Dear Readers,

This marks the 200th column since it was revived in early 2012; may I share 20 thoughts with you on this milestone?

  1. Common interest communities involve shared ownership, which is not possible without an organization to facilitate that sharing. Some people are unwilling to play well with others, and often are the ones who want to ban the HOA. Unless someone invents more land, HOAs are vitally necessary.
  2. Could Realtors® treat CC&Rs with the same importance as the Residential Purchase Agreement? Both documents are binding contracts, but only one is usually reviewed by buyers during escrow.
  3. Successful HOA governance requires setting aside the vertical chain of command we all learn during our education and employment lives. Common interest developments use a horizontal power structure, in which the power rests in the board, not in any individual.
  4. Most boards do too much business in closed session which should be conducted in open session.
  5. If homeowners allow the board to deliberate the agenda without interruption, and directors avoid interrupting homeowners during their open forum remarks, meetings would be dramatically more productive and professional.
  6. Too many managers without credentials are managing associations, because too few associations insist on hiring only managers holding credentials from a recognized organization. If someone is a Certified Common Interest Development Manager, qualified to use that label by the Business and Professions Code, they hold at least one such credential.
  7. Board meetings are too long in most associations.
  8. Exclusive use common area is still common area – the association can indeed control how it is used.
  9. Most associations spend too little time telling their members what the association is doing for their benefit.
  10. The best association directors are the ones which understand team governance – that individually they have no power, and that the power resides in the board as a group.
  11. The best association officers understand that their role is quite different than the role of a for-profit corporate officer. Non-profit officers do not have the power – the board has it.
  12. An attitude of service is the foundation of a healthy board – directors serve their community. Members are neighbors, and so are the directors.
  13. Directors make decisions – they direct, and managers manage. Associations where directors try to co-manage will find directors working too hard and heading toward burnout (and probably a discouraged manager also).
  14. The best run associations understand that governance requires balancing financial, maintenance, legal/process and community concerns. The first three cannot overshadow the last – the neighborhood.
  15. There is no such thing in California as a “planned unit development.” California has planned developments.
  16. Some associations spend too much time resisting disclosure of financial documents, and some homeowners abuse the right to request such documents.
  17. Many small associations cannot afford legal advice – how will they ever comply with the increasingly complex Davis-Stirling Act?
  18. At least with larger associations, volunteer board members should be required to receive some training or education.
  19. Cumulative voting and proxies create opportunities for chicanery in association elections and should be outlawed. They do not help associations.
  20. If homeowners, directors and even managers would not make or take things so personally, associations would be a far more pleasant place to live.



Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Past columns at All rights reserved®.


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