sought for hoop dispute
Lawmaker critical of pace in homeowners association case
Article Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal
|By ED VOGEL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Friday, February 21, 2003
to know the consequences of not resolving a basketball issue. Let's move. Fix it. That is all people want. Get the books. Get the records. Fix the problem."
The exchange occurred as senators began discussing Senate Bill 100, which would govern the behavior of homeowners associations. About 250,000 Nevada homes belong to such associations, Hardy said.
The proposal, by Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, calls for creation of a state commission to resolve disputes between residents and their homeowners associations. It also would guarantee the right of residents to display the American flag.
Townsend said after the hearing that even if Anderson and Hardy cannot help Janison, they should not wait six months before getting back to her with their findings.
As a legislator, he cannot dictate what state agencies do, although he could hold up changes Anderson and Hardy want in the bill to induce them to comply with his request.
A spokesman said Gov. Kenny Guinn will not comment on the situation.
Southern Nevada residents, in particular, were outraged when some homeowners associations blocked residents from displaying the flag after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Several city councils, however, since have passed ordinances guaranteeing homeowners' rights to display the flag.
Formal action on the bill is not expected until after numerous subcommittee hearings.
Schneider said reasonable rules on displaying the flag, as listed in the federal flag code, should be added to the bill. Oversized flags, such as those displayed at Terrible Herbst gas stations, would not be permitted at homes.
Janison told Townsend's committee of her long dispute with the Summerlin North Community Association over her desire to put up a temporary basketball hoop for her son. She said the association allows hoops for dozens of other Summerlin residents, but prevented her from doing the same thing.
Although she appealed to the ombudsman for help, including a request that he subpoena Summerlin records as allowed by a state law, Janison said she has not heard from Hardy since September.
"This was one of those instances where I was not able to get it approved (a request for a subpoena) by the attorney general's office," Hardy responded. "There were some questionable records they were requesting."
Anderson said she met with three members of the attorney general's office on Janison's problem, but they rejected subpoenaing Summerlin homeowners association records.
"I have heard nothing from his (Hardy's) office," Janison replied. "Homeowners should not have to go through these problems. If we have to abide by the Summerlin HOA rules, they should abide by your laws."
Sen. Ann O'Connell, R-Las Vegas, added that only the personnel records of homeowners associations are confidential under state law.
"Knowing who has basketball hoops does not fit into that (confidential) category," she said.
But staff lawyers said they believe the law allows the findings made by homeowners association boards on whether people can have basketball hoops to be kept confidential.
The homeowners association allows hoops on lots larger than Janison's, but the city of Las Vegas contends the association cannot control what takes place on city streets.
During the meeting, Anderson requested the bill be amended to allow her office to create a hearing panel, working under the ombudsman, that would resolve homeowners association complaints.
Townsend quickly questioned whether she was creating another unworkable bureaucracy.
"Is this another level of delay?" he asked. "The thing I hear from the public is government cannot make a decision."
Hardy, however, said his office is making "great progress" in resolving homeowner disputes. The ombudsman is the uncle of Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, a member of Townsend's committee.
"Communication and education will solve
most of these problems," he said. "Most people want to do it right."
Lawmakers on Thursday discussed a bill limiting the amount community associations can penalize members and creating a new state panel to resolve their disputes.
Senate Bill 100 is designed to reduce lawsuits and lien foreclosures that result when associations fine homeowners for violations of code or failure to pay back dues. It would create a five-member commission to resolve disputes as well as limit fines and the number of potential restrictions by associations.
“We want somebody with a really big hammer to deal with these issues,” Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno said.
The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, wants to prohibit any associations from restricting from homes solar panels, ramps or elevators for the disabled, or shutters and locks.
The bill would also allow for a maximum fine of $1,000 per year if a homeowner repeatedly violates an association’s code.