The California Legislature is very active this year (as it is most years) regarding common interest developments (the term used by state law for what most call “homeowner association”). This is the second year of the 2013-2014 legislative session, and some bills (proposed laws) are pending from last year, while others are new, having been introduced this year. To become law, a bill must pass its “house of origin” (Senate for Senate Bills, Assembly for Assembly Bills) by May 31, and must pass the other house by August 31.
On January 17, 2014, Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency regarding the drought, directing state officials to conserve water. In response, at least four bills were introduced, seeking to limit the ability of CIDs to restrict low water landscaping or to discipline homeowners who underwater their landscaping. These bills are SB (Senate Bill) 992 and 1144, and AB (Assembly Bill) 2100 and 2104. This means that, if any of these bills become law, an association would have to allow brown yards and dead or sick looking plants, so long as the Declaration of Emergency was in force. While I understand the importance of water conservation, I hope the bills can be amended to protect neighbors from eyesore properties.
Common Interest Developments are the only non-profit corporations in California not allowed to vote electronically. AB 1360, sponsored by the Community Associations Institute, seeks to permit HOAs to choose to offer its members the option to vote via the internet. The bill was introduced last year and passed the Assembly, and is awaiting Senate Committee hearing. The bill now contains far more protections on internet voting than any other California corporation. It would be a great help in enhancing participation by an increasingly internet-based society in their association governance.
AB 1738 seeks to amend the “Internal Dispute Resolution” process. Civil Code 5905 added by 2004’s AB 1836, requires all HOAs to have internal dispute procedures in place, to provide a quick and no cost method to resolve disputes without resort to courts and attorneys. AB 1738 would change all that, by specifically authorizing the HOA or the involved homeowner(s) to have attorneys participate. Attorney involvement in IDR is normally not necessary, and having attorneys involved means IDR will involve significant cost. I think this bill is a bad idea. IDR should be homeowner talking to homeowner.
AB 2561 seeks to protect the right of homeowners not only to have a garden, but to have a garden to raise crops for sale. I have never seen an association issuing a blanket ban on raising vegetables, so I don’t know if this law is needed. Certainly a blanket protection by the state is just as bad as a blanket ban by HOAs on gardens.
AB 2430 is sponsored by the California Association of Realtors®, seeking to crack down on abuses by management companies charging excessive fees to buyers for association disclosures and other documents. Buyers are entitled under Civil 4525 to several important documents, and the bill would require that the seller would pay the cost, not the buyer.
There are other bills pending which affect California common interest development associations, but these caught my eye as likely to interest you, the readers.
To read any bill, check its status, or even send comments to the bill’s author (you can participate!), visit www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.