By Martha Fogg, recipient of the 2018 Duncan McPherson Scholarship Award
I attended the CAI/CLAC Legislative Day in Sacramento over the weekend. The experience, education and information was invaluable. Sessions began on Sunday through part of Monday. There are more than 33,000 CAI members and over 60 chapters worldwide. CAI tracks Federal and State legislation impacting common interest developments. CLAC leadership consists of an Executive Committee and Chairs. There are two Delegates per Chapter, appointed by the CAI Chapter Board. There is one Liaison per Chapter, At-Large and Emeritas members. Chapters also consist of Legislative Support Committees (“LSCs”), which I currently serve on for the local Coachella Valley Chapter along with other members made up of community managers, homeowner leaders and business partners.
On Sunday, the first session consisted of an overview of the legislative process and how proposed bills become Law in California. The second session consisted of Case Law updates on various cases. The first case involved Service Dogs vs Emotional Support animals (“ESAs”). A homeowner prevailed in court for claims of violation of the Fair Housing Act as it applies to Emotional Support Animals. Take away, Boards need to have policies in place and follow-through by properly communicating back to homeowners when requests are submitted.
Another case involved views and obstructions. CC&Rs were vague, the Court determined that the Board did not act in good faith when it allowed an owner’s view to be obstructed by trees, which was protected under their CC&Rs. Homeowner prevails. Takeaway, Board should have gone out to the membership for CC&R amendment or not allow the view to be obstructed. California law does not permit views as a matter of right unless the right is protected by contract, i.e., CC&Rs.
We also learned about a case involving two neighbors and trespassing. Owner #1 trespassed on another homeowner’s lot and trimmed their trees. Courts found the Owner #1 liable for $120,000 (3x the costs to restore property as well as economic damages for the loss and enjoyment of the property). Takeaway, don’t trim other people’s trees and/or trespass on properties of others.
The last case was between a HOA and two homeowners regarding the re-landscaping of yards. The HOA sought to install drought tolerant landscaping in front yards to obtain rebates from a local water district. Two owners objected to the installation and prevented the contractors from performing the landscape conversions. The association sued the owners and prevailed. The two homeowners’ defenses were a claim of free speech rights and their objection of desert landscaping. Courts did not find implications of free speech. Takeaway, HOA’s have the right and
authority to re-landscape lawn areas in their pursuit of water conservation efforts. Homeowners should not interfere with operation and maintenance as a result.
Monday morning session was an overview from Louie Brown Jr. CAI-CLAC Advocate on the following bills to be lobbied later that afternoon.
- SB 721 (Hill) Contractors: Deck and Balconies: Inspections (Opposed unless amended)
- AB 2353 (Frazier) Construction Defect – Statute of Limitations (Opposed)
- SB 1128 (Roth) Election – Notice Requirements (Support)
- AB 2912 (Irwin) Protection of Association Finances (Support)
- SB 1265 (Wieckowski) Board Member Qualifications; Elections (Opposed)
Our groups were tasked and assigned to the various district Assembly and Senate Offices at the Capital to lobby support of the bills above impacting Common Interest Developments and CAI’s position on the bills. Where some Assemblymen and Senate members were not present, their Staff were presented with the bills and the positions held by CAI. Meetings consistently ran around 15-20 minutes.
At the end of the day, groups met for debriefing to offer feedback on the receptiveness of the bills and any additional feedback to leaders and CAI. Participants were encouraged to follow-up with the Assembly members and Senators on the bills, as well as thanking them and their Staff for their time.
In conclusion, the experience was extremely educational, inspirational and left an impression of the importance of advocacy, governance, a perspective on our democratic process as well as the much
needed support to the CAI-CLAC on behalf of Common Interest Developments. The impact of proposed Bills becoming Law will govern Common Interest Developments both positively and negatively. This is why it important to continue support CAI-CLAC.
One way to do this is through support of the “Buck-a-Door” program. One dollar, per door contribution annually to support the CAI organization that will continue to advocate on behalf of Common Interest developments. If we don’t, many of these bills will likely slip through the cracks and become law, which will place financial hardships to homeowners such as mandating costly inspections and destructive testing of balconies, limit an homeowner’s ability to hold Developers accountable for construction defects while passing on costly repairs to the homeowners, invade privacy rights of its membership and potential fraud using homeowner signatures, removes the Association’s ability to establish Board qualifications allowing delinquent members, felons, etc., to run and serve on seats of Board of Directors.
I’m inspired to continue my advocacy and be a part of CAI’s Coachella Valley Local Chapter LSC Committee to bring forth the education and advocacy for our Associations here at Desert Falls.
Martha Fogg, Onsite General Manager
Desert Falls Master Association
Martha is the General Manager of the Desert Falls Master Association and recipient of this year’s Duncan McPherson Scholarship Award. She has worked at Desert Falls for over 23 years; she earned her degree in business administration with a specialty certificate in human resources. She has also been a member of the CAI-CV chapter since 2008.