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February 3, 2012 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
The residential matchmakers at aren't engaged in housing discrimination when they heed their clients' preferences for whom they are willing to share their inner sanctum with, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. "There's no place like home," the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated in defending the home as the most private of places and beyond the government's power to regulate. The ruling overturned a federal judge's decision two years ago that was facilitating discrimination and ordered the service to cease asking clients to state their gender, sexual orientation and whether or not children were among the prospective tenants.
February 2, 2012 | By Ari Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times
The three people chosen Wednesday by Gov. Jerry Brown to dismantle Los Angeles' sprawling, half-century-old redevelopment agency are not strangers to the real estate business or city politics. One is an attorney and City Hall lobbyist, another a consultant who once worked closely with the redevelopment agency, and the chair of the new panel led a firm that was Los Angeles' largest owner of upscale downtown office space. The City Council jettisoned its redevelopment agency two weeks ago. The three-person panel is required by state law because L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council opted not to step in and assume the risk of unwinding the agency's hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, complex land deals, employee obligations and development loans.
January 29, 2012 | By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian
Question: I was elected to the board of directors because owners were fed up with a controlling manager. After election, the manager handed me a "board member tool kit," which instructs how to join in lock step with other directors and not make waves. It espouses the importance of listening to industry "experts" such as property management companies and attorneys who, it says, know much more than board directors about how to run an association. One disturbing instruction says board directors should "stand united and back the board's own majority decisions even if you voted against them.
January 24, 2012 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
The nation's largest public pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, posted a 1.1% return on its investment portfolio in 2011, Chief Investment Officer Joseph Dear told his board. The 2011 performance was well below the estimated average annual return of 7.75% that the fund's actuaries say is needed to meet current and future obligations to its members. The $229.5-billion CalPERS provides retirement and other benefits for 1.6 million state and local government employees and their families.
January 15, 2012 | By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian
Question: We are a small homeowners association over 35 years old. As original owners sold their units, our association demographics changed. Our association is now composed of various cultural groups speaking several different languages and dialects. The majority of current owners cannot read our covenants, conditions and restrictions and other governing documents. They show no interest in the association. As a result, we no longer have a board of directors. The last board meeting minutes were published just before the secretary sold his unit and moved away last year.
December 22, 2011
The way Trent Arsenault touts himself, he's a tall, healthy and educated altruist who helps others by donating his sperm (sans sexual intercourse) on a fairly large scale. The way the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sees it, he operates a sperm bank, albeit an informal and unpaid one, that fails to meet federal regulations. From our perspective, the FDA is overreaching. Arsenault, an electronics company engineer in the Bay Area, promotes his service through the Internet to women who want to get pregnant without paying the $400 to $600 fee that a commercial sperm bank would charge.
December 11, 2011 | Liz Weston, Money Talk
Dear Liz: Several years ago, we were talked into getting what I believe was a predatory loan - a negatively amortizing mortgage for 100% of the purchase price of our home. The loan broker assured us we could refinance the following year to a more traditional mortgage. We paid the minimum monthly payment required, which didn't cover all the interest owed, so that amount was added to our mortgage balance. Like others, we have experienced the nightmare of the current housing market, and with the negative amortization adding on even more debt, we are severely underwater.
December 3, 2011 | By Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times
A hush fell upon the embalmers at Thibodaux Funeral Home as the gurney with the black body bag was wheeled into their room. They stopped what they were doing and drew near. Glenn Bergeron had been dreading this moment. Eight years as an undertaker, and he had never attended to anyone who had died so young, so violently. He made the sign of the cross. One of the newer members of the staff, a student at mortuary science school with a kindergartner at home, held back. She had to be encouraged.
November 27, 2011 | By Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian
Question: We have been renting a condo and are in the process of buying it from the owner. My husband went to a board meeting to complain about the speeders on the association's road in front of our condo. We made the board aware that vehicles speed down the street in early-morning hours going two or three times the posted 15-mph speed limit. We asked the directors if they could install speed bumps where this is occurring. The board said no. The meeting minutes reported: Renter "expressed his concern about cars speeding in the streets by his home.
November 26, 2011 | By Martha Groves, Los Angeles Times
Does the endgame loom in the decades-long tussle over Santa Monica Airport? In 2015, all land and building leases at the airport expire, and city officials — and thousands of Westside residents weary of life in the flight path — say the obligation to operate the facility as an airport ends too. Santa Monica has hired consultants to study the 227-acre campus and early next year will begin asking for the public's input on potential future uses....
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