Recording Meetings, Secret Budget Talks, and a Dictator President

Recording Meetings, Secret Budget Talks, and a Dictator President

Hello Mr. Richardson, Our board announced that audio recordings of meetings would no longer be allowed. What are your thoughts on this? Does this action by the board violate the Brown Act, the Davis-Stirling or some other statute? Thank you, N.D., Rancho Santa Fe Dear N.D., As private organizations, common interest development associations (aka “HOAs”) are not controlled by the Brown Act (which applies to public bodies). The Davis-Stirling Act contains the “Open Meeting Act,” found at Civil Code 4900-4955. The Open Meeting Act does not require that HOA meetings be recorded electronically, but only that draft minutes of meetings be available no later than 30 days after the meeting. I generally recommend against audio or video recording of board proceedings, except in the rare occasion the association has the proper facilities to record and broadcast meetings (typically only in very large HOAs). Recording meetings often creates two negative problems – it intimidates some, and invites others to grandstand. So long as the policy is clearly stated, association boards can take either policy direction. Best, Kelly To Kelly G. Richardson, We have a question concerning our HOA president. The president is running a construction company that controls all maintenance and repairs throughout the community. She runs the community as a dictatorship and no one on the board is allowed to even speak. We have requested financial records – it won’t work. She told us this could no longer be discussed. M.L., Lake Forest Dear M.L., Some HOA presidents simply let the position get to their head. HOA presidents have very little power in most HOAs, aside from calling and chairing meetings. They have...

Open Meeting Act

Mr. Richardson, Our HOA has regularly scheduled, monthly, closed meetings. Based on your columns this doesn’t seem right to me. What types of topics are to be considered in closed session? S.C.,Temecula Dear S.C., Closed session is strictly limited to a very few topics. It is for discussion of personnel matters (if the HOA has employees), litigation, certain member issues (discipline, foreclosure votes, or payment plan proposals), and “formation of contracts”. If it is not under one of those four categories, it cannot be discussed in closed session. Some associations construe “formation of contracts” very broadly, and change vendors in closed session. However, the formation of contract is different than the selection of the vendor. The vendor selection comes first. That discussion should be in open session. After selecting the vendor which the Board prefers, then the negotiation of the contract ensues, and discussion of negotiation terms should be in closed session. The fact that your HOA board meets in closed session each month does not necessarily mean it is abusing closed session. Larger associations often need a closed session each month, because they have disciplinary hearings and foreclosure votes almost every month. Thanks for your question,Kelly Dear Kelly, We are probably the first (mobile home) park in California to be owned by the members. The corporation which we are now governed by a Board of Directors and our meetings are held every month. We have a nine member Board of Directors voted by the members of the park. Your article regarding Open Forum is at question to some of the members. Our important question to you is, are...
New Year’s Resolutions for CIDs

New Year’s Resolutions for CIDs

Happy New Year! Consider these resolutions to start the new year, which may help your common interest development association to become a more positive community. HOA director’s resolutions – We will: Be familiar with our governing documents (CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules). Communicate better and more frequently with our neighbors (members) with newsletters, web page updates or bulletins. Remember that our position is with a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, which is different than a business corporate director or officer. Unlike employees, we cannot fire our neighbors. Our corporation is also a community. Be aware that some neighbors might not know their rights and responsibilities under the law or governing documents, and that the board may need to provide patience and even education at times. Limit our board meetings to at most 2 hours, and aim for a meeting length of 90 minutes. Arrive at meetings prepared, having reviewed the agenda and all other documents provided to us. Not require unanimous votes, nor will we be offended by “nay” votes. Listen attentively during Open Forum without interrupting. Use closed executive session meetings only when clearly necessary under the law. Never forget that we serve our neighbors who entrusted us to be a director and that board service is a privilege, not a right. Be open as we can be with information or documents requested by members. We will ask “why not?” give a member information or copies, rather than “Do we have to?” Look for opportunities to establish committees, to share the workload and offer members opportunities for involvement. Join our local Community Associations Institute chapter, use its educational resources, and be...

Too Close to Employee, Long Term President

Mr. Richardson, I was wondering if you would answer a question for me. We have a Board member who is literally sleeping with the association’s property supervisor, who is an association employee. We had an executive session meeting to discuss personnel issues prior to the regular board meeting. I suggested to her to recuse herself from the meeting to allow the board to talk freely about all personnel issues because the property supervisor might be discussed. The Board president insisted she had the right to stay but would not vote. I believe this limits our discussion. Thank you, P.I., San Clemente P.I., A romantic relationship between a director and a vendor or employee is a very bad idea. Period. If that relationship is important to the director, that person should step down from the board. By insisting that the employee stay during the personnel discussion, the president was violating important ethical and legal duties to the association. The circumstance you describe is one where the president put the romantic relationship above the duties to the HOA. The board should ask the president to resign from the board. If the request is not granted, the board should elect a new president, and not permit that director to attend any further closed session discussions regarding that employee. Kelly Hello Kelly, I am in an association of 10 units. An owner and his wife have been on the Board the entire duration of the Association. For the first 15 years he was president, a spent couple of years as a board member, and the last 2 years as treasurer. He recently resigned...

Disregard Dissenter, Rapid Fire Round

Dear Sir, I have some very important questions and I totally trust your input after reading your column now for quite a while. Our association board consists of 3 people. Two of them are totally against the other board member who has some great ideas but they always say “NO” to him, what can he do about that? I go to each and every meeting and they both laugh and say sorry you’re outnumbered. He has been threatened by them to be removed because he speaks up and they don’t want to hear it. As for the management company they take the two board members side because they don’t like his complaints so they side with the two. I want to know what I can do, and those two WILL NOT adhere to the rules. Also can’t they be removed for not following the rules?  Thank you, R.T., Murrieta R.T., You describe a dysfunctional board. Unless the directors treat each other with respect, board service will be torture. Nobody has nothing to offer – even a broken clock is right twice a day, right? However, sometimes directors are ostracized from the other directors because of their conduct. A manager should not “take sides”, but should give good advice and then follow board instructions — which means following the majority vote. As to the threat of removal, normally directors are removed only by membership vote. A board is a team, and you are all neighbors. Mutual respect and civility must be a priority in association meetings. If your board refuses to conduct themselves with courtesy and decorum in meetings, or...