By David Swedelson, Senior Partner and Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

voter_suppression_-_Google_Search-300x189I first heard about voter suppression in law school, where I learned that the United States has a long tradition of threatening voter access. I thought it was a thing of the past. But I have been surprised by recent news stories that tell us that there are real efforts in 2020 to make it harder for some Americans to vote. For example, a Memphis, Tenn., poll worker turned away people wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, saying they couldn’t vote. Robocalls warned thousands of Michigan residents that mail-in voting could put their personal information in the hands of debt collectors and police. In Georgia, officials cut polling places by nearly 10%, even as the number of voters surged by nearly 2 million.

Simply stated, voter and candidate suppression is a strategy used to influence an election’s outcome by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from running as a candidate in an election or voting. Unlike political campaigning, which attempts to change voting behavior through persuasion and organization, activating inactive voters, or registering new supporters; voter suppression attempts to reduce the number of voters who might vote against a candidate or proposition. The tactics of voter suppression range from minor changes to make voting less convenient, physical intimidation, and even physical attacks on prospective voters, which is illegal.

Screenshot_10_22_20__6_17_PM-189x300By David Swedelson, Esq. Senior Partner and Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

We are enduring a serious pandemic and social distancing is the norm. How can community association boards protect the health and safety of the board members, owners, management and others who attend board meetings, while also complying with the technical legalities of open board meetings?

Under California’s Open Meeting Act, association owners have a right to attend, observe and participate at what are supposed to be open board meetings (Cal. Civil Code § 4925). An owner can challenge or seek to nullify board actions taken in violation of the Act by bringing a civil action against the association for injunctive relief, restitution, reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs. The court can also impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each violation. (Cal. Civil Code § 4955.)

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We have bad news. Despite a lot of lobbying work, the legislature passed, and the Governor signed into law Assembly Bill 3182 (“AB 3182”), which amends Civil Code section 4740 and adds a new section 4741 to the Civil Code. Pursuant to the new section 4741, an owner of a condo, home, lot, or unit in a co-op (a “Separate Interest”) that is part of a common interest development (“CID”) cannot be required to comply with a provision of the CC&Rs, Bylaws or Rules that prohibits or unreasonably restricts the renting or leasing of a Separate Interest, accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”), or junior accessory dwelling unit (“JADUs”) to a renter, tenant or lessee.

The good news is that section 4741 will allow CIDs to adopt or enforce governing document provisions that prohibit transient occupancy or short-term rentals of Separate Interests for thirty (30) days or less.

That was the good news; short and not so sweet. The other bad news is that Section 4741 explicitly prohibits CIDs from:

pesticides_-_Google_Search-300x268From the Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

When community associations decide to have chemical pesticides or weed-killing herbicides such as Roundup applied, they must provide detailed, written advance notice to homeowners and residents.

Pursuant to Civil Code §4777(b), “an association or its authorized agent that applies any pesticide to a separate interest or to the common area without a licensed pest control operator shall provide the owner and, if applicable, the tenant of an affected separate interest and, if making broadcast applications, or using total release foggers or aerosol sprays, the owner and, if applicable, the tenant in an adjacent separate interest that could reasonably be impacted by the pesticide use with written notice…”

Screenshot_6_16_20__11_21_AM-300x175By David Swedelson, Community Association Attorney at SwedelsonGottlieb

Interesting story out of Florida About an 86-year-old owner who wanted to do something to show his support for the black lives matter movement. He wanted to stand in solidarity with those that are protesting to protect black lives, so, with the help of his granddaughter, he wrote out “Black Lives Matter” in chalk paint on the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony of his condo. His neighbors confronted him and also complained to management, and the association’s manager told him to remove the sign.

This owner was not deterred and he wanted to figure out a way to get what he felt was an important message across, so he and his granddaughter took the paint off the window and replaced it with cardboard cut-outs that spell out “BLM.” They hung the letters from the door on the inside of the condo using fishing wire — a display that could be considered interior art.

Screenshot_5_28_20__3_30_PM-300x187 The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the closures of community association pools, spas, tennis courts, gyms and other recreational facilties. The good news is that the State of California and the 58 counties are in the process of issuing new orders regarding the use of community association pools, tennis courts and other recreational facilities. The attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb have researched all 58 counties and follow this link to our listing of same and their current orders regarding pools tennis courts and other facilities. Changes to the orders and guidance cited to in our listing occur frequently and this list is as of May 27, 2020. And as the different counties are progressing through the phased reopening plans at different paces, each association should check regularly with the State, County, and City for the most up-to-date orders and guidelines.

Contact SwedelsonGottlieb for questions: 800/372-2207 or info@sghoalaw.com

weird_swimming_pools_-_Google_Search-300x147From the attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

At the same time as the State announced that California has become the fourth state in the country to surpass 100,000 coronavirus infections and that 100,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, Los Angeles County issued a new order allowing for community association pools to reopen so long as certain protocols are followed. The new LA County Order does not mandate that associations open their pool(s). The association’s owners and residents will likely make a demand on the board to reopen the pool; what’s a board to do?

The first thing is to acknowledge that compliance with the new Order will not be easy. Some associations may opt not to open or not open until the association is able to administer the required protocols. These protocols are important. Let us not forget that LA County is still considered a coronavirus “hotspot” and that means that we must all do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The news is filled with stories of people in California crowding certain recreation areas, pools, restaurants and beaches and not wearing masks and how these conditions have led to outbreaks in other states. Community association boards that decide to open pools, must follow the mandatory LA County protocols. In addition, they must make sure that residents comply.

Follow this link to read the new Order/protocol that the County issued for opening the pool(s). This protocol must be adhered to at all times and provides specific guidance/restrictions/limitations on reopening and use of the pools, including the deck area.

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SwedelsonGottlieb is sharing one of a series of webinars featuring founding partner Sandra L. Gottlieb and a panel of attorneys from across North America moderated by Andrew Fortin discussing how community associations are responding to and addressing issues about amenities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

As we continue to navigate the wave of this pandemic, we continue to urge you all to take COVID-19 and your health and wellness seriously. Be patient and thoughtful of your neighbors, community and those who are suffering the effects of COVID-19. And for those that are not infected, we all need to wear a mask and socially distance from others when out in public.

CAI_LOGO_225Earlier this month, CAI released a Statement of Moratorium on Foreclosure Actions urging community associations to immediately suspend all foreclosure activity and not begin new foreclosure actions until June 1. We question how well thought out this position is as it is not all that realistic for California community associations.

Do not get this wrong. We at SwedelsonGottlieb are well aware of the impact that COVID-19 has had on our world and the fact that over 10,000,000 people filed for unemployment nationwide (so far). We recognize that community association boards are going to need to be sensitive to the fact that many owners may be temporarily (hopefully) unemployed and not able to timely pay their assessments.

As CAI said in its introduction to the Statement of Moratorium, the collection of community association assessments is a very serious and important responsibility of a governing board. Failing to collect assessments may impair a community association’s ability to pays its bills, provide essential services, acquire financing for continued operations, and may impact the ability of a potential purchaser to obtain a mortgage or impact existing owners refinancing of their loans.

Screenshot_4_21_20__10_26_AM-300x110Prepared by the California Community Association Attorneys at SwedelsonGottlieb

By now, most people have heard about the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (2020 H.R. 748). The breadth and scope of this Act, and the speed at which it passed both houses of a divided Congress and became law, is truly remarkable in these partisan times and speaks to the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Act is a massive stimulus bill that contains a variety of different programs of grants, loans, credits, debt forgiveness, and tax changes. Each of these programs is administered differently and has different criteria for eligibility.

Two of the Act’s provisions have become of particular interest to community associations: the federal Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance Grant program (the EIDL Loans which are available to HOAs), and the Paycheck Protection Program (the PPP which is not currently available to HOAs).

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