Returning to Work
Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association LawMay 31, 2020

People are leaving home confinement and returning to work; some, with county permission and some, without. If the economy has any chance of recovering and association budgets returning to normal, people need to return to work so they can pay their assessments.

Pressure is building on Health Departments to open association pools and publish sensible guidelines. As reported in our last newsletter, some Counties made a smart decision to classify association pools as private so they could open them without violating state closure orders.

We continue to receive reports that some County officials are telling boards over the phone they can open their pools, but their websites state they are closed. This puts associations in a terrible position if they open their pools contrary to published orders.
The State and many Ccounties are not following the science related to swimming pools, and officials are pointing fingers at each other. Following is an edited exchange between one association and its County Health Department:
Dear County,

I read the Governor's comments from his press conference a short time ago and also spoke to a representative from his office who was rather rude. She informed me that, per the Governor's press conference, he is allowing each County to move into stage 3 based on conditions within their respective Counties. HOA pools are not public and should be allowed to open immediately. Your email said there are no guidelines yet for swimming. The Governor has a press conference and says Counties are in control of how quickly they want to proceed into phase 3. My logical conclusion is your Health Department has the authority to allow lap swimming/aqua therapy to take place in HOA pools. Yes? -Manager

Dear Manager,

The State has not indicated when they will release guidelines for opening pools for swimming. Until guidance is released, they are not allowed by State order. Los Angeles County’s guidance may contradict the State's order. There is some ambiguity in the language regarding what is meant by a “public” pool in the State order. -Health Dept.
RECOMMENDATION: The only way to resolve the ongoing mess is for board members, homeowners and managers to pressure State and County Health Departments to stop pointing fingers at each other immediately, classify HOA pools as private (which they are), and allow them to open with sensible CDC guidelines, not Draconian ones that make it impossible to comply.


Hiring Life Guards. What are your thoughts on HOAs hiring life guards or patrol services to enforce policies related to using our amenities to ensure they are using face masks, social distancing, etc.? -Elise F.

RESPONSE: It depends on your particular County's orders. If they are so restrictive as to require someone in the pool area to act as pool police, then you need to hire someone to control everyone's behavior. Either that, or don't open the pool. I don't care for these particular kinds of health directives. Your board will need to consult legal counsel on how best to proceed.

Confusing Order. If LA County has declared HOA pools private, why do they reference “public access” to private pools? They say no guests but the ordinance states public access. Does this invalidate the ordinance? -Adrian M.

RESPONSE: Many County orders are poorly drafted and confusing. It appears that those Counties allowing pools to open are doing so for residents only, not guests.

Going Bananas. I read the email about Los Angeles County classifying HOA pools as private. Do we have to wait for Santa Cruz County to do the same? People are going bananas in our complex! -Kelly A.

RESPONSE: Give all your members the name, phone number and email address of your County's Health Department officer. Post it on your bulletin board, the pool gate and your website. That person is deciding for the entire County what you can and can't do. Your members need to direct their frustration toward that person, not the board of directors.

NorCal Counties. Contra Costa and San Francisco pool openings are not expected until mid-August.

El Dorado County rescinded their travel ban to Lake Tahoe but emphasized that people should not come to Lake Tahoe except if they have an essential purpose in doing so.

Lake County issued exceptions to the face covering requirement.

Marin County has a new order allowing motorized access to parks.

Mendocino County has a new order allowing certain “higher risk activities” such as faith-based gatherings, hair salon and barbershop openings pursuant to guidelines and pool usage as previously indicated in the chart, with the addition of groups of up to 12 for prescribed pool-based physical therapy.

Mono County has a new order related to campgrounds and RV Parks, allowing them to open pursuant to certain guidelines, one of which is they shall not advertise that they are open in a way that would promote non-essential travel. It specifically disallows social media advertising or Internet posts. The short-term rental ban is still in effect.

San Mateo County now allows places of worship and in-store retail shopping to open, with restrictions.

Santa Cruz has a new order allowing golf to open, pursuant to State guidelines.

Sonoma County pools remain closed.

Yuba and Sutter Counties opened faith gatherings, hair salons and barbershops with restrictions.

Yolo has a new order requiring face coverings, emphasizing personal responsibility.

SoCal Counties. Riverside County is allowing short-term vacation rental of homes. This does not override restrictions HOAs may have in place related to short-term rentals.

Updated Chart. For a list of County restrictions and links to Health Department orders, see County Chart 5-31-20. The chart is also posted on the website. Thank you to readers for sending us information about their counties. If we missed anything, please contact us.

Thank you for your email updates. -Roger P.

So appreciate your newsletter! -Susan B.

Adrian, your wise counsel and incisive explanation of the complications that COVID-19 has introduced to homeowners’ associations is always welcome! Thank you! -Elaine J.

Thank you again for your ongoing guidance through this crazy time! -Elise F.

Great newsletter and a great educational service you are providing, thanks! -Tim T.

Hello Adams Stirling, I love the great HOA information you provide. -Kyle B.

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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