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LSC: Be the Change

By Janet Quinn-Dennis

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Winter 2021. To read more, click here

Early in my career I realized that I was frustrated with many of the laws that affected the CID industry. Case law, as well as legislative law, seemed ineffective at holding back the tide of special interest groups that wanted to have a say in the way our homeowners and directors lived their lives.

Then, sometime in the mid-1980s, I was introduced to a mentor who would show me ways in which I could legislatively direct my passion for this industry. This person was the one and only Beth Grimm. She was heavily involved in CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC). Beth served as a delegate for the Bay Area/Central Chapter, as well as the PR chair on the Executive Committee. She encouraged me to participate on the local Legislative Support Committee (LSC) at that time and introduced me to other statewide delegates.

The hook was set during...

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HVAC Maintenance, Defects, and Disclosures in the Coronavirus Era

By Ritchie Lipson, Esq., Brittany Grunau, Esq., and J. Scott Friesen, P.E.

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Winter 2021. To read more, click here

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the population and the scientific community is still researching the many unknowns of the virus, it is vital that managers and boards of directors are diligent in their maintenance of buildings so as to keep occupants safe as well as to avoid potential liability. An open letter supported by 239 scientists, dated July 6, 2020, stated that there is a "real risk" that the coronavirus can be airborne. (Morawaska L, Milton, D. It is Time to Address Airborne Transmission of COVID-19, July 6, 2020). While there is little information known on ventilation and filtration requirements and the impact on the spread of COVID-19, it can be reasonably inferred that knowledge of how your system works and reacting accordingly could be an important mitigation factor....

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2021 Legislation: Insight and Legal Update

By Nathan R. McGuire, Esq.

This article first appeared in The Communicator, Winter 2021. To read more, click here

For the last two legislative sessions, we have faced some of the most historically significant bills since the Davis-Stirling Act. And that’s saying a lot considering the Davis-Stirling Act has probably been amended more than a hundred times since it was enacted in 1986. This year was especially challenging on legislators, advocates, and citizens wishing to engage in the process, given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the legislative process. It has also demonstrated the need for modernizing the Davis-Stirling Act by allowing for the use of mainstream technology, which has become commonplace in our everyday lives.

Because of the pandemic, the legislature shifted its focus to the coronavirus, economic recovery, and housing affordability issues. Other bills, like the ones pushed by CAI’s California Legislative Action Committee...

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‘Not in My Backyard’?

Not anymore. New law gives property owners the right to build second homes on their properties.
By Lisa Esposito

To Increase Affordable housing in California, Governor Newsom signed legislation that encourages homeowners to convert their garages into living spaces and build small dwelling units in their backyards as low-income rentals. On January 1, 2020, new laws went into effect voiding restrictions in planned developments that would prevent the construction of granny flats and the conversion of garages into rental units.

From the Homeowner's Perspective, California's New Laws: 

  • make available an affordable type of home to construct in California because they do not require paying for land, major new infrastructure, structured parking or elevators
  • can provide a source of income for homeowners
  • allow extended families to be near one another while maintaining privacy
  • can provide as much living space as many condominiums; and they’re well-suited for couples,...
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Holiday Greetings and Happy New Year

By Grant Shetron, President

It is a privilege to serve as your in-coming Chapter President. Reflecting on the challenges of the last year, which number many due to the pandemic. I am proud of the way our chapter has remained resilient and even managed to find pockets of success in the face of adversity. Most notably we led the way and co-hosted the first ever all California Virtual Legal Forum and Expo and ended the year with a little fun and quirkiness via a virtual holiday party.  Meanwhile, our chapter membership has remained largely intact, which is a testament to all of YOU. Thank you for your continued support of the chapter and commitment to the industry at large.

As we prepare to usher in a New Year, we do so with cautious optimism and our 2021 schedule of events is a reflection of that, whereby virtual events will continue through July and we hope to resume in person meetings starting in August.  The full events schedule is now available on the chapter website...

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When Mental Illness Issues Intersect with Harassment Claims

By Melissa Bauman Ward, Esq. 

WHEN IS A common area disturbance more than a passing nuisance? When a person who is mentally ill engages in harassing behavior toward others, thus elevating a simple argument into a fair housing claim. As with any situation where competing rights are involved, managing these situations requires a detailed analysis of what rights and obligations are in play and the best way to respond to the various needs while protecting the association from liability.


As a "housing provider" under fair housing laws, an HOA must provide reasonable accommodations to disabled persons. A mental illness or impairment constitutes a disability if the condition "substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., caring for oneself, speaking, learning, working); or the person has a record of such an impairment; or the person is regarded as having such an impairment.1 For our...

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Housing in 2020

#hoas #housing Dec 16, 2020

By Nick Berg, CMCA, AMS, PCAM 

In the Fall 2020 issue of the Communicator, we discuss housing in 2020. Despite softening rental and housing prices due to the pandemic, the Bay Area remains one of the most desirable and unaffordable housing markets in the country.

Faced with housing unaffordability, some families have built granny or in-law units, also known as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), on their property. ADUs can increase density and further burden HOA amenities such as pools, clubrooms and parking. Nevertheless, Governor Newsom, citing the need to increase affordable housing in California, recently signed legislation that voids most HOA restrictions preventing the creation of ADUs.

Many community associations have recreational amenities such as clubrooms, swimming pools and roof decks. We review some of the laws that apply to these amenities. We will also share some best practices for setting rules and polices regarding their operation, as well as enforcement...

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CAI Legal Forum: California Exceeds Expectations

baycen events legal forum Oct 06, 2020

In September 2020, the Community Associations Institute’s (CAI) eight California Chapters came together to host the first-ever statewide virtual event. Anyone who lives in, works for or provides services to a California community association left the event more informed, more engaged and better able to contribute to a successful community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us into an even more digital world, allowing larger groups of people to gather. These unforeseen circumstances provided the gateway for the eight CAI California Chapters to host a virtual Legal Forum, allowing more members to participate than ever before.

The goal was to reach 400 attendees, the amount of people that joined the CAI Legal Forum in person last year (either in northern California or southern). The event exceeded all expectations! More than 535 attendees joined us virtually and surpassed the goal for homeowner leader and managers. Nearly 400 of attendees were managers and homeowner...

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California Wildfire Disasters: The Interpretation and Implementation of Our New Insurance Laws

By: Amy Davis

On a Thursday morning, I received the call that no daughter ever wants to receive. It was from my mom and her car was surrounded by fire. At the same time that I was taking my mom’s call, my dad and stepmom were sending me videos of several fires on the opposite side of town from where my mom was located. This was Paradise, California, November 8th, 2018.

November 11, 2018, I flew to Chico to be with family and friends and to help them with their insurance claims. Almost immediately, the question arose, “Can we just cut our losses and move?” The answer was an easy “yes.” Fortunately for survivors of the Camp Fire and future wildfire victims, California has passed several laws aimed at protecting persons whose interests are covered under insurance policies following a declared disaster.

Insureds whose homes are a total loss can now use a greater amount of their policies’ coverages to purchase an existing home or rebuild elsewhere....

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Marijuana in HOAs

By Melissa B. Ward, Esq.

BEFORE RECREATIONAL AND expanded medicinal use of cannabis products became legal in California, handling issues related to cannabis was relatively easy: since its use was largely illegal, associations typically prohibited all cannabis products, except for limited exceptions for medicinal use. Now that use of cannabis products is legal for adults in California, associations are forced to consider new interpretations of existing restrictions.

This article looks at ways HOAs can approach effective enforcement of existing restrictions pertaining to smoking, nuisance and disability accommodations in the context of use of cannabis products.


Regulating smoking has always been a challenge for HOAs. Common area components including ducts and vents can allow smoke and vapor of all kinds to travel from the separate interests onto the common area or other units. In condominium projects particularly, association complicity in allowing...

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