Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law January 10, 2021
The laws and insurance requirements governing homeowner associations are complex and often confusing to the 15 million people living in California's common interest developments.

To make them easier to understand, we are pleased to introduce a series of 2-minute videos on HOA management and law.
We collaborated with Tim Cline, founder of the Cline Agency Insurance Brokers, to create a library of short animated videos on all topics related to community associations. The videos deliver essential principles on a featured subject without getting lost in the details.
Because of the pandemic's ongoing impact on association budgets, our first video is on Borrowing from Reserves to cover operational shortfalls.

For a deeper dive into topics, provides details and cross-linking, so users can easily move between commentary, statutes, and case law as they research a topic. In addition to the resources we provide, the Cline Agency offers a series of in-depth articles on key HOA Insurance issues.

Watch Borrowing from Reserves
and give us feedback. We will release two new animated videos every month throughout 2021.

We are pleased to announce that attorney Allyson Calvird has joined our team. She is based in the Central Valley and will work out of our Northern California office.

Allyson previously worked as an attorney in the Social Security Administration where she advised administrative law judges and drafted complex legal decisions.

Allyson's experience includes litigating claims and negotiating settlements with insurance companies on behalf of injured workers. She also worked for the Department of Child Support Services and the Human Services Agency, where she assisted clients with benefits and court orders.

Allyson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, cum  laude, from California State University, Stanislaus. She subsequently earned a Juris Doctor, cum laude, in just two years, from the California Western School of Law in San Diego, California.

We are pleased to have Allyson on our team. If your association needs legal services, contact us for more information.


QUESTION: The balcony inspection bill, AB 326, is causing a stir. The board claims it makes the HOA responsible to repair balconies. I say it only requires an HOA to enforce repairs by the tenants if required and designated in the governing documents. If I’m wrong, I’m afraid assessments will go sky-high in our 506-unit complex. –Tim R.

RESPONSE: You should expect your assessments to go up. The common area structural elements of balconies are the responsibility of the association to repair and replace. That's why it's important for boards to initiate inspections now so they can find out what, if anything, needs repair, how much it will cost, and the timing of repairs. This will allow boards to properly budget for and schedule needed work. For more information, see Elevated Structure Inspections.

Proxyholders. Can one homeowner be the proxyholder for three separate homeowners who are abroad? Due to the pandemic, can this proxyholder submit these ballots along with emailed proxy letter to the inspector, and attend the HOA meeting on Zoom, or must the proxyholder physically go to the office where the ballots are being opened, turn them in, and attend the meeting? –Lilly C.

RESPONSE: One homeowner (a "proxyholder") can cast ballots for two, three or more members by proxy. The person can make arrangements to deliver proxies to the inspector of elections in person, by FedEx, fax or email, in exchange for ballots. The ballots can then be voted and delivered to the inspector using the double envelopes provided for the election. The person can attend the annual meeting using the video conference platform supplied by the association.

Face Covering Fines. Can the association collect a $300 fine if a person is not wearing a mask in the common area? –S.

RESPONSE: Yes, provided the board adopts and publishes emergency rules regarding face coverings, has a fine policy in place, and follows due process with a noticed hearing and written finding. The fine can then be added to the person's account.

Collecting Fines. We have a member who owes $1,800 in fines. The amount is for fines only, not dues, fees, assessments, repairs, etc. What is the best way for the board to collect this amount from the owner? â€‘Andrew S.

RESPONSE: If everything was done properly per your fine policy, you can file a small claims action to collect up to $5,000 in fines. Once you obtain a judgment, you can use it to garnish the person's wages and levy against his property. For more information, see Collecting Fines.

Old CC&Rs. Our CC&Rs were written in 1974 and are literally 9 pages long. They do NOT state who is responsible for the interior of the homeowner's unit (condo). Does this Civil Code automatically apply to all CC&Rs that are silent about responsibility, or does this have to be a legal amendment of the CC&Rs in order to apply? –Jai V.

RESPONSE: The Davis-Stirling Act fills the gaps in your CC&Rs. Unless otherwise provided in your governing documents, your association is responsible for repairing, replacing, and maintaining the common area and owners are responsible for their units. (Civ. Code §4775(a)(1)&(2).)

Exclusive Use Common Area. Older CC&Rs are generally silent when it comes to exclusive use common areas. I believe it was attorney Curt Sproul who introduced the concept of exclusive use in 1985 when the Davis-Stirling Act was drafted. In 2017, the Act was amended to make owners responsible for maintenance of exclusive use common areas, with the association responsible for repairs and replacements (unless the CC&Rs state otherwise). (Civ. Code §4775(a)(3).)

Amend CC&Rs. When our firm restates CC&Rs, we pay particular attention to defining responsibilities related to exclusive use common areas. Doing so eliminates confusion over duties and minimizes lawsuits when exclusive use elements are damaged or cause damage.

No Internet. Is it okay to hold a Zoom meeting if the association knows that half of its members do not have internet service? –Frank R.

RESPONSE: Yes, the association can hold Zoom meetings. Members do not need the internet to use Zoom. The video conferencing platform has a feature that allows members to join the meeting using their telephone. Those with internet access can take advantage of the video feature and see other participants in the meeting.


Masks Required. Many HOAs post “masks required” signs in the common areas but do not enforce the policy, despite the high rate of transmissibility of the virus. I can imagine that one lawsuit asserting this laxness caused one or more infections would shape them up pronto as the cost of a suit would impact all owners. These "no guts” boards should consult their attorneys and scientific professionals before turning a blind eye. -Skip D.

RESPONSE: Exposure to potential litigation (not to mention the virus) is something boards should consider when they adopt emergency rules and then don't enforce them.

NEWSLETTERS. Readers can find current year and prior year newsletters posted here. Older newsletters are not posted since the information they contain can change over time with new statutes and case law. The website itself is kept updated with current information, which can be found via the "Index" or through our website's internal "Google Search" feature. You can find the search line in the upper-right corner of the website, below our ADAMS | STIRLING logo.


Federal & State. The CDC updated guidelines for multifamily housing and improving ventilation in your home. Information related to vaccination can be found here: Vaccination Schedule.

The state issued California's Safe Schools for All Plan.

The state issued CDPH Travel Advisory.

The Northern California region remains the only one not subject to Regional Stay-at-Home Orders.

The State Public Health Officer issued a 1/5/21 Health Order re: Hospital Surges and an Amendment dated 1/6/21.

The following Counties have changed tiers: Humboldt (Purple Tier to Red Tier); Inyo (Red Tier to Purple Tier).

NorCal Counties. Alameda County issued a 1/7/21 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating the expectation that the Regional Stay-at-Home Order will be extended past the three-week minimum.

Butte County issued a 1/4/21 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating that the County still remains under the Regional Stay-at-Home Order.

Contra Costa County provided Resources for Businesses and Employees Affected by the Economic Impacts of COVID-19.

Fresno County issued Guidance for Responding to COVID-19 Cases in Schools.

Marin County issued a 1/7/21 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating the expectation that the Regional Stay-at-Home Order will be extended past the three-week minimum.

Mono County issued a 12/29/20 Press Release re: Extension of Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating that the Regional Stay-at-Home Order has been indefinitely extended. The County issued an updated order related to lodging.

Nevada County issued a 12/31/20 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating that the County remains under the Regional Stay-at-Home Order.

Placer County issued a 1/1/21 Update re: the County.

Sacramento County issued a 12/31/20 Update re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating that the Regional Stay-at-Home Order will likely be extended.

San Francisco issued a 12/31/20 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order and Travel Advisory indicating that both will likely be extended.

San Mateo County issued a 1/7/21 Press Release re: Regional Stay-at-Home Order indicating that the County will likely remain under the Regional Stay-at-Home Order.

Santa Clara County issued a 1/8/21 Press Release urging County healthcare workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

Santa Cruz issued Amended Quarantine Order and an Amended Isolation Order. The County also issued an Order Suspending Elective Surgeries and Elective Procedures.

Shasta County issued a 12/31/20 Press Release re Vaccinations.

Tehama County issued a 1/5/21 Press Release regarding vaccination distribution.

Tulare County issued a 1/7/21 Press Release regarding vaccination distribution.

Yolo County published the 1/2/21 CDPH Press Release indicating that the Sacramento Region will remain under the Regional Stay-at-Home Order.

SoCal Counties. Los Angeles County revised its Order; outdoor restaurant seating is closed to public, and updated issues with faith-based worship that conflicted with recent case law. (Buffit v. Newsom – BCV 20-102267 (Kern county); Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn .v Cuomo No. 20A87, 2020 WL 6948354; Robinson v. Murphy 592 US ____.) Further, it updated its Order that persons who travel from outside the Southern California region for non-essential travel must self-quarantine for 10 days. If they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, they must follow the Isolation Health Order. Substantially revised social distancing protocols for buildings and grounds.

The City of Los Angeles revised its Safer at Home Order to align with the Los Angeles County travel restrictions.

Orange County revised its Health Order to align with Regional Stay-at-Home Orders.

San Bernardino County developed a quarantine and isolation calculator to determine how long people should self-isolate after testing positive for COVID, being sick with COVID, or being exposed to someone with COVID.

City of San Diego issued an Executive Order, that all residents comply with the State and County Health Orders or be in violation of Municipal Code. Further, parking enforcement has been reduced to holiday or Sunday enforcement regulations and no longer will enforce parking meters, yellow commercial zones, and short-term green zones. Red, blue and other enforcement areas will continue in order to maintain public safety.

SantaCovidBarbara revised its Health Order that continues to January 21, 2021 that aligns with the 12/22/20 supplemented State Regional Stay-at-Home Order, which adds the revision that that non-essential businesses must cease operations between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am. Face covering order is extended to January 22.

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 1-8-21. The chart is also posted on our website.

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. It's okay, we're friendly. Keep in mind we are corporate counsel to California associations only. <"/rfp-mailer" target="_blank">Ask us for a proposal to represent your association.

I join Adrian in inviting you to contact us for your association's legal needs.

Hon. Lawrence W. Stirling, Senior Partner ADAMS|STIRLING
Author of the Davis-Stirling Act

Contact us to amend your governing documents to comply with rent restrictions required by AB 3182.

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