|Homeowner Battling Her Homeowners Association Is Again Arrested and Jailed|
|Predatory homeowner association laws creating volatile disputes and putting a load on communities|
|May 3rd, 2005|
|Cathedral City, California -Sharon Stephens' troubles began with battles with her homeowners association in California. |
It has escalated into battles with her government representatives and her police department. Now the very people she feels should be protecting her have restraining orders against her and liens on her home.
Yesterday she was again arrested by the Cathedral City Police Department. They say she violated the restraining order.
Ms. Stephens reports that on Thursday, April 28, 2005, she went to the Cathedral City Police after making an appointment with Sergeant. Earl Moss to review and get copies of two police reports the police had written about her.
She said the police asked her for $42. Because she did not have enough money with her, she asked permission to read them. As they refused, she told them she would return on Monday with the money.
She called Sergeant Moss on Friday April 29, 2005 to confirm her appointment and got his recorder. She told him she was coming in on Monday and asked that he call her if he could see her on Monday.
She went in at 10:30am on Monday assuming she had an appointment. Watch Commander Luna told her "O.K. I am arresting you" and took her downstairs into a cell ignoring her protests that she did make an appointment with Sergeant Moss. She claims that Sergeant. Moss and Sergeant Laura Hanlon followed "laughing".
The stress, she said, created an angina attack. She undegone two heart surgeries recently. Paramedics were called and she was taken to Eisenhower Hospital where she was given an EKG and nitroglycerine. She said that the security guard at the hospital is the ex-police chief of the Cathedral City Police Department.
Sergeant. Earl Moss from the Cathedral City Police Department says that Sharon Stephens is the only citizen out of a population of 50,000 that they have obtained a restraining order against. He said that they did so to prevent her from tying up the police phone lines, including 911 lines, with constant calls that they began receiving from her.
Under the restaining order, the police department has set up a special phone line for Ms. Stephen's calls and all calls are to be handled by Sergeant. Moss.
Ms. Stephens can call 911 for emergencies such as break-ins, fire, and accidents. Otherwise, she must make an appointment before coming into the police department for any reason.
Sergeant Moss claims that Sharon is difficult to deal with, and, because of her medical problems, they have a standing order to call the paramedics when they arrest her for violations of the restraining order.
Some homeowners point out that exploitive and predatory homeowner association laws are creating abuses and explosive interactions in local communities.
In 1998, an Arizona, who claims that he was repeatedly harassed by the developer-controlled board and homeowner association lawyer, went on a shooting spree and killed several board members at a members meeting.
In 2004. an Illinois immigrant who found his belongings sitting on the curb for getting behind on his maintenance dues, shot and killed the board treasurer as she drove into the association parking lot after attending a family member's funeral.
Cathedral City is one of the many fast growing desert cities in Riverside County. Most of the housing is in homeowner associations.
The disputes, liens and foreclosues have been a bonanza for many homeowner association lawyers. Ms. Stephens claims that she was forced to pay $22,000 to Brian Moreno of Duke,Gerstel and Shearer , the lawyer for her homeowner association when she disputed the board's rules over plants in her yard.
In addition, she claims that the Cathedral City attorney, Kendell Berkey - a private lawyer doing contract work for the city - has obtained a $67,000 judgment and put a lien on her home for obtaining the restraining order.
Some homeowners take the position that all these battles with their associated liens and foreclosures may be manna for lawyers and politicians, but they are putting a heavy strain on families and police and other community services.