Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Homeowners Association - Where Does The Power Come From?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Community associations and Homeowners Associations derive their basic legal authority for their existence, activities, and actions from state statutes (laws) and certain legal documents.
Florida Statute 720, specifically Section 720.301 Definitions Section (4) Defines “Declaration of Covenants. These are the rules established by the developer or the Association that will absolutely control every facet of your life on your property and in your home.
What are the Declarations in a Homeowners Agreement?
From Fla Statute 720 (4) “Declaration of covenants,” or “declaration,” means a recorded written instrument or instruments in the nature of covenants running with the land which subject the land comprising the community to the jurisdiction and control of an association or associations in which the owners of the parcels, or their association representatives, must be members
If you are already railing and thinking “I’ll sue them,” think again.
Scroll down Statute 720 to Section 720.311 Dispute Resolution and read carefully. You will note that if you lose at any point, you will pay your legal fees and those of the Association.
When you agree to purchase a property or condo in Florida that is a managed community or building you essentially sign away a significant number of rights guaranteed under the US Constitution.
4.2 No Vested Rights. Each Owner by acceptance of a deed to a Home irrevocably waives any claim that such Owner has any vested rights pursuant to case law or statute with respect to this Declaration or any of the other Governing Documents. It is expressly intended that Declarant and the Association have the broad right to amend this Declaration and the other Governing Documents, except as limited by applicable law as it exists on the date this Declaration is recorded in the Public Records or except as expressly set forth herein.
In Florida, Statue 720 was lobbied into place by developers and lawyers.
For developers, it is a means to maintain control as a development is completed and makes it easier to establish a revenue flow (HOA dues) for the development of common property, for lawyers it is a boondoggle of revenue beyond belief and for the HOA industry it is heaven on earth.
Doubt me?
Click on these links:
HOA Lawyers Florida over 1,000,000 hits
HOA Management Companies Florida  over 2,000,000 Hits
HOA Industry in Florida almost 3,000,000 hits
If you think, this industry is without influence, I called a local newspaper and ask the editor if they had a reporter who covered HOAs and Condo Associations. He laughed and said, “Oh we don’t get into that mess.”
A big part of that “mess” is all the revenue that comes from developer and real estate advertising.
Why does the Florida Legislature continue to allow this type of feudal land development?
Since lawyers and developers have major influence and lobbying power in Tallahassee, it should be pretty easy to understand why the homeowners are on the losing end.
There have been some attempts to modify State Statute 720, but they are usually tweaks that benefit the industry and not the home owner.
If you are already stuck in one of these feudal kingdoms, your just stuck, unless you want to gamble a lot of money, and be sure to note that all the people who bleed money from this statue will do everything possible to make sure you don’t win even the slightest concession.
If your new to Florida and thinking about buying a home, carefully consider shopping for a development with no HOA or community association(almost impossible to find) or just buying a lot and building a home.  
Worried about amenities such as a club house, pool or golf course? A lot of cash starved HOAs allow outside memberships. Even a big price is better than a big assessment and a managed life.
Why don’t you send a link to this post to your Florida State Senator or Representative?
Not sure who that is? Here is a link Florida Legislature.
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
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Friday, November 8, 2019

Will Scooters Crash the Tampa Streetcar?

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

We stumbled upon some interesting data on Facebook recently that raises some questions in our mind about the viability of transit compared scooters.

Scooting in Tampa in a rarely seen helmet
Will scooters success crash the TECO Streetcar ridership?
Scooters were introduced around downtown Tampa in the May 2019 timeframe. There were plenty of articles in the Tampa Bay Times and other publications about the good, the bad, and the ugly with scooters.

Scooters were deployed pretty quickly by 4 companies - Bird, Lime, Jump, and Spin, and some other's including Uber are now in the mix. One cannot be around downtown or SoHo area without seeing several scooter riders, and even more scooters available outside many establishments and street corners.

Early reports about scooters dumped on sidewalks and yards have subsided, as the riders seem to have improved their scooter manners.

There are still some valid concerns about safety. One rider was killed in an accident with a truck. Scooters can run up to 20 mph. Helmets are recommended, but rarely used. The vast majority of injured scooter riders were not wearing helmets. The wheels are small, which can lead to loss of control in potholes and cracks in the roads.

A safety class was offered. But we still saw a scooter rider literally slaloming down Cleveland Street last night.

Much like driving, scooter accidents often involve alcohol and drugs.
A new study published Thursday in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open found that out of 103 patients treated at three trauma centers for e-scooter-related injuries, 79% were tested for alcohol and 48% of that group was found to have a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.08, which is the legal limit for drivers in most states.

It's not just alcohol that has impaired scooter users and led to injuries. Sixty percent of the 103 patients in the study were also screened for drugs, and 52% of them tested positive.
Scooters are not a safe or legal way to support over-imbibing while bar hopping.  Yes, there have been cases of DUI convictions.

Despite the risks, scooters have some key advantages for micro-mobility.

First of all, they are convenient. A scooter just for you is likely nearby. Just grab one, do the app thing, and head off, when you want, from where you are, to where you want. No waiting around for a bus or streetcar to come around, or the expense of ride-sharing for a mile or two trip.

This convenience and mobility independence is the significant value of scooters. Point to point commuting always wins out over transit.

This mobility convenience and independence is the same as with cars, which is why cars are faster and more highly utilized than transit.

It helps that the scooters are electric, so the riders effort is minimal compared to bikes. And no greenhouse gases!

They are much faster than walking, averaging around 10 mph, and up to 20 mph, so suitable for a much quicker ride compared to walking the same distance.

Scooters also appear to be a good option for the "last mile" problem with transit. Transit almost never gets to your doorstep. Covering that last mile, usually on foot, is not appealing to most. Hopping on a scooter can make it much more amenable.

The data from the Facebook post shows a big uptake on scooter ridership.

How do those scooter ridership numbers compare to the other touted transit service available in downtown Tampa, the TECO Streetcar's ridership?

Scooters and TECO Streetcar ridership 2019
HART has only published ridership data through July 2019 as of this writing. But a quick comparison shows the number of scooter riders more than doubled the streetcar riders in the scooter's first full month! 

Scooters have been averaging 117,321 rides a month since June. Clearly they tend towards short scoots averaging about a mile, but short scoots seems to be their sweet spot.

Granted it's not an exact comparison. The streetcar suffers from its limited fixed route -- it goes where it goes, which most often is not where you want to go. It goes when it wants to go, which often means waiting for the next streetcar. Watching scooters and cars go by while you wait.

But hey! The streetcar is free these days! It has increased ridership! Around double since it's been free. 

But you could be there by now if you just scooted.

And the streetcar won't get you near SoHo, Grand Central, University of Tampa, Hyde Park, Julian B. Lane Park, Harbour Island, Encore!, Tampa General, among other spots around downtown Tampa anytime soon.

But a scooter can.

That three to five bucks seems to be worth it for the 10 min average scooter ride for a lot of people. But not so much if you had to wait for the streetcar. And even less so if you had to pay for the streetcar.

Scooters, led by private companies, which were deployed in weeks, with no subsidies, improves your mobility, for a fee, beats the limited and free TECO streetcar.

Of course, HART and the city of Tampa want to expand and modernize the streetcar system.
The City should a) commit to an aggressive implementation of the existing plan to modernize the streetcar by increasing capacity and speed to extend into Tampa Heights, b) begin planning for the extension beyond Tampa Heights (Phase 4), and c) work with HART to develop a long term funding approach for streetcar system operations, focusing on maintaining high quality levels of service and free and/or reduced fares.
Below is a peek at their plans as they are today. While the streetcar route is extended, it will still suffer from the limitations of the fixed route that mostly goes where you are not going.

Tampa Streetcar Modernization and Extension
So far, the cost estimates are lowballed at around $170 million (2017 dollars) for a 1.3 mile extension and modernization of the existing route so it is more receptive to modern light rail cars. The quaintness of the streetcar will be no more. Not much has been completed beyond some planning studies. Ridership estimates, if they exist, have not be released. Don't be surprised if it's a huge expense (the highly touted Phoenix light rail extension is now costing over $200 million per mile) which likely will not be free.

The conceptual plans call for the streetcar modernization and construction to begin 2021 and operational in 2024.

Did I mention that the scooter companies had their mobility solution deployed in weeks, at no cost to the taxpayers, and immediately had double the ridership as the streetcar?

Not to mention the new route extension plans call for exclusive transit lanes for most of the Tampa Street and all of the Florida Avenue route. These roads are the primary ingress and egress to downtown from the north side, so expect traffic congestion to increase due to these routes. 

Will there be more "modern" streetcar or scooter riders in 2024? Who knows. We do know there are now more paying scooter riders in the first full month than the free streetcar riders.

Will raising scooter rates reduce the number of scooter trips? No surprise if it does. Just like paying for the streetcar depressed its ridership compared to its current free rides. Here's hoping free ridership on the modernized streetcar is not extended further as another subsidy to downtown Tampa.

Perhaps it's a bit early to assume scooters will cannibilize streetcar ridership. It may coexist nicely and help with the last mile problem. 

But no one is asking these questions that we are aware of.

Think about that before your politicians spend your money.

Posted by EyeOn TampaBay at 5:30 AM 

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Pay for athletes. What about all students getting on the payroll?

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
The recent efforts to allow college football players to receive compensation for the use of their image and likeness brings up a number of important questions.
Most important to me at least, is why just football players or athletes for that matter?
What about all the rest of the athletes? The tennis players, the golfers, the basketball, players the field and track runners, the squash players, the soccer players and the list goes on and on. And what about the cheerleaders should they have the ability to earn a few bucks from their images.
Then there are all the other students on the campus that would probably like to have an opportunity to cash in on their presence at the University.
What about the student researcher, the student biology major, the student medical major, the student business major, and again the list goes on and on.
Shouldn’t these students also have the ability to take advantage of their presence at the University?
All of this seems just a little bit biased to me, and it makes a lot more sense if instead of the governor promoting the football players primarily or the athletes in general that we took a look at the whole university because everybody there, for the most part, is contributing something to something and their image may be just as valuable.
How about the really handsome guy or what about the really lovely girl who would like to model or use his or her image for some revenue opportunity?    
It just seems to me that it would be appropriate for all members of the student body should to be able to use their image and likeness for whatever purpose they desire.
All of this looks like just another effort by universities to figure out some way to get their fingers into the pie.
One of the things Governor DeSantis needs to be extremely careful about in the development of this program, regardless of whether or not it includes anybody besides the golden boys on the football field, is the fact that state universities should not be allowed to reduce football scholarships, to increase tuitions or be allowed to share in any of this revenue directly.
A lot of people think this whole idea of the student athletes being allowed to derive revenue and income from their opportunity to play football on Florida state college campuses and probably private college campuses as well is a slippery slope.
I agree.
Anytime you start letting large amounts of money filter and float around a university campus the one thing you can be sure of is the only person who’s not going to benefit from all that money is probably the student athlete.
By the time the managers, promoters, representatives, marketing people, advertising agencies, the college the football team, and everybody else takes their cut these kids are going to be lucky if there’s enough left to go to Starbucks for a coffee.
I do think this program is a good idea I just think that before we dash right out and focus or center of the thing on student athletes, we need to take a look at the whole campus look at the amount of money that’s being piled up in debt by the students for student loans and maybe this is an opportunity to begin to have a serious effect on that.
Oh, by the way, if all this goes into place again the governor needs to slap an absolute limit on tuition at state universities, in fact, I think it’s time that it was rolled back and rolled back significantly.
The golden age of education and millions of borrowed dollars floating around on these college campuses needs to come to an end.                         
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at 
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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hillsborough MPO's $32 Billion Congestion Creation Plan

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

As we posted here and here, the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) used a push poll marketing campaign to capture flawed data they wanted as input to the MPO's 20 year 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP). This long range plan is for years 2026-2045.

Not only was the data they captured in their push polls flawed, their proposed $32 BILLION 2045 LRTP is seriously flawed with inconsistent data, incomplete information, and false assumptions.

The MPO has scheduled a pubic hearing for tonight at 6pm on the 2045 LRTP. Their 2045 Public Hearing "Draft" 
document is a marketing brochure with few details and no back up information. We wonder if the MPO Board can decipher and understand this plan much less the general public.

In addition, it is required that the MPO provide the public with all the documentation to review 30 days prior to the public hearing. But the MPO kept making changes to their draft document without annotating the date of the change or why the change was made. The MPO also kept adding additional documentation for public review within that 30 day review period. The general public may not know about any of the new information or even what version they are commenting on at tonight's public hearing.

There is supposed to be consistency and baselines created from the MPO's previous LRTP (e.g 2035 and 2040 LRTP's) to create their latest version. However, the MPO totally changed their format this year for the 2045 LRTP and they made it impossible to determine consistency or trend lines from previous LRTP's or what, if any, baselines were used.

It appears the MPO created the 2045 LRTP as if there was never previous LRTP's. That allows the MPO to state anything they want without providing details or backup information. And they do.

The MPO added these 2026-2045 funding allocations by revenue source spread sheets
 about a week after their initial 2045 documentation was made available to the public on 10/4/2019. We believe the MPO added these spreadsheets after some citizens began questioning where this important information was that had always been available in previous LRTP's.

These two spreadsheets of funding allocations WITH and WITHOUT the All for Transportation transit tax are astounding. 
There is almost $600 million more road capacity funding WITHOUT the $16 Billion All for Transportation (AFT) transit tax than with the massive tax hike. Without the AFT tax, there is $3.635 Billion of road capacity funding for non-interstate roads. With the AFT transit tax, there is $3.058 Billion of road capacity funding.

The MPO is over allocating massive amounts of road funding dollars to "vulnerability reduction".

What is "vulnerability reduction"? According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), it is to improve the resiliency of transportation infrastructure from climate change, sea level rise and extreme weather.

In the 2045 LRTP WITH the AFT 1% transit tax, the MPO massively over allocates almost $3.8 BILLION to "vulnerability reduction" That is over 3 times what was allocated in the 2040 LRTP WITH a same 1% sales tax. Why?

In the 2045 LRTP WITH the AFT 1% transit tax, the Hillsborough MPO allocates over $700 MILLION MORE to funding the questionable impact of climate change than they allocate to funding new road capacity. The MPO uses worse case for climate change - why?

From the $10 BILLION of AFT transit tax proceeds received over 20 years, the MPO allocates:
·                     $817 MILLION to Road Capacity (8.2%) The MPO states this amount is all that is available over 20 years for new roads
·                     $1.7 BILLION to Rail (17%) 
·                     $2.5 BILLION to Bus Service and bus rapid transit (BRT) services (25%)
·                     $1.42 BILLION to "Smart Cities" (MPO defines as intersection improvements and intelligent traffic signalization but is all often referred to as solutions using technology in congested urban areas and cities) (14.2%)
·                     $1.93 BILLION to "Vision Zero" (costly complete streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, rightsizing roads aka road diets and narrowing of roads, traffic calming, speed reductions) (19.3%)
·                     $652 MILLION to climate change "Vulnerability Reduction" (6.5%)
·                     $335 MILLION to Road Maintenance (3.3%)
·                     $103 MILLION to Bridge Maintenance (1%)
·                     $407 MILLION to ParaTransit (4%)
·                     $190 MILLION to Trails/Side Paths (sidewalks/bike paths) (1.9%)

The Hillsborough MPO allocates 46% of AFT $10 BILLION transit tax proceeds to fund TRANSIT and RAIL while 8.2% is allocated to new road capacity. They make their transit funding allocations without providing any estimation of ridership, total capital costs or operating costs for the costly rail and fixed guideway BRT projects.

What may be one of the most absurd assumptions made in the 2045 LRTP relates to the Community Investment Tax (CIT). The CIT tax is a one-half percent infrastructure sales surtax that can be used for many infrastructure capital projects such as roads, parks, fire stations, law enforcement needs, libraries, stormwater and of course sports stadiums. It expires in 2026, the year this plan begins.

The MPO assumes the CIT will be reauthorized for another 30 years with 25% again going to schools even though the schools got their own 10 year one-half percent sales tax last year. But then the MPO assumes that 100% of the remaining CIT tax, $3.8 BILLION will ALL be used ONLY for transportation projects. That is a false assumption because no local elected official will ever agree with that.

All for Transportation told voters last year that their 30 year $16 Billion transit tax was going to improve/fix roads, reduce traffic congestion and get you home earlier for dinner each day.

But the 2045 LRTP confirms the only way to properly fund local new road capacity is to pass more tax hikes, The AFT transit tax specifically prohibits and extremely limits any funding from the AFT $16 Billion transit tax used for new roads. Thus, the MPO assumes a new infrastructure tax hike would provide $3.8 Billion dollars of new revenues, of which a BILLION dollars would be allocated to fund new road capacity.

Somehow the MPO allocates the exact same mobility fee funding, $255.5 million, WITH and WITHOUT the AFT transit tax. That cannot be. The mobility fees paid by Developers are reduced WITH the AFT transit tax paid for by taxpayers. Who knows if this is correct or not?

The MPO does not include costly Rail transit projects in "Real Choices When Not Driving". They include bus service and the 7 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, trails and Sidepaths (sidewalks, scooter paths and paths for who knows what). The BRT projects may also run in a fixed guideway as the MPO plans to leverage federal transit grants for capital funding but the funding for the BRT'sare not included where the funding is for the Rail fixed guideways.

The MPO put the costly Rail projects in "Major Investments for Economic Growth" - which confirms rail is not about mobility but is for redevelopment that subsidizes and benefits developers.
Reusing freight rail is the CSX lines for a commuter like SunRail which is a boondoggle and fiscal failure. The Streetcar is not "high-performing" and the plan is not to just extend it. The plan is to make it a street level light rail service which have average speeds of about 18 mph. The downtown to airport is to extend the people mover or light rail from the people mover to downtown. The Water transit is a tourist amenity and used by those going to Sporting events across the Bay. It does not spur "economic growth" and will have little to no impact on commuter traffic congestion, especially after the Howard Frankland Bridge is expanded and the Selmon Connector to the Gandy Bridge is completed.

The MPO considers those expensive transit projects to be "Major Investments for Economic Growth" without providing data to support such claims. And the Appendix C page titled "Major Investment Project Costs" is a blank page. When we questioned the MPO about that important cost information, they said the Appendix information would be updated tomorrow - after the public hearing.

Here is a comparison we received of the proposed 2045 LRTP vs 2040 LRTP.

While the MPO previously needed only $16 MILLION for their planning activities over 20 years, they will now be receiving 7.5 times that amount - $117 MILLION. The MPO's bloat will be a slush fund for Consultants, special interests and a bigger bureaucracy of Central Planners.

The real kicker is that spending $10 Billion more with the AFT transit tax, the performance levels are worse or the same as the 2040 LRTP.

2045 LRTP performance metrics

This 2045 LRTP is the Hillsborough County Long Range Congestion Creation Plan. The population in Hillsborough County is expected to grow 600-800K over the next 20 years, and most will be bringing their cars. This $32 Billion plan funds a piddly 15% growth of roadway lane miles.

With this flawed plan anyone who drives will be stuck in traffic longer. After spending $32 Billion with too little funding for new road capacity, the Vehicle Hours of Delay sitting in traffic congestion increases 300%.

The MPO's 2045 LRTP confirms that the All for Transportation tax hike is to fund transit and trains in Tampa - paid for by taxpayers in unincorporated -  not add road capacity or fix traffic congestion. It is an attempt to get people out of their cars by making driving more miserable.

And apparently Hillsborough is not the only MPO planning fantasies instead of addressing realities. Randal O'Toole, CATO Institute, just posted an article about the Austin MPO "Planning for an Unattainable Fantasy. O'Toole stated:
Planners have developed two main approaches to transportation. One is to estimate how people will travel and then provide and maintain the infrastructure to allow them to do so as efficiently and safely as possible. The other is to imagine how you wish people would travel and then provide the infrastructure assuming that to happen. The latter method is likely to lead to misallocation of capital resources, increased congestion, and increased costs to travelers.
Austin needs to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that is based on how people actually will travel in 2039 and not one based on how planners wish they would travel.
And the Hillsborough MPO needs to do the same because this plan is one big mess!

The public hearing about this flawed planning fantasy is tonight at 6pm at County Center.  You can also watch it live or later on HTV.

Any comments about this plan can be sent to or use this MPO contact form. And make sure to request your comments be sent to every MPO Board member.

Posted by Sharon Calvert at 5:38 PM 

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the blog publisher's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.

Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

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