By Kami Goldstein

As the recipient of this year’s CAI-CLAC Memorial Scholarship, I have been tasked with writing about my experience attending my first in person CAI-CLAC Advocacy Week in Sacramento.  Let me start by giving you a little bit of background.  I am a Community Association Manager and I have been in the industry for almost 17 years.  I have never been involved as a volunteer on any of the CAI Committees. In 2021, during COVID, little did I know that all of this would change.

Learning More About CAI-CLAC

I attended my first CAI-CLAC Virtual Advocacy Week held, via Zoom, in April of 2021.  At that time, I was not involved with CAI-CLAC and in fact, I did not know what they did and how much of an impact they have on the HOA industry.  Up until then, all I knew was when new bills passed, as managers, we received an email from our direct supervisors introducing the new bill and telling us to prepare for compliance.  What I learned by attending the 2021 CAI-CLAC Virtual Advocacy Week, was that these bills had been in the works for quite some time before being passed, and we probably could have been preparing earlier for what was to come.

Getting Involved in CAI-CLAC

As a result of attending my first CAI-CLAC Virtual Advocacy Week, I decided I would like to take a more active role. I reached out to one of my attorney industry partners and asked what I needed to do to get more involved.  She told me all I had to do was attend three consecutive Legislative Support Committee (LSC) meetings with my local San Diego Chapter and then the committee would appoint me to join. So, I did!  I have now been on the Committee for three years and have recently been appointed as the CAI-CLAC Liaison, representing the San Diego Chapter.  During this time, I attended all the CAI-CLAC Virtual Advocacy Week events and sessions, and this year I was very excited to have the opportunity to attend in person.  However, as many people may experience, finances got in my way.  Fortunately, I was able to apply for the CAI-CLAC Memorial Scholarship and it was granted to me by the CAI-CLAC Executive Committee and so my journey began.

Attending Advocacy Week In-Person

2024 Advocacy Week started on Tuesday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. at the Sacramento Sheraton Grand Hotel, with registration and networking. This allowed me the opportunity to get to know many other Managers, Industry Partners, Homeowners, and Board Members who were involved with CAI-CLAC from other CAI chapters across California.  Opening Session followed with opening remarks from CAI-CLAC Chair Kieran Purcell, including a thank you to all the sponsors who supported the event. During the CAI-CLAC 2023 Volunteer Recognition Awards, there was a Champagne Toast with awards presented to various individuals, management companies, and chapters for their efforts in fundraising (including the Buck A Door Campaign).  Kieran also presented the Legislator of the Year Awards to Assembly Member Avelino Valencia and Assembly Member Tri Ta who have been very supportive of CAI-CLAC and the HOA industry.  Kieran then introduced Louie Brown, who is our CAI-CLAC legislative advocate in Sacramento. 

For those of you who don’t know CAI-CLAC Advocate, Louie Brown, let me tell you – he has been an asset to CAI-CLAC in assisting the Committee in maneuvering through California’s complex legislative and administrative process! Louie briefed us on the legislation impacting California community associations that are currently moving through the legislature for consideration.

Here are the two pressing bills discussed in depth:

  • The first was Assembly Bill 2114, which would allow Civil Engineers to be added to the list of authorized professionals who can inspect load bearing components and waterproofing systems in Common Interest Developments and CAI-CLAC sponsored and supports this bill.
  • The second bill was Assembly Bill 2159 which would authorize a Common Interest Development (CID) or Homeowners Association (HOA) to conduct elections using electronic voting systems. This bill was also sponsored by and supported by CAI-CLAC.
  • The third bill was Senate Bill 1470 which seeks to shift the burden of construction defect claims to Associations and Owners and is opposed by CAI-CLAC.
  • Louie also provided us with a synopsis of what CAI-CLAC and the Insurance Task Force have been doing to assist with solving the insurance crisis in the state of California.

After our briefing, we were all split into groups of five and provided with our legislative briefcases that included our schedule for Tuesday through Thursday, a brief description of each of the bills, an outline of the state of insurance in California, and biographies on the nine (9) Assembly Members or Senators we would be meeting with.  This allowed us to strategize on how best to prepare for our discussion with each of the Assembly Members, Senators, or their legislative staff.

Day Two: Advocating at the Capitol

Day two started at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3rd, with breakfast and final preparation for our legislative meetings.  This was followed by a short walk to the California State Capitol Steps for group pictures.

For those of you who may not know, the Capitol Building no longer contains offices for the Assembly Members and Senators.  The historic part is now part museum, part hearing rooms.  All the offices for legislators, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are now one block south, in what they call the “Swing” Building. After we finished group pictures we headed over to the “Swing” Building and each group proceeded to the assigned offices for our first meetings.  It was a very busy day.  There was a total of 90 in-person meetings and our ten groups of five attended 30-minute meetings with either an Assembly Member, Senator, or legislative staff member, as well as lunch at the Secretary of State Building. 

Since this is the busiest time of year for the Assembly Members and Senators, where they have 26 days to hear over 2000 bills, we mostly met with their legislative staff members.  I was assigned to a group that did have the opportunity to meet with Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin (from Thousand Oaks), who not only authored AB  2114, but has also been a great supporter of the HOA industry for many years. 

Some of the other offices we meet with included Assembly Member Miguel Santiago (Los Angeles), Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (Sacramento), Assembly Member Laura Friedman (Glendale), Senator Mike McGuire (Geyserville), Assembly Member Devon Mathis (Porterville), Assembly Member Philip Ting (San Francisco, Senator Rosilicie Ocahoa Bogh (Yucaipa) and Senator Catherine Blakespear (Encinitas). 

Overall it was a very productive day and we received a lot of support for the bills CAI-CLAC are in favor of, as well as the bill CAI-CLAC opposes.  They were also very receptive to our discussion on the state of insurance in California. Finally, after all our hard work we were able to make our way back to the Sacramento Sheraton Grand Hotel for a fundraising event which was organized by the CAI California North Chapter called “Corks for CLAC.” This was a wine tasting event with several silent auction prizes.  It was a nice time to relax and wind down after a very full day. 

Day Three: CAI National Update and Debrief

Day Three was the final day of the event.  It started at 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 4th, with breakfast and networking, followed by a debrief with Louie Brown, as well as a CAI National Update from Dawn Bauman, Chief Strategy Officer with Community Associations Institute and Executive Director for the Foundation for Community Association Research.  During our debriefing, each group had the opportunity to share the meeting highlights with the various Assembly Member and Senator offices.  It was very encouraging to hear that almost all the meetings we attended collectively seemed to be very successful.  

In Conclusion: One of the Most Rewarding Industry Experiences

As I stated earlier, I attended CAI-CLAC’s Virtual Advocacy Week for the past two years. While the virtual meetings were enlightening, nothing compares to the opportunity to meet with these people in person and have a very open dialogue about our cause. I would highly recommend any Community Association Manager, Homeowner, Board Member, and Industry Partner, consider attending this amazing event. 

Not only was Advocacy Week very educational, but it was probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have had since being in the industry. 

A very big thank you to the CAI-CLAC Executive Committee for giving me this opportunity.  I will be preparing to do it all over again next year!