Doggy DNA Testing Forcing Residents to Pick up after Their Pets

People love their pets. Regardless if you live in a community association, there is nothing worse than waking up to a pile of pet poop in your front yard. But the problem isn’t that the pets are out of control, it’s that residents don’t take accountability for their pets.

With a surge of residents disregarding signs and choosing not to follow mandated rules, communities now are turning to “doggy DNA” testing.

Dog owners provide the community association with a DNA sample of their pet, typically a cheek swab, which is then sent to a lab where it is registered. If the dog goes in the neighborhood and it isn’t disposed of, the community association can send the sample to the lab for testing. If there is a match, the pet owner is fined.

CAI’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Skiba, CAE, recently spoke to the Capital Gazette about this problem.

A “very small minority” of community associations have started taking these steps in the past five years to curb poop problems, especially as DNA testing has become more cost-effective and accessible, says Skiba.

“It’s not about not liking pets, it’s not about the dogs. It’s about pet owners acting disrespectfully to their neighbors,” explains Skiba. “The boards have already tried all that they can, and they have an obligation to address this for an aesthetic and health reasons. They finally will run out of options, and this DNA testing is the last technologically enabled high-tech option you can find.”

Community associations typically won’t dish out funds for DNA testing methods unless they’ve tried everything else, including putting up notices, posting pet rules on a website, mentioning it in board meetings, and more.

Should community associations have to take these extreme measures to solve this pet problem?

Think about it, and make sure to carry an extra bag with you on your walk.

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Hurricane Harvey: Many Texans’ lives still far from normal one year later

One year ago today, Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm in Texas, dumping as much as 51 inches of rain in some parts of the state—a U.S. record for rainfall from a single storm. Harvey caused an estimated $125 billion in damage and at least 68 deaths in Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Houston-based Episcopal Health Foundation, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, recently released a survey that found that many Texans’ lives are still far from normal despite the long-term recovery across the region moving forward.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said their financial situation is worse, and one in six reported that their overall quality of life has declined, according to the survey. Even more alarming, four in 10 also said they aren’t getting the help they need to recover and rebuild their lives.

In Harris County, 154,000 homes flooded, and only 36 percent had flood insurance, says Jeff Lindner, director of the hydrological operations division and a meteorologist with Harris County Flood Control District. “A year later, there are nearly 20,000 residences still recovering in different stages of the process because of contactor labor challenges and flood insurance issues.”

If there’s a silver lining from the storm, Harris County residents have become well-versed in flood measures to protect their homes when the next natural disaster strikes, explains Lindner.

“Residents now know what bayou or water shed they live next to and that water tends to run from West to East,” he says.

They also know what happens if flood gates reach critical levels. “In some cases, they know they don’t have to worry until it reaches 58 feet,” says Lindner.

Jeff Lindner, director of the hydrological operations division and a meteorologist with Harris County Flood Control District.

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Making a difference after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Every year, the CAI Southeast Florida Chapter hosts a golf event and donates a portion of the proceeds to a local charity. But this year was different.

When the lives of 17 students and faculty members were lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, community members were struck with shock and sorrow. Among them was Steve G. Mason, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, Atlantic Pacific Management, in Palm Beach, Fla. Mason, a CAI Southeast Florida Chapter board member and chair of the chapter’s golf committee, knew he had to do something.

We recently caught up with Mason to talk about the tragedy and the steps he took to help.

How did the tragedy impact you?
When the incident occurred, it struck close to home. My wife is a Marjory Stoneman Douglas graduate and, one day, our three little kids will attend this high school. My wife is a local elementary school teacher, and my sister is a local high school teacher. We have friends who teach there.

For the chapter event this year, we decided to hold a fundraiser for the school. There was full support and excitement among all chapter board members to be able to give back after the tragedy.

Freshman teacher Felicia Burgin set up a meeting for me with the Assistant Principal Denise Reed. I wanted to know where the money would be going and exactly what the students and faculty needed to get through this recovery period. The school’s staff was thrilled to hear about the fundraiser.

How did the event go?
Since we cover such a large area, the chapter caters its events to benefit our various communities. This year’s event, on April 7, was our best turnout in history, made possible with the support of our business partners. It included 152 golfers, and every sponsorship category was sold.

I wouldn’t have been able to coordinate and execute this event without my platform at CAI. I’ve been a Southeast Florida Chapter board member for 10 years and chaired this golf committee for the past eight years. This event was extra meaningful for my family.

We raised $12,000. The money will go toward activities, comfort animals, supplies, and overall assistance for the school.

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Electric scooters: Is the newest commuting solution bringing chaos to community associations?

Move over Uber, Lyft, and bike shares, dockless, electric scooters are the newest mode of transportation taking over cities, and controversy has already come to some community associations.

The scooters, which can go a maximum of 15 mph, provide a relatively cheap and convenient commuting solution for riders, according to the Los Angeles Times. Riders download an app, provide payment, and then use the app’s GPS to find an available scooter, which they unlock with their phone. Once riders reach their destination, they re-lock the scooter with the app. Riders are supposed to park the scooters on the side of the road or sidewalk so they don’t block vehicle or pedestrian traffic, but that’s not always the case.

In Los Angeles, where the scooters have gained a lot of traction, community associations are finding abandoned scooters within their gates, including in their driveways, on sidewalks, and near entrances, which presents a safety hazard. Some residents even describe the scooters as “sidewalk litter.”

Cities across the country have started to regulate where the scooters can be ridden (ideally, in bike lanes) and where they can be left. A Los Angeles proposal would require that the scooters and dockless bicycles be parked in the outer edge of the sidewalk and locked to something, such as a bike rack or a parking meter, according to reports.

The scooters have become such a nuisance in San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif., that officials have been sending cease-and-desist notices and holding emergency meetings, The New York Times reports. Some cities have filed charges against the scooter companies.

Have you noticed dockless, electric scooters on your condominium or community association property? Will you consider developing rules on this new mode of transportation? Tell us in the comments below.

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Smoking Ban Goes Up In … Smoke

A failed smoking ban remains a point of contention between residents at a nearly 40-year-old condominium building in St. Paul, Minn., according to the Star Tribune.

The Gallery Tower board voted to ban smoking in the summer of 2017. The ban, which was due to go into effect this past April, was supposed to apply to units and the balconies outside them, according to reports. However, earlier this year, newly elected board members who smoke took control and voted to rescind the ban before it took effect.

A 19-year resident of the Gallery Tower, Marge Romero, felt she should be able to do what she wants within the confines of her home—and that includes smoking cigarettes.

In January, Romero and two other residents who opposed the smoking ban were elected to the board, and the following month the board voted to rescind the ban, citing it was a big overreach.

Yet that hasn’t stopped other buildings from outright bans.

“I think there has been a definite trend toward banning smoking in condominiums, and I expect that to continue,” says Matt Drewes, president of the CAI Minnesota Chapter. “Efforts at redirecting, controlling, or containing smoke has had mixed results and have often fallen short of making all parties happy, and they come at a certain expense that the owners involved may not be willing or equipped to pay.”

The fight at Gallery Tower may not be over yet. Residents like Jeff Tentinger and his wife, Robin— who spent more than $8,000 on air purifiers—were stunned people needed to vote on a smoking ban in 2018, especially given the health problems related to secondhand smoke.

States, cities, and other local governments have been moving to ban smoking in public places for years. Residents of public housing facilities in the U.S. can no longer smoke in or near the buildings in a new rule that went into effect July 31.

Many community associations have been outlawing the practice in common areas and on amenities but letting owners continue to smoke inside their units. Some condominiums are trending toward full bans, yet as the Gallery Tower situation proves, they may have a fight on their hands.

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