Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL quoted in CAI National Magazine, Common Ground

Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL quoted in CAI National Magazine, Common Ground

In the most recent issue of Common Ground, Kelly Richardson weighs in on the issues surrounding community associations and the risk of injury from wild animals in common areas. “The key is to respond reasonably to known issues.” He also recommends “contacting an appropriate service provider” to recommend expert solutions to the problems, looking at the association’s rules and having “ample liability insurance.” Community Association Institute publishes a bimonthly magazine titled Common Ground and provides education for community association homeowners, managers and those affiliated with HOAs....
Boards Barking About Dogs

Boards Barking About Dogs

Dear Mr. Richardson, Our CC&R’s limit the number of pets a homeowner can have to a “reasonable” number. City law states a resident outside of an HOA can have up to 4 dogs. Our association manager insists we have to abide by city law. Is that right? Thanks, F.D., San Pedro Dear F.D., Per Civil Code Section 4205, governing documents cannot conflict with state law. Unless your city in its ordinance exempts HOA residents, your association must, like any homeowner in that city, follow the law. The association could adopt a stricter standard, but it cannot be less strict than the city, as the public law sets the floor below which associations may not go. Also, it is the city’s job to enforce ordinances, so the board might not have to become involved (except for a call to the animal control department). Most homeowners do not research city ordinances, so if a pet limitation is important to your community, it is better to state it clearly in the governing documents. Pet limits are probably best placed in CC&Rs, so they are more permanent and cannot be changed from one board to the next. Thanks, Kelly Dear Kelly, Several residents used to take our dogs to an enclosed common area to play. The area was not designated for any specific purpose. One day the HOA president announced that dogs would no longer be allowed in that area. The board then invited residents with grandchildren to take advantage of that common area for play. Wouldn’t each resident who takes their dog to the area be covered through each individual homeowners insurance? D.S.,...
Is Our HOA Now a Free Speech Zone?

Is Our HOA Now a Free Speech Zone?

Dear Kelly, Thank you for your always insightful columns. I have a question regarding the new state law supporting use of common facilities for political activities, and one on first amendment rights. The new law allows residents to use common facilities for political meetings without charge. May the HOA limit attendance to only residents, residents and guests according to its adopted policies, or may/must these programs be open to all? Can an HOA prohibit the display of political signage on front lawns? For example, must the HOA allow residents to have campaign signs? Are there limitations to this allowance like size, length of display time, etc. as established in the HOA rules and policies? With what promises to be a contentious election season this year, this information will be quite timely. B.S., Murrieta Dear B.S., The new law you mention is Civil Code 4515, which bars associations from charging a fee or requiring insurance as a condition of holding meetings which relate to “common interest development living, association elections, legislation, election to public office, or the initiative, referendum, or recall processes” (Civil 4515(b)(1)). That is a very broad (and vague) array of topics, but the association can still require a deposit or insurance for other uses of the common facilities. Also, while the statute says the association cannot bar the use (if the facility is available), that does not mean the HOA has to give carte blanche. For example, if someone wants to hold an event and serve alcohol, the association could reasonably allow the meeting, but not allow food or alcohol to be served without a deposit or...

Can Board Just Give Them Some Space?

Dear Mr. Richardson, My HOA has a board that changes all the time. People with agendas run and many times they leave after one year. The question is whether the HOA can continually “grant” various owners rights into the greenbelt/common area. Shouldn’t there be disclosures to the entire membership of each and all such rights granted, and not just adjoining neighbors? In theory we all own the common area, and it is being chopped up and “permitted” to be used exclusively by many individual owners. If this is a question that you are able to answer I would appreciate it. Thanks, P.W., Unincorporated S. Orange County Dear P.W., The Davis-Stirling Act limits the ability of HOA boards to give exclusive use rights over HOA common area. About eleven years ago, the statute now known as Civil Code 4600 was added to the Act, barring HOA boards from granting exclusive use rights to a homeowner unless 67% of all the HOA members approved it. The statute ties the hands of HOA boards, but for a good reason. Common area other than exclusive use common area is an asset for all residents. Green belts, planted areas, walkways and other common areas may be adjacent to individual residences, and it is natural that homeowners may wish to expand their “personal space” by gating off walkways, or fencing off more yard area. However, this would detract from the rest of the community, which benefits from the feeling of openness that comes from such areas remaining purely common and shared, and not converted to a single owner’s use. Homeowners often can be angry with the...
Why Can’t I Have MY Dish?

Why Can’t I Have MY Dish?

Hello Kelly, Months ago, I requested permission to have a small satellite dish placed on the side of my home. I never received any reply. I ordered the service and the dish was placed onto our home. The installer stated that it had to be placed high up, because a tree was blocking the signal, if it was placed lower. The HOA said that it must be removed, or they will fine us per day. The HOA refuses to trim the tree so that we could have the signal received from a tripod (ground mounted) dish. They said that we should find a very tall tripod. We have observed many other satellite dishes in our area. I feel that I am being discriminated against on the basis of my ethnicity. Others that have dishes are a different ethnicity than me. Please advise. Thank you, J.H., Encinitas Dear J. H., It is unfortunate the HOA did not respond to your request. Homeowners often proceed without HOA permission to install or change something on common area, and that often becomes an issue for both the HOA and homeowner. Satellite dishes are covered by state and federal law which is outdated. The Federal Communications Over The Air Receiving Devices (“OTARD”) rule and an almost identical Civil Code 4725 protect the right of HOA residents to install dishes up to a certain size (one meter per the OTARD rule, 36 inches per Civil 4725) in the owner’s property, so long as it is not visible from common area or HOA streets. Today, such dishes typically are about 18-20 inches in diameter. However, if your association is...