Archive for the ‘5. Miscellaneous’ Category

Primers on common interest developments

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Many homes (including an estimated one-quarter of all homes in California) consist of units in “common interest developments” (CIDs), a collection of residence types between being a property owner and being a tenant. They are also called housing communities and community associations.

CIDs are complicated. They have some features of apartment buildings, neighborhoods, and towns, and other features peculiar to CIDs.

Here are a couple of gentle introductions to CIDs in California, for current and prospective members:

Long-term investing?

Sunday, May 1st, 2016


Police has done what?

Friday, March 25th, 2016

“The Berkeley Police Department has cleared the 1500 block of Fairview.”

That’s what subscribers to police alerts were told a few minutes ago. Do you know what it means?

Judge rejects ex-directors’ bias claim in Berkeley lawsuit

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

An Alameda County Judge today ruled against 7 former directors of a Berkeley senior housing cooperative and sent a breach-of-contract lawsuit against them back to a judge that their attorney had labeled “prejudiced”.

In today’s hearing, Judge Wynne S. Carvill of Alameda County Superior Court announced his decision not to let the lawsuit continue in his court, but left some details open to discussion. David L. Jordan, representing the ex-directors of Berkeley Town House, a 60-unit co-op south of the UC Berkeley campus, proposed that Judge Carvill dismiss the lawsuit entirely. David H. Schwartz, representing plaintiff Jonathan Pool, a co-op member, argued against dismissing or even pausing the case, but instead urged Carvill to invalidate the prejudice claim against the previous judge, George C. Hernandez, Jr., and send the case back to Hernandez.

Later today Carvill ordered what Pool’s attorney had proposed. Carvill ruled the prejudice claim invalid, sent the case back to Hernandez, and dropped an objection of the ex-directors to the lawsuit that Carvill had been scheduled to conduct a hearing on.

During today’s hearing, a stylistic difference between the two attorneys was evident. Schwartz exhibited a quiet, matter-of-fact demeanor, sticking to the questions asked by the judge and dealing mainly with the technical details. Jordan was more expressive and accused Pool of filing an utterly meritless suit imposing extra costs on insurance companies, purely as a pressure tactic in a companion suit. Jordan said he was at a loss to understand any genuine basis for the filing of a new case instead of an amendment of the related case. At one point, Carvill told Jordan he was “muddying the waters” by bringing past actions and alleged motives into a future-oriented discussion of how to dispose of the case.

The defendants in the lawsuit are Almalee Henderson, Judith Wehlau, Charles Tuggle, Katherine Miles, Nancy Epanchin, Raymond Dirodis, and Rita Zwerdling. Pool’s complaint claims they promised to pay $224,415 to the co-op to settle claims in the related lawsuit but broke that promise by getting the co-op to use its own funds to pay their debt.

Berkeley co-op ex-directors object to judge and lawsuit

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

Seven former directors of Berkeley Town House, a 60-unit senior housing cooperative, after challenging the impartiality of the judge assigned to hear a lawsuit against them, last week completed their arguments against the validity of the lawsuit itself.

In the suit, filed in late July in Alameda County Superior Court, co-op member Jonathan Pool claims that the former directors promised to pay $224,415 to the co-op to settle claims in a related lawsuit but broke that promise by getting the co-op to use its own funds to pay their debt.

In late August an attorney for the defendants, Fletcher C. Alford, notified the court that Judge George C. Hernandez, Jr., who had been assigned to the case, was “prejudiced” against his clients “or their interests” and asked for a new judge. The court reassigned the case to Judge Wynne Carvill.

In mid-September the defendants objected to the lawsuit itself, claiming that the complaint contained procedural defects requiring the court to refuse to hear the case. This month both the plaintiff and the defendants filed arguments rebutting one another’s arguments about the claimed defects. A decision by Judge Carvill on this issue is expected this week.

Dear Governor:

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

These days almost everybody seems to be lobbying the governor of California to sign or veto an item of legislation. Governor Brown’s website lists 806 bills that he invites the public to comment for or against before he makes his decisions.

I have decided that I would not be left out of the lobbying process, so I chose a bill and wrote a message. The bill is AB1738. I wrote:

This bill corrects an unconscionable flaw in current law. In negotiations between a unit owner and a board of directors over a dispute, the board can present a proposed settlement, enforceable in court, to the owner, which the owner has not seen before, and threaten to fine, evict, or foreclose if the owner does not sign it during that very meeting. The owner may have cognitive impairments, limited English, or inadequate understanding of the proposed terms. Currently, the owner must face this choice without any right to counsel. This bill grants the owner the right to bring another person into this negotiation. That provides a measure of protection against coerced inequitable agreements.

Since a common interest development is a quasi-municipality, and since internal-dispute-resolution sessions are quasi-judicial transactions (producing enforceable settlements of legal claims), the practice of some common interest developments of denying the right to counsel during such sessions is an abuse of a universally recognized right, and its correction by this bill is overdue.

So what if he’s barrel-chested?

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Is it just I?

Elizabeth Kolbert in The Sixth Extinction (2014) discusses the ongoing murder of other species, possibly culminating in total human suicide. Not exactly a trivial subject. She has about 270 pages to do the job, and probably every word counts if she wants readers to gain, as she says, “an appreciation of the truly extraordinary moment in which we live” (p. 3).

But Kolbert writes for The New Yorker, and therefore one must subtract from the page count a biographic overhead factor (BOF) of about 5%, leaving only about 257 pages to do the real work.

On page 9, for example, Kolbert notes that

EVACC’s director is a Panamanian named Edgardo Griffith. Griffith is tall and broad-shouldered, with a round face and a wide smile. He wears a silver ring in each ear and has a large tattoo of a toad’s skeleton on his left shin.

When I see such de rigeur asides here, in New Yorker articles (where it seems about half the subjects are barrel-chested or have high cheekbones), or elsewhere, I always wonder what it is about me that makes them a placebo for me, while reportedly critical for other readers in allowing them to attend to the rest of the narrative. Do I have a special exemption from a dependence felt by others? Or do I have a special blindness not afflicting others? I’m not entirely alone, because my wife jokes about the BOF, too, but anybody else I have discussed this with seems to claim that almost the whole population finds it an essential catalyst for its appreciation of an author’s work.

For the majority, then, please insert the following after paragraph 1 above:

Kolbert has an oval face jutting out from a full head of black hair cascading like two waterfalls down either side and splashing onto the top of a black turtle-neck tee shirt. She looks straight at you with an ambiguous smile or smirk, above a lone dimple. Any jewelry, piercings, and body art are concealed from view.

Did that help?

Judge confirms order in Berkeley co-op suit

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on 10 July made final a ruling giving a Berkeley senior housing cooperative’s board of directors and corporate attorney three months to legitimize the way in which the co-op has conducted itself in an ongoing lawsuit over construction contracting, earthquake preparedness, and governance procedures.

In confirming his tentative ruling issued a week earlier, Judge Steven A. Brick acknowledged plaintiff Jonathan Pool’s claim that attorney Stephanie J. Hayes of the Walnut Creek law firm Hughes Gill Cochrane had a conflict of interest in representing Berkeley Town House Cooperative Corporation while also siding with the corporation’s officials being sued by Pool. Brick stated, however, that Pool’s attorney had not shown a conflict of interest involving Hayes. In contrast, Brick agreed with Pool’s conflict-of-interest claim against Fred M. Feller of the Berkeley law firm Buresh, Feller, Kaplan & Chang, since Feller is on record as representing both the co-op and the defendant individuals from whom Pool is seeking compensation to be paid to the co-op.

In barring Feller from continuing to play his conflicting roles until the co-op can show that a majority of its disinterested members are willing to waive the conflicts, Brick refused to tell Hayes how to organize this showing. Pool’s attorney, David H. Schwartz of San Francisco, asked Brick to require that the members be told whether the co-op’s insurance company, Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, would agree to fund the costs of the corporation’s legal defense with a new attorney independent of the individual defendants. Brick replied that he was intentionally giving Hayes the freedom to determine what a valid informed waiver by the co-op’s members would entail, and the court would decide, when the co-op submitted the members’ signatures or votes, whether they were valid. Feller stated that Hayes’s job would be difficult, since it was not obvious whether a mere gathering of signatures would suffice or a vote of the membership under the procedures specified in the Civil Code would be necessary. Brick said he believed Hayes could figure that out.

Feller also stated that he was going to meet with the co-op’s board of directors that afternoon. Feller did not mention that the co-op’s members had not been notified of that meeting, despite the Civil Code’s requirement that members be given at least two days’ notice of any board meeting in executive session.

In response to a question from Concord attorney Franklin C. Aghassi, representing Galt flooring contractor Esteban Cardiel, implicated along with Garry Secrest of Danville in the construction-waste claim of Pool’s complaint, Brick stated that while the co-op is collecting waivers of Feller’s conflicts of interest the entire case will be stayed, including the litigation among the co-op, Cardiel, and Secrest.