Category Archives: California

LOL! God Bless Google!

Homeowners across the country have wonderful ways to track the criminals who get themselves elected to positions of power on HOA boards. It’s heady power, indeed. And according to one of my regular searches on the web, they frequently arm themselves to take down enemies.

The greatest Google search is simply…. HOA president arrested.

That’s all! And it turns up a treasury.

The most recent incident happened last month in a Homeowners Association in the San Diego area. A 59 year old HOA president apparently didn’t like the work done by a man hired to do some work in the neighborhood. The HOA president pulled out a blade and stabbed the younger man. This gem of a neighborhood leader was arrested.

More to come.

(story from San Diego)



Conviction In Massive, Massive Corruption Case

You can’t get any closer to organized crime than this one! A former city manager in a small suburb of Los Angeles has pleaded no contest to dozens of counts of fraud, embezzlement, rigging city elections and a bucket load of other felonies connected with a scandal that has rocked people across Southern California. Five former city council members, a former assistant city manager, and the former mayor of the City of Bell are still awaiting trial. More charges and indictments could still be coming, including possible federal indictments by the U.S. Attorney.

Robert Rizzo was the longtime city manager of Bell, California, a small, lower income community immediately southeast of Los Angeles. His assistant city manager was Angela Spaccia. Over a period of years Rizzo and his “gang of eight” looted the community, putting it millions of dollars into debt and driving it to the brink of bankruptcy. The crimes sound awfully similar to the organized crime scam that looted the treasuries of at least a dozen private homeowners associations in the State of Nevada.

Because of inappropriately high salaries in a number of California communities, the state enacted laws prohibiting city officials from voting themselves massive amounts of income. Rizzo, his assistant city manager, the mayor, and five city councilmen held an almost secret municipal election to get the city officially chartered to avoid the state limits. Despite a population of 38,000 people and just 10,000 registered voters, only 390 votes were cast, a majority of them by absentee ballot. And many of those ballots were forged to reflect that a solid majority were in favor of the proposed charter.

Over a period of several years, Rizzo arranged for himself annual pay hikes that put his salary at nearly eight hundred thousand dollars. That’s twice the salary of the U.S. President! Rizzo’s eventual salary was to be one and a half million a year, almost four times the salary of the President.

But Rizzo obviously thought that wasn’t enough. He began stashing millions of dollars in secret retirement accounts to benefit him and a majority of his buddies on the city council. He was set to begin receiving a pension of more than a million dollars a year, all paid for by low income homeowners, phony city contracts and excessive property taxes. In fact, the salaries and pensions arranged by Rizzo and approved by the Mayor and city council made Bell the second highest taxing district in all of Los Angeles and its surroundings. Tax rates were even higher than those in affluent Beverly Hills. When at least one homeowner complained about excessive salaries for Rizzo and the city councilmen, Rizzo and his assistant city manager, forged documents to show he was only earning 180,000 a year and his councilmen around 2400 a year.

In the months to come, we should be hearing a lot more about outrageous siphoning of taxpayers’ money by officials in communities across California. There are reportedly at least a half dozen investigations going on and the FBI is deeply involved in even more.

(click here for LA Times story)



Huge Victory for California Homeowners!

The California Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court decision which would essentially prevent the CAI (Community Associations Institute) from controlling the outcome of all board elections in Homeowners Associations.

Truly, the CAI has emerged as one of the nation’s most disgustingly evil-minded institutions. CAI claims it represents homeowners, although sometimes it refers to ‘stakeholders’. What CAI really represents is a massive and growing cash diversion from private homeowners to tort lawyers and service providers. When a homeowner gets into a beef with his or her HOA, CAI refers the case to its own secret closet of favored tort lawyers. But the ‘California dance’ by CAI was just beyond belief.

California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled that an HOA which takes a position or becomes an advocate for a certain board candidate or ballot measure must provide “equal access” to opponents. This includes access to any means of publication including HOA websites, bulletin boards, community meeting rooms, newsletters and any other publication routes. CAI lawyers, of course, went ballistic.

Equal access? Who the heck ever heard of such an outrage? Equal protection? That’s for U.S. citizens, certainly not the citizens of HOA Amerika.

Twenty four California law firms filed ‘Friends of the Court’ briefs to the California Supreme Court begging the justices to overturn that stinking ‘equal access’ judgment. Count ’em: Twenty four law firms, each one of them sucking at the teat of the HOA lawsuit machine.

For a very brief background on this lawsuit, the Beachwalk Homeowners Association board figured out a sneaky way to get CAI affiliated members elected to the board. If the CAI-guy didn’t win, they’d just keep holding elections one after the other, advocating all the way until the homeowners got weary and finally gave in to the constant political propaganda and elected the previously chosen CAI-guy. These 24 HOA law firms, by filing such Friends of the Court briefs, demonstrated they were absolutely behind such odoriferous tactics. Remember the old Soviet Union where voters could vote, but there was only one candidate on the ballot? Well, the CAI-guy election tactic was Communism on steroids.

In a strange turn to Constitutional fairness and due process, the California Supreme Court essentially ruled that opponents of in-house candidates or ballot issues actually got to have the freedom to discuss alternative views. Amazing!

Any homeowner who wonders where his or her HOA dues are going, or who wonders why Homeowners Associations have become so despised by individual homeowners, should read the decision in the California case: Wittenberg v Beachwalk Homeowner Association.

Calling all homeowners: You finally won a big one! Congratulations!

(click here for California decision)


Another Good One by

CalHomeLaw is a subscription-paid site only, and that’s a shame. But I’ll send as many people their direction as I can.

Their latest offering is about SLAPP lawsuits, or Strategic Lawsuits to Stop Public Participation. Thousands, even tens of thousands of these lawsuits are filed each year to intimidate people from exercising their First Amendment rights. People in Homeowners Associations are primary targets.

If you ask to see the HOA’s financial budgets, you’re liable to get SLAPPED.
If you question the legality of a board or management company’s actions, believe me, you’ll get SLAPPED.

If you say, “Hey, that’s not fair!” You’ll get SLAPPED. You’ve got to hire a lawyer and go to court. 

There’s a California law against SLAPP suits. The law should be federal. And it should have huge sanctions against lawyers who take part. 

There’s zero chance of that happening, since most people in Congress are lawyers who benefit from filing SLAPP suits.

Still, there is a God. And we can pray for such a miracle.


Nasty, Nasty, Nasty

I never gratuitously toss around the word ‘fascism’. My parents grew up in the era of German and Italian fascism and it was a devastating word to them. But I still remember how they regarded the fascist totalitarian governments that were wreaking havoc on the world.

So, as I monitor Homeowners Association stories around the country and see stories like the one I’ve linked below, I’m just stunned at the parallels.

South Natomas, California is the scene of an ongoing donnybrook between an elderly former U.S, Marine and the Sonora Springs Homeowners Association. Allen Campbell and his wife, Cynthia, moved into the neighborhood of 200 homes in 2009. He was elected to the board of directors but he became troubled with the lack of accountability in HOA finances. In fact, he was so troubled that he resigned. Cynthia was elected to the board a few months later and she, too was dismayed by the lack of transparency and the apparent hiding of financial records. She also resigned.

The remaining board soured on the Campbell couple and the harassment began. They were banned from neighborhood facilities, shouted down at HOA meetings. At one point, the board began hiring security guards to stand over and around Campbell whenever he showed up for a public meeting. Campbell is 75, in a wheelchair and on oxygen, yet this HOA board apparently felt threatened? In one meeting Campbell says when he stood up the security guard hit him on the chest where he had a fresh incision from heart bypass surgery.

It got worse. The HOA’s law firm began sending Campbell legal bills, including a $1340 bill for a so-called “enforcement assessment.” It’s blatantly obvious that the Sonora Springs Homeowners Association and its law firm are planning on liening, seizing and auctioning off the Campbells’ home. They’ve had practice doing that, seizing at least one other home in the neighborhood. In fact, that was the exact financial issue that so troubled the Campbells. There was apparently rent money coming in from the house that had been seized, but the HOA board wouldn’t account for where the money was going.

There’s so much more in the link below. But even after reading both sides of the story, I somehow think these security guards should be wearing knee-high black boots and HOA armbands of some sort.