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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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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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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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