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ISSUE # 64

CIC Info Bytes 04/27/23

CIC Info Bytes are frequent, succinct updates providing educational and engagement opportunities that help your community thrive!  Please forward and share this newsletter with your peers, neighbors and colleagues so they can connect and joinOur goal is to curate content that provides a robust basis for contextual understanding to support practical takeaways for you and your association.  Please consider following us on Twitter and Reddit. 

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CIC Info Bytes Newsletter 04/27/23 - PRINT EDITION


What to know about Arcturus, a new coronavirus subvariant the WHO is tracking — Victoria Bisset | The Washington Post | April 14, 2023

Some things should hardly need saying.  It’s not ethical or legal to shoot someone for ringing your doorbell. Or leaving your driveway.  Or rolling a basketball into your yard. Or accidentally getting into your car before quickly leaving it.

In recent days, more than half a dozen Americans have been shot for precisely those reasons. The alleged perpetrators were black, Latino and white, and the victims came from a variety of backgrounds, too.  The shootings happened in blue states and red, in urban areas and rural.  But they shared a common denominator: the dangerously wrong idea that people can fire their guns whenever they feel frightened, or even just annoyed.

You Can’t Just Shoot People — Editors | Bloomberg | April 14, 2023

WA bans sale of AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles, effective immediately — Jim Brunner | The Seattle Times | April 25, 2023

DO YOU KNOW if your management company receives remuneration like this?  Some of the ethical requirements published by CAI and CAMICB are as follows:

If you knew nothing else, the 20+ story condominium association in receipt of the June 2018 reserve study pictured [see full issue above] looks relatively well funded, yet the association received a 2016 report revealing "significant damage to the building enclosure."  Neither the context of that report, nor the 2018 estimate of $34,000,000 to correct the “significant damage” were included in this 2018 reserve study.

Fast forward to March 2022: the remediation estimate grew to over $40,000,000.  It appears that the association — despite legal requirements for annual updates — stopped performing reserve studies because 2018 is the most current available for a 2022 resale disclosure.

A real estate agent expounds that this association is not going to issue a special assessment and will instead try to increase future reserve contributions to perform all the necessary repairs.  That will be challenging as the association had, even after settling an insurance claim, just $5,000,000 in reserves as of October 2022.  How are ~90 units going to raise $35,000,000 in a few years with regular reserve contributions?  FAIL!

Reserve studies cannot exist in a vacuum!  This study fails to reflect the realities facing the association. The higher the complexity (think large condominiums), the greater the likelihood that the reserve study is materially deficient.

Don't Believe Your Eyes: Reserve Studies are Often Deceptive

P.S. The article below incorrectly states that CAI represents HOAs. CAI is a 50yr old business industry trade group that primarily represents the interests of companies that profit from homeowner assessments.  Claiming that CAI represents homeowners and common interest communities is akin to claiming that the International Dairy Foods Association represents consumers who like cheese, milk and yogurt.

...Duplexes, fourplexes or sixplexes will soon be legal in nearly every neighborhood in nearly every city in Washington*, after the state Legislature passed ambitious legislation last week overriding cities’ power to restrict land to single-family homes only.*

But the new rules will not apply to some of the state’s wealthiest neighborhoods — such as Broadmoor in Seattle and Innis Arden in Shoreline — which will be able to continue to be enclaves of single-family homes even as surrounding areas open up to new development.

Because homeowner associations and common interest communities have preexisting, legally binding contracts regarding their zoning rules, the Legislature can’t change those. “My guess,” University of Washington law professor Hugh Spitzer said, “is that the common interest communities and various groups concerned about this said, ‘You’re going to have a fight on your hands if you do this, under impairment of contracts,’ so the drafters [of the law] just said, ‘Fine.’”

But the Legislature has, both in the past and this year, passed other laws telling homeowner associations what they can and cannot do....

HB1110: WA’s new ban on single family zoning exempts some of Seattle’s wealthiest neighborhoods

— David Gutman and Daniel Beekman | The Seattle Times | April 23, 2023


CA legal analysis of the limits of legislation and covenants that run with the land.

The Barrett and Hall cases both involved limited exceptions to prevent enforcement of existing private single-family residential use restrictions against small care facilities under legislation tailored to minimize the impact on surrounding residences while serving an important public need.

In summary, the most recent legislation limiting enforcement of private restrictions in some narrowly defined circumstances is probably sustainable against constitutional challenges, although specific factual circumstances might lead to a different conclusion in some cases. It should be recognized, however, that legislative preemption of specific controls on height, bulk, density, and occupancy that have been established through private land use restrictions is a significant extension of previous legislation of this nature. The existing laws (other than those making void and deleting discriminatory covenants) have been limited to narrow allowances of smaller care facilities and employee housing in single-family residential areas, where the overall effect of the laws is to maintain consistency with the single-family neighborhood character of the restrictions, a point explicitly relied on in the few cases that have considered the issue.

The newer bills go beyond this, to directly enable construction and occupancy of projects that potentially change the physical character of the neighborhoods by lifting density, height, and bulk restrictions in significant ways. While these laws currently are narrowly drafted and seem likely to pass muster if challenged on constitutional grounds, that is not to say all private development controls can be overridden by legislation without concern for the rights of the property owners who benefit from the restrictions.

Statutory Overrides Of “Restrictive Covenants” And Other Private Land Use Controls: The Accelerating Trend Towards Legislative Overwriting Of Contractual Controls Of The Use And Development Of Real Property — Karl E. Geier | Miller & Starr Real Estate News | March 2022

Are you keenly interested in the environment?  Check out Bloomberg Green.

View past coverage:  1,  2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.


Poland declares threat to electricity supply due to too much renewable energy — Notes from Poland | April 24, 2023

US manufacturer releases cold climate heat pump — Beatriz Santos | PV Magazine | April 18, 2023

New KAUST tandem solar cell breaks efficiency world record — Michael Irving | New Atlas | April 18, 2023


Batteries of the future + what’s old is new…

In an energy-efficient future, homes may be heated and cooled by pumping from giant pools of water stored underground. A study published this month in Applied Energy looks at how underground aquifers (Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage (ATES)) could help significantly reduce reliance on fossil fuels and help store energy produced by renewables.

Giant Underground Pools of Water Are Batteries of the Future — Molly Taft | Gizmodo | April 19, 2023

Bricks are housed on the top eight levels of the building to store energy and drop down to the corresponding lower eight levels to generate power. Each brick, descending at 1.9 meters per second (6.23 feet), turns out about a megawatt, Terruzzin said. That's about enough to power 2,000 refrigerators.

As for efficiency, Energy Vault guarantees EVx systems will generate at least 80% of the energy required to lift the bricks and scoot them around, including factors like friction. That overall efficiency is comparable to pumped hydro.

Hundreds of 24-Ton Bricks Could Help Fix a Key Renewable Energy Problem — Stephen Shankland | CNET | April 22, 2023

VIDEO: Can gravity batteries solve our energy storage problems? — Alasdair Lane | BBC Future Planet | May 16, 2022

How Much Energy Can You Store in a Stack of Cement Blocks? — Wired | August 23, 2018

The Cost of Net Zero

Why efforts to modernize Seattle's grid might be a power struggle (haha) [BJ Paywall]

— Marc Stiles | Puget Sound Business Journal | April 23, 2023


Colleton County in South Carolina is a quiet rural district best known for its hunting, fishing and, recently, a sensational murder trial.

Now it is also a player in America’s new gold rush: a scramble for $1 trillion in federal tax incentives and loans for green energy that is fueling a flood of corporate investments and reshaping local economies.

The spending is one of the biggest outlays of taxpayer-financed industrial stimulus since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. If successful, it could transform the nation’s economy by creating millions of jobs and driving up to $3 trillion in total clean-energy investments during the next decade…

Small Towns Chase America’s $3 Trillion Climate Gold Rush — Phred Dvorak and Amrith Ramkumar | WSJ | April 23, 2023


Tech Billionaires Bet on Fusion as Holy Grail for Business 🔆 — Jennifer Hiller | WSJ | April 23, 2023


The U.S. rooftop solar business has grown with two essential catalysts: Low interest rates, which make such installations affordable for consumers, and state-level policy that handsomely rewards households with such solar systems for selling excess solar energy back to the grid. Both of those are going in exactly the wrong direction at the moment.

Rooftop Solar: Ain’t No Sunshine — Jinjoo Lee | WSJ | April 26, 2023


German scientists have simulated the seasonal performance of PVT panels in brine-water heat pumps for heating single-family homes. They compared them to air- and ground-source heat pumps with and without PV, and to gas heating systems.

Brine-water heat pumps with photovoltaic-thermal panels — Beatriz Santos | PV Magazine | April 26, 2023


Carbon offsets NOT achieving their potential: “Net Zero” isn’t what it’s cut out to be.  There’s no Atmosphere Enforcement Agency… 🙁 Protected US forests that were already removing carbon from the atmosphere were doing a great job even before they were contracted for carbon credits…

Getting Warmer with Kal Penn: Carbon Offsets — Kal Penn | Bloomberg | April 19, 2023

Inside the Billion-Dollar Market for Junk Carbon Offsets — Akshat Rathi | Bloomberg | November 21, 2023


The glut of parking spaces in the US is driving up housing costs and hurting the environment

— Tim Paradis | Business Insider | April 14, 2023


Video Trailer: Beware the carbon 'Godzilla' destroying the planet

The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper Investigates “How to Unscrew a Planet” with CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir

— CNN | April 23, 2023


Are these the most sustainable architectural projects in the world? — Leah Dolan | CNN | April 21, 2023


Cementing our future in a fantastic 8 minute video.

P.S.  Cement and concrete aren’t synonymous.  Check that link to learn the difference!

Cement accounts for 8 percent of our global carbon emissions. It’s also an incredibly difficult material to do without: It’s the glue that holds together the rock, sand, and water in concrete. And concrete is the building block of the world: It’s in our buildings, our streets, our sidewalks, and our infrastructure. Aside from water, there’s no material on Earth we use more of…

The big problem with cement, and how to fix it — Laura Bult | Vox | April 20, 2023

A viable formula for a carbon-negative, environmentally friendly concrete that is nearly as strong as regular concrete has been developed at Washington State University.

In a proof-of-concept work, the researchers infused regular cement with environmentally friendly biochar, a type of charcoal made from organic waste, that had been strengthened beforehand with concrete wastewater. The biochar was able to suck up to 23% of its weight in carbon dioxide from the air while still reaching a strength comparable to ordinary cement.

Researchers develop carbon-negative concrete — Washington State University | April 18, 2023


As you read the following article, please don’t forget about the 65.4 Quads of unused energy (67% of produced annual energy) across the United States.


Do you ESG?  Many people think they understand it, but ESG is fundamentally about making prudent business decisions related to environmental change, NOT about helping the environment for its own sake.

— Margaret Sutherlin and David Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 04/18/23

US ESG Bond Market Chokes on Republican Backlash, Investor Angst — David Caleb Mutua | Bloomberg | April 18, 2023


Most major private-investment firms are working to cut down on emissions their portfolio companies send into the atmosphere. Private-equity executives know they need to make these changes to win investor commitments…

The Messy, High-Stakes World of Private Equity's Fossil-Fuel Dilemma — Rebecca Ungarino | Business Insider | April 20, 2023

Sustainable investing expert Alison Taylor on ESG misconceptions and why ethics are part of the equation

— Grant Harrison | GreenBiz | April 18, 2022

The Seven Sins of ESG Management — Kosmas Papadopoulos & Rodolfo Araujo | Harvard Law School | September 23, 2020

Living in a Material World: Myths and Misconceptions about “Materiality” — Commissioner Allison Herren Lee | SEC | May 24, 2021


The Biden administration is preparing to unveil a proposal to require power plants to drastically reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by 2040, another attempt to regulate one of the country’s biggest contributors to climate change after the Supreme Court struck down the first effort, according to three people familiar with the plans.

Fossil fuels — almost exclusively gas and coal — still accounted for roughly 60 percent of the country’s electricity last year, according to Energy Department data. Utilities have been moving to zero-emissions sources, mostly wind and solar, retiring a lot of fossil fuels, especially coal, and that trend shows no signs of slowing. After retiring about 11 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity annually from 2015 to 2020, the industry plans to shutter 8.9 gigawatts this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

EPA plan would impose drastic cuts on power plant emissions by 2040 — Timothy Puko | The Washington Post | April 22, 2023


There has been a sharp drop in the amount of CO2 stored underground at the liquefied natural gas plant over the last three years, data released by Chevron showed.  Kim Garratt, an investigator with the Australian Conservation Foundation, said CCS developments were “being slapped on to otherwise unacceptable projects to make them seem like reasonable options”.

Emissions from Western Australia gas project with world’s largest industrial carbon capture system rise by more than 50%

— Adam Morton | The Guardian | April 20, 2023


How Electrifying Everything Became a Key Climate Solution — Nadja Popovich and Brad Plumer | NYT | April 14, 2023

Housing Affordability

Evictions in New York are soaring. It’s my job to stop the bleeding — Mallika Kaushal | The Guardian | April 26, 2023

But that doesn’t mean people with lower credit scores will pay less than those with higher credit scores. The changes mean that people with higher credit scores will still pay less based on lower risk to the lenders, but having a lower credit score will now come with less of a penalty.

Changes are coming to some mortgage fees next month — Anna Bahney | CNN | April 26, 2023


It’s Herbert Hoover’s fault. In the early 1920s, as a reform-minded secretary of commerce, Hoover wanted to bring order to America’s chaotic cities and towns, where a lack of controls on land use allowed grimy factories, livery stables and the like to spring up in residential neighborhoods. He convened a committee that drafted a model act encouraging state governments to authorize local governments to do something new: zoning.

Opinion: The 100-Year-Old Reason U.S. Housing Is So Expensive — Peter Coy | NYT | April 14, 2023


Homebuyers hoping for better deals as prices drop are getting slammed as average payments just hit a record high

— Alcynna Lloyd | Business Insider | April 25, 2023


US foreclosure filings jumped 22% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago. While still below pre-pandemic levels, foreclosure activity has increased on an annual basis for 23 straight months. The number of filings has been climbing since the federal moratorium ended in mid-2021. During the pandemic, an estimated 2 million homeowners fell behind on their mortgages.

Barber pointed out that in January, 24 out of 30 metropolitan areas with the highest foreclosure rates had median household incomes below the nationwide median of about $71,000, according to the US Census Bureau data. Unemployment rates exceeded 5% in nine of the top 30 metros, based on December 2022 federal data.

More Americans Are Losing Their Homes as Foreclosures on US Properties Rise

— Amy Yee and Alexandre Tanzi | Bloomberg | April 19, 2023 | Story republished by Yahoo! Finance


GIVING UP: For the first time, more than half of millennials own a home. But many of the rest are at peace with saying they never will. 

The millennial homeownership rate hit 51.5% in 2022, US Census data show. It’s been a slog to get there for the generation that came of age during the financial crisis—by age 30, 42% of millennials owned their homes compared to 48% of Gen X and more than half of baby boomers.

— David Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 04/19/23


Buying a home is a milestone, but after the moving truck leaves you still have to take care of it — roofs leak, paint peels, appliances break. Unfortunately for homeowners, the cost of maintenance is going up.

Home Maintenance Inflation Is Real — Michael Kolomatsky | NYT | April 20, 2023

Housing Market

Florida homeowners are experiencing a big increase in insurance premiums, due in part to high litigation costs and growing catastrophe losses. Over the past three years, premiums in the area have gone up about 40%, said Jim McCue, chief operating officer of NSI Insurance Group, a Miami-based independent insurance agency.

A new state law that requires condo buildings to fully fund their reserves and conduct more stringent structural inspections can also make owning a Miami unit more expensive. Special assessments to cover the new requirements can run to $100,000 or more per unit owner. Some older condos often don’t qualify for mortgages because of the assessments and structural issues, said Anibal Torres, a mortgage lender at 1st Financial in Miami.

Even so, some economists are forecasting that Miami’s housing market will hold its price gains better than most anywhere else.

Miami Housing Market Cools but Is Still the Hottest Around — Deborah Acosta | WSJ | April 18, 2023


US Housing Market Inventory Shortages Will Get Worse — Connor Sen | Bloomberg | April 15, 2023


The latest home price data for the nation's 400 largest housing markets — Lance Lambert | Fortune | April 15, 2023 | Republished on MSN

Built Environment

SF leaders, neighbors: 'ridiculous' skyscraper proposed for Outer Sunset District — Suzanne Phan | ABC 7 News | April 14, 2023


Kaysville officials working to redirect water, monitor neighborhood sinkhole 24/7 — Amanda Gilbert | KUTV | April 14, 2023


Fannie Mae Multifamily Market Research & Commentary: Multifamily Units Recently Completed and Underway as of June 2022

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Condo Connection's financial coverage is indexed to our Dollar$ and $ense page dedicated to all things CIC finance.

Dollar$ and $ense Page

Condo Connection's financial coverage is indexed to our Dollar$ and $ense page dedicated to all things CIC finance.

BEWARE THE LAG.  Slowing economic activity appears in official reports months after the fact.  Don’t get caught flat-footed.  Know what a recession means for you.

When Will I Retire? How About Never   <<< It’s not necessarily about $, but it often is… — Demetria Gallegos | WSJ | 04/12/23

Interested in some fiscal education about the US Government?  Check out https://fiscaldata.treasury.gov/ created by the Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.


Top 50 Richest Cities Around the World (New York City tops the list) — Kevin Varley | Bloomberg | 04/18/23

Debt-Ceiling Standoff Warps Treasury Trading - WSJ — Eric Wallerstein and Matt Grossman | WSJ | 04/22/23

Criticized Loans: Banks are being asked more about criticized loans partly because other credit quality metrics look so good, despite the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank last month, according to David George, a banking analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co. Watching these loans is a way to gain at least limited insight into a real estate downturn many analysts expect to get worse before it gets better, as a combination of recession fears and the slow return of workers to post-Covid offices drives expectations of rising office vacancy rates.

The bad loan term that's back for banks trying to spot recession — Tim Mullaney | CNBC | 04/23/23

Inflation and Monetary Policy

Despite repeated pushback from central bankers, the market is now betting on three rate cuts this year from that peak, firm in the belief a US recession is looming.  — Garfield Reynolds| Bloomberg 5 Things to Start Your Day | 04/14/23


“One of the things that’s propelling the market higher here is the strength of the economic data we’ve seen in the first quarter,” Mr. Schulze said. “But importantly, a lot of that data is lagging. It doesn’t tell us where we’re going to be in three to six months.”

Fed Pause Wouldn’t Necessarily Refresh Stock Market — Akane Otani | WSJ | 04/16/23


Economists continue to debate what’s keeping inflation high—or “sticky,” in professional ­parlance—even as borrowing costs have surged. The issue is that while prices for food, everyday household goods and energy have moderated, those for many services have continued to rise. Shelter, which amounts to about a third of the consumer price index, clocked a 0.6% increase in March, which was an improvement over the previous month. But costs for other services including air travel, education and car insurance continued to climb.

Inflation Is Sticky, But Economists Can't Agree on Why — Enda Curran and Augusta Saraiva | Bloomberg | 04/27/23

The Era of Easy Deposits Is Over for Main Street Banks — Rachel Louise Ensign and Gina Heeb | WSJ | 04/19/23

A growing body of evidence shows that fund managers labor under handicaps that individual investors don’t face. Those handicaps counteract the professionals’ obvious advantages over amateurs—including vast experience and expertise, powerful computers, instantaneous access to oceans of data and the ability to trade thousands of times per second.

Want to Beat the Stock Market? Avoid the Cost of ‘Being Human’ — Jason Zweig | WSJ | 04/14/23

— David Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 04/19/23


For hundreds of smaller banks, the likely solution will be to reduce lending. “What’s going on nationwide is every one of these banks has either frozen their loan-to-deposit ratio or, more likely, is very intent on shrinking it,” said former Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan on a call hosted by investment-banking advisory company Evercore ISI this month. “That is why a lot of small and midsize businesses in this country are getting a phone call saying, politely, ‘At the end of the year, we are not going to be able to give you a loan anymore, or we’re going to reprice your loan.’”

Why the Banking Mess Isn’t Over — Nick Timiraos | WSJ | 04/23/23


Not long before the US Federal Reserve began lifting interest rates to tamp down inflation, regional banks across the US reported a surge in lending to a group of well-connected people: insiders. Their own directors, officers and major shareholders were getting a lot of cash. The trend continued through all of last year, reaching almost $10 billion by the end of 2022, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. That was 12% more than a year earlier and represented the largest annual jump in lending to insiders, along with their related interests, in at least a decade. As it turns out, some of the biggest increases were at firms that have recently collapsed or are struggling. Familiar names among the regional banks that more than doubled credit extended to insiders last year were Silicon Valley Bank, Western Alliance Bank and First Republic Bank.  — David Rovella | Bloomberg Evening Briefing | 04/14/23

SVB, First Republic, Western Alliance Insider Loans Surged Ahead of Bank Crisis — Noah Buhayar and Silla Brush | Bloomberg | 04/13/23

A Corporate Credit Crunch Is Just Getting Started — Jill R. Shah and Molly Smith | Bloomberg | 04/21/23 

Too Much Taking

Geraldine Tyler owned a condominium unit, but stopped paying property taxes to Hennepin County, MN in 2010.  She also stopped paying assessments to the association.  After five years of non-payments, Hennepin County seized and sold the condo to repay the back taxes (and presumably the $48,750 mortgage and $11,660 assessment lien).  None of the proceeds of the $40,000 property sale were returned to the homeowner.

Tyler's lawyers say the county violated constitutional protections against having property taken without “just compensation” and excessive fines. The Supreme Court, which hears arguments Wednesday, will decide.

Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and South Dakota all allow local jurisdictions to keep the excess money from sales of property seized due to back taxes.

At least 8,950 homes were sold because of unpaid taxes and the former owners received little or nothing in those states between 2014 and 2021, according to Pacific Legal, a not-for-profit public interest law firm focused on property rights.

From SCOTUS Blog: Issues: (1) Whether taking and selling a home to satisfy a debt to the government, and keeping the surplus value as a windfall, violates the Fifth Amendment's takings clause; and (2) whether the forfeiture of property worth far more than needed to satisfy a debt, plus interest, penalties, and costs, is a fine within the meaning of the Eighth Amendment.

Homeowner heist? Supreme Court to decide limits of property seizures to satisfy tax debts

— Bill Mears and Shannon Bream | Fox News | 04/23/23

She got $0 from condo sale. Supreme Court weighs fairness — Mark Sherman | Yahoo! News | 04/25/23

Tyler v. Hennepin County, Minnesota — SCOTUS Blog

US Supreme Court Argument Audio: Docket # 22-166

Across the States: New & Newly Effective CIC Statutes

Visit our Legislation Page

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A Note About Ukraine

The people of Ukraine are undergoing tremendous displacement from their homes coupled with loss of life, tragedy and suffering.  Considering the global landscape can help us gain perspective in our daily lives.  CIC Info Bytes readers expressed their support for Ukraine last year.  Please voice your own support!