April 21, 2014

Alex Noland Named Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb

screen-capture-56.pngSwedelsonGottlieb, California Community Association Attorneys, proudly announces Alex Noland’s elevation to partner in the firm. Alex has been the senior attorney in the San Francisco office of SwedelsonGottlieb since 2011, and he has been with the firm since 2008. He is a key member of the firm and a leader in California's community association industry.

Alex's law practice with SwedelsonGottlieb is focused on transactional matters, including advising the firm's community association clients on addressing association governance, the negotiation and preparation of contracts, amending and restating governing documents, rule drafting and enforcement, developer transitions, complex cost sharing, easement and parking agreements, and various business and legal issues. He is skilled in the representation of both residential associations and commercial/industrial associations, as well as mixed-use projects. Although Alex is primarily in the firm’s San Francisco office, he is still working with many Southern California community associations and is in the Los Angeles office at least one week each month.

Alex is a current member of the Board of Directors and the Education Committee of the Bay Area and Central California Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI), and he is a former co-chair of the Programs Committee of the Orange County Regional Chapter of CAI. Alex also serves as a member of the faculty and the Legal Advisory Steering Committee of the California Association of Community Managers, and he is an active member of the Educational Community for Homeowners.

Alex can be reached via email: an@sghoalaw.com

April 2, 2014

The Impacts of California’s 2020 Water Law on Community Associations

By: W. Alexander Noland, Esq. & Cyrus Koochek, Esq., SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

water.jpgIn recent years, California has been faced with drought conditions, reduced water supplies and a consistently growing population. One step the California legislature has taken to address these issues was the adoption of Assembly Bill 1881, the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (the “Act”), which establishes goals for the efficiency and reduction of water usage in California. The Act has been codified in the following California statutory provisions: Section 4735 of the Civil Code; Article 10.8 (commencing with Section 65591) of Chapter 3 of Division 1 of Title 7 of the Government Code; Section 25401.9 of the Public Resources Code; and Article 4.5 (commencing with Section 535) to Chapter 8 of Division 1 of the Water Code, relating to water conservation.

Continue reading "The Impacts of California’s 2020 Water Law on Community Associations" »

March 14, 2014

SwedelsonGottlieb and ALS Awarded 1st Place Exhibitor Booth at CACM

This year's Southern California Law Seminar and Expo hosted by the California Association of Community Managers was a huge success. Representatives from SwedelsonGottlieb and Association Lien Services presented at the event, and we also participated in the exhibitor booth competition. Here's a picture of our team sporting our first place award for our Alice in Wonderland theme! From left to right: Sandra L. Gottlieb, Senior Partner (SG); Alex Noland, Partner (SG); Tracy Neal, Vice President and Supervising Attorney (ALS); Mary Peterson, Client Relations Manager (ALS); David Swedelson, Senior Partner (SG); Cyrus Koochek, Associate Attorney (SG); Sean Allen, Associate Attorney (SG)

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February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day - Need a Contract?

heart.pngFriday, February 14, 2014 is Valentine’s Day. A holiday that originated in Italy, it's all about love, and it has chocolate and champagne as staple foods, making it very seductive. And dangerous, because it’s easy to get carried away. That is where your attorney can help. Several Valentine contracts have been floating around the Internet. We would like to share our adaptation of one that another attorney disseminated to his “romantically proficient” clients. It’s a non-binding contractual agreement for affection, hereinafter the “Valentine Agreement.”

My dearest darling [valentine's name here],

WHEREAS, I am madly in love with [valentine's name here], it is herein proposed that [valentine's name here] and I agree to be bound to the present Valentine Agreement subject to the following terms and conditions hereto:

1. BILATERAL. [Valentine's name here] and I agree to bestow upon each other the title of “My Valentine.”
2. EXCLUSIVITY. For the duration of this agreement, [valentine's name here] and I will not enter into a Valentine Agreement with other parties.
3. DEMONSTRABILITY. Both parties agree to perform at least one (1) but not more than three (3) displays of public affection including, but not limited to, a kiss.
4. FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS. Financial obligations covered under this Agreement extend to dinner, drinks, and a dessert containing chocolate and something red. Yes, [valentine's name here], you get to choose the restaurant.
5. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. The above covenants represent the entirety of the Valentine Agreement. Parties are not bound to any oral or written representations outside of this Agreement, including but not limited to (a) “Going steady”; (b) Holding hands; or (c) Meeting the parents of either party.
6. DURATION AND SEVERABILITY. This Agreement is effective as of 12:00 p.m. on February 14, 2014, and becomes null and void at 12:00 a.m. on February 15, 2014 (the Cinderella clause). We understand that both parties might be tempted to enter into an impromptu extension. This must be in writing. As movie producer Samuel Goldwyn said, “A verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.”

February 13, 2014

Thomas the Tank Engine has a Useful Song for Homeowners About Rules & Regulations

Most homeowners at condo or HOAs follow their association’s rules. A few “bend the rules a bit.” And although they know that they “should be doing as“ the rules require, they don’t.

They seem to believe that doing things the “wrong way may seem easier,”
“It doesn't matter who you are, obey the rules and you'll go far.”

We have to assume that those who violate the rules did not listen and take to heart what Thomas the Tank Engine meant when he sang his Rules & Regulations song. For those of you who have forgotten it, here is a video of the song and below are the lyrics (and maybe you will want to share this with some rule violators out there).

Looking for a better way
And you think you've got it all under control
And so you bend the rules a bit
As you try to make things fit
But you know you should be doing as you're told

Although sometimes you'll find it so hard
And the wrong way may seem easier
It doesn't matter who you are
Obey the rules and you'll go far

We all live by rules and regulations
Rules and regulations now
Isn't it a bore, isn't it a chore
Sometimes it's so hard remembering all those
Strict rules...codes...laws...all those stipulations
Rules and regulations now
But without those rules and regulations
Where would we be now?

So you see you have to try and do the right thing every time
If you do, then you will come to the conclusion
That there is right and there is wrong
And the rules help you along
And they're really only there for your protection

Although sometimes you'll find it so hard
And the wrong way may seem easier
It doesn't matter who you are
Obey the rules and you'll go far

We all live by rules and regulations
Rules and regulations now
Isn't it a bore, isn't it a chore
Sometimes it's so hard remembering all those
Strict rules...codes...laws...all those stipulations
Rules and regulations now
But without those rules and regulations
Where would we be now?

February 5, 2014

Justin Bieber Violates HOA Rules, Pisses Off His Neighbors, and Some Threaten to Stop Paying Assessments — What is the Association To Do?

By David Swedelson, Senior Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

bieber.pngThis was the title of a recent newspaper article. As Justin Bieber has been in the news too often lately and seems to be spiraling out of control, and as there is now a community association component to the story, I thought it only fitting that we address the community association issues raised by his recent activities.

The article (in the LA Times) reported about an alleged incident in late May and June of 2013 at the Calabasas planned development HOA where Bieber owns a home (one he apparently resides in). It is claimed that Bieber was involved in a high-speed chase on the association’s streets on Memorial Day 2013, as former NFL player Keyshawn Johnson — in his Toyota Prius hybrid — chased after Bieber — who was purportedly driving his white Ferrari, in an effort to catch “the Bieb” speeding in the HOA too close to Johnson's kids. Johnson claims that Bieber drove to his home, jumped out of the Ferrari, and ran inside before Johnson could confront him. Bieber later claimed that security footage proved it wasn't him behind the wheel.

Continue reading "Justin Bieber Violates HOA Rules, Pisses Off His Neighbors, and Some Threaten to Stop Paying Assessments — What is the Association To Do?" »

February 4, 2014

Homeowners Cannot Withhold or Offset Assessments When They Have a Dispute With Their Condo or HOA

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

madguy.pngI recently read a newspaper article about Justin Bieber and the problems he is allegedly creating for his homeowners association in Calabasas, California. Homeowners are apparently unhappy that he is racing his Ferrari around the association’s streets, and they threatened to withhold payment of their assessments unless and until their board did something about the situation. That would be a mistake for those owners or any owner who has a dispute with their association, because they simply do not have the right to withhold payment of their assessments as leverage to get their association to do what they want.

Owners often make this threat. Usually, it is when they have suffered damage in their unit, or they want maintenance done and they think that the association has not responded as quickly or as well as they would like, or with the answers they want. These owners think they are tenants, and the association is their landlord, and that gives them the right to withhold the only income the association receives to pay for maintenance, utilities, insurance, management—and the list goes on. That belief is wrong and has gotten some owners into trouble.

Continue reading "Homeowners Cannot Withhold or Offset Assessments When They Have a Dispute With Their Condo or HOA" »

February 3, 2014

What Happened To Your Condo Association’s Disabled Parking Space(s)? Court Finds In Favor of a Tenant Where HOA Had No Designated Disabled Parking Spaces And Refused To Designate a Space

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

disabled.pngDoes your community association have disabled parking spaces? Maybe I should ask if the association ever had these spaces. There is no police force that goes out and checks. But we know that over time, some boards have “converted” what were initially designated as handicap or disabled parking spaces into guest parking or assigned parking for management or other staff.

Some association clients tell us that their disabled parking spaces were never being used and that the association has a shortage of guest parking spaces. While that may be true, it is also true that associations must comply with the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA, 1988). Not only does compliance make living in the community easier for members with disabilities, but it also helps the association avoid a time-consuming and costly lawsuit, because not all carriers provide coverage for fair housing violation claims arising out of an owner’s or tenant’s claim that the board and association have not reasonably accommodated their needs. Parking is one of the claims we often see when it comes to reasonable requests for accommodation by owners and/or their tenants.

Continue reading "What Happened To Your Condo Association’s Disabled Parking Space(s)? Court Finds In Favor of a Tenant Where HOA Had No Designated Disabled Parking Spaces And Refused To Designate a Space" »

January 24, 2014

The New Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act

By David Swedelson, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

office%20condos.pngIs your condo association exclusively a commercial or industrial development? Surprise -- as of January 1, 2014, the Davis-Stirling Act no longer applies to your association. Your association is now regulated by the new Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act (CICIDA), Civil Code Sections 6500-6876.

Previously, managers and directors of commercial and industrial developments only had to be aware of the provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act that did not apply to commercial and industrial developments. Now, there is an entire new body of law specifically applicable to these kinds of developments. While some requirements remain unchanged, there are some substantive changes that will generally allow for more flexibility when governing a commercial or industrial development. Simply stated, the legislature has not included in the CICIDA many of the requirements of the Davis-Stirling Act that now apply solely to residential associations, including secret elections, budgets, disclosures, and the list goes on. Follow this link to read our comprehensive article.

January 20, 2014

California Community Associations are Increasingly a Target for Wage & Hour Lawsuits

By Sandra L. Gottlieb, Managing Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys wages.png

Wage & hour lawsuits are being filed with increasing regularity, and community associations, as employers, are not exempt. Unfortunately, some of our association clients have already been sued on wage and hour claims, and it appears that the risk of the association employer being sued for these claims is greater than ever.

What can you do to not be a target for litigation? Start by evaluating your association’s pay practices.

Continue reading "California Community Associations are Increasingly a Target for Wage & Hour Lawsuits" »

January 16, 2014

Is Your Community Association Complying With the Law Relating to Minimum Wage and Heat Illness Periods?

By David Swedelson, Senior Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

weedwhack.pngWe know that most of you are likely overwhelmed with the new Davis-Stirling Act. But there was other new legislation that impacts many California community associations.

Minimum Wage

For example, we know that many of you employ minimum wage workers, typically for maintenance and landscaping jobs. Did you know that the legal minimum wage is higher than federal law and is currently $8.00 per hour? Also, it increases, effective July 1, 2014, to $9.00 per hour. And note that effective January 1, 2016, the California minimum wage further increases to $10.00 per hour.

Heat Illness Periods

Did you know that California Labor Code section 226.7 was amended and has expanded meal and rest break requirements to include recovery periods to prevent heat illness? This would most likely apply to those employees that work in landscaping and maintenance positions. The penalty mirrors the premium for failing to provide meal or rest breaks (i.e., one additional hour of pay for each workday that meal, rest or heat illness recovery period is not provided). But unlike the meal and rest period rules which are clear on timing, the need for a heat illness recovery period is subjective and determined by the employee (and not their manager).

January 15, 2014

A Fine Change in the Law That all Boards Must Acknowledge

By Cyrus Koochek and David Swedelson, Community Association Attorneys, SwedelsonGottlieb

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It is a fact of community association governance that at some point, every community association board of directors will likely have the need to levy a fine on a member. Most associations have adopted a schedule of monetary penalties or fine policy setting forth the fines that the board will impose in the event there is a violation of the governing documents. Whether an association plans to amend or adopt a new or revised fine policy, or do nothing at all with its current fine policy, all associations must now comply with changes in the new Davis-Stirling Act (effective January 1, 2014) relating to fines.

Former California Civil Code Section 1363(f) provided that if an association adopts or has adopted a policy imposing any monetary penalty, the Board must distribute the policy to all members via first class mail or personal delivery when the schedule is first adopted or when revised. The former code section was ambiguous and some believed that it did not require that the board disclose/distribute the fine policy on a yearly basis. The code just required that the board distribute any fine policy it did adopt/revise at that time. Thus, for example, if an association did not revise its fine policy for 10 years, some interpreted the former code section to say that there was no obligation to distribute it to the members regularly. This led to some confusion and disagreements.

Continue reading "A Fine Change in the Law That all Boards Must Acknowledge" »