Confusing Pool Information
Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association LawMay 20, 2020

Even though the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has not recommended closing swimming pools, Governor Newsom did so on the State level.

This has created significant confusion for counties throughout California as they begin loosening restrictions. California's website has the following:

The State does not define "public" pools. Does it include community associations? Most counties believe it does. But not all. Currently, County Health Department orders fall into three categories:

1. Pools Are Open. Some counties follow the science and quote the CDC that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by pools or spas. They lifted restrictions on community association pools.

2. Defer to the State. Many counties on our chart show pools as closed, because these counties defer to the State rather than publish their own orders. That means their pools are closed. Even so, confusion reigns because information about pool closures is very difficult to find on the their websites and does not show up in word searches.

3. Mislead the Public. The worst ones, like Orange County, state that association pools can open, provided they comply with Executive Orders from the State. The problem is the state has declared them closed. Calls to the County's Health Department result in contradictory instructions. I received a number of emails from owners who talked to OC officials, who assured them pools were open. Following are a few of the many emails I received about confusing county orders:

Pools Are Open. Weeks ago, I spoke with the individual overseeing Huntington Beach, where our HOA is located. They assured me there was no directive to close HOA pools from the State or County. They also agreed that the City of Huntington Beach had no orders concerning HOA pools. However, Orange County was surprised when Governor Newsom, for the first time last week, mentioned pool reopening, and they quickly drew up some guidelines. This is very confusing. -Mason T.

Pools Are Closed. I contacted the OC Health Department via email & phone. Lorena told me on the phone that Orange County goes by State directives and public pools are still closed. We are considered a public pool in their eyes, as opposed to private. -Norm P.

Vague Verbiage. San Diego County has vague verbiage regarding HOA facilities. Our pool and tennis courts remain closed, but many board members want to open them. I understand other County recommendations suggest they can open if they can maintain separation, schedule usage, and restrict usage based on households. -Will N.

Ambiguous & Confusing. San Bernardino County is a bit confusing, and some of our residents are getting angry. Our board continues to monitor and rely upon County orders, which have become increasingly ambiguous. Our fallback is the FAQ page, which still shows community pools as closed. -Debra G.

RECOMMENDATION: The State's handling of the situation creates potential liability for associations. Readers should email and telephone Governor Newsom and urge him to immediately open community association pools (or at least delegate the decision to the counties). You should also urge members of your association to do the same.

Send an Email

Send a letter
Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814

Call and Fax the Governor
Phone: (916) 445-2841
Fax: (916) 558-3160

COUNTY ORDERS. Some health department orders contain detailed requirements, while others are vague and poorly written. Boards should carefully review applicable health department orders and consult with legal counsel on when and how best to open their facilities.

NorCal Counties. Alameda County has a new order allowing low-risk Stage 2 businesses to open. It clarifies that tennis may open following social distancing and restrictions for members of the same household or members of different households with singles tennis. They also added a vehicle-based gathering order.

Contra Costa County has a new order leaving tennis and golf open following restrictions. It also allows low-risk Stage 2 businesses to open. San Francisco County has a new order. Tennis courts still appear to be closed under this order. Santa Clara has a new order effective 5/22/20. The only thing that appears to change is allowing Stage 2 business openings.

SoCal Counties. San Luis Obispo County allowed their health order to lapse and now is following the State‚Äôs order, with exception of a new May 17 short-term rental order for short-term rentals to operate at 50 percent occupancy for hotels, motels, B&Bs, RV Parks, campgrounds, residential vacation rentals and homestay. It prohibits persons who are staying for fun or leisure, but allows rentals to accommodate essential workers, displaced persons, homeless in need, persons needing to self-isolate or quarantine, or vulnerable persons who reside in the county. Community association pools can open with guidelines.

Updated Chart. For a list of County restrictions and links to their orders, see 5-20-20 CHART OF COUNTY ORDERS. An updated chart is posted on the website. Thank you to readers for sending us information about their counties. If we missed anything, contact us.

Adrian, what are you going to do with all your free time when you no longer have to issue a DAILY newsletter? Keep up the good work. -Michael H.

RESPONSE: With today's mailing, we crossed the 1-million mark on the number of newsletters distributed since the start of the pandemic. I plan to take a much-needed vacation. I will spend a couple of weeks in Wuhan, China. 

Keep up the great work!! -Margot B.

Thanks for your informative emails. They are extremely helpful. -Debra G.

Boards can contact us for friendly,
professional advice.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner

DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary based on sketchy information we receive from readers. From time to time, we add a little humor. Some find it amusing. Others are appalled. Some readers are excited when they score free legal advice. Not so. Our newsletter provides commentary only, not legal advice. You need to pay real money for an attorney to review all the facts and give you a legal opinion. We do that too, but you have to actually hire us. It's okay, we're friendly. You can call us. Keep in mind we are corporate counsel to associations only.

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