New Laws for California Community Associations

*This post originally appeared as an article on our page at RODLLP.com

The 2021 legislative session was one of the most active legislative years impacting California community association law. Pressures of the California affordable housing crisis continue to seep into several laws aimed at increasing housing density availability and rental properties.

All in all, California’s community associations fared well with several pieces of legislation clarifying omissions and ambiguities in prior laws. New laws passed will also facilitate more efficient community association governance for board members conducting meetings and elections. The following legislative summary provides an overview of new laws that significantly impact community associations. All new laws take effect January 1, 2022 unless otherwise noted.

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So, what does the “Inspector of Elections” do, anyway?

The role of the inspector of elections can be a confusing mystery to members asked to serve in that role and to managers who may not really know what the job involves.

The role of the inspector of elections can be a confusing mystery to members asked to serve in that role and to managers who may not really know what the job involves. Too often the inspector of elections is not appointed before the election process starts, and owners are frequently asked to serve in the role to open and count ballots at the time of the meeting set for that purpose. However, the inspector of elections has a far broader role than just opening and counting ballots, and with the enactment of Senate Bill 323, management or anyone under contract to the association can no longer act as the inspector of elections. Therefore, it is more likely that members will be asked to serve in this role and more important than ever that managers, board members, and homeowners understand what the role and duties of the inspector of elections are in community association elections.

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Robert DeNichilo admitted into CAI’s College of Community Association Lawyers

Robert M. DeNichilo has been granted membership in the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL)—one of fewer than 175 attorneys nationwide to be admitted to the prestigious organization. Fellows of the College are among the most respected community association attorneys in the country.

Robert M. DeNichilo has been granted membership in the College of Community Association Lawyers (CCAL)—one of fewer than 175 attorneys nationwide to be admitted to the prestigious organization. Fellows of the College are among the most respected community association attorneys in the country.

CCAL was established in 1993 by Community Associations Institute (CAI), with membership consisting of attorneys who have distinguished themselves through contributions to the evolution and practice of community association law. CCAL fellows are also recognized for committing themselves to high standards of professional and ethical conduct. CCAL provides a forum for the exchange of information among experienced legal professionals working for the advancement of community association governance. Its goals include promoting high standards of professional and ethical responsibility, improving and advancing community association law and practice, and facilitating the development of educational materials and programming pertaining to legal issues.

CAI is an international membership organization dedicated to helping homeowner and condominium associations meet the expectations of their residents. The organization accomplishes this mission by providing information, tools and resources to homeowner volunteer leaders and community managers who govern and manage common-interest communities. By helping its members learn, excel and achieve, CAI strengthens the governance and management of community associations throughout the country, making them better places to live.

More than 68 million people live in America’s estimated 338,000 homeowner and condominium associations, cooperatives and other planned communities.

Responding to an Accommodation Request? What’s your Policy?

Responding to an accommodation request does not have to be scary. Adopting a policy for an association to follow goes a long way to successfully addressing accommodation requests properly. But there are several stages where boards and managers can get tripped up in the process.

This article first appeared in the January/February issue of the Orange County Chapter of CAI’s OC View Magazine.

With all the various moving parts that go into managing a community association, few issues cause more confusion or are as fraught with risk as dealing with a request for a reasonable accommodation or modification. Failing to respond timely, or denying a request when it is appropriate exposes the association to potential liability for violating fair housing laws. Granting one without getting sufficient information to determine if it is warranted exposes the association to potentially unnecessary expenses and potential breach of fiduciary duty claims. Asking for additional information to support the request might be a no-no. That is why having a good, clear, concise policy in place to guide a board of directors as to how to address such requests can go a long way to help navigate the potential landmines that responding to a request for a reasonable accommodation involves.

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California Drought restrictions Officially Lifted

California Governor Jerry Brown Officially declared an end to the drought and rescinded two drought-related executive orders from 2014, including the one that declared a drought state of emergency, excepting four counties in Central California. The Governor’s action today reinstates the ability for California community associations to impose fines or otherwise enforce their governing documents related to an owner’s decision to not water grass or other vegetation.

Executive Order B-40-17 lifts the drought emergency in all California counties except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne, where emergency drinking water projects will continue to help address diminished groundwater supplies. Today’s order also rescinds two emergency proclamations from January and April 2014 and four droughtrelated executive orders issued in 2014 and 2015.

In a related action, state agencies today issued a plan to continue to make conservation a way of life in California, as directed by Governor Brown in May 2016. The framework requires new legislation to establish long-term water conservation measures and improved planning for more frequent and severe droughts. Permanent restrictions shall prohibit wasteful practices such as:
• Hosing off sidewalks, driveways and other hardscapes;
• Washing automobiles with hoses not equipped with a shut-off
nozzle;
• Using non-recirculated water in a fountain or other decorative
water feature;
• Watering lawns in a manner that causes runoff, or within 48
hours after measurable precipitation; and
• Irrigating ornamental turf on public street medians.