How Is This Legal? Aspen?!?!? Government Condos?

Aspen has always been known as a far-left city. There’s probably not a registered Republican within 25 miles of the town limits. And this isn’t meant as a slam against either my far-left friends or my far-right friends. I’ve got plenty on both sides and I respect them all. But there has to be some kind of law against this.

Aspen, as a ski town, needs to hire low-wage people to operate the ski lifts, clean the lodges and wait on diners. But Aspen is so ritzy that affordable housing is a joke. To work in that city you have to live someplace in Utah and commute. The answer? Take over aging condo associations, throw millions of dollars of taxpayer money into restoring them, and then become the condo association’s de-facto government. Then this faux management company operates the condos like a typical HOA fascist state, all rules, no rights.

Incredible. I can just feel the avalanche of future lawsuits. I’d love to hear your comments about what has to become kind of burgeoning scandal.

(link to story from Aspen Public Radio)


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Ward Lucas is a longtime investigative journalist and television news anchor. He has won more than 70 national and regional awards for Excellence in Journalism, Creative Writing and community involvement. His new book, "Neighbors At War: the Creepy Case Against Your Homeowners Association," is now available for purchase. In it, he discusses the American homeowners association movement, from its racist origins, to its transformation into a lucrative money machine for the nation's legal industry. From scams to outright violence to foreclosures and neighborhood collapses across the country, the reader will find this book enormously compelling and a necessary read for every homeowner. Knowledge is self-defense. No homeowner contemplating life in an HOA should neglect reading this book. No HOA board officer should overlook this examination of the pitfalls in HOA management. And no lawyer representing either side in an HOA dispute should gloss over what homeowners are saying or believing about the lawsuit industry.

2 thoughts on “How Is This Legal? Aspen?!?!? Government Condos?

  1. Deborah Goonan

    Ward, the HOA indsutry has figured out that they can make a ton of money providing “affordable” housing as well as luxury housing.

    It has come to the point where, in some states, a buyer can only find very high-end real estate or – if they qualify – one of these “affordable” options to either buy or rent.

    Could it be because FHA-backed financing of HOAs – especially condos – has almost completely dried up?

    So of course, it’s time to look for alternative sources of federal or state funding to prop up HOAs across the country.

    But what’s so “affordable” about collective HOA governance with absolutely no financial management standards? The financial model seems to be “run it into the ground, and hope for a bail out or a buy out.”

    It’s deceptive marketing and politicking at its finest.

  2. Cynthia

    Dear Ward Lucas, Deborah Goonan and Other Readers, or Posters to this Blog,

    I thought there was something “funny” about this specific news account when I initially read it and did pass it along to others. I thought, maybe, a number, or some of the more powerful City Council Members were probably owners in the HOAs and simply did not want to pay for the upkeep and it there was a way to pass it along to the taxpayers, well “good for us,” I believe they would think. I believe it is wrong, but this is just my thoughts and assessment. Are all homeowners within the city’s, or district boundaries outside deed restricted communities getting the same “gift”? Knowing the “typical” boundaries between “privatized” HOAs,COAs, and POAs (HOAs), in most of America that is supposed to exist, I found what is reported in this one article really troubling and I believe most in this town and the state of Colorado and probably other states should too.

    This article states, and I am copying this excerpt as it is written in the article: ”
    “The city is proposing to create an account for all 1600 deed-restricted units and juice it with ten thousand dollars a piece. It’s like a capital-reserve starter kit… one that, in total, will require sixteen million dollars of taxpayer money to fund.
    Assistant City Manager Barry Crook says it’s all about rational economics: what normal people do to keep money in their pocket.
    “Nobody, deed-restricted or non deed-restricted, likes to spend money they don’t think they have to spend.”
    In the free market, the reason homeowners might put money into an expensive long-term item such as a new roof is because it adds value to their home when they go to sell it. But in the Aspen deed-restricted housing market, there is a cap on the sales price of a home, and no shortage of people waiting in line to pay that price, regardless of the condition.
    “In the deed restrictricted market… you almost always get the maximum price whether the unit is well kept or not””
    I believe, solely, the use of “deed restricted” is not the proper description for the properties in this, or other reports involving HOAs. All residential property in the USA have some types of “deed restrictions,” but what traditional residential property does not have is a deed restricted mandatory association (HOA) as part of the deed restriction on the property.

    So, apparently in these “HOA deed restricted properties” in this town there are caps on the amount one can charge for an HOA deed restricted property. That’s interesting too. So, it is supposed to be like “rent controlled housing” in other major cities, I would guess, but these are properties individually owned, not owned by the city, county, or state and supposedly maintained via their maintenance (assessments) to their “privatized” HOA run by a “privatized” HOA board.

    I know Colorado has an abundance of HOA laws and has been through a lot of challenges to these laws and especially, for much needed HOA homeowner protections, caps on management fees and transfer fee costs, and licensing of HOA community managers and maybe HOA board members also, (See: I am curious how this “arrangement” of local HOA deed restricted “law” fits in with Colorado state statutes for HOAs and non profit related laws. Not too well I would expect.

    At any rate, some further checking for information on what is reported in the article linked here, I came across an article that I believe clarifies some issues and sheds a much brighter light on what is really going on. Please see:, Burlingame HOA president says siding concerns began a year ago, from Feb 2013, by Andre Salvail, in the Aspen Times. Yes, 2103! There is a lot more to this initial news account blogged about by Ward Lucas.

    By the way, Ward Lucas, the lawsuits were filed long before most even knew of the situation. Please see this excerpt from
    “Several meetings between board members and city officials to consider ways of solving the issue followed, apparently without result other than leading the board to file a lawsuit last fall against the parties it believes to be responsible for the problem.

    “There were many conversations,” said Stefan Reveal, who heads the association representing 84 homeowners. The development has another seven homes in the neighborhood that are guided by a separate homeowners’ association. Those homes, built by a different contractor from the one that constructed the other 84, don’t face any siding damages, he said.

    The issue of cracked siding at Burlingame Ranch surfaced a week ago at the Aspen City Council’s regular meeting when local government critic Elizabeth Milias asked council members why they seemed to have little knowledge of the problem and the resulting lawsuit. The city, the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, contractor Shaw Construction and siding manufacturer Certainteed Corp. are the named defendants.

    Milias suggested that the city put its plans for the second phase of Burlingame on hold because of the issue at Phase I and the revelation that a potential buyer of a unit that’s for sale was denied a bank loan for a mortgage because of the siding problem. The city last year began a pre-sales process to identify potential buyers and is set to start construction on the houses this spring.

    For the past few years, Milias – a blogger for the Red Ant website – has been a frequent critic of the city’s affordable-housing program.

    Reveal said he couldn’t say whether more than one potential buyer has been denied financing. A few Burlingame homes were sold late last year, after the lawsuit was filed in Pitkin County District Court in September.

    Last week, City Attorney Jim True said the city is requiring the construction company to handle its defense and related costs. Two claims are asserted in the lawsuit, he said. One is that Shaw inappropriately installed the siding. The other is that Certainteed improperly manufactured it.

    Reveal said damages aren’t visible outside every unit. However, he said the problem is shared by all 84 homeowners equally because the exterior walls and siding for the entire neighborhood are owned collectively.

    “You own your unit from the drywall in,” Reveal said. “So anything exterior of that, you don’t actually own it. For example, I own my space, but I also own one-84th of every piece of siding, roofing, the landscaping and all that. It really doesn’t matter if (the cracked siding) is all on one building or on all the buildings.”

    Reveal, a commercial banker, said the matter of somebody recently getting turned down for a mortgage on the basis of the cracked siding is troublesome.

    “It is concerning for sure,” he said. “Mortgage providers are required to receive a questionnaire. There’s a question that asks, ‘Is there any litigation pending?’ We have to answer ‘Yes.’ That’s a concern to the mortgage companies.”
    Please see the remainder of the article: and come to your on conclusions, too.

    Yes, housing financing is tough and I believe Deborah Goonan is right when she mentions FHA in her comment to this blog, but I also have to think of the problem that has existed for decades with the fraudulent HOA foreclosures; secretive and non judicial, no notice, or short notice with extortion demands for thousands of dollars the HOA homeowner does not owe, legal, or not, knowingly fraudulent, criminal acts, in my opinion and in some cases, even forging judges, or others signatures, or signature it appears. Couple this criminality with the Super Priority Lien abuses and in condos most of the HOA homeowners do not have $20,000 – hundreds of thousands of dollars for lawsuits to protected themselves, their families and their property from these criminal syndicates who are targeting them, “because they can.”

    I believe our elected officials, state and federal investigators, housing agencies and any other agency or office designated and whose duty it is to protect the public from being victimized of a crime is responsible and they have all failed the American taxpayers and HOA homeowners, for the most part, miserably, in my opinion! Our courts too, they need to step up to the plate and prosecute the HOA criminals and property thieves in every locale across America, no matter who they are, or who the know. Sentence them and make them rectify their victims and if the states have been irresponsible and ignored their responsibility to the HOA homeowners, who have become homeless victims due to the HOA criminality and property thefts, hold the individual states accountable also!

    If the federal government didn’t investigate when they were contacted by an HOA victim, well, there has to be a way to hold the investigative offices who the HOA homeowners being victimized went to, but were ignored, turned away, marginalized, or discounted because the value of the loss of their home that has been stolen, equity, belongings and associated costs was under a million dollars! I guess we need multiple investigative agencies in the USA for criminality and esp., HOA criminality and all they have stolen fro innocent HOA homeowners. One, that investigates the over $1 million dollar thefts and crimes and one that investigates apparently the ones that “really don’t count” the under $1 million dollar HOA crimes, criminality and property and all thefts that are and have been happening to real people too!


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