Articles Posted in Current Affairs

poliCE_officer_issuing_citation_-_Google_Search.pngBy David Swedelson, Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

The LA Times reports that the Los Angeles City Council has adopted a new system that allows police officers to issue citations for minor “quality of life” crimes that would typically be resolved with a warning. Read the article here.

According to the article, “a pilot program, called Administrative Citation Enforcement, gives the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Animal Services a new enforcement tool that bypasses the court system. It allows city officials to impose fines for offenses such as urinating in public, having dogs off leashes or dumping garbage in public streets.”

By David Swedelson, Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

Phil_Angelides___Curbed_LA.pngWe deal with a lot of view obstruction disputes. We are able to resolve most of these disputes, as they are subject to CC&Rs which set out what view is protected. And the CC&Rs and the Civil Code provide that the prevailing party is entitled to collect their attorneys’ fees. That usually convinces most people that the fight is not worth the cost.

Sometimes, these view disputes cannot be resolved. For example, in July of 2013, I blogged about a case I had tried and won that dealt with a homeowner who was not part of the association she sued, claiming her cherished view of the association’s lake was obstructed by the trees in the association’s park; she claimed it was a spite fence. Follow this link to read that story.

So, I found an article about a lawsuit involving a 40 foot hedge to be interesting. The legal battle over the hedge is between two Santa Monica properties. Follow this link to read the Daily Journal article.

The article tells us that while they tried to settle the dispute, the “Santa Monica neighbors – well-known local plaintiffs’ attorney Browne Greene and former California state treasurer Phillip N. Angelides – are instead opting to go to court in September over the 40-foot hedge between their two homes.”
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By David Swedelson, Senior Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

robin_williams_net_worth_-_Google_Search.pngRobin Williams is dead. We lost a great talent, a very funny man. As one commentator wrote, the world is a lot less funny today.

I read an interesting article about Robin Williams and the No Asshole Rule. Not surprising, it is reported that Robin Williams was NOT an asshole. Apparently he treated others with warmth and respect. If only homeowners at community associations followed the No Asshole Rule. Just saying…

Report by David Swedelson, Partner, SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

L_A__street_repair_agency_riddled_with_problems__audit_finds_-_LA_Times.pngAn article in the LA Times last week reported that Los Angeles City auditors revealed that the bureau charged with fixing and maintaining Los Angeles’ streets is plagued with problems that include failing to collect or spend hundreds of millions of dollars, keeping shoddy records and neglecting to address the most heavily trafficked roads first. Follow this link to read the article.

Below are some highlights and comments. And as you read this, think about what would happen at a community association that so badly managed maintenance and repair. I know what would happen; the owners at the association would be very unhappy. And they would let the board know just how they feel. So why aren’t more people letting the city know just how they feel about the situation?
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screen-capture-18.pngLooking for a fun, healthy way to support a great cause? This Saturday, SwedelsonGottlieb staff will be teaming up with the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of Community Associations Institute in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Come on over to Santa Monica and join us this Saturday, July 26th at 10:00 a.m.

Follow this link to register for the event. Select the “SIGN UP” button, then find the button that says “JOIN A TEAM” and use the drop-down list to find CAI-GLAC and join the team.

Thanks for your support!

By David Swedelson, Partner at SwedelsonGottlieb, Community Association Attorneys

1120_tax_return_-_Google_Search.pngI am not an accountant, far from it. But I am aware that there are two different tax returns that condos, HOAs, and cooperatives can (and should) file (and yes, community associations, while exempt to some extent from paying taxes on assessment income, still may have income and need to file tax returns). I have never really understood when an association would file one tax return form versus the other. I was therefore interested in a blog article on this issue by Donna DiMaggio Berger, a Florida community association attorney. Donna’s article addressed a class she took that focused on the issues pertaining to association tax returns. I am only going to summarize it here. [Editor’s note: the prior link to Donna’s article is no longer valid, our apologies.]

As Donna points out, most board members are not all likely to understand the complexities of accounting principles. And most likely do not understand the complexities of tax issues, returns, etc. as the same applies to their homeowners association. This means that board members do need to hire a competent accounting professional to assist their community.
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In its February 2014 issue, the International Top 100 BusinessMag recently published its list of the top 100 lawyers in America, which includes our very own Joan Lewis-Heard. The magazine notes that Joan is “highly regarded by both clients and colleagues for her experience, attention to detail and ambition…” Read the full profile from the issue here. Way to go, Joan!

Sandra Gottlieb’s article, The “Art” of Taking Minutes at Your Association’s Meeting was featured in the March 2014 issue of the ECHO Journal, published by the Educational Community for Homeowners. Sandra discusses the format of minutes, the value of brevity, conduct of the meeting, objectivity, approval and retention, among other considerations.

In the California Association of Community Manager’s Spring Edition of the Law Journal, David Swedelson’s article, Payment Plans & Voluntary Liens for Special Assessments was featured on the cover. David describes the best approach to take with regard to payment plan agreements for special assessments and describes some of the pitfalls and common mistakes that are made by associations.

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:

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

Many California condominium and homeowner associations’ CC&Rs permit the Board of Directors, on behalf of an association, to impose a reimbursement assessment/monetary charge on a member for the cost of repairing damage caused by a member (or the member’s guest or tenant) to association common areas and facilities. In addition to an association’s authority under the CC&Rs to impose a reimbursement assessment, former California Civil Code Section 1367.1(d) stated that “[a] monetary charge imposed by the association as a means of reimbursing the association for costs incurred by the association in the repair of damage to common areas and facilities…may become a lien against the member’s separate interest enforceable by the sale of the interest…”

Unlike other monetary charges that can be imposed on members, such as monetarily fining a member for a rule violation, reimbursement assessments may be enforced by recording a lien on a member’s property. And effective January 1, 2014, the new Davis-Stirling Act now expressly requires what we have been advising our clients for years, that Boards must hold a hearing before they can impose a fee or penalty on an owner for the cost of repairing damage to the common area.
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