Adams Stirling PLC
  California's Leader in Community Association Law January 26, 2022

QUESTION: The board at one of my communities knows they need balcony work done; however, one of the members is concerned that SB 326 is dictating that once the inspection report is submitted to the city they will need to address failing components immediately, producing a financial strain on the association. Does SB 326 require boards to fix components immediately or simply provide members with a plan? –Chris C.

ANSWER: The timeline for making repairs depends on the seriousness of the damage. The financial strain for repairs will not compare to the strain if a balcony were to collapse and injure (or kill) someone. Safety always comes first.

Inspector's Report. Once signed into law, SB 326 became Civil Code §5551. The statute requires inspectors to issue a written report identifying (1) load-bearing components and associated waterproofing systems; (2) their current physical condition and whether they present an immediate threat to the safety of residents; (3) their expected remaining useful life; and (4) recommendations for repairs. If structural damage poses an immediate threat to the safety of others, the association is required to prevent access to the affected balcony/walkway/stairwell until repairs have been made.

Real World Example. This occurred with one of my associations. After a balcony partially collapsed under the weight of an owner, the board had yellow tape placed outside the sliding glass doors of every balcony in the development with warnings that residents not use their balconies. The problem was traced to ceramic tile installed by the developer on all the balcony floors. It made for beautiful flooring, but over the years water seeped through the grout into structural elements, causing dry rot, which weakened the balconies. The damage was hidden until one of the residents stepped onto her balcony and went through the floor. Subsequent inspections revealed that all balconies suffered dry rot.

Cost to Repair. Even though there was an immediate threat to safety, repairs were delayed until specifications could be prepared and contractors submitted bids. The projected cost came in at over $1 million. The association did not have money in their reserves for balconies and the board was forced to levy an emergency special assessment. Owners were not happy with the assessment and resisted payment. Repairs were further delayed when one owner filed a lawsuit to stop the assessment. I defended the association and presented the urgent safety issues to the court and prevailed. Once litigation concluded and assessments collected, repairs commenced. I suspect many associations will face similar situations when they inspect their balconies.

WEBINAR. I will take a deeper dive into statutory deadlines for balcony inspections and repairs in a program put on by CAI's California North Chapter, entitled External Elevated Elements and Reserves, a Deeper Look at SB326. I will be joined by Bob Browning of the Browning Reserve Group, and Joe Barretta, of River City Restoration, to discuss what boards need to do to comply with the law.
Webinar:        EEEs and Reserves, a Deeper Look at SB 326
Date:             February 17, 2022
Time:            11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Attendance:   Open to Everyone
RSVP:           Click here to register

QUESTION: I am concerned about neighbors constantly sharing that they have/haven't gotten the shot. WORSE, they gossip about who has not gotten the shot. This all leads to a frightening divide, neighbors against neighbors based on gossip. What is the best way to handle this? –Anonymous

ANSWER: The only way to stop gossip is to use "Gossip Collars." They are similar to bark collars for dogs. They inflict a shock to the neck every time an offender starts gossiping. The collars don't cost very much and are quite effective. Boards should always hold a hearing with the offender first before issuing a collar.

Members are often confused about the differences between directors and officers. What are their roles? How are they elected?

Next in our series of 2-Minute Videos, we describe the differences in qualifications, selection and removal of officers versus directors. Our video provides an overview so viewers can understand the differences and why they are important.

  Watch: Directors and Officers


Never-Ending Emergency. Good work, Adrian! I laughed out loud with the reference to 2035. Fortunately, I won't be around to have to endure that many years. I will start a "smile journal" today where I am supposed to record a brief entry of what made me smile that day. –Marilyn B.

Virtual Meetings. It was my reading of the law that virtual meetings can only be held when a "state of emergency has been declared." It is entirely possible that the Governor will not lift the emergency order until 2035, as the article jokes. But, the description of a permitted meeting held after order is lifted sounded very much like the original already stated in the law with a few more restrictions added. –-Mary Jo D.

RESPONSE: Virtual meetings can be held before, during and after declared states of emergency. During emergencies, a physical location is not required. Once the emergency is over, notice of meetings must identify a physical location where members can attend with at least one person designated by the board present at that location.

Zoom Meetings. Zoom meetings are a boon for board meetings! –-Renee B.

RESPONSE: I agree. Many associations will continue using them once politicians loosen their grip on the public.

No Instructions. When the pandemic is over (2035) why is it okay to discontinue providing the instructions for logging into Zoom meetings? –-Karen R.

RESPONSE: The statute does not require it — an obvious oversight by the Legislature. Even so, I recommend always providing instructions for logging into virtual meetings.

Boards can contact us for friendly,
professional advice.

Adrian J. Adams, Esq.
Founder & Managing Partner
DISCLAIMER. Our newsletter provides commentary, not legal advice. Boards need to retain an attorney to review all the facts and give a legal opinion on the issues they face. We serve as corporate counsel to California associations only. Request a proposal to represent your association.

PAST NEWSLETTERS. Readers can find current 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.

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

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

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