Privacy Issues. Zoom added password protected defaults, as well as virtual waiting rooms to prevent intrusions by unwanted guests. I have no relationship to Zoom—just a 36-year real estate attorney who protects client confidences. The video capacity on Zoom makes for a much more efficient board meeting. -Chuck M.
RESPONSE: Thank you for the info. Zoom has been working hard to improve security. Our Chief Technology Officer, Erica Greathouse, created a summary of steps boards can take to improve security when using Zoom.
1. Do not use your personal meeting ID to host public events. This is basically a continuous meeting, and anyone can interrupt your personal virtual space at any time. ALWAYS choose one-time meeting ID or generate automatically. Require a meeting password.
2. Prevent participants from screen-sharing during a call by using the host controls at the bottom:
a. Click the arrow next to Screen Share
b. Click Advanced Sharing Options
c. Under Who can share?, select Only host
3. Be sure to select Only Authenticated Users Can Join in meeting settings. This prevents someone from joining a meeting from an email that they weren’t invited through.
4. Select Enable waiting room. This allows you to screen who’s trying to access your meeting and keep unwanted guests out. As the host, you will admit people one by one, and deny admittance anyone who should not participate.
5. Be sure to set BOTH Recording settings to OFF. The free version either permits all to record (meaning your meeting could be replayed without your knowledge) or none. And you certainly don’t want it to record automatically!
RECOMMENDATION: Similar privacy settings should be configured for other video conferencing services. Boards should work with someone knowledgeable about technical issues since services are constantly updating their software and settings may change.
Disciplinary Hearings. If all parties are in agreement, can violation hearings be conducted via Zoom instead of a conference call (since we would not know who is dialing in). Can the person in violation later dispute the decision and claim that the HOA did not follow proper due process? -Sergio G.
RESPONSE: If the person agrees to attend a meeting by video conference, I don't see how they can later claim they didn't receive due process. Attending by video conference is the same as attending in person. The legal system is already adjusting to the new reality. Mediations are being done remotely and depositions by video conference. Before the courts shut down, many allowed attorneys to attend hearings by "court call." The coronavirus has accelerated society's shift to virtual meetings. I suspect we will continue to use it for conducting business after the virus is long gone.
Zoom Meeting Topics. We canceled our last board meeting, which was scheduled for the week the stay at home order began. We will be meeting soon by Zoom. I'm wondering if there is also a list of universal issues that every board should discuss during this time? -Dave K.
RESPONSE: For a start: (i) closing all amenities until stay-at-home orders are lifted; (ii) suspending late fees and penalties for the next few months; (iii) moving forward with new election rules; and (iv) taking a close look at the budget to see if it needs adjusting or if monies need to be borrowed from reserves. Then, switch to easier topics such as, "How did the universe get here and where do we go when we die?"
Executive Session Meetings. We are considering conducting our executive meetings through GoToMeeting.com. How do we guarantee that only the board member is present and no other parties are in attendance and listening to our conversations? Does this need any special documentation signed by each member as to privacy compliance? -M.F.
RESPONSE: Because executive session matters are confidential, its an ethical obligation for directors. You can adopt guidelines for virtual executive session meetings, such as, (i) go to a room with a door and close it and (ii) don't use the speaker on your phone. For most boards, maintaining confidentiality is not a problem. Some, however, have a problem director. Signing an agreement to keep meetings confidential and following guidelines for virtual meetings would quickly identify problem directors, since they would likely refuse to sign the agreement.
ADA Location Required? With a quarantine in effect for the California, the open meeting act has changed a bit. Can boards meet via teleconference without properly notifying its members and without providing an ADA location? -Harry P.
RESPONSE: Yes, boards can meet via teleconference. They still need to notify the membership so owners they can join the call. Under the circumstances, boards do not need to supply an ADA location. Many associations do not have one available and, even if they do, members should not be gathering in the same room. If someone is disabled, it would be better for them to stay at home and call into the meeting.
Laundry Rooms. What the thoughts about common area laundry rooms remaining open? -Jim W.
RESPONSE: Others may disagree but I see laundry rooms as essential. People need to wash their clothes. Boards can adopt and post rules for using them. Residents should wear masks and maintain social distancing. Depending on the size of the room, that might mean only one person in the room at a time (unless they are family members). People should wipe down surfaces before touching anything and then wash their hands afterward. Residents should not fold clothes in the laundry room but, instead, immediately exit the room so others can use it. There are probably other rules that could be adopted as well but this should give you a start.
SFO Taxes. The San Francisco Treasurer extended the property tax deadline yesterday. How does it effect condominiums and cooperative housing developments if members do not pay property taxes at this time? -C.M.
RESPONSE: I have no idea. If you don't already have one, you should have a CPA you can talk to about year-end financial statements, filing tax returns, etc. That's who you should talk to for guidance on tax issues.
Playing in the Lobby. Should residents with kids be allowed to play in the common sitting area? They are 2-3 different units in question. While the patents hang out, the kids play together. Can the board ask them to stop? -Michelle P.
RESPONSE: Yes, the board can ask them to stop. According to the CDC, the next two weeks are critical. Boards can adopt emergency rules prohibiting gatherings of any size in the common areas. To stop the spread of the virus, masks must be worn when someone leaves their unit and social distancing strictly followed. Letting people gather in a common sitting area and children playing together (they tend to touch everything and have no concept of social distancing), is a sure way to spread the virus.
Non-Owner Elected. We held our board election in December 2019, the results were to be announced at our annual homeowner's meeting in January. Since we did not meet the quorum requirement, the annual meeting was adjourned until February and the quorum requirement was met. Per SB 323, one director is not eligible because she is not on title. Since the election was originally scheduled for December 2019, can she remain on the board? -Daniel H.
RESPONSE: Under the new law, which went into effect January 1, 2020, "An association shall disqualify a person from a nomination as a candidate for not being a member of the association at the time of the nomination." (Civ. Code §5105(b).) Since the director was nominated in 2019, she was eligible at the time and can, therefore, finish her term on the board. When her term ends, she could no longer run for election to the board.
Second-Class Citizens. One (of many) foolish things done by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL) was to dictate to associations who could and could not serve on boards of directors. There are many spouses who are not on title who would make outstanding board members. Thanks to Marjorie Murray's organization, they can no longer serve their communities even if the membership badly needs them on the board. They are now second-class citizens.
Fine Violators? I've been following your super-helpful newsletter for 4+ years now. Per local ordinance, we've closed our gym, pool, spa and sauna with signs posted; however, some residents and their visitors are still using it. We've posted flyers but now are considering moving towards fining offenders. Thoughts? -Vlad V.
RESPONSE: Yes, you can call them to virtual hearings and fine them. However, the law of natural selection may eliminate them from the gene pool before you get a chance to collect the fines.
SB 323 Rewrite? I read about the Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL). Their website is gone. I contacted my state senator and assembly member. I signed up for the newsletter from CAI's California Legislative Action Committee. What else can I do to get our voices in a SB 323 rewrite? I suggest you post any call for action that may be appropriate in your newsletter. -Bill W.
RESPONSE: I will post calls to action when needed. Hopefully, the damage done by CCHAL can be reversed.
Love your newsletter. It is so informative but...things are changing so rapidly. Would it be possible for you to publish your newsletter on an hourly basis? -Richard W.
RESPONSE: Not a chance.
Hi Adrian, I LOVE YOUR NEWSLETTERS!! -Lisa T.
A huge thank you for your knowledgeable and entertaining newsletter! -Elaine M.
I see the newsletters are also accessible via your website. I'm running out of storage. Found out also that you consolidate topics and advice in your blog area. Useful! Appreciate it. -Howard G.
RESPONSE: Yes, prior newsletters can be found here.
Thank you for provided clarity and sanity in this crazy situation. -Mark O.
I have been receiving your newsletters since about 1995 when I was on an HOA board in Novato, California. In 2016 I resigned but kept up with your common sense approach. I moved to Grass Valley in 2018 and was anointed Vice President at the beginning of this year, and am very glad at what you offer. -Michael D.
RESPONSE: I once lived in Grass Valley. I love the area. Nearby Nevada City is charming.
After 20 years as a board member and reading your newsletter, at age 85 I am no longer a volunteer but without your newsletter the week would not be the same. I am still forwarding it to friends and other board members. Please keep doing it forever, or at least as long as you can. -Susanne G.
Sure wish you folks were in our neck of the woods (Arizona). We are starving for down-to-earth common sense. Thanks again for your newsletter. Look forward to next week. -Lynn R.
Thank you for your amazing newsletters. They really are the only things helping us right now deal with all these coronavirus issues. -Michelle P.