What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 4] – Participation in Board Meetings

What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 4] – Participation in Board Meetings

Productive and efficient meetings are not happenstance but are the result of committed and prepared volunteers, normally assisted by a great professional manager. To help bring about the best board meetings: Read the agenda packet Come to the meeting prepared, having already read the agenda and the supporting materials. The packet is provided in advance to prepare you to make the decisions presented. Reading it for the first time at the meeting disrespects the other directors, indicates lack of commitment, and delays meetings as one “gets up to speed.” Stay on topic A single director can derail discussions by moving on to a different topic before the current one is concluded. Politely remind colleagues when deliberations stray from the matter at hand. Talk to the board, not the audience Directors attend board meeting to deliberate with board colleagues, not the audience. Grandstanding by speaking to the audience disrespects other directors and encourages raucous meetings. Ask the manager for input on most motions The board’s most frequent protector under the Business Judgment Rule is the manager, so seek the manager’s input. The manager often has years of experience and training; take advantage of that background. If a manager’s input isn’t being sought, why have them in the meeting? Treat open forum as an important event and pay attention California law requires open forum at all membership meetings and open board meetings. That is the time for the board to listen to the community. Take notes and don’t interject or argue. Open forum reminds directors that they are there to serve their community, and often helps the board learn things they...
What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 3] – Understanding How The Role Is DIFFERENT

What Makes a Director Outstanding [Part 3] – Understanding How The Role Is DIFFERENT

All the knowledge and experience from the working world (“day job”) can actually hinder a volunteer’s effectiveness in the world of HOA governance if the differences between the two worlds are not understood. Outstanding directors have learned that much of what worked for them in their day job will likely work poorly in the context of board governance. The chain of command is completely different in a community association. In the workplace, there is usually a person who is the “big boss”, somebody who is your immediate supervisor, and someone who you supervise. In the association, no single person is in charge. Decisions are made by the board, so the chain of command is horizontal and not hierarchical. The president in a common interest development is not the “big boss.” The president has far less power in most nonprofit corporations since all important decisions are made by the board, and so the president’s vote is no more important than any other. In this very different paradigm, the individual director typically has no personal power. Once directors embrace the framework of the board as decision-maker, they understand that they cannot make individual promises. This restraint can be very freeing since no individual is responsible for the association and its actions, as all decisions is made by board vote. So, when confronted at the pool or parking garage by homeowners demanding action, the director can truly say they can’t individually do anything and suggest the homeowner bring their concern to management or to a board meeting. Directors failing to adapt to the group decision-making process will often stray outside of corporate...

New Year’s Resolutions [Part 1] – The Director

As an HOA director, I resolve to: Always: Follow the Golden Rule. Reboot my attitude: I don’t control my neighbors, I serve them. An attitude of service will help me to be less defensive and stressed when neighbors challenge or criticize board decisions. Advocate our board follows the law and governing documents, spends money wisely and properly preserves and maintains community assets, while also being mindful of the board’s relationship with our HOA community. We will balance the legal, financial, property and community considerations in our decisions. Remember that my position as a volunteer is different than my work. Unlike at work, we cannot fire our HOA neighbors. Be aware that not all neighbors know their rights and responsibilities under the law and governing documents, and I will be patient and willing to explain the rules and decisions. Be knowledgeable: Review our governing documents (CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules). Review financial reports on budget, reserves, expenditures and delinquencies. Understand the Business Judgment Rule, and always make sure the board has sufficient basis for each decision. Encourage my board colleagues to join a Community Associations Institute Chapter, and take advantage of the written materials, seminars and classes CAI offers to volunteers. Improve board meetings: Help to limit our open board meetings to at most 2 hours, with a goal of an average meeting length of 90 minutes. Arrive at meetings prepared, having reviewed the agenda and board packet. Listen attentively during Open Forum without interrupting, and give my neighbors the same level of courtesy and attentiveness which I expect from them during the board deliberations. Stay on topic during discussions. Meet...
No Kangaroo Courts Allowed: Disciplinary Hearings

No Kangaroo Courts Allowed: Disciplinary Hearings

If everyone followed the Golden Rule (“do unto others…”), association disciplinary hearings would be rare. Unfortunately, hearing are a necessary, regular, and unpleasant board responsibility. These hearings are governed by Civil Code 5850 and 5855, which establish a simple system. The process begins with a written notice to the homeowner at least ten days before the hearing, informing the homeowner of the date, time, and place of the meeting, the nature of the alleged violation (or the nature of the damage to the common area), and notification that the member may address the board at the meeting. Within 15 calendar days, the association must in writing inform the member of any discipline imposed. The process must be followed, because procedural violations invalidate the disciplinary action (Civil Code 5855(d)). *Note: Since 2014, this process must also be followed when associations seek to charge a member for the cost of repairing common area damage caused by the member (or member’s guest or tenant). Sometimes “due process” is erroneously invoked regarding HOA hearings. The required “process” is simply that specified in the statute. So, homeowners do not have the right to be represented by counsel (HOA counsel often also isn’t attending), cross-examine witnesses, confront their accuser, or have a jury of their peers. These are not public court proceedings, but are private meetings between neighbors addressing a community problem. Homeowner rights in these hearings are what the statute says they are. Sometimes hearings are canceled because the accused member is unable to attend the hearing, and the board erroneously thinks the member must be present. The law requires homeowners have an opportunity...