Backyard Sign Abuts Neighbor
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  California's Leader in Community Association Law April 18, 2021
BACKYARD SIGN
"ABUTS" NEIGHBOR

QUESTION: Should this sign be allowed in the backyard of an owners’ home? It can be seen from the neighbor’s backyard. The owners are in a feud which began with a noisy hot tub, which resulted in retaliation with a noisy air compressor. Any advice is welcomed. -Anon

ANSWER: If the board gets involved, there might be no "end" to the dispute. "But" the board could have a role to play.

Harassment Defined. California defines harassment as a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress. (Code Civ. Proc. §527.6(b)(3).) The sign is annoying, but I doubt it would cause substantial emotional distress. If the neighbor feels harassed, he has recourse through the courts.

No Protected Category. If the dispute involved harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability, the board is obligated to investigate and take appropriate action. Since the dispute is over noise unrelated to a protected category, there is no statutory requirement for board involvement.

Nuisance. The sign could be deemed a nuisance under the CC&Rs and ordered by the board to remove it. However, the owner could argue he is exercising his free speech rights and refuse. The board would then need to schedule a hearing and impose fines. If the owner continued to refuse, the association would need to file a lawsuit with no guarantee of the outcome. 


Escalation. The best argument for board involvement is to avoid escalation of the dispute. If the feud is not ended, the neighbors could soon be flipping off each other, installing bright security lights and cameras aimed at each other, posting ugly comments on social media, and possible physical altercations. It then becomes a bigger problem for the association.

RECOMMENDATION. I recommend a board member informally meet with the two, either separately or together, in an attempt to de-escalate things. As someone once said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." My second recommendation is to adopt an Anti-Harassment Policy.
 
MUTING DIRECTORS IN
ZOOM MEETINGS

QUESTION: Is it legal for the board to adopt a rule where a director's mic would be muted in Zoom meetings if he speaks out of order, has outbursts or interrupts other directors? This was proposed. One board member asked if it was legal. -Anon

ANSWER: Yes, it's legal. There is no inherent right of a director to disrupt meetings, filibuster motions (a prolonged speech that obstructs progress), bully other directors, or engage in personal attacks.

Unproductive Meetings. A disruptive director (and disruptive owners) can make it almost impossible for boards to conduct business. They can turn 1-hour board meetings into unproductive 4-hour meetings. It wears out directors and discourages others from serving on the board.

Adopt Procedures. Boards can adopt procedures for the orderly conduct of their meetings. Robert’s Rules of Order and other forms of parliamentary procedure were created for this very purpose. Muting a disruptive director until the President recognizes the person is reasonable. Fortunately, Zoom makes that easy to do.

RECOMMENDATION: A simple motion is all that's needed for the board to adopt procedures for the orderly conduct of business. It does not need to go to the membership for a 28-day review, since it's an internal procedure issue, rather than a rule applied to the membership as a whole with penalties attached.

 
ELECT SCOFFLAWS
TO THE BOARD?

QUESTION: Can we prevent homeowners who habitually break the rules from being on the board? –Jeffrey W.

ANSWER: Unfortunately, no. Prior to Marjorie Murray's tinkering with elections, the membership could adopt qualifications that required candidates be in good standing, i.e., not delinquent in assessments or unpaid fines and not in violation of the association's governing documents. In addition, to avoid conflicts of interest, associations could temporarily sideline those in litigation with the HOA until the lawsuit was over. Not any more. For more information, see Candidate Qualifications.

 
WHAT ARE
GOVERNING DOCUMENTS?

Next in our series of 2-Minute Videos, we describe the differences in an association's various governing documents.

What are CC&Rs, Bylaws, Rules and Condominium Plans? What is their purpose?

  Watch: Governing Documents--What Are They?

 

Spineless. “There is a large category of spineless ones — I've met a few of them. There are also some without higher brain functions. I've met some of those too. They are generally harmless, until we elect them to office.” I nearly fell on the floor laughing at this one. -Leland B.

Humor. I just love your sense of humor. LOL –Kathy B.

No Mask. No mask??? Which tier is the law firm in?? -Anon

RESPONSE: Herd immunity is right around the corner. Since I've had my two Pfizer shots, I'm part of the herd! I opened the front door of my house for the first time in over a year and peeked outside. I actually saw sunlight. I immediately went online and ordered lots of sunscreen.

Love It. Hi, love the newsletter and read it every time! -Adam D.

 
 
Federal Update. The CDC and FDA issued a statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine.

Statewide Update. CDPH issued 4/15/21 Press Release regarding updated guidance for gatherings.

The CDPH issued a 4/15/21 Press Release re: Those 16+ Eligible For Vaccination.

The following County changed Tiers: Inyo (Purple Tier to Red); Kern (Red Tier to Orange); Lake (Red Tier to Orange); Lassen (Orange Tier to Yellow); Merced (Purple Tier to Red).  


Northern California. Alameda County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: County Pausing J&J Vaccine.

Butte County issued a 4/12/21 Press Release re: Vaccine Clinics Closing. The County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: County Pausing J&J Vaccine.

Calaveras County issued a 4/14/21 Press Release re: Vaccine Available to Those 16+ and Pausing J&J Vaccine.

Contra Costa County issued a 4/10/21 Press Release re: Those 16+ Eligible For Vaccine. The County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pausing J&J Vaccine. The County issued a 4/15/21 Press Release re: Walk In Vaccine Clinics Available.

El Dorado County issued a 4/12/21 Updated Blueprint Openings.

Lake County moved to the Orange Tier and issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Move to Orange Tier.

Marin County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pausing J&J Vaccine. The County issued a 4/15/21 Press Release re: Changes in Gathering Guidance.

Mono County issued a new Health Order rescinding certain previous Health Orders.

Monterey County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pause in J&J Vaccine.

Nevada County issued a 4/12/21 Press Release re: COVID-19 Variant.

Sacramento County issued a new Health Order. The County issued a 4/9/21 Press Release re: Public Meeting Guidance.

San Francisco County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Those 16+ Eligible Vaccination. The County issued a 4/14/21 Press Release re: Expansion of Businesses and Activities April 15. The County issued a 4/16/21 Press Release re: Expansion of Vaccine Sites.

San Mateo County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pause in J&J Vaccine. The County issued a 4/15/21 Press Release re: Those 16+ Eligible for Vaccine and Supply Limited.

Santa Clara County issued a 4/10/21 Press Release re: Encouraging Testing as Testing Rates Drop. The County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Vaccine Expansion to Those 16+.

Solano County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Revised Blueprint. The County issued 4/14/21 Press Release re: Expansion of Vaccine Eligibility to Those 16+. The County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pausing J&J Vaccine.
 
Sonoma County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: Pausing J&J Vaccine

Tehama County issued a 4/13/21 Press Release re: J&J Vaccine.


Southern California. Imperial County Press Release regarding vaccine is available for residents 16 and older. Further, the press release announced changes to Health Order, for outdoor singing, chanting, shouting and playing wind instruments is required to be 20 feet from the audience. Playing of wind instruments is prohibited indoors in public and private venues; however, singing and chanting is allowed indoors, provided the performers wear a face covering and maintain six feet of social distancing.

Los Angeles County revised Health Order that includes a new appendix for guidance for informal social gatherings that is currently being written by the County of Los Angeles and will replace the guidance for private gatherings. The revised Health Order also adds guidelines for private events (meetings, receptions, and conferences). Press Release regarding Pfizer vaccine is available for anyone living or working in the County of Los Angeles who are 16 and older.

Orange County announced that as of April 15, 2021, vaccination appointments are open for everyone 16 and older who lives or works in Orange County. Parental consent is required and people under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to receive the vaccine. Immigration status is not checked at any time during the appointment and vaccination process.

Riverside County Press Release regarding County is following federal guidance and places a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

San Diego County Press Release that everyone 16 and older is eligible for the vaccine. Further new guidance on gatherings, private and indoor live events. Outdoor activities allow up to 50 people. Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged but allow up to 25 people with modifications. Press Release regarding County is following federal guidance and places a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

San Luis Obispo County Press Release anyone who lives in SLO County aged 16 and is eligible to sign up for the County’s COVID-19 vaccine registry. Press Release regarding County is following federal guidance and places a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

San Bernardino County Press Release regarding County is following state and federal guidance and places a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Press Release regarding residents can apply for emergency rent and utility relief based on funding from federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Residents can apply here.

Santa Barbara County issued an updated Health Order:

 
  1. Gatherings outdoors are restricted to 25 people;
  2. Indoor gatherings are strongly discouraged and limited to maximum of 25% capacity where capacity limits exist, and up to 3 households or 10 people;
Press Release regarding the County is moving closer to Orange Tier and may take effect as early as April 21, 2021.

Ventura County Press Release regarding County is following federal guidance and places a pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

 
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 4-16-21. The chart is also posted on our website.

 
Boards can contact us for friendly,
professional advice.


Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner
ADAMS|STIRLING PLC
DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary based on sketchy information 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. Keep in mind we are corporate counsel to California associations only. Request a proposal to represent your association. It's okay, we're friendly.

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Hon. Lawrence W. Stirling, Senior Partner and author of the Davis-Stirling Act
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