If you’re like me, when it comes to budget planning time there is usually one main direction from the Board, “Do not raise assessments but if you have to, keep it as minimal as possible.” Also, like me, you know this is almost an impossible task when dealing with inflation, rising utilities rates, minimum wage increases, etc. When we have these essential costs to cram into our already existing tight budgets, how then do we go about slipping in items that are considered by some boards to be incidental or ancillary? These are the challenges those of us who are passionate about the legislation that impacts our community associations face at budget time.
For me, the answer was visibility and persistence. Each month at the association board meeting, I have a GM report. I use it to educate those owners in attendance about certain happenings within the community. In addition, I would also use it to do a little promotion of CLAC and what types of legislation we were currently wrestling with both nationally but primarily in California. I would highlight the things that I thought would register with owners and the Board, especially when proposed legislation could have a fiscal impact on our association.
One example of many is when AB 1720 was proposed which would have required associations to open their board meetings to the public. This opening to the public would also include non-members of the association, attorneys and even the media. CLAC worked diligently to have it pulled or defeated due to the possible negative fiscal impact for likely needing the association’s legal counsel present at each meeting, as well as the potential for the disruption of board discussions and intimidation of volunteer board members. I would discuss it when it was proposed, continually give updates at each Board meeting and happily announced when it was stopped by the grass roots efforts of CLAC. Not surprisingly, others did not share my level of excitement, but it kept the importance of CLAC in the forefront even if it did not result in my board agreeing to a Buck-A- Door commitment.
After one of my recent Board meeting CLAC updates, my Board president, being frustrated by the delay in receiving our mail-in ballots for our CC&R restatement asked me, “You’re involved with this legislative group. Why can’t we just vote online to avoid all the expense of these mail-in ballots and also get rid of these time delays with the mail as we have a lot of seasonal owners all over the country and Canada?” I explained to him the history of online balloting for CIDs in California and that CLAC had even supported pending legislation to make this a reality but that it was unsuccessful. Incredulously, he asked why, being an ex-CEO of a large corporation, he could not fathom a restriction on this type of voting. After some back and forth and another explanation of what this CLAC thingy was all about and another explanation of the Buck-A-Door program, I had the support of our President and the Board to make a contribution.
So, after almost 2 years and many CLAC updates sandwiched in my GM reports, it happened to be an issue that I hadn’t discussed that tipped the scales for our Association to take the plunge. I guess the moral of the story is that if you are persistent and keep all the positive benefits of CLAC at the forefront, you might just find the right issue for them to identify with and become involved. Or, maybe if your Board just gets frustrated by some inefficiency of community governance and needs someone to champion their cause at the state legislative level they will become involved. Either way, the residents within our CIDs are the winners.
Clint Atherton first began working with common interest developments while employed by an Orange County real estate developer in 2001. He later moved on to become an onsite community manager in Huntington Beach and served on the CAI Orange County Chapter’s Program Committee and Legislative Support Committee. In addition, he was named by the Orange County Chapter as Large Scale Manager of the Year in 2012. Mr. Atherton is currently the onsite manager of Outdoor Resort Palm Springs and serves on the CAI Coachella Valley Chapter’s Legislative Support Committee as well as being the chapter’s liaison to CLAC.
You are welcome to reprint this article in your chapter publication and/or newsletter at your discretion. We do ask, however, that if you plan to make changes to it, including the title or subtitle, you contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may obtain approval from the author and CLAC’s PR Committee, in accordance with CLAC’s Reprint Policy.