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Letters

CC&Rs Are Your Friends

Re “Home Owner Association Horror Stories” (Cover Story, February 18).

It would be encouraging to print the other side of the story as well. In this current economy, negativity sells, and one can always find something wrong in any system. Print the value of homeowners’ associations.

The purpose is to add value to your property. To prevent 20 cars in your yard and purple houses with white polka dots. Units with five dogs and loud noise. Collective funds to pay for major improvements. Everyone who buys into a homeowners’ association should review governing documents and agree to them before they buy to maintain their property values. Homeowners’ associations are governed by their CC&Rs, bylaws and civil codes. All boards of directors are voted in by the owners to implement these governing documents. No board member can act alone. The association serves its owners within the governing documents for the benefit of all. Encourage associations to find resources to effectively serve the needs of all. Effective management support (management makes no decisions — boards do) and perhaps joining the Community Associations Institute would be great sources for invitations to compliance and for maintaining and increasing values of all properties.

  • Joanne Diaz
  • via email

Power Corrupts

I read your cover story “Home Owner Association Horror Stories” (February 18) with great familiarity. Before I lived in San Diego, I owned a co-op in Manhattan and later a condominium in Westchester, New York, and finally a townhouse also in Westchester. In each situation, there were one or two people who tended to make everyone else miserable.

I moved to San Diego 14 years ago, and after purchasing a condominium here in Banker’s Hill, I entered a new level of hell. I have now learned my lesson. I spent time on the board and gave away many hours of my life only to be abused by my neighbors who wouldn’t lift a finger to do a thing.

The final insult occurred when several years ago I learned that I was paying a substantially higher monthly HOA fee for my one-bedroom unit than several other larger two-bedroom units. I asked the board and the managing agent why this was and if they could explain how this happened. I was brushed off as a pest. I brought it up numerous times and received the same response so I dug in and did research.

I found documents that included the square footage of every unit. I did the math and multiplied the error by the number of months I had owned the unit. I attended the next board meeting thinking that this proof would bring home the problem to the board members. It did not. Finally I said that if I didn’t receive a meeting within the next two weeks to work out a settlement, I was going to go to small-claims court. I was laughed at. There was no meeting, and I filed a claim. By this time, I had overpaid my HOAs by $5400.

The day of my court date, the board president and two other members (one of whom was a lawyer) showed up and snickered in my direction as we waited to be called. The judge asked for evidence, which I had. The board had put together alternative evidence proving nothing. The judge read everything and questioned both sides. After a short break he announced that my evidence was overwhelming and I won the case.

Unfortunately, he was unable to award me the entire $5400 because the statute of limitations precluded that, but he gave me everything he legally could, which was $2200. I also announced in court that if the association didn’t redo the HOAs to reflect the true rates, I would be in small-claims court on an annual basis. I received a check within a week, and the HOAs were refigured.

No one ever said they were sorry. It was resented that I went to small-claims court, but after imploring my neighbors for seven years, what else could I do? At a later board meeting, the lawyer who had been retained by the board made it a point to speak to me personally in front of everyone present and said that the judge didn’t understand the situation and I had been granted the rebate unfairly. I stood up and asked him if he would like to meet me in small-claims court and tell that to the judge. He declined.

Last spring I received an offer to sell my unit for three times what I paid for it in 1998. I couldn’t pack fast enough. I now live in a rental in Banker’s Hill. Being a board member empowers too many people to act out against neighbors simply because they can. Maybe they should find other hobbies.

  • David Peters
  • Banker’s Hill

Jail Jewel

I want to thank E.A. Barrera and commend him on the great work he did to compile and write the story “Please, Put Me in Jail” (“City Lights”), which appeared in the February 18 edition. That was a great bit of investigative work and written well.

  • Gary C. Goldman, Ph.D.
  • Oceanside

You Idiots!

Re “It’s all about the money” (“Under the Radar,” February 18).

What was the point in this article? Does the author think KPBS operates on air and tax dollars alone? If so, he’s sorely mistaken and very bad at research. Yes, it’s about the money. Duh.

  • Name Withheld
  • via email

Appalled!

Re “Psycho Willie vs. the Pyrate Punx” (“Blurt,” February 18).

Is this type of language really appropriate to have so easily accessible to children on the internet? I am totally appalled that I even read this language off of Yahoo.com local news! It is quite obvious that the San Diego Reader has no editor.

  • Name Withheld
  • via email

It’s News To Me

I live and work in Borrego Springs. Just about every detail in the article (City Lights: “A Town Left Dry,” February 11) was unknown to me despite the very good local paper coverage on the subject. Excellent reporting.

  • Jane Morley
  • Borrego Springs

Poem Prize

Thank you for including this poem (“El Zapato,” February 11). My mom found it on Saturday and I used it in class on Tuesday. Thank you for publishing a poem that my students and I can relate to. Especially in the high-stakes tests of CST, poetry is not only tested heavily but more importantly contributes to literary awareness. I am just waiting to read more poems from Mr. Richard Garcia.

  • Erin Cronin
  • via email

Semi-Good

Thank you so much for the article on San Pasqual Winery (“Crush,” February 18). People in La Mesa are very excited to hear that we are here. However, nowhere in the article does it mention our address, phone number, or hours. I am wondering if you can include it in the online article and perhaps mention it in the next issue. Tasting Room and Gallery: 8364 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa, 619-462-1797. Winery: 5151 Santa Fe Street, Suite H, San Diego (only open Saturdays, noon to 4:00 p.m.).

  • Brenda Nason
  • via email

San Diego Star

Re “Back in the Spotlight” (“Movie Review,” February 4).

I am a loyal reader and thought you might be interested to know that the subject of the Dear John movie just released is a San Diego native and resident. The story is based on the experience of Todd Vance, who grew up in San Diego, attended San Dieguito High School, etc. Both his parents are area residents as well.

I haven’t seen the movie, but I am friends with Todd’s dad and we have been watching this story unfold. Todd was also the feature of a book published a couple of years ago. The author of the Dear John book recognizes Todd on his website.

  • Sharon Sulzner
  • via email

No Visible Progress

Your article “The Mad Hatter’s Council Meeting” (“City Lights”) by Susan Luzzaro in the Reader January 28 was an excellent article. I know that there are numerous areas of Chula Vista that deserve a serious opportunity to be redeveloped. Nobody wants to look at the problem objectively, nor do they have any confidence in the Redevelopment Agency.

I do not want my property to be designated in an area for redevelopment not only due to the stigma of the designation of being “blighted” but because of increased property taxes to pay for the redevelopment.

The Chula Vista Redevelopment Agency has a very poor track record and it appears to exist primarily for the financial benefit of the members of the agency. The fact that between 1990 and 2006 the agency received $15,047,299 in tax increment money, over a third paid agency staff and very little on visible redevelopment. I agree with an article written in the San Diego Union-Tribune which stated that “their record is one of abject failure.” Most of the money is spent on staff and consultants and very little on visible progress in the areas being taxed. The Chula Vista City Council should be ashamed of itself for supporting something that does nothing positive for the future of Chula Vista.

  • Pedro Ivan Diaz
  • Webster

System Leaves Bad Taste

Re “I Never Thought I’d Become a Welfare Queen” (Cover Story, January 7).

I joined AmeriCorps VISTA in August. This was after I graduated in May and remained unemployed for 3 months. As an AmeriCorps member I was encouraged to get on food stamps, as my income is set at the poverty line (that’s approximately $6/hr). My experience has been confusing, infuriating, and ultimately a complete waste of time. As it stands right now I am not receiving food stamp benefits because my income exceeds the limits (that’s right, $6/hr exceeds the income limits). I was told there was a mistake made and I currently owe $256 in overpaid food stamps. My case is in review, and I could owe as much as $800. This is all on my poverty-level income and comes as I’m saving to move across the country and start graduate school.

I just think people should be aware of how difficult it is to be on food stamps and how horrible the system is in San Diego. I’ve been working with the San Diego Hunger Coalition on policy reform and will be starting my master’s in social work in the fall.

  • Hope
  • via email

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Comments

Judging by what's been written about HOAs, Joanne Diaz, you effectively been OVERRULED!

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