Monthly Archives: June 2013

Three things every community association board of directors should never underestimate.


To underestimate something is to judge it to be smaller or less important than it actually is.

Far too many volunteer boards get into hot water when they underestimate the following in their communities:
  1. The complexity of a particular matter especially if it involves legal rights. The scariest thing for most association attorneys is to hear that a board has not contemplated the legal pitfalls associated with a number of different board actions. This is scarier still when decisive board action has already been taken and then the board tells the attorney what has been done. This can involve signing expensive contracts which were not reviewed; denying potential tenants and purchasers for reasons that could be interpreted as discriminatory; enforcing covenants and rules without the necessary authority and any number of other decisions that might just wind up in a lawsuit. Directors do not have to become their own professional advisers but they do need to know when to contact their professional advisers on a matter that requires their assistance and then, naturally, to follow that advice. 
  2. The costs involved in a repair or maintenance project.  No one likes costly surprises and the words "special assessment" are considered particularly evil in most communities. Directors should not underestimate the costs involved in properly fulfilling their fiduciary duties to the community. No good can come from not budgeting properly for costs involved with maintaining, repairing, replacing, improving and insuring the common areas. It is best for boards to rely on proper reserve studies and conservative quotes. Moreover, contracts should be properly negotiated to ensure that the association is not saddled with cost overruns when field conditions change or are different than the contractor anticipated. 
  3. The members' feelings.  It is important for boards to be able to read the proverbial tea leaves. If there are fights at every meeting, posters in the elevator decrying the current "administration" and the general morale reflects a community under siege, then the board should either resolve itself to make some changes or face the consequences.  Those consequences can include one or more directors being recalled or, in a more serious turn of events, a lawsuit being filed against the board for breach of fiduciary duty.  The best boards do not try to simply be popular while abdicating their responsibility to make tough decisions that are in the overall membership's best interests. However, the best boards also do not underestimate community sentiment and they regularly take the community's pulse to ensure they are on track. 
Far too many boards have found out the hard way that they underestimated a dangerous situation. Hopefully, every board has at least one member who plays the role of "Inspector" and points out the possible flaws in the argument that every contemplated board action is "no big deal".


Sharing HOA Documents

QUESTION: An owner requested over 4,000 documents which we provided. Does she have the right to share those records with others??

ANSWER: It depends on who the “others” are and for what purpose. Since all members have the right to inspect records, there is nothing improper about members sharing records with other members.

Improper Purpose. Where your homeowner can get herself into trouble is if she uses those records for an improper purpose such as (i) using them for personal gain, (ii) altering the records to defame others, (iii) selling them, or (iv) using them for any other purpose not reasonably related to her interest as a member.

Damages. If an owner uses records for an improper purpose, the association can take legal action against him and is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs if it prevails. (Civ. Code §1365.2(e)(3))

 

FINES &
COLLECTION AGENCIES


QUESTION: Can an association turn a fine over to a collection agency if an owner refuses to pay?

ANSWER: Only if the fine is first converted into a judgment. Since collection agencies cannot practice law, they cannot go into court to make an association’s monetary penalties collectible. The association needs to first sue the owner in small claims court (up to $5,000) or superior court (over $5,000). If the court determines the fines are reasonable, the association will receive a money judgment that can then be turned over to a collection agency. Most collection agencies work on a contingency fee basis and charge between 25% and 40% on any sums recovered.

EV CHARGING STATION


QUESTION
: I am a townhome owner and would like to install an EV charging station in my private garage. Do I still need HOA approval?

ANSWER: All of the owner requirements in the Davis-Stirling Act apply to installation of charging stations in common areas or exclusive use common areas. If your garage is solely owned by you as your separate property then the association arguably has no interest in the installation of a charging station in your garage.

Licensed and Insured. However, the association has an interest since your townhouse is connected to other townhouses and an improper installation could result in a fire. So as to protect your neighbors, the association has a legitimate interest in ensuring that you hire a licensed and insured contractor who installs the charging station pursuant to building codes.

FEEDBACK

Yippy Dogs. A magic solution to “yippy Dogs” is Silencer Pro. It’s amazing. It runs on a battery or electricity and costs about $90.00. It emits a sound that calms the dog and it doesn’t bark. Absolutely heavenly! It works from your house across to the neighbor’s dog too (within range) Amazing. -Mary J.

Insurance #1. What associations do not realize is that carrying minimum limits of insurance does not immunize them from judgments in excess of policy limits. Assume an owner pulls out of the parking garage and his view is blocked by the association’s hedge that exceeds the city ordinance by a foot. Assume he hits a neurosurgeon riding his bike and turns him into a quadriplegic. The likely judgment against the association would far exceed statutory policy limits and a large special assessment would follow. As you indicated in your newsletter, the cost of insurance is quite reasonable. A $15 million policy for a 20-unit condo would cost $1,500 to $2,000, which is less than what owners pay for auto insurance. -Joel Meskin of McGowan Program Administrators

Insurance #2. What about California Earthquake Authority insurance? If every homeowner carried $50,000 in loss assessment insurance, a small HOA of 20 units could cover $1,000,000 in damage without carrying earthquake insurance, thus keeping the HOA fees down. -Mike G.

RESPONSE: While California Earthquake Authority Insurance is important for all owners to carry, there are risks if the association does not itself carry earthquake insurance and instead relies entirely on the CEA’s loss assessment coverage.

1. CEA loss assessment will only pay for residential structure damage. There is no coverage for pools, clubhouses, detached garages, patio coverings, walkways, driveways, fences, etc.

2. It will not pay for bringing residential structures up to building code standards.

3. It will not pay for special assessments to cover bad debt (caused by members who walk away from their units).

4. Relying on owners to carry loss assessment coverage is risky. Many or most owners will not carry it, thereby providing limited resources for rebuilding after an earthquake.

5. The maximum coverage for CEA Loss Assessment is $75,000 and the deductible is 15% of the coverage amount.

Because of these limitations, boards would be ill-advised to forgo earthquake insurance and rely solely on owners purchasing earthquake loss assessment coverage.

Thank you to Patrick Prendiville of the Prendiville Insurance Agency;  Mike Rey of Rey Insurance Services; and Tim Cline of the Timothy Cline Insurance Agency, Inc. for their assistance.

55+ Community. Although I am a manager in Minnesota, I enjoy reading the Davis-Stirling Newsletter and it is at the top of my reading list each week. Many of the issues are the same and I feel thankful that I work here in MN every time I read of the latest legislative lunacy being proposed in California. However, I believe that your article from today may have contained a factual error. My understanding of HOPA is that at least 80% of the units must be occupied by at least one person 55 or older, not that 80% of all the residents must be 55 or older. There could be quite a difference between the two standards in terms of what % of the residents are 55 or older. -David S.

RESPONSE. Your understanding is correct. the Fair Housing Act requires that at least one occupant in 80% of the units be 55 or older. Other occupants of those units can be under 55. In addition, the association must publish and enforce policies and procedures to ensure the association meets those requirements.

NO NEWSLETTER. Sorry, no newsletter next week. Nathalie Ross, my Director of Client Relations said I could take the day off so I jumped at it! I will be celebrating the birth of our country and all those God-given rights we too often take for granted.


Adrian Adams, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC


Legal solutions through knowledge, insight and experience.” We are friendly lawyers. When your association needs counsel, call us at (800) 464-2817 or email us at info@adamskessler.com.

Should Landlords Use Social Media to Screen Potential Tenants?

social mediaBy Tracey March

Landlords and property managers are using social media for many reasons, including resident retention. You might stay in touch and communicate with tenants using your Twitter and Facebook business accounts, posting useful information about upcoming maintenance and repairs, links to useful websites, and reminders.

But have you considered using a social media review as part of your tenant screening process? Social media can provide all sorts of useful information about potential tenants, and can be particularly useful for confirming information on their rental applications. However, you do need to use it appropriately. Here are some important points to remember:

  • Potential tenants may accuse you of violating their privacy if they find out you did a little social media research. However, if their accounts are public, you are allowed to look at them. Just make sure that if you do a social media review for one tenant, you do it for all.
  • Sometimes what you read on the Internet isn’t true–shocking, we know. Remember that some people have a “social media persona” (remember Manti Te’o's fake girlfriend?) which does not reflect accurately how they would be as tenants.
  • You could be exposing yourself to fair housing complaints if your research reveals your potential tenants or their family and associates are members of a protected class and you don’t offer them the rental unit. However, if your reasons for selecting different tenants are fair, nondiscriminatory, and well-documented, and you applied your screening requirements uniformly, you should be protected. Some experts suggest hiring a third party for social media research to filter out the information you shouldn’t be considering. Remember that in your state there might be additional protected classes to consider.
  • Once you learn something about a potential renter, you can’t unlearn or unsee it. You may disagree with a person’s political beliefs or life choices that have nothing to do with whether or not they will be a good renter, so think about whether you’ll be affected by that information.

Have you used social media to pre-screen potential tenants? Do you have any advice or words of warning?

As always, the information provided here is just that–it is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you have any particular questions or issues, please consult an attorney.

Annual Check-up for Community Associations


We are often told that, at a minimum, an annual physical is needed to ensure that we are in optimum health. The same school of thought holds true for a community association. Let things go untended for too long and you wind up with a community that is seriously out of whack.

What should your board do at least once a year to ensure your community stays on track?

The following should be reviewed at least annually:
  • Review the annual corporate report to be sure that the information on current board members and your association's registered agent is correct and that you have paid your annual corporate fee.
  • If your community is classified as "Housing for Older Persons" be sure to to confirm that recent sales and leases in the last 12 months still put you at a minimum of 80% occupancy by someone age 55 or older.
  • Review all vendor contracts and discuss work quality, expiration dates, and any automatic renewal clauses that need to be considered if a termination of those contracts is desired.
  • Review all residential leases in the community to determine their renewal dates and put any owners with nuisance tenants on notice that their leases will not be approved for renewal.
  • Review any safety and security issues that may have cropped up throughout the year which would require your board to take steps to improve security measures in order to protect your residents/guests and to insulate the community from liability.
  • Review your community's disaster preparation and recovery plan and confirm that everyone on the board understands his or her individual role in carrying out that plan and make any necessary updates to the plan.
  • If your board governs a condominium association, the statutorily-required Frequently Asked Question and Answer sheet needs to be reviewed at least annually to ensure its continued accuracy.
  • If your community prepares and distributes a Social Directory containing contact information for your members, you will need to review that information to remove the listing for any members who have elected to opt out of being included in that directory.
  • If your community issues vehicle ID stickers, guard gate remote control devices or pass-codes, key fobs and other access/entry devices, you will need to disable devices for occupants who no longer reside in the community to ensure your continued safety.
  • If you maintain emergency contact information for your residents (particularly elderly or infirm residents) you should look to update that information at least annually and well before you may need it.
  • If you have approved pets, service or emotional support animals, you should review those cases annually to confirm that the original pets/animals which were approved are still the ones in residence.
  • An annual rules audit is always a good idea to ensure that rules are being routinely and uniformly enforced in order to avoid enforcement challenges in the future.
  • Any payment plans for delinquent owners should be monitored at least annually to ensure that those owners are still in compliance.
  • Any settlement agreements entered into by the association should be similarly monitored to ensure compliance continues.
  • All common and limited common areas as well as association-owned property should be inspected at least annually to determine that preventative maintenance is being performed and to determine estimated remaining useful life of various community components.
The idiom, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin and it certainly sounds like something he would say. Boards would be well advised to heed this advice and take the community's pulse on an annual basis at the very minimum.


Insurance Requirements

QUESTION: To save money, can we purchase liability coverage of $1 million per occurrence with an aggregate limit of $1 million plus an umbrella policy of $1 million? An insurance agent who wants our business said this would satisfy the Davis-Stirling Act and protect owners from litigation. Our board is not convinced and would like your guidance.

ANSWER: First, a little background. Minimum insurance requirements were added to the Davis-Stirling Act after the Ruoff v. Harbor Creek decision in 1992. Ms. Ruoff, a guest of a member, suffered catastrophic injuries falling down defective common area stairs. Her husband sued the association and every owner in the association, each of whom, he argued, had common liability because they jointly owned the stairs.

The court of appeals agreed and held that every owner in the complex was jointly and severally liable for her injuries, the cost of which greatly exceeded the $1 million limit in the association’s insurance policy. The case sent a chill through the industry and the Legislature responded by adding Civil Code §1365.9. The statute protects owners from individual liability, provided the association maintains at least minimum levels of insurance as follows:

• $2 million for HOAs with 100 or fewer units, and
• $3 million for HOAs with more than 100 units.

Umbrella. To answer your question, assuming your association has fewer than 100 units and assuming the $1 million umbrella is written to act as excess to the underlying $1 million general liability per occurrence, the combination of the two policies would provide the required $2 million for a single tort action brought against the association.

RECOMMENDATION: Meeting minimum levels of insurance may, however, not be enough. Even though owners are not directly liable for a loss exceeding insurance limits, they are indirectly. Assuming a $4 million judgment against an association, owners would be hit with a special assessment to make up the difference between the $2 million policy and the $4 million judgment.

Accordingly, boards need to talk to their insurance brokers to determine appropriate levels of insurance for their associations. A $5, $10 or $15 million umbrella policy is relatively inexpensive and not uncommon for associations to purchase. In addition, homeowners should individually purchase loss assessment coverage in the event a loss exceeds the association’s policy limits.

For their assistance with this question, thank you to Tim Cline of the Timothy Cline Insurance Agency, Inc.; Patrick Prendiville of the Prendiville Insurance Agency; and Mike Rey of Rey Insurance Services.

FORECLOSED UNITS DO NOT
BECOME COMMON AREA


QUESTION: Our HOA foreclosed on a unit last year. The new board decided to sell it without notifying or consulting the membership. Doesn’t the board need permission from the membership to sell common property?

ANSWER: A unit or lot acquired through foreclosure does not become common area. The property is identified in the governing documents as a separate interest not common area. As a result, members do not have the right to enter and use the property as they would common areas. Instead, the property is under the control of the association through its board of directors, who can either rent or sell it without first obtaining membership approval.

Possible Restriction. There might, however, be language in the governing documents restricting the sale of association property over a certain value without membership approval. Depending on the wording of the restriction, it could affect the board’s ability to sell it.

CAN CHILDREN LIVE IN
55+ COMMUNITIES?

QUESTION: Can our 55+ community force an underage resident out if it would result in the person being homeless?

ANSWER: Possibly. As described in last week’s newsletter, senior communities are exempt from age discrimination laws. Moreover, both state and federal laws establish that in order to meet the criteria for maintaining an age restriction, at least one occupant in 80% of the units must be 55 or older.

If the underage person would cause the development to lose its status as a 55+ community they might still qualify under Civil Code §51.3(b)(3) which defines a “qualified permanent resident” to include disabled persons who are the children or grandchildren of a qualifying resident in an age restricted community. In these limited circumstances, a disabled child can live in the community and not count toward the 20%.


Jasmine Fisher, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC

RECOMMENDATION: The 80-20 rule does not give communities license to throw open the gates and let underage residents into the development until they hit 20%. To keep their status as 55+ communities, boards must monitor and enforce age restrictions.

Because the right of an underage person to reside in a community depends on the circumstances surrounding the person as well as facts related to the particular community, boards should seek legal counsel before taking action against underage residents.

FEEDBACK

Yippy Dogs. [Re: Senior communities restricting children.] It’s too bad there aren’t similar rules for those awful nuisances wrapped up in a ‘yippy’ dog! I bet there are more noise problems with those nuisances. In my 61 years and having lived in ~20+ places–-those uncontrolled, barking at the moon, yippy dogs have been by FAR the biggest nuisances that cause me NOT to be able to enjoy my abode. -Rose C.


Adrian Adams, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC


Legal solutions through knowledge, insight and experience.” We are friendly lawyers. When your association needs counsel, call us at (800) 464-2817 or email us at info@adamskessler.com.

Being Green Might Be Less Expensive Than You Think

By Amanda Mathieu

iStock_000009402273Small

Property managers and owners know that the more energy efficient the building, the lower the utility costs and the greater the income. Further, energy efficient properties are good for the environment. But taking advantage of long-term gains takes near-term money. Given the high costs, few banks are willing to provide loans specifically for energy renovations.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is a private and public sector method for raising capital that can be loaned to property owners to cover the cost of projects like solar panel installation, insulation retrofitting, heating systems upgrades or other investments that will make a building more efficient.

For a PACE program to be implemented, a state must pass special legislation under which its local governments, such as cities and counties, can launch or join a PACE district. Each district is then able to create district-specific guidelines regarding what property improvements they’ll finance. PACE financing can take two forms: municipal bonds or private loans.

After securing PACE financing, a building owner accepts a tax assessment on the property for up to twenty years and uses this special assessment to repay the loan. As of February 2013, sixteen Commercial PACE programs in seven states had been established. Additional states are contemplating PACE legislation as well.

Restricting Children in Senior Communities

QUESTION: I live in a retirement community in Palm Springs. My grandkids visit during the summer and want to use the swimming pool but the association limits the hours for children. Isn’t that discriminatory? I didn’t think associations could restrict children from using pools.

ANSWER: Because you live in a senior community (I’m assuming 55+), your association can impose restrictions on children that other associations cannot.

Federal Statutes. Under the Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), senior communities are exempt from the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against discrimination against children, i.e., discrimination on the basis of familial status. As such, 55+ communities can limit or even prohibit children from using recreational common facilities. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

If a housing community facility qualifies under HOPA as housing for older persons, the community facility is exempt from the Act’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of familial status. The housing community facility may restrict families with children from benefits of the community, or otherwise treat family households differently than senior households… (HUD Guide).

California Statutes. California has similar exceptions. Civil Code §51.3 legalizes 55+ communities and Government Code §12955.9(a) provides that familial status discrimination prohibitions do not apply in retirement communities.

Case Law. The Sunrise Country Club Assn. v. Proud (1987) 190 Cal.App.3d 377 case upheld a community association’s practice of creating separate “adult only” and “family” areas on the basis they were not unreasonable and thus did not violate applicable laws, including the Unruh Act which precludes discrimination by businesses within the State of California. The Unruh Act does not prohibit all age-based discrimination, only that which is unreasonable, arbitrary or invidious.

RECOMMENDATION
: If a 55+ community with pools and other amenities has a sizable population who receive frequent visits from grandchildren, they may want to create a plan that accommodates those who want peace and quiet versus those looking for some quality time with the younger generations.


Jasmine Fisher, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC   

Strategies such as “adults only” swim times are a reasonable way to address the needs of a majority of the community in a way that does not violate state or federal laws. When adopting rules related to children, 55+ communities should seek legal counsel.

Internet “Use” Tax. A number of associations have been contacted by California’s Board of Equalization (BOE) in recent weeks asking about internet purchases they made. If no taxes were paid on those purchases, the BOE is telling associations they must retroactively pay a “use” tax plus penalties and interest.

BOE Demands. The BOE has been asking for records for time periods that are all over the map–11 years, 3 years, 10 years and 8 years. One association we represent provided everything requested, but was told it was not enough. The tax representative wanted the information resubmitted in a spreadsheet format with contact information for all vendors together with at least one invoice from each vendor for the past eight years. In addition, the BOE is requiring that an account be set up with the State to report and pay tax on an annual basis on all out-of-state purchases.

Explanation. I contacted the Board of Equalization and talked to a representative. According to the tax rep, it is technically not a sales tax but rather a “use tax” that all organizations must report and pay whenever they go out of the state to purchase goods where the retailer does not charge a tax. I followed-up with Bill Erlanger, a CPA specializing in community associations. He confirmed that the use tax was created by the Legislature to protect California sellers who would be at a competitive disadvantage when out-of-state retailers sell goods to California consumers without charging a tax. Bill publishes a guide for HOAs and explains that:

Sales tax generally applies to the sale of merchandise in the state. Use tax applies to the use, storage, or other consumption of those same items when a similar purchase was made from outside the state. The use tax is set at the same rate as the state’s sales tax and must be paid directly to the Board of Equalization on your Franchise Tax Board Income Tax Return.

ICAT. According to the BOE tax representative, the use tax was implemented in 1935 but rarely enforced until seven years ago when California formed  the Interstate Consumer Analysis Team (ICAT). She noted that the ICAT quadrupled in size over the past three years when they were given a directive to start looking at every nonprofit in the state with revenues over $100,000 (including homeowners associations).

RECOMMENDATION: In case you’re not already doing so, boards and managers need to work with CPAs who are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to common interest developments. Second, make sure you diligently keep receipts on all internet purchases and report them to your association’s tax preparer. (COMMENT: As if the recession were not hard enough on associations, now the locusts are descending. My client offered to turn over his emails related to internet purchases. The BOE declined–the NSA already has them.)

Thank you to William S. Erlanger, CPA of Levy, Erlanger & Company, CPAs for his assistance on the use tax.

FEEDBACK

Wasps. I truly appreciate your wicked humor and your very useful comments on life in an HOA. A wasp nest is attached to an eave of our neighbor’s house. We have asked our neighbor to stop the wasps from interfering with our enjoyment of our property but these requests have been to no avail. The association manager says this issue is strictly between homeowners. The eves are maintained by the association so some liability is attached to the association should someone be harmed by these “pests.” Life would be so much easier if every person always did the right thing in every situation. What is the right thing in this situation? -Ron V.

RESPONSE: If you can clearly support your position via the CC&Rs that the HOA has a duty to remove the wasps, address the board in Open Forum and follow-up in writing. If they fail to act, you may need to take your neighbor and the HOA to court and ask a judge to sort it out.

FHA Guidelines. Please explain how the new ruling by FHA impacts reverse mortgages. These people are not short-term residents. -Bill G.

RESPONSE: Reverse mortgages allow homeowners 62 or older to take equity out of their homes as cash in a lump sum, or as monthly payments or a line of credit. Without certification of the association as a whole, FHA refuses to insure individual reverse mortgages. Frankly, FHA has been acting irrationally for some time. Rumor has it they will revise their transient housing policy shortly. If and when they do, I will report it.


Adrian Adams, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC


Legal solutions through knowledge, insight and experience.” We are friendly lawyers. When your association needs counsel, call us at (800) 464-2817 or email us at info@adamskessler.com.

Preventive Maintenance: Are You Making it Happen?

roof By Tracey March

A preventive maintenance plan, with regularly scheduled inspections, should be part of every residential landlord or rental property owner’s policies and procedures. Thorough preventive maintenance programs have significant economic benefits, namely:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Avoidance of costly emergency repairs
  • Extension of the life of HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), plumbing and electrical systems

Any good preventive maintenance program includes:

Annual inspection of your building and its systems: Find a preventive maintenance checklist and tailor it to meet your needs and those of the building. A checklist will include inspections of air conditioning units, water heaters, toilets, electrical outlets (look for signs of damage and make sure they aren’t overloaded), and the roof (make repairs, and clear drains and gutters).

Annual inspection of rental units: Be sure to schedule the annual inspection in advance with your tenants, and consistent with notice requirements. Pay particular attention to the bathrooms and kitchen, where leaks can cause costly damage. During the inspection, use the checklist to keep you on track, but also look for signs of other issues, such as mildew, mold, or water damage. If a carpet is damp, don’t assume your tenant cleaned the carpet or spilled water; follow-up with your tenant–it could be a leak. While you’re doing the annual inspection, it’s a good time to also change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Regular cleaning schedule: HVAC, swimming pools, and the building exterior should be cleaned regularly, based on usage. Replace HVAC filters first, and then check filters in your washers and dryers and their venting systems. Replacing filters makes your equipment run more efficiently and be less susceptible to break downs. Tailoring a preventive maintenance checklist and committing to regular inspections is extra work for landlords and property managers, but can save a lot of money, time and inconvenience in the long run.

What if you don’t have time for all of this? Try Outsourcing.

Some landlords and property owners purchase maintenance plans to ensure that they keep on schedule and the work get’s done. One popular company providing this service is American Home Shield Preventive Maintenance. They focus exclusively on HVAC, plumbing and electrical system, the big ticket items that are most likely to break down without proper maintenance.

Community Association Institute’s California Legislative Action Committee (CAI-CLAC) Hires Wendy Van Messel as New Administrative Coordinator

Wendy Van Messel, CMCA, began her career in the common interest development industry in 2008, as a business partner. After a stint on the sales side, Wendy was offered an administrative assistant position with Desert Resort Management in Palm Desert, CA, and later the chapter executive director (CED) position with the Coachella Valley Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI-CV), which she began in September 2010.

Wendy Van Messel, CMCA, is CAI-CLAC's new administrative coordinator.

Wendy Van Messel, CMCA, is CAI-CLAC’s new administrative coordinator.

“Through my experience as a CED, I was able to work closely with the other seven California chapters of Community Associations Institute (CAI) and I look forward to continuing to build on the great relationships that we’ve cultivated to benefit  CAI-CLAC, as well as the chapters throughout the state,” Wendy said. “This spring, I attended CAI-CLAC’s Legislative Day at the Capitol this spring and it was great to be able to participate in the legislative process. I’m excited to bring this experience to more people in my new role as the administrative coordinator for CAI-CLAC. ”

While serving as CED for CAI-CV, Wendy coordinated the chapter’s annual strategic planning session, inviting CAI National staff, which proved to be a successful move and has continued ever since. Wendy also created the first “weekly update” e-blast, which goes to both members and non-members, enabling readers to be current on chapter happenings and weekly meetings. In addition, she was instrumental in developing some of the internal structure of the chapter, including the creation of a policy manual, board member orientation notebooks and annual calendars. Under Wendy’s leadership, membership grew more than 12 percent and marketing dollars increased considerably each year. Wendy also attended and passed three PMDP courses and achieved her Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) designation.

“I am anxious to get up to speed on the behind-the-scenes doings of CLAC and look forward to making contributions that will positively impact the organization and community association members throughout California,” she said.

Wendy moved to the Coachella Valley in 1986 and has made her home in the valley ever since. She has two daughters, Samantha, a hairstylist in Oceanside, Calif., and Hilary who works for an event planning company in Nashville, Tenn. While acting as the CEO of her own household, Wendy volunteered for many boards, serving as president of La Quinta Middle School Parent Teacher Organization and the Band and Colorguard Mom for six years at La Quinta High School. At the same time, she also worked with the La Quinta American Youth Soccer Organization as part of the board that successfully convinced the city of the need for an additional soccer park for the kids. With her daughters, Girls Scouts were a must, and Wendy acted as a troop leader for several years, as well as the Coachella Valley Girl Scout Cookie Mom for all the valley troops.