Solar Energy Installations, President’s Violation

Solar Energy Installations, President’s Violation

Dear Mr. Richardson, I applied to my HOA Architectural committee to install solar panels on my roof, believing that Civil Code section 714 is quite clear that my application can be “reasonably” restricted but not denied. I have since heard that the HOA lawyer advised the Board that they could, in fact, deny my application if they were to come up with “3 good reasons.” Does this sound plausible to you? Where exactly is the law on rooftop solar in common interest developments? Thank you for your insight. Best, R.V., Whittier Dear RV, I can’t say if your HOA should grant or deny your request – I don’t know the facts. Two Civil Code statutes outside the Davis-Stirling Act, Sections 714 and 714.1, address an association’s ability to limit installation of solar energy systems. An association cannot ban them, but may have “reasonable” regulations. The board does not need “3 good reasons” to deny your application – One legitimate reason might be sufficient, but the key is whether that reason is legitimate. If you live in a planned development and you own your roof, your association is very limited in its ability to regulate solar installations — its regulations must not significantly increase the cost or significantly reduce the efficiency of solar systems. The statute defines what the term “significantly” means in different contexts. The issue becomes more complicated regarding condominiums. The roof over your residence mostly likely isn’t “your” roof, but is common area. When common area is involved, the association can and should set specific standards and limitations on installation – Section 714.1 allows the association to:...
Toward Orderly Board Meetings

Toward Orderly Board Meetings

One of the scourges of the HOA world is disorderly board meetings. Associations large and small struggle with meetings filled with the cacophony of people talking over each other, as normal manners and courtesies are abandoned. Such meetings end in frustration: Directors are discouraged that they cannot deliberate (and tempted to work in closed session), and observers are discouraged from volunteering for board service or even from attending future meetings. Consider these factors: Meeting room setup Board meetings are often set up so that all directors sit facing the audience and not each other. That sends two bad messages at once – that the board is talking to the audience, and is not talking to each other. Adjust tables so that the directors can better talk to each other, in the shape of a “C” with the open end facing the audience. Inadequate open forum Directors should not talk during open forum and the audience should not talk during board deliberations The dividing line should be clear. If an issue arises during the meeting on which member input is desired, have a motion to temporarily re-open open forum. Directors should pay close attention to the comments in open forum, so owners perceive that their open forum comments are respected. Stay on target Non-urgent matters cannot be discussed unless they were posted on the agenda four days before the meeting. Directors need to be disciplined and focus on the agenda, not all the topics which come to mind. When things stray off topic, Chairs should gently but firmly move debate back to the motion at hand, and all directors should...
Major Changes in the Open Meeting Act, and Board Procedure

Major Changes in the Open Meeting Act, and Board Procedure

The Open Meeting Act (Civil §1363.05) is an Act within an Act; found in the middle of the Davis Stirling Act. The changes now in effect from 2011’s SB 563 are the most sweeping for California common interest developments since the Act was passed in 1995. Many boards may need to change longstanding practices so as to comply. Elimination of action without a meeting The core of SB 563 was its ban of board decisions by unanimous written consent. This method of decision-making was previously permitted by the Corporations Code, but no longer. Agenda notice of executive session meetings Although the Act requires agendas and notice to be posted four days before an open board meeting, it was not previously clear if notice was required for a meeting solely to be in executive session. Now, two days minimum notice is required for meetings which are solely in closed session. No e-mail deliberation (except emergencies) The law now bans boards from making normal decisions by e-mail. This is a growing problem in associations, as almost everyone uses e-mail. E-mail can be a useful way of exchanging information, but also can be used to circumvent the healthy deliberation process of open board meetings. That not only now violates the law, but also harms the board’s credibility with the members. Emergency e-mail decisions The board can make an emergency decision using e-mail if the board unanimously agrees on the action. The e-mails must be made part of the minutes. Note – the term “emergency” is already defined in the Open Meeting Act: “…if there are circumstances that could not have been reasonably...