Adams Stirling PLC


QUESTION: We have a homeowner who barbecues every Sunday and the smoke from the barbeque goes into his neighbor's home. The smoke is so bad she has to close her windows and sometimes has to leave the house. She wants the board to intervene but the board believes this is an owner-to-owner issue since the barbecue is outside. Would the board have an obligation to intervene on her behalf?

ANSWER: The board has a duty to investigate and take appropriate action if it determines the smoke constitutes a nuisance.

Fire Codes. The barbecue grill may also be a violation of California Fire Codes §308.3.1 and §308.3.1.1, which were adopted by the state in 2007 and by various cities and counties in 2008 and 2009. CFC §308.1.4 states that all open-flame cooking devices (including charcoal & propane grills) may not be operated on combustible balconies or within ten feet of a combustible construction. There are exceptions are for:

1.  One and two-family dwellings, 

2.  Where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

3.  LP-gas cooking devices having LP-gas container with a water capacity not greater than 2-1/2 pounds [nominal 1 pound (0.454 kg) LP-gas capacity].

In addition, propane containers with a capacity larger than one pound cannot be transported through enclosed common area stairs, hallways, or elevators. They must be transported into the unit through an exterior stairway.

Insurance. Even if your city or county has not adopted these codes, your board should contact the association's insurance broker to see if fire damage related to barbecues is insured. Some insurance carriers want to see barbecues (especially charcoal) gone from frame complexes altogether.

Recommendation: Boards should check with local fire codes, their insurance broker, and legal counsel and then draft appropriate restrictions on the use of barbecue grills and LPG containers.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC