3345 Kings Rd. S.
St. Augustine, Fl. 32086
Phone: (904) 794-0888 

E-Mail: [email protected]

January 28, 2004

HOA TASK FORCE -- Final Presentation -- Summary

At this point and time I would like to comment on the draft of the final recommendations of this Task Force. 

I have looked at the “Draft Legislation”, which was mailed to the members of the Task Force last week. I’m impressed how all this could have been created without the input of the members in the public hearings, especially since members were officially not allowed to communicate with each other. 

I am very disappointed that the staff of DBPR denied my request to send me the digital version of this draft.  It would have definitely helped me to get a better and more informed idea about the actual proposals, since I could have discussed them with more experts.

After reading the 46 pages, I am convinced that this Task Force will fail its mission statement as charged:  "To harmonize and improve relations between homeowners, homeowners' associations and other related entities." In my opinion as a homeowners' advocate and after comparing notes with more knowledgeable people, it is my understanding that most of the proposals will not help to solve the many problems. Even if there are some basically very good ideas, the missing enforcement makes all good ideas null and void. Since it is common knowledge that homeowners are unable to enforce the seven pages of the existing FS 720, adding more unenforceable issues to the statutes will not help.  In my opinion it is an attempt to use band-aids to fix major injuries that need surgery.

Chapters starting with "The Legislature recognizes…" are dubious for starters.  Remember the current version of FS 720.311 wherein it states that "The Legislature finds that alternative dispute resolution…"?  Now we know that finding is totally flawed.  Why not write: "Industry stakeholders recognize that regulation and government enforcement are not in THEIR best interest"?  That would be more honest!  

I discussed the proposed Dispute Resolution with homeowner-friendly attorneys. They clearly warned me against accepting this solution, since vague language leaves it open to any kind of interpretation. There are no clear guidelines as to possible cost, etc. Going directly to court might be the less expensive solution for homeowners. A possibility of outsourcing by the agency raises all kinds of red flags. We consumers remember too well the outsourcing of the condo education courses to the Community Association Institute. We already have too many foxes guarding the henhouse.

A proposal like the possibility of flying six flags on Flag Day, without allowing the use of a flag pole, shows me what kind of solutions are sought by this panel.

Reading about the possibility of charging 50¢ for a photocopy created this outcry of joy by a community association manager:  "Finally, I can buy my new Mercedes!"

I will abstain from discussing or voting on any of these recommendations. Our organization will write a letter to the Florida legislators that we will not support any of the recommendations and we will oppose them if any legislator sponsors them!

This task force was in my opinion political lip service. Consumers will not take the few crumbs thrown to them. We have produced our own proposals and will work with consumer-friendly legislators in order to have them enacted.

Consumers had hoped that this task force would create a kind of arrangement acceptable to both industry and owners.   In my opinion we have wasted a good opportunity to find some feasible solutions and we still haven't gotten any closer to harmonize the relations.

Many honest citizens who presented their testimonies in front of this panel have been clearly ignored.  These Florida citizens are taxpayers and voters! 

This task force should have heard the cry for help from these abused citizens and then should have acted!

I thought we were gathered here to serve the interest and welfare of the people of Florida, not to create more paperwork favoring industry interest. 
Let the PEOPLE speak!

I can assure you it was a very interesting experience for me!
Thank you for listening to my concerns!

Respectfully submitted,
Jan Bergemann
President Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
Concerned Homeowners In Partnership (CHIP) 
Property Owners Association In The Villages (POA) 
Fair Housing Center Of Palm Beach (FHCPB) 
Consumer Advocacy Network (CAN)
Property Rights Florida (PRF)