CAI National Conference & Expo: Community Now

CAI National Conference & Expo: Community Now

Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo was proud to attend this year’s CAI 2021 Annual Conference and Exposition: Community NOW in Las Vegas. Robert DeNichilo, Esq., CCAL attended the President Elect Training for the CAI Orange County Chapter with CAI National on Wednesday, August 18th. Additionally, Matt Ober, Esq., CCAL and Amy Tinetti, Esq., CCAL presented “Sign of the Times: When politics, free speech, & social justice issues collide with community associations” on Friday, August 20th. The CAI Conference concluded with the CAI Backyard Bash and Awards Dinner in Las Vegas to honor CAI’s national award winners from 2019 and 2020! CAI National 2019 & 2020 Award Recipients  Matt D. Ober, Esq., CCAL received the 2019 Author of the Year Volunteer Award from Community Associations Institute (CAI). The award recognized Matt for his leadership and collaboration on CAI’s Civility Pledge. This recognition is well deserved and an effort that continues to be more important than ever.   “It was extremely gratifying to collaborate with the Community Associations Institute to develop the Civility Pledge. Bringing civility back to our communities continues to be one of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo’s top priorities. Be a community that pledges respect and civility.” – Matt Ober, Esq., CCAL If you haven’t already, learn more about how you can promote civility in your community association by taking the Civility Pledge...
EMERGING FROM THE SHADOWS— LET THERE BE SOLAR

EMERGING FROM THE SHADOWS— LET THERE BE SOLAR

ESTABLISHING POLICIES FOR SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEM INSTALLATION REQUESTS BY: MR. JONATHAN R. DAVIS, ESQ., RICHARDSON|OBER|DENICHILO This article first appeared in CAI-GRIE, Connect Magazine: 2021-Issue 3. To read more, click here.   After many months of shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and quarantines brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have been forced to use their homes increasingly and in different ways. This fueled a boom in home improvement projects, including solar energy installations. In 2020 alone, such installations reached a record high in the United States, growing 43% over the prior year, according to CNBC. That massive growth is projected to accelerate as our society emerges from the pandemic. The expected growth in solar energy installations aligns with falling costs for solar panels, which have dropped 70% since 2014, per U.S. Dept. of Energy statistics. A recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie also attributes such expected growth to economic stimulus packages associated with the pandemic, including a recent two-year extension of the investment tax credit (ITC), which was extended in December 2020 as part of the United States’ coronavirus relief and government spending package. Additional government incentives to encourage the use of solar energy systems are expected. California has expressed in Civil Code sections 714 and 714.1 a policy of promoting and encouraging the use of solar energy systems and removing obstacles to installation, which policy is reflected in the Davis-Stirling Act at Civil Code sections 4700(b) and 4746. Consequently, California associations should expect to see solar installation requests continue to increase, including requests for installation in common areas. As such, association managers and directors must be prepared...
Freedom to Display the American Flag in Community Associations

Freedom to Display the American Flag in Community Associations

As California makes its way out of the COVID-19 Pandemic lock down, this year’s July 4th celebrations perhaps take on greater meaning.  For the first time in nearly one and a half years, we are rediscovering the freedoms we perhaps took for granted prior to March 2020.   Among the freedoms we enjoy is the freedom to choose whether to display the American Flag, and if so, how we chose to display the flag.  Indeed, many homeowners will display the flag on their home as a show of patriotism.  But is it allowed? This time of year, we usually begin hearing about a dispute between a resident’s display of the American flag and their homeowners association. In fact, if you send a resident a violation letter about their American flag – it’s pretty certain your association will be the lead story on the 6:00 o’clock news. But in reality, these stories are not merely about a general prohibition on displaying the American flag.  These disputes typically arise when the flag’s display is contrary to an existing architectural rule; it’s too large, blocks a view or creates a safety hazard; or is about a flagpole that is in the wrong location, too high or attached to the exterior of the residence, a balcony or fence.   In general, community association residents must follow the community rules and regulations, which for the most part are intended to maintain aesthetics, uniformity of design, and to protect property values. From time to time, these rules are challenged by residents seeking to break out from the mold set by the governing documents and exercise some freedoms...
Come grow with us!

Come grow with us!

Come grow with us!  Immediate opportunity for 4-6 year attorney in community association law practice. Post-pandemic enthusiasm and economic growth means we are growing. Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo is expanding our community association law practice to meet our clients’ demands to improve their communities across the state of California.  This is a great opportunity for an articulate, passionate, insightful and self-motivated attorney to develop their expertise in one of the most rapidly expanding practice areas and who is looking for a home to grow their career and future.  We are leaders, educators, counselors, mentors, and friends. We work hard to protect our clients’ interests and we enjoy life to the fullest extent possible. We are a highly regarded nationally and regionally recognized law firm focused on community association and real estate law and litigation, serving clients statewide.  We offer an environment where you can thrive, either as an employee or independent contractor, working on site or remotely. Our practice area is diverse and includes contract formation, general counsel advice and governance, litigation, and real estate matters. It focuses on the representation of common interest developments and experience in that area is preferred but not required.  The industry we serve is ever changing and growing. We care deeply about our clients and are committed to providing them with exceptional legal counsel and outstanding service in these diverse and challenging times.  We ask that you possess a positive attitude, are eager to learn and understand our practice and be motivated to grow professionally.  Are you the next member of our team? Job Description: The ideal candidate has excellent written and...
Make 2020 a Year of Gratitude: A Time to Give Back and Serve Your Community

Make 2020 a Year of Gratitude: A Time to Give Back and Serve Your Community

There’s no denying 2020 has been a challenging year. However, even during these difficult times, there is still much to be thankful for.  At Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo, we are thankful for the opportunity to serve our clients. We are grateful for our outstanding team that is committed to providing timely counsel during a global pandemic, prolonged wildfire season and an unprecedented legislative session. We are humbled to see how committed our staff remains to giving back to their communities – not only professionally, but personally.  At this time of year, we want to wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving and better times ahead. We are proud to share with you our passion for serving others, especially during these difficult times.  Daniel Heaton Certain sections of the population have without doubt had a more difficult time adjusting to and overcoming the current health climate. This year, I’ve worked tirelessly to organize and lead a particular group in my religious congregation to help meet the temporal, health, and subsistence needs of such individuals in the Hacienda Heights community. Working closely with church leaders, I helped organize a focused effort to ensure that necessities like toilet paper, hygiene and cleaning supplies, and basic food staples, were made available and often times delivered directly to the homes of those in need, including elderly individuals, single parent or low income families, or those with newborn children. It has been amazing to witness the outpouring of kindness as those in this small area of the world rallied together to assist and support those around them. Through what has been a very...
Is AB 3182 a Disaster or an Inconvenience?

Is AB 3182 a Disaster or an Inconvenience?

[Spoiler Alert: Community Associations Will Survive.] It was a tumultuous year in Sacramento due to the pandemic. Only one major HOA bill made it to the Governor’s desk, and that was Assembly Bill 3182. The Bill was signed into law by the Governor and will take effect January 1, 2021. Promoted as part of the effort to ease California’s housing shortage, the bill creates a new Civil Code Section 4741, which bans “unreasonable” restrictions on rentals in HOAs. The new law creates some uncertainties, but for the most part is manageable. The Facts The new Section 4741(a) prohibits HOA governing documents from containing anything which prohibits, has the effect of prohibiting, or unreasonably restricts rentals of homes, accessory dwelling units (“ADU’s”), or junior ADU’s (“JADUs”). It is clear that “prohibiting” means – HOAs cannot completely ban rentals. However, it may be harder to define the “effect of prohibiting” or “unreasonably restricting” rentals. Most likely, the two issues (effect of prohibiting or unreasonably restricting) are close to synonymous. Is a rental provision in the governing documents a thinly veiled effort to halt rentals, or is there a legitimate explanation showing a reasonable restriction that many owners can meet? This will be the critical question when evaluating present and future clauses in governing documents relating to rental restrictions. Associations may wish to be conservative regarding rental restrictions. If the HOA is found to have unreasonable restrictions, it could be liable for a $1,000 civil penalty as well as attorney fees to the complaining party. The Good News One positive result of the new Section 4741 is its specific approval of rental...
The Pathway to Successfully Amending Your CC&Rs

The Pathway to Successfully Amending Your CC&Rs

5 Tips to Court Approval of Your CC&Rs Amendment By all accounts, amending your association’s CC&Rs is one of the most important, yet potentially difficult, challenges for California community associations. The need to amend CC&Rs was placed at the top of many communities’ 2021 agendas with the passage of Assembly Bill 3182, which generally voids rental bans in Associations below 25% of the members. This is because AB 3182 also includes a requirement that all California associations amend their Governing Documents to conform to the new law “no later than December 31, 2021.” (Civ. Code § 4741(f).) An association that refuses to comply could face a civil penalty of up to $1,000, as well as pay attorney fees to the complaining party. (Id. § 4741(g).) Most associations have a very hard time obtaining sufficient participation from their members to amend CC&Rs and Bylaws. The problem of “voter apathy” is often compounded by CC&Rs that require that amendments be approved by a “supermajority” (i.e., 67% or 75%) of the membership. This can make it very difficult, if not impossible, for an association to make important and necessary changes to the CC&Rs through the regular voting process. Fortunately, the Civil Code provides a method to obtain CC&Rs amendment approval when an association is unable to garner the percentage of votes required by the CC&Rs themselves. Civil Code section 4275 allows an Association to “petition the superior court … for an order reducing the percentage of affirmative votes necessary for such an amendment.” This provides “a safety valve for those situations where the need for a supermajority vote would hamstring the association.”...
Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo Welcomes New Associate: Amanda M. Fisher, Esq.

Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo Welcomes New Associate: Amanda M. Fisher, Esq.

Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo is thrilled to welcome Amanda M. Fisher, Esq., as the newest Associate to our expanding general counsel team.  Amanda comes to R|O|D with a diverse background in legal writing, analysis, and complex litigation.  In addition to her work as a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of California, Irvine, Amanda is a Visiting Professor at WMU-Cooley Law School in Florida where she teaches advanced legal writing and Introduction to Law, helping new law students learn to write and to analyze the law.  In her spare time, Amanda mentors law students through their state bar exam preparation. When she is not immersed in the law, Amanda can be found running, reading, or relaxing at the beach.  Amanda is devoted to a client-centered practice with a focus on compassion and communication. Amanda is actively engaged in promoting diversity and inclusion in legal education and in the legal profession.   Among Amanda’s unique qualities is her creative approach to answering a broad range of legal questions.  Her litigation experience and her academic foundation blend for a unique perspective on complex legal issues.  R|O|D is fortunate to have Amanda on our team.   We look forward to introducing her to our clients and Industry...
AB 3182 Signed and the Impact on California Community Associations

AB 3182 Signed and the Impact on California Community Associations

Despite fierce opposition, including over 5,000 constituents personally expressing opposition to the bill, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3182 into law on September 29, 2020. Under the new law, any provision in a governing document “that prohibits, has the effect of prohibiting, or unreasonably restricts” the rental of any of the separate interests, accessory dwelling units (“ADU”), or junior accessory dwelling units (“JADU”) in a community association is rendered unenforceable.  While there is uncertainty and disagreement over the impact of this language on minimum rental terms, the law specifically allows associations to prohibit short term and transient rentals, defined as rentals of 30 days or less, and also allows associations to place a rental cap of twenty-five percent (25%) of the separate interests (or greater) in the association. However, AB 3182 also states that if the owner lives in either the main residence or an ADU or JADU on the property, then the property does not count as a rental unit. AB 3182 also requires any associations with provisions in their governing documents that conflict with the new requirements to amend their governing documents no later than December 31, 2021. Associations must comply with the prohibition on rental restrictions specified in the new law starting on January 1, 2021, regardless of whether the association has revised their governing documents to comply with the new requirements. Any association that willfully violates the new law is subject to a civil penalty to the applicant or other party in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000). AB 3182 also amends the government code to require quick approval of applications to...
State Sets Protocols for Reopening Outdoor Playground Facilities

State Sets Protocols for Reopening Outdoor Playground Facilities

For those who need a break from guiding your children through home schooling or distance learning, your community association playground may soon be open.  On September 28, 2020, the California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines for outdoor playgrounds and recreational facilities. By State definition, the guidance applies to publicly accessible outdoor locations including play structures, slides, and swings, but does not include indoor playgrounds.    All visitors to playgrounds (2 years or older) must wear a facemask. Members of different households must maintain a minimum physical distance of 6 feet. Caregivers must monitor use to ensure minimum physical distance. Eating and drinking in playground area is prohibited.  Wash hands before and after use.  Elderly and persons with underlying medical conditions should avoid the playground area.  In an effort to comply with the above recommendations in your community, as with pool reopening rules, we recommend adopting rules on use, limiting playtime (i.e. 30 minutes per household when others are present), and perhaps implement playground reservations to avoid overcrowding the facility.  For community leaders (managers and directors), adherence to the State Guidelines is similar to previous amenities reopening. To ensure the safety of your residents and reduce risk to you’re association, we recommend posting and complying with the following: Adult supervision of children is required to ensure social distancing and proper facemask use. Children supervised by the same adult must remain together in same play area. Post instructions on rules for waiting to use the playground and advise residents to remain 6 feet away from the equipment while they wait.  Increase cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (recommended daily). Provide handwashing...