Proxies, Member Petitions

Mr. Richardson, I have been under the impression that a change to the governing laws in California no longer allowed proxies for elections. As such, we almost never get a quorum on the first try and therefore have to waste the homeowner’s money having a second annual meeting to meet the reduced quorum numbers. Yet, your [earlier] article sounds like proxies are allowed for quorum purposes. Can you clarify this for me?? Thanks,  F.V., San Clemente Dear F.V., There is a recurring myth that proxies were “outlawed” by the 2005 amendments to the HOA election law (Civil Code 1363.03). The confusion arises from the first sentence of 1363.03(d)(2): ” Proxies shall not be construed or used in lieu of a ballot.” This means that a proxy cannot be used as a ballot. The next sentence clearly contemplates that an association may allow proxies: “An association may use proxies if permitted or required by the bylaws of the association..” Since the law requires each owner receive a ballot which can be cast in advance, there is no reason to use proxies in order to have one’s vote count. If they are unable to attend the meeting, members can still cast a vote, since they receive ballots well in advance. I routinely suggest associations delete proxies from their bylaws, except for proxies for the sole purpose of attaining quorum. So, proxies aren’t illegal- just unnecessary. By the way, from time to time I hear a director say they are giving another director their proxy to vote in a board meeting. The Corporations Code refers to proxies regarding member votes only. Thanks...
New Year’s Resolutions for CIDs

New Year’s Resolutions for CIDs

Happy New Year! Consider these resolutions to start the new year, which may help your common interest development association to become a more positive community. HOA director’s resolutions – We will: Be familiar with our governing documents (CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules). Communicate better and more frequently with our neighbors (members) with newsletters, web page updates or bulletins. Remember that our position is with a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, which is different than a business corporate director or officer. Unlike employees, we cannot fire our neighbors. Our corporation is also a community. Be aware that some neighbors might not know their rights and responsibilities under the law or governing documents, and that the board may need to provide patience and even education at times. Limit our board meetings to at most 2 hours, and aim for a meeting length of 90 minutes. Arrive at meetings prepared, having reviewed the agenda and all other documents provided to us. Not require unanimous votes, nor will we be offended by “nay” votes. Listen attentively during Open Forum without interrupting. Use closed executive session meetings only when clearly necessary under the law. Never forget that we serve our neighbors who entrusted us to be a director and that board service is a privilege, not a right. Be open as we can be with information or documents requested by members. We will ask “why not?” give a member information or copies, rather than “Do we have to?” Look for opportunities to establish committees, to share the workload and offer members opportunities for involvement. Join our local Community Associations Institute chapter, use its educational resources, and be...
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:...