QUESTION: Our board and management refuse to post the agenda for board meetings on our website. They say they are abiding by the Civil Code because they post the agenda by the mailboxes, which is a long walk from my unit. -Tonya W.
ANSWER: The board is correct, it can give notice of the time and place of its meetings by "general delivery." (Civ. Code § 4920(c).) General delivery or general notice is defined to include posting in a prominent location accessible to all members. (Civ. Code § 4045(a)(3).)
Website Notice Allowed. However, the Legislature recognized that we are in an age of electronic communications and amended the Davis-Stirling Act to allow, effective January 1, 2022, meeting notices and agendas to also be posted on an association's website, if so designated in an association's annual policy statement. (Civ. Code § 4045(a)(5).)
Electronic Notice. Even though your association is refusing to electronically post notices & agendas, it does not mean you have to walk to the mailbox kiosk to check for them. You can notify management in writing to give you meeting notices/agendas directly. (Civ. Code § 4045(b).) An email qualifies as written notice. (Civ. Code § 1633.7.) You can require notices and agendas be sent to you by first-class mail or by email. (Civ. Code § 4040(a).) Associations are required to alert members to this option in their annual policy statement. (Civ. Code § 5310(a)(4).)
Preferred Method. At the same time, owners are required to annually provide written notice to the association of their preferred delivery method (mail or email) and a secondary delivery method (mail or email). (Civ. Code § 4041(a).) This is administratively burdensome for everyone. The Legislature has a habit of complicating everything it touches. I suspect this requirement will rarely, if ever, by complied with by owners. It means the association will chose the default method for delivery unless notified otherwise.
RECOMMENDATION: Since communications in the rest of the world are increasingly electronic, boards should supplement paper meeting notices in public locations with email and website notices. Because these forms of notice are more convenient for recipients, they are more likely to be read.
FOR DISCUSSION ONLY
QUESTION: Can a board meeting agenda include a topic for discussion only? Since board members have no other means to meet and discuss, this would seem the only venue for discussion. –Patricia K.
ANSWER: It is true that properly noticed board meetings are the only place where directors can discuss items of business. Prior to videoconferencing, it was often difficult for directors to physically get together to discuss issues that invariably crop up between meetings and directors resorted to emails, which are disallowed under the Open Meeting Act. (Civ. Code § 4910.)
Meeting Times. Zoom meetings allow directors to meet more often even though directors might be in different locations due to work, family obligations, and vacations. Once proper notice is given to the membership, meetings can be held at any time, day or night as determined by the board. Because these are the board's meetings, directors can set meeting dates and times convenient to their schedules so business can be conducted in a timely manner.
Agenda Descriptions. Listing a topic on the agenda "for discussion" is probably not the best practice. If you discuss the matter and decide action should be taken, some homeowners may object that you listed the item on the agenda for discussion only and, therefore, no action can be taken. I disagree, I believe action can still be taken by the board. However, it is better not to put yourself in that box.
RECOMMENDATION: Instead of listing agenda items "for discussion," you can list them similar to the following:
1. Balcony repairs
The above descriptions alert members to items of business that will come before the board. At the same time, they allow the board to discuss each item and either take action or table it for further investigation and discussion. The descriptions don't tie the board's hands to discussions only.
2. New security gates
3. Tree trimming
4. 2023 Budget
INDUCTED INTO CCAL
We are pleased to announce that our partner Melissa Ward has been admitted as a "Fellow" in the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL).
More than 4,000 lawyers practice community association law in the United States, yet fewer than 175 nationwide can distinguish themselves as "CCAL Fellows."
Melissa earned this national recognition due to her high professional standards and leadership in the advancement of community associations as evidenced by her outstanding teaching, writing, and legal representation of associations. Join us in congratulating Melissa Ward.
Every two years, the Foundation for Community Association Research performs national surveys to gauge how satisfied homeowners are with their associations.
The Foundation retained Zogby Analytics for its 2022 survey. Zogby is known internationally for its market research polling and analysis.
Research Findings. The Foundation's April 2022 survey affirms the findings of previous surveys. It found that, by large majorities, most members are satisfied with their community association. Following is summary of a few of the findings:
87% think the members of their board directors, absolutely or for the most part, strive to serve the best interests of the community
Interactive Graphs. This year, the Foundation made its findings available online with graphs and charts displaying results for regions of the country for overall satisfaction, interaction with the manger and board of directors, association living, the impact of community rules, assessments, meetings, reserve funding, and more.
87% said they are on friendly terms with the board
74% said the manager provides value and support to residents
86% said the experience with their manager is generally positive
Other Research Projects. The Foundation's Board of Directors is made up of industry professionals who oversee and publish research projects on salary surveys, aging infrastructures and reserves, technology and data security, creating harmony in diverse communities, etc. You can find these reports on the Foundation's website.
Karen St. Onge is a great addition to the firm and so good to get the newsletter back. HOAs are micro-governments and need good counsel as contextual conditions get more complex and governing laws and rules get more bizarre. Your newsletter is vital and important for HOAs everywhere, not just CA. -Leland
Love your newsletter, just wish our board would read it. -Tonya W.
Dear Karen St. Onge, Welcome to A|S, a fine firm with a fine website. -Jay S.
Many thanks to Karen St. Onge for her continued assistance with the newsletter -Adrian
|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.
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