No Safe Place to Play
Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law August 13, 2020

QUESTION: Our children have no where to play! Seven months of lock down, our pool is closed due to the virus, they can't play in the park, and now no school. Is their a law that condominiums must have a safe place for children to play? -Betty Y

RESPONSE: No, there is no law requiring condominiums provide a place for children to play. You can't blame your board for keeping your pool closed. The Governor has everyone in a straight jacket with requirements that most associations cannot meet.

Board members are just as frustrated as parents. Instead of allowing counties and cities to regulate themselves, the Governor decided that one size fits all. As a result, families like yours are suffering. His decision to keep businesses and schools closed is also affecting association budgets by forcing people out of work so they can't pay their assessments. Let's hope this ends soon.

RECOMMENDATION: Email the Governor and your legislators and let them know how frustrated you are. Tell them you intend to vote in November. I don't know if it will do any good but it couldn't hurt.

Wedding. One of our unit owners wants to hold a wedding reception in our recreation room. The president is inclined to approve their using the room for the wedding. They say there will be no more than 10 people in the room at any given time. Says she will get a release from the unit owner holding the board harmless. I was told we cannot have any gathering OF ANY SIZE per Glendale/Los Angeles/Gov. Newsom guidelines. I intend to deny the request. -Margaret N.

RESPONSE: If they call the wedding a "protest," you're good to go — there are no limits on the size of the gathering or requirements for wearing masks. Otherwise, you should consult your association's legal counsel on how to proceed.

Working Board Meetings. Love your newsletter. I have been reading it for the past 20 years and this is the best and funniest information. Can you have "working" board meetings and exclude homeowners? Just unable to find this term in the Davis-Stirling Act. -Voss J.

RESPONSE: You can have working board meetings but you can't exclude homeowners. Board meetings are defined by the Davis-Stirling Act as a gathering of a quorum of directors at the same time and place to "hear, discuss, or deliberate upon any item of business that is within the authority of the board." (Civ. Code §4090.)

Notice. You can set a time for working meetings that is convenient to board members and then post a 4-day notice. I had one board that held working meetings at 7:30 in the morning so directors could get business done before going to work. I attended some of their meetings and found them to be very effective since directors had a hard deadline for ending their meetings so they could go to work.

Open Forum. Since it's a board meeting, albeit a working one, you still need an open forum where members can address the board. Once open forum is closed, members can observe but they can't participate unless the board invites their comments.

Virtual Meetings. In addition to in-person meetings, all of this applies to virtual meetings, i.e., those held entirely via teleconference or video conference.

Email Board Meetings. Thank you for your newsletters during these trying times. The information is very helpful. Our manager told the board that they can discuss business via email by responding to emails only to her and she will recap the responses in an email back to them. Is this legal? -Anon

RESPONSE: What you described is a serial meeting known as a "wheel-hub" meeting, which occurs when directors are spokes with one person at the center (the hub). Directors never talk to each other. Instead, each communicates with one director or the manager who coordinates and relays messages. Although not addressed by the Davis-Stirling Act, it is covered by the Brown Act, which is the model for our Open Meeting Act. Accordingly, I believe a judge would find this to be in violation.

RECOMMENDATION: I know it's inconvenient, but your board needs to save their discussions for properly noticed open meetings.

Voice Votes. Our board is meeting via Zoom because of the pandemic. Board members do not want their video on so they say their name when voting. Is there anything wrong with this? -Don W.

RESPONSE: No, there is nothing wrong with it. It's no different than voice votes in a teleconference meeting. As long as directors can identify each other's voices, their votes are good.

Non-Owner President. Our HOA is grateful for the information provided in your newsletters. Our president is not the true owner of her unit, her mother is. Is she still eligible to serve on the board? -Margrit K.

RESPONSE: SB 323, which was sponsored by Marjorie Murray's Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL), made your president a second-class citizen. She can no longer serve on the board, even if she is doing a great job and no one else is willing to serve.

This is particularly damaging to small associations which have a limited pool of people available to serve on their boards. I would like to see this dreadful piece of legislation rescinded. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, nothing will happen this year. We will have to wait until next year to take a fire extinguisher to the dumpster fire known as SB 323.

NOTE: If your bylaws allow non-members to serve as officers (president, secretary, treasurer), your current president must step off the board but can continue to serve as a non-voting president to run your meetings. That is little consolation if what you really need are board members.

Inspectors of Election. Regarding Inspectors of Election and the added burden on small associations, is there a way local, small associations can offer other associations to serve as inspectors of the opposite association’s elections and vice versa? How would one go about finding them? -Karen T.

RESPONSE: This is another burden created by SB 323. The bill significantly increased the responsibilities of inspectors and increased the election timeline so it's now a four-month process. As a result, it's difficult to find volunteers willing to take on that role. Most associations must now pay for professional inspectors to run their elections. Since all associations are nonprofit, they don't have any excess funds to hire professional inspectors. For small associations in particular, that means an increase in assessments.

RECOMMENDATION: If you can find another association willing to act as your inspector at no cost, give it a try. I don't know how you find them except to talk to neighbors in nearby associations. FYI, you should expect to execute a hold harmless/indemnity agreement due to the higher risk of litigation created by SB 323.

Partners Adrian Adams and Nathan McGuire will both be participating in CAI's annual Legal Forum, which will take place virtually this year September 14 to 18.
Adrian Adams and co-presenter Christina DeJardin (the Delphi Law Group) will speak on the four targets of harassment that association boards and managers are required to address.
Nathan McGuire will be involved in the Closing General Session with Legislative Advocate Louie Brown and CAI's Senior Vice President of Government & Public Affairs Dawn Bauman. If you would like to attend, you can REGISTER HERE.

NorCal Counties. Because of the backlog in the State’s electronic laboratory reporting system, Counties are not being added or removed from the monitoring list at this time.

Many Counties have linked to the CDPH’s guidance for Institutions of Higher Education.

Marin County amended Appendix C-1 and is allowing the following to operate outdoors: nail salons, massage therapy, esthetic services, cosmetology and skin care services, gyms and fitness centers. Tattooing, piercing and electrolysis must remain closed both indoor and outdoor.

Mono County has a new order for lodging restrictions in Mammoth Lakes, which relates to short-term rentals as well as hotels. This is designed to limit occupancy, reinforce State-mandated cleaning procedures and impose a visitor notification required.

San Joaquin County has an new order related to Youth Sports.

Shasta County issued a press release regarding the reopening of schools, which has been added to the chart.

Sonoma County has an ordinance authorizing enforcement of COVID‑19 Health Orders that allows for fines for violations.

Tulare County issued a press release that it will not approve school waivers until transmission rates decline.

SoCal Counties. Los Angeles County updated its Health Order, which clarifies when elementary schools can seek a waiver for in-person instruction in elementary schools. It also updates that childcare facilities can increase from 10 children to 12 children, as a stable daily group of children.

The County issued a new multi-residence guideline which includes guidance on outdoor barbeque grills in common areas, which can remain open as long as individuals use face coverings (with the exception of when eating), and residents maintain physical distancing from those who are not part of their household.

It also updated golf course protocols to clarify that driving range mat centerlines can be 8 feet apart, as long as areas for left-handed players are grouped together and separated from those for right-handed players by at least 12 feet.

It further updated fitness center protocols, stating that face coverings are not required while engaged in outdoor activities requiring heavy exertion, but at least 8 feet of distance from others are required during these activities.

The City of Los Angeles changed its Order removing enforcement of COVID‑19 protocols, by way of having the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power shut off water for non-compliant businesses.

San Diego County now requires employers provide notice of exposure to any employees and contractors (who regularly work at the workplace) who may have been exposed to COVID‑19, as stated in the State’s COVID‑19 Employer Playbook for a Safe Reopening.

Santa Barbara County issued a new order effective August 12, 2020 that expires on September 10, 2020, prohibiting small and large gatherings of different households. Further, it acknowledges that youth sports can resume pursuant to state guidelines.

READING THE CHART. Because the chart is large and the text small, you can easily make it larger for viewing by holding down the "Ctrl" key on the left side of your keyboard and then using your finger to scroll forward or backwards with the wheel on your mouse. You will see the text grow larger or smaller as you move the wheel. For a list of county restrictions and links to Health Department Orders, see County Chart 8-13-20. The chart is also posted on our website.

Thanks for your newsletter. I am an ardent fan of it and echo all the accolades written by readers. I don't believe I have ever disagreed with anything you have published. -Bob B.

Good morning WONDERFUL Mr. Adams!!!! Please, don't apologize to that person calling you "insensitive," you're obviously not. Some people are just myopic, looking for something to complain about. You, and your service, are wonderful. -Les Q.

Thank you, Adrian, for somehow maintaining your wonderful sense of humor in these most trying times! It provides a break from my so-far five months of troglodyte-like isolation. -Elaine J.

Thank you for all the great advice. Been a reader for (numerous) years. ‑D.Y.

I would like to know who has all those Trump signs. I would like to have one for my yard. I am waiting for a NO ON PROP 15 sign, as that proposition will take away Prop 13. -Stella J.

Hello, Adrian, Your sense of humor is so uplifting in this world, your comment about the cigar smoke was shared with all my office workers. Way too many people are so super sensitive they’ll never see the bright side of life. PITY! -Roberta R.

Thanks for the newsletter and good humor. I do look forward to my email knowing there might be something from you and your offices. You have proven more valuable to non-clients than any other attorney I know. Keep up the good work and good fight! -Karen T.

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 California associations only.

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