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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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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? 


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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Neurologically Unwell

…because that sounds so much more official than mental illness.

By Wendy Benner Miller

"Mental health" is a somewhat ironic phrase because it is typically used when discussing the antithesis of a healthy mind and symbiotic emotions. While many may argue that the goal, when using this phrase, is to prioritize the need for society to focus on the importance of a person’s emotional health in the same manner as one’s physical health, this is rarely the case. All too often, when the term "mental health" is brought up in conversation on its own, it elicits a visible response in one’s body language, a shifting in a seat, or an actual bristle or uncomfortableness, which can sometimes conjure stereotypical assumptions, eye rolls, and slang references.

What might be the biggest irony of all is that for most of history, mental illness was not considered an illness at all, but a choice based on controllable feelings or "bad" attitudes. Historically, being...

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Penalize This: Fines and Penalties Imposed on Associations

By Ellen Schuster, Esq.

We talk a lot about the fines and other penalties associations can impose on members who violate the governing documents. What about the fines and penalties that can be imposed on associations? Associations that violate certain Civil Code sections may have to pay monetary penalties or fines (typically called "civil penalties") in addition to paying for actual damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

At a time when members are increasingly challenging associations and associations are under increased scrutiny, it is important to understand the common violations that can subject associations to significant fines and penalties.

Open Meeting Act (Civil Code section 4900, et seq.)

Associations that violate this act may have to pay attorneys’ fees, court costs, and civil penalties of up to $500 per violation. (Civil Code section 4955(b).) Common violations include failure to provide the required four days’ or two days’ notice of an...

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Elevator 101 – Elevator Inspection Liability (Part 2)

Second in a series by Barry Robbins

It is widely acknowledged that elevators have significantly impacted architectural design and are an indispensable component of modern buildings, providing an efficient means of transporting people and goods between different floors. Interestingly, the story regarding the inventor of the elevator is that he never filed a patent and never realized the success of his invention, but his family name still remains one the most recognized in the world.

Elisha Graves Otis, a doll maker by profession, is credited with inventing the "Safety Elevator," which debuted at the New York World’s Fair in 1853. Despite being 42 years old at the time of his invention, Otis did not live long enough to witness the widespread use of his creation, as he passed away at the age of 49. In addition to the elevator, Otis invented the steam engine, greatly facilitating the elevator’s vertical movement and making it faster.

The selection of the name "Safety...

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The Re-roofing Process

A checklist for HOAs

By Donna Vingo

Having an excellent roofing system can help protect a property owner’s greatest asset. Throughout the year, the change of seasons brings different challenges to the roof of a structure. From the sweltering summer heat to the deep freeze of winter, from strong winds or powerful rains to the wildfire dangers throughout California, having a roofing system that can withstand any of these challenges, let alone all of them, is an important protection against losing everything. This article is focused on providing the HOA board, the HOA roofing committee, and HOA homeowners with information on the re-roofing process.

The HOA board is responsible for two major tasks: making decisions and spending money. HOAs are nonprofit corporations that have as their principal asset the land and buildings in the HOA common areas, which can be valued from hundreds of thousands up to tens of millions of dollars. The HOA board is usually composed of volunteers...

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What to Provide Your Preparer for Best Reserve Study Results

By Clifford Bates

Is a reserve study a science or an art form? I say it is both. The Cambridge English Corpus states, "Science shows the unity, while art shows the diversity of the riddle which we call the world." So now we have introduced a "riddle," which is defined as, "A baffling, misleading, or puzzling question presented as a problem to be solved or guessed." It appears that I am not making the concept of reserve studies any clearer to the reader, but stay with me and I will explain.

You do not have to look very far into the history of homeowner association management to see the birth of reserve studies. There was a time, not very long ago, when neither the governing documents nor the regulating agencies had any requirements that were to be adhered to regarding long-term maintenance, repair, or replacement. As the concept of identifying future, long-term costs for repairing and replacing common area components for aging facilities became more customary and accepted...

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Creative Financing for HOAs

So, you have deferred maintenance, sharply rising costs, and the coffers are bare…

By Caroline McCormick, CAMEx, CCAM

Civil Code requires that HOAs disclose deferred maintenance, but many do not. Boards try to "save money" by waiting to perform maintenance or make needed repairs. This mentality, coupled with inflation, post-COVID19 labor and material price increases, and the notion that maintaining assessments artificially low is a benefit to the community, has created funding challenges for many associations.


Robert W. Browning, PCAM, RS, and owner of Browning Reserve Group, believes that reserve studies are essential to the strategic planning of any community. "Having a professional study that’s reviewed annually just makes good business sense," says Browning. Start nine months before the fiscal year end by examining in detail the reserve study component list and funding scenario to make sure it is reasonable for your community. Make sure any...

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Ensuring Adequately Funded Reserves

…and Preparing for the Unknown

By Kumar S. Raja & Shelby D. Bennett

Throughout the state, many older common interest developments (CIDs) are struggling with costly repairs and large maintenance projects as buildings age. Is your CID prepared to replace major components without a special assessment? Do you have funds available to finance a roof replacement project? This article will review the importance of adequately funding reserves and identify future considerations that might impact current planning.


California law requires that CIDs conduct reserve studies every three years – and yet it does not set forth minimum funding requirements for reserve accounts. This means that a CID can conduct a reserve study and still not be prepared for replacing major components, such as common area roofs and structural components. The law provides some direction regarding reserve account maintenance. In short, boards must...

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Proactive Financial Management

President’s Message

By Laura Ravazza

This article first appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of The Communicator here.  

I hope this message finds you all in good health and high spirits. I want to take a moment to address an important aspect of our organization’s well-being – financial management within our homeowners associations (HOAs).

Managing the finances of an HOA requires careful planning and collaboration with our business partners. It is crucial that we work together effectively to ensure the financial stability and success of our communities. To achieve this, I encourage each of you to be proactive in your approach to financial management.

First and foremost, I urge you to not hesitate in asking questions. Whether you are a board member, a committee volunteer, or a concerned member, never be afraid to seek clarification or further information. Financial matters can be complex; and it is our duty to understand and actively participate in the...

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