Category Archives: Holidays

HOA Embezzling Comes to Bakersfield

Because it’s Christmastime, we usually expect a little more embezzling by employees of Homeowners Associations. Michelle Haughton, the accounts receivable employee for the Bear Valley Springs HOA apparently took the word ‘receivable’ a little more literally than her job description intended. The cops won’t say how much money was missing, but it’s greater than $2000. She’s now charged with embezzlement and grand theft.

It won’t matter much to homeowners. They’ll just see a special assessment come along and no one on the board will tell them them what it’s for.

(HOA embezzlement arrest in Bakersfield)


Do You Really Believe In The 1st Amendment?

Many of our founding fathers believed so strongly in Freedom of Speech that there was no question it would be first in the Bill of Rights. Curiously, protection of religion was listed first, however I have to believe there were loud arguments that protection of speech should be listed first. For without Free Speech, there would be no religion, no right to peaceably assemble, no right to petition for redress of grievances. Free Speech was so incredibly important it’s doubtful that any other form of government could have come about without it.

Obviously there are limits. Speech must not be used to cause physical injury to others or for sedition or incitement to riot. Even so, the Supreme Court has never been clear on exactly where the limits should be set. One example is pornography. What some see as clearly evil others see as art. One of the earliest attempts at creating a motion picture using an 1880 zoopraxiscope involved a naked lady video that could have tested the bounds of free speech.

My point is this: One of the things demanded by the homeowners’ rights movement is to stop Homeowners Associations from restricting free speech. It’s is a very real problem when HOA officials refuse to allow political signs, bumper stickers, any material that advocates for candidates who are not on the ‘approved’ HOA candidate list. It’s problematic when HOAs pass rules that a Christian may not hold Bible studies in his home. It’s more than annoying when an HOA president can have a birdbath featuring a nude woman, but that same board official outlaws religious statuary.

HOAs were created, among other things, to control bad taste. But if the U.S. Supreme Court is incapable of deciding what’s in bad taste, how is a typical HOA board member any wiser? The HOA gets away with governing taste by claiming it’s a private club or corporation where taste can be anything the board says it is.

Homeowners rights advocates are gradually winning a few 1st Amendment battles here and there. We might even see more such victories in the future. But as we keep increasing our volume alerting legislatures to the outrages of abusive HOAs, and as a tiny segment of our society takes advantage of the chance to be outrageous and obnoxious to neighbors, we’d better get ready to answer a question the U.S. Supreme Court could not: “What are the outer limits of bad taste?”

(the nation’s nastiest neighbor)

(zombie nativity scene barred)

(university outlaws Christmas decorations in the name of diversity)

($500 fine for too many Christmas lights)

(salvation army banned from public property)


Sentimental Journey Around Southmoor Gardens

guest blog by Nila Ridings
I was near the area so on a whim I decided to carve out a few minutes from a very busy day and see…see what my old neighborhood looks like today.  My very first house was one of the smaller ones with it’s big trees, a red brick ranch with zoysia grass, and hand-picked by my dad.  He called it my “starter” home.
Together, we remodeled the kitchen and I worked every weekend on one project after another after Dad died.  I had an arsenal of tools and endless energy.  My neighbor lady told me her husband always said I was the hardest working woman he’d ever seen. According to her, he would see me pull up in my little sports car, jump out in my high heels and suit with my briefcase in hand, and race inside.  15 minutes later I’d reappear in my overalls with my aluminum ladder (another gift from Dad) and up I’d go to clean the gutters. Back down to mow the lawn and grab the extension cord so I could trim the shrubs. Occasionally needing a bandage for a cut or scrape and once the ladder dipped and caught the ground while I was carrying it and smacked me in the eye.  I wore a really deep purple, red, and black eye for several days after that.  I was always busy, but I never knew somebody was observing my routine until Mrs. Neighbor told me. Today, I don’t recall her name.
pinkhouseWhat I do recall was Dad making sure I did not buy a house with an HOA.  After this HOA nightmare I have been living, I observed my old neighborhood with a peaked and open-minded interest.  I had totally forgotten about the pink house!  It was pink before I moved there in 1984.  No two houses look the same.  Many had American flags flying today…and always did.  Some with swimming pools and others with porch swings.  Some ranches, some two stories, and one that has totally gone away.  Possibly earlier today?  I don’t know, but the bulldozers were still there and the earth looked freshly dug but the house was gone from the corner lot.
Today’s visit confirmed one thing for sure; that this HOA-Free neighborhood did not lose its value.  I sold for double what I paid and today that house is worth double that amount.  The people that bought it still own it.  The city records say the average price in Southmoor Gardens is $188K but there are houses valued at $500K.  Imagine that! Houses holding that kind of value with basketball goals, American flags flying, various house colors…even a pink one…fences of different styles, every color in the crayon box for front doors, paver bricks and concrete driveways and even one with gravel.  Swing sets, gazebos, and wrap around porches.  Nothing looked “junky” but it all looked lived in.  Every single house seemed to sing “Home Sweet Home” in Kansas as I passed by.
Do those 700 residents realize they are living in a piece of paradise?  Do they realize how all the HOA and CAI snobs scream about the surefire guarantee of a pink house destroying the property values in the neighborhood? Well, it’s impossible to argue with happy neighbors and increased property values, isn’t it?
Southmoor Gardens I miss you now more than ever!

The Saddest Story

OK Bunkie, I realize you haven’t always been tight with your old Gramps. I realize we’ve had some differences, and sometimes you just thought I wasn’t very smart in the ways of the world. Sometimes I’m wrong, I admit it. But sometimes you’re wrong and you should admit it.

So, Bunkie, pull your chair up real close and listen even if this is that last time I ever get to try to share some wisdom with you.

Remember when you said that buying your own place was the best investment you could ever make? Remember when I tried to talk you out of it? You said you’d take your grandma in as a  roommate to help you pay expenses?

But she died and now the HOA won’t let you have another roommate. They say it’s their decision and you can’t stop it. They’re telling you the only way you can stop it is to take them to court.

Bunkie, don’t fall for a sucker’s game! They know they’re going to win. They know that even if you win a decision in court, that court case will have cost you a quarter million dollars.

Sweetie, please listen. When you bought your condo you chose to live under a Communist form of government. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. Those are just the facts. For the first time in our nation’s history you can make a conscious decision to join a totalitarian political party. It’s sneaky. But it’s all built around the illusion of home ownership. You gave up your rights to be an American and you can’t get them back.

Please don’t cry, Sweetie. It’s just a strange time in our history where the decisions you make really do mean something.

(How much is that condo worth now?)