Must We Accept Mary Jane in Our Building?

Must We Accept Mary Jane in Our Building?

Kelly, Our condo association started a “no smoking” policy, but one owner continues to smoke marijuana often. The HOA sent a notice to stop and called him to a hearing. He had an attorney send a letter stating he is “disabled” and alleging the HOA is discriminating against him. The owner continuously denies he is smoking anything, but continues to smoke. His unit is adjacent to mine and I smell marijuana often as it permeates through his walls into my unit. The HOA instructed me to keep a log of all this owner’s violations of the rule and I have. But they tell me we need still more evidence. Is this a normal process? It’s my word against the other owner’s. My clothes reek of smoke for days. Should I have an attorney write a letter to the HOA stating the smoke smell gives me headaches and I have to open all my windows and turn on ceiling fans to get air to circulate? J.V., Oceanside Dear J.V., Has anyone noticed the neighbor has contradicted himself? If he denies smoking marijuana, why would he claim a disability? Fortunately for people who truly need marijuana for medical reasons, there are a number of delivery systems other than smoking. Edible forms and vaporizers may be available. Disabilities do not give neighbors carte blanche to do what they wish – the association is only required to make “reasonable” accommodations. If the disabled neighbor creates a nuisance for neighbors, that accommodation may become unreasonable. Neighbor-to-neighbor complaints are always touchy for HOAs – who do they believe? In your case, if your clothing and unit remain...
Where There’s Smoke, There May Be Unhappy Neighbors

Where There’s Smoke, There May Be Unhappy Neighbors

Dear Kelly, My tenants are extremely allergic to smoke – the tenants next door smoke around the clock. I have been working with our board and management, and still the situation has not improved. Our CC&R’s call for “no noxious odors”. I may be losing my tenants. Any suggestions? Thank you, D.M., Costa Mesa Dear Mr. Richardson, I live in a gated community of single family homes on small lots. I’m wondering if there are any restrictions for cigarettes, cigars or pipes. One owner is asthmatic and lives next to a chain smoker that smokes only outside. Another dislikes the smell and must close windows when the neighbor smokes. Thank you in advance, T.G., Simi Valley Hi Kelly, The HOA Board made a rule a few years ago to make our complex a “non-smoking community.” This was done without any information to home owners or requested feedback. I recently learned that smoking is even prohibited inside units! I resent being told what I can or cannot do in my own home. What’s next? All lights out by 11:00? I smoke only in my living room and use a large air cleaner, with all windows closed. Regardless, my neighbor frequently complains smoke is coming in their unit. There is nothing in the CC&R’s about this. Can a board impose this rule on me?  LM., San Diego Dear D.M., T.G, and L.M., Our society is smoking less. Adult tobacco smoking declined by 51% between 1988 and 2016 (California Department of Public Health statistics) and public acceptance of the habit also is clearly declining. Many California cities have various smoking bans in place. Can smoking inside...

Legislation of Interest to Homeowner Associations

This is an active time in Sacramento, as literally thousands of bills (over 2,300 at last count) have been proposed this year for possible new or changed laws in California. Many of them will, if passed, affect common interest developments (the legal term for “homeowner association”). Here are four that might be worth following: AB 746 Assembly Member Levine, from San Rafael, introduced Assembly Bill (“AB”) 746. This bill would outlaw smoking in multi-family buildings, except in designated smoking areas. Violators would first be warned, and fined for second and subsequent offenses. The ban would not commence until 2015, allowing landlords and HOAs to prepare. A growing number of cities have adopted bans on smoking in multi-family buildings. This bill, if it became law, would take that ban statewide. In its present form, it would not put any responsibility on HOA boards. SB 752 Senate Bill (“SB”) 752 is a major bill, creating a separate Common Interest Development Act for non-residential associations. Drafted by the California Law Revision Commission, it will likely become law, and then non-residential associations will have a separate body of law applying to them. Mixed use projects, in which some units are residential while others are commercial, would still look to the Davis-Stirling Act. AB 968 Associations currently are required to follow very specific election procedures, not matter how large or small. Those procedures are often ignored or unknown by smaller associations. AB 968 proposes to simplify election procedures for associations of 15 members or less. This would allow the very small association to dispense with Inspectors of Election and ballots sealed in two different...