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Are Trees Blocking Your View and Lights?

By Sophia Huang

Tree pruning is essential for property maintenance and risk management. Pruning trees helps keep them healthy and safe, which in turn creates a safer community. One type of pruning is visibility pruning, which focuses on removing overgrown branches to retain visibility around the tree. Impaired visibility creates inconvenience and safety issues. Read on to learn why trees need visibility pruning, how to have well-pruned trees, and tips on reducing pruning frequency!

WHY IS VISIBILITY PRUNING IMPORTANT?

Unsafe Community

When trees are overgrown, their canopies block out light sources and security cameras. Blocked lights create shadows that can conceal potential hazards, and blocked security cameras fail to monitor the community. This increases the risk of accidents and a sense of insecurity.

Impaired Visibility of Street Signs and House Numbers

Overgrown branches obscure street signs and house numbers, making it challenging for visitors, emergency services, and...

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Say What? Court Says Boards Can E-mail

By Nathan McGuire, Esq.

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Appellate District recently handed down a landmark decision impacting HOA governance. In LNSU #1 v. Alta Del Mar Coastal Collection Community Association, the court delves into the issue of e-mail communications between board members. For better or worse, the court essentially eviscerates the transparency component of the Open Meeting Act (located in the California Civil Code as part of the Davis-Stirling Act), allowing boards to communicate and deliberate by e-mail outside of a noticed and agendized meeting. And while not directly addressed in the court’s ruling, the court arguably opens the door for boards to deliberate using electronic forms of communication other than just e-mails. As boards and professionals within the HOA industry grapple with the implications of this ruling, there is a growing discourse about potential legislative changes and concerns regarding this perceived loophole.

The crux...

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21 Reasons for Virtual (Zoom) Board Meeting

By Charles Mitchell, CMCA 

As a management firm, we were initially wary of conducting board meetings virtually via Zoom or similar platforms at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, we enthusiastically support the use of virtual meetings for the reasons outlined in this article, which we hope will serve as a helpful tool for boards and managers in evaluating how virtual meetings might benefit their communities.

#1 VIRTUAL MEETINGS ARE LEGAL

Beginning January 1, 2024, it is legal for HOAs to conduct board meetings virtually (via Zoom) without a physical location. In short, an association is no longer legally required to provide a place to meet if it wants to use Zoom for a board meeting. Matt D. Ober, Esq., wrote, "California law has finally caught up with technology with the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 648, which takes effect on January 1, 2024."Display footnote number:1

The conditions for conducting a board meeting virtually (Zoom) are as follows:

  1. The meeting notice...
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2023 HOA Case Law Review

By Steven J. Tinnelly, Esq.

 

The two cases covered here are unique in that they both involve colorful scenarios in which an association’s board of directors sought to perpetuate their own power by failing to hold required elections and circumventing the will of their membership.

LAKE LINDERO HOA V. BARONE

In Lake Lindero Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Barone, (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 834, ("Lake Lindero"), the association was properly served with a petition signed by more than 5% of its 459 members to conduct a recall election to remove the entire sitting board. After the board refused to act on the petition within the required statutory timeframe, the petitioning members exercised their rights to conduct the meeting themselves. They sent notice of the recall election to the association’s members, retained a third-party inspector of elections, and prepared/distributed the election materials to the association’s membership.

The special meeting was...

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CAI and CLAC Celebrate Legislative Successes in 2024

By Amy K. Tinetti, Esq.

The following is a summary of the new laws for 2024 and how they impact community associations.

AB 572: LIMITATION ON REGULAR ASSESSMENT INCREASE FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING UNITS

This bill amended Civil Code section 5605. The new law prohibits regular assessment increases of more than 5% plus cost of living (capped at 10%) over the previous year for any deed-restricted affordable housing unit. The law only applies to associations with more than 20 units with original declarations recorded on or after January 1, 2025.

Takeaway: Board members, managers, and vendors who serve community associations should be aware of budgeting and funding challenges in post-2025 associations with affordable housing units.

AB 648: VIRTUAL MEETINGS

The law now allows associations to conduct meetings entirely by teleconference (including video conference) without a physical location. The notice of the meeting must contain technical instructions and contact information to...

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Well-maintained Fences Make Good Neighbors

By Brian Dutra

Fences in common interest developments (CIDs) serve many purposes. The most obvious use of fences is to delineate spaces, such as patios, pools, parks, gardens, parking lots, etc. Fences also offer privacy and safety; and they can be a decorative hardscape component adding depth and texture to the property’s landscape. Whatever the use of your fences, it is important to know the life expectancy of these critical components so that your community can always be prepared to maintain and/or replace them when it is time.

What is the common denominator of wood and metal fence deterioration? Sun and moisture damage. But, if you follow some simple tips, you will maintain your fences and give them the long life they deserve. There is an old saying, "Good fences make good neighbors." But, in my opinion, the full version of that adage should state, "A well-maintained fence allows fences to look good and be tall for a long time; and good-looking and tall fences...

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Aging Infrastructures: Changes in Insurance Underwriting

By Terri Guest, CIRMS, CMCA

It is no secret that the insurance industry, especially for common interest developments in California, is in crisis. After several years of wildfires and other natural disasters, carriers are not only charging higher premiums, but also revising eligibility requirements and giving greater scrutiny to insurance applications.

In previous years, questions regarding infrastructure items, such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC, have been answered by the board with homeowner responsibility, effectively calling out "not it!" to insurance underwriters. This answer is no longer accepted.

With respect to condominiums and townhomes, while electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC that serve a single unit are generally the maintenance responsibility of each individual owner, it is almost always included in the insurance responsibility for the association. While less common, the same can be true for roofs and exterior siding. Unit owners maintain, repair, and...

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Evolving Technology: Can’t Live With it, Can’t Live Without it

Managing Risks Associated with Data Security, Cyber Space, Technology, and the Internet of Things

By W. Meskin, Esq., CIRMS, MLIS, CCAL Fellow

A Few Things that everyone can agree on are that the Internet of Things ("IoT"), cyber liability, data breach, cybercrime, and technology are touching everyone’s life, both positively and negatively. Most people agree that all their devices and systems, including the required software and hardware, are expanding, changing, and growing faster than any of us can keep up with or understand. Most everyone communicates using smart phones and/or other smart devices. More and more, new homes are built as smart homes or existing homes are transitioned into smart homes. Many of us yearn for times gone by.

Community associations are not immune to the intended and unintended consequences of this brave new world. Some community association boards, community association managers, and business partners acknowledge the changing world, while...

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Armed Security Contracts

security the communcator Dec 02, 2023

Issues for the Attorney Advising the Common Interest Development Client 

By Kevin Mallett, Esq. 

In California, an armed security officer is authorized to carry a loaded firearm. Furthermore, an armed security officer is required to have additional certifications, training, and licensure over a security officer who is not carrying a firearm. By its very nature, armed security brings into play the potential for the use of deadly force. When a security officer draws a firearm, whether for the officer’s protection or the protection of others, it is an extreme situation with the very real potential for a death to occur. The concepts of "shooting to wound" or "firing warning shots" should be considered invalid; virtually all modern police agencies define any such practice as a violation of policy. If a security officer fires a weapon, that officer is responsible for ALL bullets that leave the weapon. Typically, security officers (like police officers) are trained to...

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De-escalating Conflict in a Violent World

conflict the communicator Dec 01, 2023

Gun Violence on the Rise in HOAs

By Melissa Bauman Ward, Esq., CCAL

The world has always been a scary place at times and lately it seems like we’re experiencing more violence in our communities, particularly gun violence. Recent high profile cases involving the murder of an association manager in Atlanta and an HOA board president and her husband in Florida by disgruntled residents using guns has heightened both awareness and anxiety with regard to gun violence in our communities, even as government statistics suggest that the rate of gun violence is actually not on the rise Given that HOAs have limited authority with regard to regulating guns, what steps can associations take to protect their boards, managers, and residents from violent crime? 

REGULATING WEAPONS IN THE COMMUNITY

Any rule or restriction contained in the governing documents must be reasonable. In California, the penal code already prohibits unlicensed people from carrying loaded firearms in...

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