QUESTION: We conducted an executive session via telephone but had some issues because board members could not see each other. Studies show that 60% of human communication is nonverbal, so a phone conference is not ideal.
Do you have suggestions on dealing with open forum with board members and association members who have little or no experience with video conferencing? In addition, can you remind me what’s allowed in executive session? -Joe S.
ANSWER: Try Zoom video conferencing--it's one of the easiest to use. Zoom Video had 10 million customers at the end of 2019. Three months later it had 200 million customers because of its ease of use.
Security Issues. Zoom's sudden popularity put it under intense scrutiny and numerous security and privacy problems were exposed. The company scrambled to plug the holes. According to experts, the improvements have been commendable.
Set Up An Account. To set up a Zoom account for board meetings, ask a 12-year old. If you can't find one, ask your manager. Management companies are getting good at using Zoom for meetings. Following are two YouTube videos to help get you started:
1. How to Use Zoom Video for Meetings
2. Seven Zoom Meeting Tips
Online Meeting Guide. Guidelines for holding virtual board meetings were published by the Community Associations Institute. See Online Meeting Guide. For allowable executive session topics, see Executive Session Meetings.
QUESTION: The famous safe-cracker, Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. He answered, "Because that’s where the money is.” Nowadays the money is in computer crime. I am more concerned about the reckless grandchildren-hackers of the elderly than Chinese operatives. The bottom line is that boards should seek professional advice to establish and run such systems--specialists who can detect and mitigate any kind of intrusion. -Peter H.
RESPONSE: The coronavirus is pushing everyone into web-based communications. Paying attention to cyber-security is an absolute necessity. Because our law firm was one of the first in the state to move to high-tech web-based systems and communications, we've weathered a number of hack attacks over the past 20 years. As a result, we've repeatedly upgraded our security protocols. At the speed which technology is moving, management companies should budget for system upgrades and find a good IT consultant to advise them.
Email Meetings. Our board canceled their March meeting because of the virus, saying they would address business via email. What kinds of items can be decided in an email meeting? -Sandy M.
RESPONSE: No decisions should be made by email. The ability to meet by teleconference or video conference is too easy to ignore. To make decisions by email, the board must satisfy strict requirements. It's unlikely your board can meet them.
QUESTION: In your newsletter, you said there are many spouses not on title who would make outstanding board members, but can no longer serve on the board. I could not find a reference to this in SB 323. Should I be looking somewhere else? -Alan E.
ANSWER: It's found in Civil Code §5105(b). Associations are required to disqualify candidates for election to the board who are not members of the association. This creates a significant problem for small associations that need spouses who are not on title to serve on their boards.
Second Class Citizens. The dumpster fire known as SB 323 was sponsored by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL). Their bill mandates the ownership requirement. If a spouse is not on title, CCHAL's bill relegates them to second-class citizens. They can no longer serve on HOA boards, no matter how qualified they are and how badly owners want them on the board.
QUESTION: We are an age-restricted 55+ community. Our bylaws require “Qualified Permanent Residents” to run for the board. That means they need to verify their age and that this is their permanent residence. We have one candidate whose name is not on title but is a qualified permanent resident. We allowed him to run under the definitions in our bylaws. Is this allowed under the new election rules? -Carolyn G.
RESPONSE: Unfortunately, no. SB 323 voided your bylaw requirements. As noted above, your qualified resident cannot serve on the board because he is not a member of your association. To be a member, he must have an ownership interest. Even worse, the bill sponsored by Marjorie Murray's organization does not allow you to qualify your candidates by age or residency. All of that is now gone. You will need to spend money on a new set of election rules to satisfy CCHAL's bill.
Rescind SB 323. The best thing that could happen would be a complete rescinding of SB 323. Associations hurt by SB 323 might make an appeal to the President of CCHAL to sponsor a bill rescinding SB 323. This is her contact information:
Marjorie Murray, President & CEO
Center for California Homeowner Association Law
3758 Grand Avenue, Suite 56
Oakland, CA 94610
I serve on a board in Princeton, New Jersey and we're only beginning to realize we have no protocols for the coronavirus and issues for which we may be responsible. NJ law is different from CA law, but we would be grateful for any general emergency advice. -Chris C.
RESPONSE: We aren't licensed to practice in New Jersey. There are, however, plenty of outstanding law firms that do. You should contact your local chapter of CAI for a list of law firms that are members of the chapter. See CAI-New Jersey. In addition, there is good information on CAI's National website. See Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19.
I read the newsletters daily and find them quite informative and I am always able to extract some new knowledge to aid in my decision making. Thanks again and keep up the good work and flow of information. -Julian M.
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Thank you for all the wonderful up-to-date information during this hectic time. -Ingrid T.
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