Friday, February 21, 2020

The Coronavirus, Flu and What You Can Do

As of the time this article is written, documented cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are 90,000 worldwide, and counting, with over 3,000 deaths. These numbers pale in comparison to the flu, which kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people worldwide each year. With this in mind, community association leaders can and should take extra precautions to protect themselves and their communities.

First, associations can use this as an opportunity to connect with their members and residents, through weekly newsletters, emails, flyers or common area postings, updating them about the virus, notifying them of any reported incidences in the community at large, and if necessary, informing them that there may be an immediate threat to the community. Boards and managers should also begin directing vendors and cleaning staff to focus frequently on particularly high-traffic common areas (gym, clubhouse, pool, sauna), which may be more susceptible to harboring the virus or other germs. Installation of hand sanitizer dispensers or wipes in these locations is also recommended.

Read more . . .

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Accessory Dwelling Units: How Association’s Governing Documents are Impacted by AB 670

In 2017, legislation was passed, making accessory dwelling units legal in California.  However, strict permitting regulations previously made accessory dwelling units difficult and expensive to construct. Recently, a number of bills were passed, making the process to construct accessory dwelling units easier and more affordable.

Effective January 1, 2020, an association’s governing documents may not prohibit or unreasonably restrict the construction or use of an accessory dwelling unit. Specifically, Assembly Bill 670 (AB 670) voids any provision of an association’s covenants, conditions and restrictions or rules and regulations that prohibit the construction of an accessory dwelling unit on a lot zoned for single-family residential use. 

The California Legislature passed this bill in response to California’s affordable housing shortage. AB 670 is intended to encourage owners to convert and/or construct additional living spaces within their property by removing the many obstacles that previously hindered the process of building accessory dwelling units.  The Legislature did so by reducing permitting fees, minimizing setback and lot size requirements, and eliminating parking requirements.

While associations may not effectively prohibit accessory dwelling units, they are permitted to adopt “reasonable restrictions”, which is defined to mean restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct, effectively prohibit the construction of, or extinguish the ability to otherwise construct, an accessory dwelling unit or junior accessory dwelling unit.

An “Accessory Dwelling Unit” (ADU) means an attached or a detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living facilities for one or more persons and is located on a lot with a proposed or existing primary residence. It also includes permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, and sanitation on the same parcel as the single-family or multifamily dwelling is situated. A “Junior Accessory Dwelling Unit” (JADU) is a unit that is no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within a single-family residence. A JADU can include separate sanitation facilities or may share sanitation facilities with the existing structure.

Read more . . .

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Senate Bill 323: What you Need to Know

As you may know, Senate Bill 323 went into effect on January 1, 2020. Under SB 323, among other substantial changes to the California Civil Code, associations are significantly hampered in their ability to set qualifications for candidates. For example, SB 323 sets forth limited situations in which associations may disqualify a candidate from running for the board of directors:

  1. The nominee may not have previously been convicted of a crime that would prevent the association from purchasing fidelity bond coverage, or may cancel existing coverage;
  2. The nominee must be current in the payment of regular and special assessments;
  3. The nominee cannot serve on the Board at the same time as another person who holds a joint ownership interest in the same separate interest parcel as the person; and
  4. The nominee must be a member of the association for a year or more.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2019/2020 LEGAL UPDATE

The following is a summary of enacted legislation, court decisions, news, and current events from this past year, which impact common interest developments. 

The bills below have been signed and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom and will take effect January 1, 2020, as “New Law.”

SB 323 & 754: Election Rules and Director Qualifications

Most significantly, these bills amend Civil Code Section 5100 to, among other things, disqualify a person from being a candidate for the board if he/she is not a member at the time of the nomination. These bills also effectively handicap boards’ abilities to set qualifications for candidates and suspend voting rights as a disciplinary measure.  These bills also require associations to send out pre-election notices while including qualifications for candidates, list of candidates, deadline for returning ballots and time and place of annual meeting.

Read more . . .

Friday, May 31, 2019

Movie and Music Nights - Ensuring Everyone Enjoys Summer Community Events

By: Brittany Ketchum. Esq.

The social event of the summer is about to begin. You take a deep breath, inhaling the scents of fresh cut grass and barbecue wafting through the air, and hope all your hard work will culminate with a successful community event. Instead of fretting over potential complaints, injuries or lawsuits, the prudent manager will have taken reasonable steps to help protect the association from liability, while guaranteeing a good time for residents and their guests.

Read more . . .

Friday, June 1, 2018

Employee or Independent Contractor? - How the Dynamex Decision May Impact Associations

The California Supreme Court issued a monumental decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court in late April of this year. The seminal ruling will make it more difficult for employers to classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. For managers and board members of associations, this could mean readdressing whether or not workers of associations should be considered employees instead of independent contractors. 

Dynamex is a nationwide delivery service that offers same day pickup and delivery services to the public and to large businesses. Prior to 2004, Dynamex classified its delivery drivers as employees of the company. After 2004 though, Dynamex made all delivery drivers independent contractors as a cost savings measure. An independent contractor that worked solely for Dynamex sued on his behalf and other similarly situated Dynamex delivery drivers on the basis that the drivers should be considered employees of Dynamex.

Read more . . .

Thursday, May 31, 2018

When the Law Collides with the Governing Documents: How the Board’s Duty to Enforce is Impacted by SB 407

By Lisa A. Tashjian, Esq. 

Fortunately for board members and management alike, community associations are given teeth in their often unavoidable conflicts with homeowners, via the governing documents. When a homeowner fails to submit an architectural request form before making structural changes to their residence, or when he or she is relentlessly committing a nuisance, the Board typically has the ability to impose discipline against the owner in the form of suspending his or her common area privileges, i.e., use of the community clubhouse. For example, common provisions in the CC&Rs provide:

  • “In the event of an architectural violation, the Board shall have the right to suspend the right to use Common Area Facilities;” or
  • “In the event of a breach of any provision of the Governing Documents, the right to use the Common Area Facilities may be temporarily suspended by the Association.”

Complicating matters for board members and management is Senate Bill 407, which, as of January 1, 2018, expands on Civil Code Section 4515, requiring associations to provide equal access to common areas for candidates and members for the purposes of advocating a point of view during an election. The bill protects certain free speech rights, such as meeting and canvassing, by allowing owners and residents of community associations to use common area facilities for meetings related to association issues, legislation, elections to public office, and public ballot measures, without being charged a fee.

Read more . . .

Monday, May 7, 2018

Abstention vs. Recusal: What’s the Difference?

By: Jeffrey A. Beaumont, Esq.

Our clients often ask us to provide guidance relative to the terms “abstention” and “recusal.”  In a nut-shell, abstention is “the withholding of a vote [by a director],” whereas recusal is the “[r]emoval of oneself as judge or policy-maker in a particular matter, especially because of a conflict of interest.” (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004). Abstention generally focuses on the final decision, where recusal usually involves withdrawing from the entire proceeding.

Robert’s Rules of Order (i.e. parliamentary procedure) provides:

“[while] it is the duty of every member who has an opinion on a question to express it by his vote, he can abstain, since he cannot be compelled to vote. (Robert's Rules, 11th ed., p 407.) (Emphasis added.)

Read more . . .

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Tide of Short-Term Rental Policy: What Boards of Beach Communities Should Know

By: A.J. Jahanian, Esq.

Over the past few years, board members and management alike have had to deal with the challenges of the “sharing economy.” Sites such as Airbnb and VRBO have connected members of common interest developments to outside, non-member renters, in an unprecedented fashion, leading to the “commercialization” of residential communities. Boards and management are increasingly pressed with the issue of regulating short-term rentals and protecting their communities against excess use and nuisances, such as noise and increased traffic, associated with transient tenancy.

Complicating matters, the Court in Greenfield et al. v. Mandalay Shores Community Association has added another wrinkle that may limit a board’s ability to regulate short-term rentals/transient tenancy. In Greenfield, the plaintiffs owned a single-family home in the Mandalay Shores beach community, which they began renting to others for rental periods of less than thirty (30) days. Thereafter, the association adopted a resolution barring the rental of homes for less than 30 days, and any violations would result in significant fines. The plaintiffs then sued to enjoin (i.e., stop) the association’s proposed ban on short term rentals.

Read more . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Senate Bill 407: Non-Commercial Solicitation and Right to Assemble In Common Area Meeting Places

By: Jeffrey A. Beaumont, Esq.

Myth. Our community doesn't have common area meeting space so we don't need rules addressing the new law [SB 407].

Fact. Adopting rules in light of the new law would address meetings in the common areas, such as lawns, community pool, etc., and door to door solicitation and canvasing ... so it really applies to every community! Creating rules would establish reasonable hours and days of the week when a member can solicit/canvas; and establish fines and penalties for violations; etc. among other things. Without rules and regulations communities are exposed to unbudgeted expenses and conflict.

This myth is a common response we have received in response to the new law. Now that the law has been effective for several months, let's revisit its purpose and details.

The California Legislature passed this bill with the intent to “ensure that members and residents of common interest developments have the ability to exercise their rights under law to peacefully assemble and freely communicate with one another and with others with respect to common interest development living or for social, political, or educational purposes.” (Civil Code Section 4515(a).)  The law has significant impact on all communities, with or without common area meeting spaces. 

Civil Code Section 4515 reads:

“(b) The governing documents, including bylaws and operating rules, shall not prohibit a member or resident of a common interest development from doing any of the following:

(1) Peacefully assembling or meeting with members, residents, and their invitees or guests during reasonable hours and in a reasonable manner for purposes relating to common interest development living, association elections, legislation, election to public office, or the initiative, referendum, or recall processes.

(2) Inviting public officials, candidates for public office, or representatives of homeowner organizations to meet with members, residents, and their invitees or guests and speak on matters of public interest

Read more . . .

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Recent California Cases in Community Association Law

"Published" court decisions are law, and binding, while "unpublished" court decisions are not law. Although not law, unpublished decisions are extremely valuable as they illustrate how courts address various issues commonly faced by common interest developments.

Lingenbrink v. Del Rayo Estates Homeowners Association, No. D070194 (Cal.

Read more . . .

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