the situation in our community associations really is. Families are losing their homes and/or getting in serious financial troubles, courtesy of the community associations they were lured into under false pretenses.
The Community Association Living Study Council was a great idea, created by Representative Robaina's 2008 bill H 995. The idea was very simple -- and had worked perfectly under Governor Jeb Bush, who created the HOA Task Force in 2003 that ended with a comprehensive owner-friendly bill, sponsored by Senator Jeff Atwater -- S 1184. For many years special interests have been trying to destroy the reforms created by the HOA Task Force.
This year it's Representative Kevin Ambler's bill H27, trying to take away all the progress to help owners that has been made in the last few years. It looks like some legislators are really trying hard to destroy what's left of the Florida lifestyle!
The idea of the Community Association Living Study Council was initially destroyed by Division Chief Michael Cochran, whose weird interpretations of FS 718.50151 obviously confused everybody, including himself. In my opinion it was done on purpose for obvious reasons. It took the Governor Charlie Crist to stop Michael Cochran from messing things up even more!
But Governor, Senate President and House Speaker failed to make the seven (7) necessary appointments. According to the latest official information from the CALSC website only four (4) members were appointed so far.
No wonder that no quorum was present at the first official public meeting in Tampa on Friday, March 13, 2009. (It had nothing to do with the date!). The Council was unable to take care of any official business due to lack of a quorum -- what a shame! But more than 40 owners were present -- a wide majority of these attendees were owners living in homeowners' associations.
The general comment: The best laws are useless without enforcement -- and there is no enforcement for FS 720. For years homeowners from all over Florida have begged the Florida legislature to create a regulatory agency with strong enforcement power. NOTHING! Every year we hear another useless excuse!
It seems all the owners agree -- but not the legislators. They rather seem to listen to special interest, while serious problems in these associations are destroying the American Dream of many families.
At the meeting in Tampa John Copeland from The Pasco County Council of Community Associations was the only speaker who cautioned against too many laws, but even he was in favor of a regulatory agency -- and stated that he would be absolutely willing to pay a fee to finance this agency.
My presentation at the Tampa meeting [Click here for the written version] showed the need for serious association reforms and enforcement of the existing laws. Owners can no longer afford to "wait until next year" -- the same sermon we are hearing each year in Tallahassee. The bad economy finally proved our point and showed what these community associations really are: "Financial traps for the owners who are still able to pay – until they are broke too." And our elected government officials continue to "play politics"!
We have heard these kinds of demands for a strong regulatory agency in the last two years in many meetings, in different surveys and lots of presentations, from all kinds of owners with a vested interest!
The members of the House Select Committee last year heard exactly the same from the many owners that attended their meetings. One of the Committee members, Representative Rich Glorioso [(R) Plant City], said in an interview on Tampa Channel 8 (quote): "It's criminal, it almost appears as white collar crime has taken over our homeowners' and condo associations! The problem is that nobody is enforcing it. The current law has no teeth. You don't have this kind of condo police or homeowners' associations police." The last sentence of the interview: "We'll help these people!"
are still desperately waiting
for the promised help!
But nothing seems to happen again. The excuse this year: No money! What a joke! Homeowners' money gets wasted -- associations' finances are in turmoil -- and our elected officials in Tallahassee are playing politics. And once again politics seem to have killed a perfectly good idea:
THE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION LIVING STUDY COUNCIL
It seems that good ideas are not very much appreciated in Tallahassee!
THE AMERICAN DREAM QUICKLY TURNS INTO A NIGHTMARE --
COURTESY OF THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE!