California Opens the Door to Accessory Dwelling Units in Planned Development Communities with Assembly Bill 670

California Opens the Door to Accessory Dwelling Units in Planned Development Communities with Assembly Bill 670

The California Legislature has paved the way for the “granny flat” or “mother-in-law unit” in your community.  Formally termed the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) this ever-popular form of housing is a legal and regulatory term for a secondary house that shares the building lot of a larger, primary house.  ADUs are either attached to or detached from the primary dwelling unit but provide independent living facilities for the resident.  Unlike ADUs, JADUs are no more than 500 square foot bedrooms in a single-family home with an entrance from the main dwelling unit and an entrance to the outside.  They need not have a bathroom. Cloaked with the good intentions of addressing California’s extreme housing shortage and increasing housing density, and modeled after similar laws addressing solar energy systems, electric vehicle charging stations, drought tolerant plants and artificial turf, Assembly Bill 670 adds Section 4751 to the Civil Code which renders void or unenforceable any CC&Rs provision or deed restriction in a planned development that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) on a lot. Civil Code Section 4751, however, does allow, an association to enforce reasonable restrictions that do not unreasonably increase the cost to construct or effectively prohibit construction of an ADU.  Any ADU must also meet the requirements of Government Code 65852.2 and 65852.22 (governing ADU). Many in opposition to AB 670 view it as unnecessary micromanagement of private planned residential communities that negatively impacts an association’s ability to regulate such daily burdens as parking, traffic, noise and other characteristics of overcrowded communities.  Nevertheless,...
Comprehensive Community Association Elections Reform Legislation Imposes Strict Standards for Elections and Board Qualifications

Comprehensive Community Association Elections Reform Legislation Imposes Strict Standards for Elections and Board Qualifications

Governor Newsom has signed into law perhaps the most sweeping legislation targeting a community association’s ability to self-govern.  Senate Bills 323 and 754 together present the greatest legislative change in association elections since the two-envelope secret written ballot procedures were first imposed upon community associations.  The changes that most impact community associations are as follows: Timing: The legislation amends Civil Code § 5100 (a) to require director elections be held at the end of each director’s expiring term and at least every four years. Vote by Acclamation: For large communities (of 6,000 or more separate interests) and where the number of nominees is equal to or less than the number of board seats to be filled, the legislation allows for an association to conduct a director election vote by acclamation. Mandated Candidate Qualifications: The legislation further amends Civil Code § § 5100 and 5105 (b) mandating that elections rules include the following specified candidate qualifications: 1) that the candidate be an association member; and, 2) that a corporate or trust property owner be represented by the appointment of a natural person. Limited Candidate Disqualification SB 323 adds Civil Code § Subsection 5105 (c) allowing an association, through election rules or bylaws only, to disqualify a candidate 1) with a prior criminal conviction that prevents the association from acquiring a fidelity bond or would result in the termination of the associations existing fidelity bond; 2) whose election would result in joint owners of a separate interest serving on the board at the same time; or, 3) who has been a member for less than one (1) year.   New Limitations...
All About LA’s EBEWE Ordinance

All About LA’s EBEWE Ordinance

Recently I received a telephone call from a worried client who was contacted by an unscrupulous vendor who insisted that the association will be heavily penalized in the event it does not comply with Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency (“EBEWE”) Ordinance requirements set forth by Los Angeles Department of Building Safety (“LADBS”). The compliance deadline was only two days away, and the vendor offered to rescue our client by offering to file an extension on its behalf, but only under the condition that the association hire the vendor to conduct the compliance work. The vendor emphasized that for the “right price,” he will lead the association to light (an energy-efficient light that is) by reciting an overwhelming slew of requirements that the Association would need to comply with by the fast approaching deadline. Thankfully, the client contacted our office in time for me to do some research and prevent the client from paying an inordinate amount of money for compliance work that was not yet required. Energy and Benchmarking Disclosure laws are popping up across the nation. In California similar laws have been adopted in the cities of San Francisco, Berkeley and San Diego. Now certain buildings in Los Angeles must undergo energy and water efficiency audits. L.A.’s new law, the Existing Buildings Energy and Water Efficiency Ordinance (EBEWE) was unanimously adopted by the LA City Council as part of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Sustainable City plan and is geared toward reducing energy and water consumption in existing buildings in the City. The ordinance requires existing commercial and multi-family buildings to be “benchmarked”. Benchmarking in this context is the...

Court of Appeal Upholds Association’s Prevailing Party Status

R|O attorney Jonathan R. Davis successfully defended a matter in the Court of Appeal against a homeowners association. After a neighbor filed a lawsuit attempting to force the Association to sign a dubious easement contract, the Association recorded its own maintenance document and successfully moved to dismiss the lawsuit. The trial court deemed the Association the prevailing party and awarded it attorneys’ fees. The neighbor appealed, arguing under the “catalyst theory” that it was the prevailing party because the suit caused the Association to record a maintenance document – despite the fact that the recorded document contained different terms than the contract at issue in the lawsuit. The Court of Appeal sided with the Association, reaffirming the general rule that a defendant in whose favor a dismissal is entered is the prevailing party. Written by Jonathan R. Davis Jonathan R. Davis, Esq. is a Senior Associate Attorney at Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...
Upcoming Webinar – The Unpleasant Business of Member Discipline: A Primer

Upcoming Webinar – The Unpleasant Business of Member Discipline: A Primer

Thursday, August 22nd at 1 PM Associations have governing documents, and enforcing those documents is one of the unpleasant realities of community association governance and management. Can managers and boards unintentionally make the process harder, more stressful and hostile? Attend R|O’s next webinar by Kelly G. Richardson, as the following topics will be explored: Are you enforcing the unenforceable? How can planning help both board and homeowners? Must every violation be enforced? What myths are there regarding the hearing? What is the interaction of Fair Housing and the enforcement issue? What are some enforcement strategies? What CAN’T you do? How do you deal with tenant problems? When must the HOA be involved in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes? **This course is approved by the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB) to fulfill continuing education requirements for the CMCA® certification. www.camicb.org. Register This webinar will be available as an on demand course roughly one week after the webinar is hosted live. To see what other courses Richardson|Ober has available visit...

100-Count Lawsuit Dismissed [R|O Court Victory]

R|O attorneys Kelly G. Richardson and Jonathan R. Davis obtained the dismissal of a frivolous, 100-count lawsuit filed by a vexatious litigant and a coconspirator against an Association and its Board. The vexatious litigant, who had been barred from filing lawsuits without first obtaining a court order due to his history of filing multiple harassing lawsuits against several organizations, utilized a coconspirator to file claims against R|O’s client on his behalf. The vexatious litigant attempted to obscure the fraudulent claims by incorporating them in a lawsuit involving claims that, at first glance, appeared to belong solely to the coconspirator. All claims were brought in the name of the coconspirator despite the fact that many claims were really being brought by the vexatious litigant. The lawsuit alleged violations of Governing Documents and the Davis Stirling-Act, infringement of constitutional rights, as well as a multitude of claims for slander and emotional distress. R|O obtained a court order deeming the coconspirator vexations, meaning that the coconspirator was also barred from filing new lawsuits without first obtaining permission from the court. Moreover, R|O fought each of the 100+ claims by the vexatious litigants on their merits, and obtained the dismissal for its clients. Written by Jonathan R. Davis Jonathan R. Davis, Esq. is a Senior Associate Attorney at Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...
New Law Mandates Battery Back-up for all Residential Garage Door Motors

New Law Mandates Battery Back-up for all Residential Garage Door Motors

SB 969 amends Section 19891 and adds Section 19892 to the Health & Safety Code and mandates all residential garage motors be equipped with back up battery functions.   Section 19892 provides that after July 1, 2019, any automatic garage door opener manufactured, sold or installed shall be equipped with a battery back-up function such that the automatic garage door opener functions during a power outage. This code section applies to “all automatic garage door openers manufactured or sold for use in any residence or other residential applications of automatic garage door openers manufactured for commercial purposes.” As for existing motors that lack a back-up battery function, the law prohibits any new door from being connected to a non-compliant motor. In other words, if you do nothing, there is no requirement to upgrade an existing garage door motor. If, you install a new door and connect it to an existing motor after July 1, 2019, that existing motor being connected to the new door must have back up battery function. Health & Safety Code Section 19891 carries a fine of $1000 per garage door opener installed which is not in compliance with section 19892. Written by Matt D. Ober Matt D. Ober Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner at Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

Water Intrusion Non-Disclosure Refuted [R|O Court Victory]

R|O recently represented a couple who sold their custom-built family home where they had raised their children over the past 16 years. Subsequent to the sale, and during the heaviest rainfall in Southern California since 2002, the house experienced water intrusion. The buyer sued the sellers, demanding damages in excess of $500,000. The buyer alleged that the sellers failed to disclose the water intrusion issues. R|O argued on behalf of the sellers that the sellers had no knowledge of the water intrusion issues due to the drought and that the issues they had experienced after the house had been built 16 years prior, had been resolved. Notwithstanding a denial of liability, R|O retained an expert who opined that the damage was really worth only $37,500. R|O made an statutory offer to compromise in that amount, which was rejected. After arbitration, an award was granted to the buyer in the amount of $37,248.61. Because the buyer received less than what the sellers offered, she had to pay the sellers $22,306.19 in post-offer costs. Written by Alisa E. Sandoval Alisa E. Sandoval is a Senior Associate at Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo. Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

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 Matt D. Ober Matt D. Ober Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Principal of Richardson|Ober|DeNichilo.     Follow ← Older Entries Next Entries...

R|O Hosts Complementary On-Demand Online Courses for CAM-ICB Credit

Providing education to residents living in common interest developments, their boards of directors, and property managers is a passion of ours at Richardson|Ober. That is why Richardson|Ober is currently developing no cost online courses that will be available to help managers earn the CAM-ICB credit they need to maintain their credentials. One course, Not All Rules Are Golden: The Drafting, Changing, and Enforcement of HOA Rules has been approved for credit and available now. Richardson|Ober knows that managers have hectic, busy lives, and are always on the go. Finding the time and energy for continuing education can be a challenge. Our hope is to make life easier by offering quality online content that is available whenever and wherever you are. You will be able to start a course, take a break, and finish a course whenever you find the time. Best of all, we strive to release a new course every month so you will be able to find content that is interesting and helpful to you. If you would like to get the latest information regarding new course releases, please sign up for the Manager’s News Highlights mailing...