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Committee Name. An association's architectural committee is referred to by many different names. Despite the variety of names, all architectural committees have the same general purpose, as described below. Following are some of the names:

  • Architectural Committee (AC)
  • Architectural Control Committee (ACC)
  • Architectural & Land Control Committee (ALCC)
  • Architectural & Landscape Review Committee (ALRC)
  • Architectural Review Committee (ARC)
  • Art Jury
  • Design Review Committee (DRC)
  • Environmental Control Committee (ECC)

Purpose. The general purpose of an architectural committee is to ensure compliance with architectural standards established by the association. In condominium developments, the architectural committee is primarily focused on internal (i) alterations and improvements that impact the common areas (ii) window treatments that are visible from the outside, and (iii) balcony and patio issues. In planned developments, an architectural committee is primarily concerned with exterior aesthetics. Following is a chart of the kinds of issues that a committee would regulate.

hardwood floors   lot setback requirements
plumbing   structure placement
electrical   structure height
window tinting   structure design
window drapes & shutters   paint colors
window design   roofing materials
balcony floor surfaces   fencing
balcony plants & furniture   landscaping
satellite dish placement   satellite dish-solar panels

Aesthetic Standards. One of the functions of an architectural committee is to make subjective decisions about aesthetics. This is a recognized function of the committee and their decisions on such issues control even where an owner may strongly disagree.

"attractiveness" and "artistry" are, like beauty, well within the eye of the beholder. fn. 11 Such qualities have never been measurable or quantifiable. Therefore, we conclude as a matter of law the Association and its subordinate entities maintain the power under their enabling covenant to apply both subjective and objective criteria when evaluating the merit of proposed improvements to covenant property. (Clark v. Rancho Santa Fe Assn. (1989) 216 Cal.App.3d 606, 619.)

…where the record indicates the Art Jury and Board acted within the authority granted to it by the Covenant, pursuant to a reasonable investigation, in the best interests of the community and not in an arbitrary manner, we will respect and uphold their decisions. …The Board’s action upholding the Art Jury's decision was also well within its discretion and authority. The Board is empowered to rely upon the Art Jury's recommendation. (Dolan-King v. Rancho Santa Fe Assn. (2000) 81 Cal.App.4th 965, 979-980.) evaluation of a proposed solar energy system--just as any other proposed improvement--would involve the consideration of aesthetics. (Tesoro Del Valle Master HOA v. Griffen (2011) 200 Cal.App.4th 619, 633.)

Separate Approvals. Because an association's architectural committee and a city/county building department are separate jurisdictions, an owner must separately get approval from each. In other words, obtaining a building permit from the city does not confer approval by the association. An owner must separately submit plans to and receive approval from the association and vice versa.

Code Compliance. Ensuring compliance with state and local building codes is not a duty of an association or its architectural committee. Board and committee members are volunteers. Unless a member is an architect or former plan checker, board and committee members have no expertise in building codes and no jurisdiction over their enforcement. Code compliance is the duty of the city or county building department, whichever one is applicable.

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