Bored with Board Meetings? Basic Tips To Reduce Meeting Length

Bored with Board Meetings? Basic Tips To Reduce Meeting Length

Are you one of those associations that have to corral your directors for board meetings? Have you ever been tempted to look up the language in your bylaws to see whether you can disqualify a director from serving because of excessive absences? Have you asked legal counsel if there are ways to prevent certain troublesome homeowners from attending and speaking during open forum? If you’re only looking at those individuals as the problem, maybe you’re not looking in all the right places. The best gift any association can give itself is a well-run meeting. Homeowners and directors often forget that the purpose of an association’s board meeting is to conduct business. By sticking to the basics, managers, homeowners, and directors can limit wasted time and enjoy a more effective and efficient meeting. Agendas Keep the agenda short and focused. Associations are required to post notice for a regular board meeting four (4) days in advance, and cannot act on any item unless it is on the agenda. Use that time to plan appropriately. If there are items that are going to require lengthy discussion and homeowner input, think about scheduling a separate meeting so that the Board can complete its regular business. A dedicated special meeting shows that the board values homeowner input, and will not try to rush through decisions. Consult your managers for the length of your agenda. Open Forum – Homeowner Contributions to Meetings Often the biggest downfall for directors, managers, and efficient meetings is handling homeowner participation. Knowing how and when to move things along is crucial, but it will only be successful if everyone...

Read My Lips – Raise My Assessments… and Spend Them Too!

How many politicians would get elected on a promise to raise taxes every year? Not many, because people want their government to do more for less. And yet that is exactly what we expect from our community leaders: To stand in front of their neighbors and regularly ask them to pay more to maintain their community.  Many owners, let alone directors, probably don’t realize that a director’s duty is to spend money, spend it wisely, and ask for more when necessary. It is no wonder that serving on a volunteer board is challenging and unpopular.   Fortunately, directors who face owners with this uncomfortable truth have legal support. California states that directors who represent their community owe a fiduciary duty to their fellow owners. That means directors must set aside personal interest, and ensure that the community needs are met before their own. Community needs refers both to the work required, as well as the money to pay for it. Most of the work requirements will be spelled out in the CC&Rs. But the community’s mandatory Reserve Study is also a good source of information about what the community should expect to be repairs, this year, in ten years, and in thirty years. Regardless of how individual directors feel about increasing costs, they cannot simply decide to ignore maintenance to benefit themselves. When work is required, directors must be ready to complete it and ensure that the community is ready to fund it.   There is also clear statutory language that directors rely on for authority to obtain the funds. Civil Code section 5600 states “the association shall levy regular and special assessments sufficient to perform its obligations under the...

SB 323 Heads to the Assembly

Back in April, we alerted you to some changing legislation in Sacramento. Sentate Bill (SB) 323 (last session’s SB 1265) re-emerged to address association elections and provide director qualifications. Just this last week, we learned that SB 323 passed through the Senate, and is now moving on into the Assembly. Associations that want to maintain control over their elections need to reach out and let the legislature hear how these changes will affect them. This revised bill is an attempt by Sacramento to mandate a one-size fits all election process onto communities from 2-2,000 owners. SB 323 would: Restrict the choices for inspectors of election Release privileged voting information of Owners Require Associations to release email addresses Increase oversight by courts in routine election processes Individual communities could no longer set their own standards and expectations for their leaders. If you oppose this attempt to deny owners control over their own communities, now is the time to act.   Boards, owners, managers and all community advocates should make sure their voices are heard. Keep up the communications, ask other owners to contact their representatives, and let Sacramento know how you feel about this attempt to take control away from owners. If you haven’t already, you can follow the progress and stay informed about the legislation using the link below. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov Written by Matthew A. Gardner Matthew A. Gardner is a Senior Associate at Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

Understanding the Manager’s Role vs. The Board’s Role – Communication is Everything

Experienced directors learn that delegation is essential to effective community management. No board, or individual director, can or should be juggling all of the tasks it takes to make a community function. Duties can be assigned to individual directors with relevant background. Boards may also want to create committees with groups of experienced owners and directors to tackle a problem. In most cases, boards should rely on their managers to tell them when delegation makes sense. Managers are there to use their experience to see a common problem and quickly propose a reasonable solution that might take a volunteer more time to analyze. By collaborating with association management, boards can not only improve results within the community, but also improve relationships with the owners. Spending less time on day to day management gives boards more time to focus on ways to serve their fellow owners. Once boards decide which tasks to assign to managers and which tasks to keep, they should prepare a summary or resolution of that authority for their records. However, keeping track of individual projects requires more than organization. It requires constant communication between everyone involved. Boards need to establish clear guidelines for action items so that everyone knows where to go for information on any specific issue. Authority to Act Legally all community decisions must be made by an association’s board of directors. Boards cannot step back and ask their managers to handle everything without any guidance. Boards can anticipate some of the more time intensive tasks, and work on finding a solution that lets them maintain control over the community without micro-managing routine decisions....

Dwelling Units

Only a week after the CAI Day at the Capitol, and CLAC was already back to work reviewing newly introduced legislation. Assembly Member Friedman introduced AB 670, which would require associations to allow owners to construct additional dwelling Units on their property. This bill would void community restrictions on accessory dwelling Units on a single-family lot, unless those restrictions were recorded prior to January 1, 2020. AB 670 defines two types of structures. First would be an “accessory dwelling unit,” which is a second unit on a lot up to 1,200 square feet in size. As drafted, the language allows accessory dwellings to either be completely detached or contained within the walls of the house on the lot, and allows those dwellings to include cooking, sleeping, and bathroom facilities. Second would be a “junior accessory dwelling unit,” which can be up to 500 square feet that has an outside entrance and cooking facilities, but may share bathroom facilities with the main house on the lot. This bill would significantly impact associations’ ability to manage growth and enforce standards within their community. Architectural standards are an important part of maintaining an overall community, and ensuring that owners can have input on decisions that affect the value of their homes. CLAC is asking associations to oppose this effort to move architectural control from communities to Sacramento. Richardson|Ober will continue to dedicate a portion of our newsletters to update key legislative updates as we learn more from CLAC. You can also track the bills as they make their way through Sacramento at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Written by Matthew A. Gardner Matthew A. Gardner is...
R|O Returns with Updates from CAI’s Legislative Day

R|O Returns with Updates from CAI’s Legislative Day

This month, Richardson|Ober was proud to participate in CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee’s (CLAC) Legislative Day in the Capitol. Every year, community managers, board members, homeowners, and business partners from throughout California gather together at the Capitol to be the voice for community association owners throughout the State on pending legislation impacting their communities. Building upon last year’s legislative successes the two-day strategic planning advocacy and summit gave grass roots supporters many opportunities to meet with California representatives and make CAI’s case for the upcoming legislative calendar.  The following is an overview of some of the most significant pending legislation. SB 323 Although CLAC worked to successfully defeat SB 1265 last year, the substance of that bill has returned this year as SB 323. Senator Wieckowski is once again attempting to push a one-size-fits-all approach to community elections. SB 323 would restrict the selection of election inspectors, would not allow communities the right to set their own qualifications for directors serving on the board, and would increase oversight by courts in routine election processes. CLAC will need support to once again defeating the harmful efforts of this bill. SB 434 The remaining bills demonstrate where CLAC supports creating good law to help communities. CLAC encourages legislators to support Senate Bill 434, introduced by Senator Archuleta. SB 434 incorporates best practices within the management industry and requires management companies to transfer association records in a timely manner. Both CAI and CACM came together to support this common sense legislation that helps communities run more smoothly. SB 754 CLAC also supports Senate Bill 754, sponsored by Senator Moorlach, which contains familiar...

Avoiding Election Missteps: 8 Tips for a Winning Outcome

If practice makes perfect, association elections should be a breeze. However, overlooking even the smallest parts of the election can cause chaos. California Civil Code Sections 5100-5145 dictate the election process: when to use secret ballots; how to conduct elections; how to select inspectors; how to campaign; and how to conduct the ballot counting and understanding why the Civil Code requires these for fair elections, may help avoid some of those election day challenges. #1: Have election rules in place FIRST All associations are required by Civil Code 5105 to adopt election rules. Without election rules, the owners, inspectors of election and board are all at-risk of mistakes that may result in costly legal challenges. Older CC&Rs and bylaws probably do not even require secret ballots, so it is important that the rules describe how elections are conducted. Election rules must comply with both Civil Code and your governing documents and should contain: Nomination procedures, Director qualifications, Method of selecting independent third parties as inspectors of election, Rules for access to association mediaduring campaigns, Rules for access to common area meeting spaceduring campaigns, Secret ballot instructions and procedures. Once you have the basics outlined above, make sure that the board and your owners are comfortable with how it is presented. Some associations will add additional details about candidate statements or “meet the candidate” events. Work with your owners so that the rules represent your community’s preferences regarding elections. #2 Identify candidate and director qualifications in the candidate nomination forms Directors must meet the qualifications both at the time of nomination and during service on the board. Provide a clear list of qualifications...

Is Your Debt Collection Process Fair? California Civil Code vs. FDCPA

It isn’t often that the Community Interest Developments in the State of California find themselves worrying about federal compliance. But there are times when it helps to remember that laws enacted at the national level can impact how we work in our communities. This year, that might mean looking at your collection actions and how you coordinate your California responsibility with the Federal requirements. It arises from a case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals published in January 2017 (Mashiri v. Epsten Grinnell & Howell, No. 14-56927 (9th Cir. 2017)). The facts of the case would not shock anyone familiar with Civil Code collection actions. An Association located in San Diego proceeded with standard collection practice, and notified the owner about the existence of a delinquent assessment. As part of the initiation of the California Civil Code Section 5660 notice, the letter stated that the owner had 35 days to bring the account current before a lien would be recorded against the property. In a separate paragraph, the letter also stated that the owner had the right to dispute the validity of the debt within 30 days. Both sections accurately reflect the requirements for debt collection respectively under both California and Federal law. Within 20 days of the mailing of the letter, the owner requested the Association to validate the debt, and show proof that the Association properly notified the owner about the missing assessment. Although the owner did receive a response to the request for validation, there was no new information or proof of notice. When the account remained delinquent 48 days after the initial notice, a...

When Is The Right Time To Amend Your Governing Documents

From time to time we are asked whether an association should amend its CC&Rs. As one can expect, there is no black and white standard. Many factors go into the decision and age of the documents alone is not determinative. But among the key factors driving a CC&Rs amendment is a change in the law that renders CC&Rs outdated. A recent amendment to Civil Code Section 4775, addressing exclusive use common area responsibility, is one example. Among the most fertile ground for community association disputes is the line between repair and maintenance of exclusive use common area. Many CC&Rs, particularly those in older communities, do not adequately identify or define maintenance and repair responsibility for exclusive use common area components such as patios, balconies, doors and similar components. And when there is uncertainty between owner and association about who repairs what, enforcement challenges and disputes are inevitable. In the absence of well-defined CC&Rs, we look to existing Civil Code Section 4775 which currently provides: “Unless otherwise provided in the declaration of a common interest development, the association is responsible for repairing, replacing, or maintaining the common area, other than exclusive use common area, and the owner of each separate interest is responsible for maintaining that separate interest and any exclusive use common area appurtenant to the separate interest.”  The problem with the above language is that it is vague and ambiguous and for years left much to interpretation as to what exactly the owner was responsible for and where does maintenance begin and repair or replacement end. Fortunately our legislature has heard our concerns and provides a degree of...