Category Archives: john macdowell

WRAP UP AND ANNOUNCEMENTS, CAI-CLAC ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE DAY AT THE CAPITOL

On April 18th, the Community Associations Institute’s California Legislative Action Committee (CAI-CLAC) convened in Sacramento to discuss legislation and its possible impact upon the over 50,000 community associations in California. CAI members from throughout the state attended this annual event, where CAI-CLAC takes the opportunity to honor the volunteers who serve the organization. Awards are given for individual volunteer time as well as group success in supporting the nonprofit through fundraising.

This year in the chapter fundraising category, the Greater Inland Empire Chapter of CAI won the “Top Chapter Supporter” award, contributing 117 percent of its total goal to win. The Orange County Regional Chapter came in second place at 106 percent. The Channel Islands Chapter and the Bay Area/Central California Chapter tied at third with 103 percent.

The Top Management Company Supporter award had three levels: third place was awarded to Optimum Professional Property Management from the Orange County Regional Chapter, second place went to Avalon Management Company Group, Inc., from the Greater Inland Empire Chapter, and the first place award went to Landmark Limited from the Bay Area/Central California Chapter.

Also awarded were the Chair’s Choice award, given to Nathan McGuire of the Bay Area/Central California Chapter and the Volunteer of the Year Award, given to Michael Huffman from Management Professionals, Inc., a member of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter.

Approximately one hundred members then attended meetings with legislators at the Capitol, educating legislators about the real-life impact of community association-specific bills, and community associations in general.

A special announcement was made by the CAI-CLAC advocate, Skip Daum, communicating his intention to retire in the fall after educating legislators on behalf of the organization for over 24 years.

“Skip Daum has been an integral part of our organization. He has helped to shape the organization’s role and impact in Sacramento,” says Vice-Chair John MacDowell. “We wish him the best as he enters this new chapter in his life.”

Thank you to our all our volunteers and the award winners! It was a terrific event and a huge success because you were there to lend your voice so that our legislators hear our message. We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Kimberly Lilley

 

Kimberly Lilley CMCA, CIRMS is Director of Marketing at Berg Insurance Agency. She is the former PR Chair of the CAI-CLAC. She also held positions in several California chapters.  She served as CAI San Diego Chapter Delegate to CLAC and the PR Membership Chair for CAI Orange County Chapter. She is currently the Greater Los Angeles Chapter Delegate to CLAC. The Orange County Chapter gave her the 2010 Outstanding Service award and the 2008 Committee Member of the Year award. The San Diego Chapter named her Member of the Year in 2008. CAI Greater Inland Empire named her Rising Star in 2007 and she received the President’s Award in 2008.


Drones, New Legislation, and Associations

In 2015, the California Legislature enacted two bills, Senate Bill 142 and Senate Bill 856, which take the first steps toward addressing the potential for drones to trespass and invade individuals’ privacy.

Civil Code section 1708.8 was first enacted in the 1990s to allow lawsuits for invasion of privacy against paparazzi, or others, who photograph or record private activity without permission. The law provides, among other things, that a person is liable for physical invasion of privacy by knowingly entering onto the land of another in order to make photographs or sound recordings of private activity without permission. The law establishes special penalties for this invasion of privacy. SB 856, effective January 1, 2016, amends Civil Code section 1708.8 by providing that a person also commits a physical invasion of privacy by entering into the air space above the land of another to photograph or record private events.

SB 142 creates a new Civil Code section 1708.10, stating that use of a drone less than 350 feet above ground level without express authority is a trespass. Now, drone operators are subject to civil lawsuits if they fly at less than 350 feet above private property.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has jurisdiction over all airspace, also regulates when, where, and how a drone may be operated. As of December 21, 2015, recreational drone users are required to register with the FAA.

Can an association establish reasonable regulations on the use of drones within the project? Probably, yes, within the limits of the rulemaking power in the governing documents. Can an Association prohibit the use of drones altogether, by way of a rule? It is tempting to say yes, but federal regulations may be found to supersede, or “preempt,” both local laws and association rules. To avoid this problem, associations may consider rules controlling the effect of drone use, based on the nuisance provisions of the CC&Rs. For example, rules might prohibit using drones to look into other residents’ private yards or windows, or to harass or annoy others.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell, Esq. is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as Vice-Chair for CLAC.


Grassroots Advocacy Campaign Needs Your Assistance

As part of its mission to build better communities, Community Associations Institute (CAI) educates legislators at the state and national level, and advocates for legislation that will benefit homeowners, managers, and common interest communities as a whole. The California Legislative Action Committee (sometimes called “CLAC”) has been an effective advocate in Sacramento for over 20 years. At its annual planning meeting in October 2015, the Legislative Action Committee introduced a grassroots advocacy campaign to enhance its statewide efforts.

California’s Assemblymembers and Senators care about their constituents’ views, including the views of you, the members of CAI’s eight California chapters. The grassroots advocacy campaign will assist you in educating your representatives. You will meet with them and their staff members in their district offices.

Each chapter, with the assistance of the chapter’s Liaison to the Legislative Action Committee and Legislative Support Committee, will identify chapter members’ state representatives and ask you to help by meeting with those representatives. They will assist you in introducing your Assemblymembers and Senators to CAI and legislative issues affecting community associations. The goal is for you to visit elected officials in their local offices three times a year, in the winter, mid-summer, and fall. The Legislative Action Committee also encourages you — all CAI members — to attend its annual Legislative Day at the Capitol, which will be April 17 and 18 in 2016.

The Legislative Action Committee website, caiclac.com, offers more resources to assist you with legislative visits. The resources include suggestions for written materials to provide and a video showing a typical district office visit. You can also identify your representatives using a link on the website.

CAI will specifically identify members who are represented by key legislators, including committee chairs and other influential leaders in the Assembly and Senate. It is especially important that these leaders have a dialog with their constituents about community association living and the impact of legislation.

Our elected representatives in Sacramento are eager to hear from us, and input from just one person can make a difference. If you are contacted by your chapter’s Liaison to the Legislative Action Committee and Legislative Support Committee, please step forward to assist with this important work. With your assistance, the Legislative Action Committee looks forward to making an even greater impact with this grassroots advocacy campaign.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell, Esq. is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a Delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as Vice-Chair for CLAC.


AB 349 Signed into law – Associations May NOT PROHIBIT Artificial Turf

On September 4th, Gov. Brown signed AB 349 into law, as an urgency statute – effective immediately. AB 349, which the community Association industry and CAI-CLAC have followed closely, amends Civil Code section 4735 and limits the right of a community association to restrict the use of artificial turf.

Specifically, it renders “void and unenforceable” any provision in governing documents or guidelines which “prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.” If an owner installs artificial turf in response to a drought emergency, an association cannot require its removal once the emergency has passed. However, an association may still apply landscaping rules in the governing documents, to the extent the rules “fully conform” to these provisions.

Now that the governor has signed the bill, associations must immediately consider the way they handle members’ requests to install artificial turf. Owners must still submit applications to install artificial turf, if the governing documents require landscape approval. But associations may not use their architectural and landscaping provisions to prohibit owners from installing it.

Associations may still establish guidelines, so long as they do not have the effect of prohibiting artificial turf. Reasonable guidelines might address the color of the turf, its location, drainage, or maybe the percentage of a lot which may be covered with artificial turf. However, associations should recognize the public policy established by this bill favoring artificial turf as a way to reduce water consumption.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell

John R. MacDowell, Esq. is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as Co-Chair for CLAC.

 


AB 349 Signed into law – Associations May NOT PROHIBIT Artificial Turf

On September 4th, Gov. Brown signed AB 349 into law, as an urgency statute – effective immediately. AB 349, which the community Association industry and CAI-CLAC have followed closely, amends Civil Code section 4735 and limits the right of a community association to restrict the use of artificial turf.

Specifically, it renders “void and unenforceable” any provision in governing documents or guidelines which “prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of artificial turf or any other synthetic surface that resembles grass.” If an owner installs artificial turf in response to a drought emergency, an association cannot require its removal once the emergency has passed. However, an association may still apply landscaping rules in the governing documents, to the extent the rules “fully conform” to these provisions.

Now that the governor has signed the bill, associations must immediately consider the way they handle members’ requests to install artificial turf. Owners must still submit applications to install artificial turf, if the governing documents require landscape approval. But associations may not use their architectural and landscaping provisions to prohibit owners from installing it.

Associations may still establish guidelines, so long as they do not have the effect of prohibiting artificial turf. Reasonable guidelines might address the color of the turf, its location, drainage, or maybe the percentage of a lot which may be covered with artificial turf. However, associations should recognize the public policy established by this bill favoring artificial turf as a way to reduce water consumption.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell

John R. MacDowell, Esq. is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as Co-Chair for CLAC.

 


Paying for Affordable Housing by Making Housing Unaffordable?

The goal of California Assembly Bill 1335, authored by Speaker Toni Atkins, is to create affordable rental and owner-occupied housing. We all support affordable housing; in fact, common interest developments provide affordable housing to seniors and to buyers entering the real estate market. But AB 1335 would pay for housing with a $75.00 surcharge on all recorded documents. The surcharge would burden homeowners struggling to pay their association assessments, that is, people with financial problems who, themselves, need affordable housing.

Associations record a number of documents when collecting past-due assessments; they either add the recording fees to the amount to be paid by the owner, or pay them with assessments collected from the other owners. Associations rely on their assessments for money to maintain and repair condominium buildings. Without a steady stream of money, condominium projects deteriorate, and no longer provide decent, moderately priced housing. They cannot choose to forgo collecting the funds they need to survive.

To recover unpaid assessments, associations must record liens and notices, and when the owner is able to pay enough to settle the debt, they must record releases of all of those liens and notices. It isn’t fair to impose hundreds of dollars in additional fees on homeowners who fall behind in their assessments. Nor is it fair to impose those fees on all of the other owners in the project.

Written with the best of intentions, AB 1335 has the unintended consequence of targeting homeowners working hard to afford their homes.

John R. MacDowell is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as CLAC’s Chair-Elect.

John R. MacDowell Fiore Racobs & Powers

John R. MacDowell, Esq.

 


CAI-CLAC’S 2014 LEGISLATIVE DAY AT THE CAPITOL

The CAI California Legislative Action Committee’s 21st Annual Legislative Day at the Capitol drew homeowners, community association managers and other professionals to Sacramento on April 6 and 7, to discuss legislation affecting homeowners associations with their elected representatives.

Homeowners association board members and managers attended educational sessions on April 6, while delegates of the California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) met to discuss bills that affect their communities and prepare information to present to legislators. Industry professionals taught sessions on how a bill becomes law, the nuts and bolts of legislation and  FHA certification for condominiums. CLAC’s Sacramento advocate, Skip Daum, provided an analysis of the “hot bills” affecting homeowners associations in California.

On Monday, April 7, Zack Olmstead, Senior Assistant to incoming Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins of San Diego, delivered the keynote address. Assemblymember Atkins has focused on housing throughout her tenure in the Assembly, and will continue to do so as Speaker. CLAC delegates briefed participants on key pending legislation and Michael Hedge, Senior Director of  Government & Public Affairs for CAI National, discussed nationwide and federal issues.

Participants then walked to the State Capitol to meet with their own assemblymembers, senators and staff members, to provide input on pending bills affecting homeowners associations. Participants discussed AB 1360, sponsored by CAI, which would give associations the option to allow members to vote electronically, if they wish to do so. As the attendees gathered at the end of the day, they reported that legislators and their staff valued CAI’s input and recognized CAI as a key source of information on issues affecting homeowners associations.

More people than ever before attended the 2014 Legislative Day at the Capitol. CAI and CLAC also look forward to homeowners and managers communicating with their legislators throughout the legislative session, in writing and by personal visits to district offices throughout the state. This year’s Legislative Day at the Capitol and the grass roots efforts by homeowners all year long show the strength of the 9 million people who own homes in the 50,000 community associations in California.

John R. MacDowell is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a delegate to CLAC from the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. He serves as one of CLAC’s Legislative Co-Chairs.John R. MacDowell


Gov. Brown Signs SB 752, the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act, into Law

Until now, commercial and industrial common interest developments (CIDs) have been governed by the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, just like residential condominiums and planned developments. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, however, non-residential CIDs will look to an entirely new set of statutes. The legislature passed the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act, SB 752, into law on Sept. 6, and Gov. Brown signed the bill on Oct. 5. This new law creates an entirely new section of the Civil Code, starting with section 6500.

Although the law is new, and the code sections are new, the provisions of this new act mirror the reorganized Davis-Stirling Act. “Old” Davis-Stirling applied to commercial projects, with exceptions specified in “old” Civil Code section 1378. By contrast, the new act repeats much of reorganized Davis-Stirling, but leaves out some provisions designed to protect residential owners. So, the sections governing the formation of common interest developments, along with sections about governing documents, association powers, assessments and construction defect litigation, are essentially the same in reorganized Davis-Stirling and this new act. However, the commercial and industrial act does not include the election provisions or the disclosure requirements imposed on residential developments.

While there was little controversy over the new act, CLAC was able to offer insight from an industry perspective to effect some changes. For example, as drafted, there would have been no provision for owners to send notices to association management. All communications would have gone to the association’s president or secretary. Because commercial associations need not make statutory annual disclosures to owners, there was no mechanism for associations to designate an agent to receive communications. Recognizing the practical problems with such a rule, CLAC was able to assist the CLRC and Senate staff to craft a provision allowing a commercial association to designate an agent, like a manager, to receive information.

California’s commercial and industrial CIDs range from small office condominiums to sprawling developments including retail, industrial and office components. With the enactment of the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act, these associations will be controlled by their own set of statutes. The new act will also provide a framework for new provisions, addressing the evolving  needs of commercial and industrial developments.

John MacDowell is managing shareholder of Fiore, Racobs & Powers’ Orange County office and is a Delegate to the California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) from the Orange County Regional Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI).John R. MacDowell