2024 California HOA Laws Part 2: Everything You Need To Know
Prepare yourself for the upcoming changes in California HOA laws that will greatly impact your association in 2024. These legislative updates are specifically designed to safeguard homeowners' rights and promote fair governance within homeowners' associations across the state. In this second installment of our two-part series, we will analyze the essential elements of the next seven new legislations for California homeowners' associations in 2024. This comprehensive breakdown will provide you with a clear understanding of what to anticipate and the implications it will have on you as a homeowner.
New California HOA Laws Part 2
Renowned experts Robert DeNichilo from Nordberg DeNichilo, LLP, and Melissa Ward from Adams Stirling Professional Law Corporation held an educational seminar for our managers reviewing new legislation and case laws that may affect HOAs in 2024. Here is part two of the key legislative and legal developments in California HOA laws that may have implications for your community in 2024:
1. Senate Bill 428 – Workplace Restraining Orders (Effective January 1, 2025)
This new statute expands the grounds for workplace related restraining orders.
Current – Applies to any employer whose employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from any individual.
New – Applies to any employer whose employee has suffered harassment, unlawful violence, or a credible threat of violence from any individual.
2. Assembly Bill 1572 – Potable Water (Effective January 1, 2029)
The statute prohibits potable water use to irrigate nonfunctional turf (turf not used for sports, walking, picnics and the like) in homeowners’ associations starting January 1, 2029. It codifies current regulations restricting the watering of nonfunctional turf.
According to information found on California Water Watch, the restrictions apply to community associations, recommending that overwatering should be avoided and to follow the local requirements of your water supplier. Additionally, decorative grass should not be watered (unless stated otherwise allowed in the regulation).
Operational takeaways: The state’s website contains useful definitions and charts. Here is a great place to start, Water Conservation Emergency Regulations.
3. Fairly-Haze v. Whitesails Community Association (Unpublished**)
A disabled owner requested an accessible parking space in the association’s underground parking structure closest to an elevator. The board denied the request since all such spaces had been deeded to other owners and consequently the Board lacked authority to reassign any of the requested parking spaces.
Instead, the board granted the owner exclusive use of an accessible parking space outside of the garage in exchange for one of his deeded parking spaces. The court deemed the board’s action appropriate.
Learn more about Fairly-Haze v. Whitesails Community Association.
4. Lake Lindero Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Barone
The case involves a dispute over what was the correct approval requirement for a recall of the association’s board of directors.
The bylaws called for most members to approve a recall. However, the Corporations Code states a recall election in an association with 50 or more members must be approved by a quorum majority. The Court held that the proper approval requirement in this case was a majority of a quorum.
Operational takeaways: Our speakers recommend that association counsel review the bylaws for any conflicts with current law, and amend them as necessary.
5. Manrodt v. Albelo (Unpublished**)
A homeowner (Manrodt) sought out and obtained a civil harassment restraining order protecting herself and her family. The basis for the order was that a neighbor (Albelo) was engaging in an escalating pattern of photographing and video recording her family. Albelo argued that he was recording in the event that members violated HOA rules so that he could submit it to the board as evidence.
The Court recognized that it may be appropriate to document ongoing violations, but stated Albelo’s conduct of constantly recording in the hope of a possible violation as having no legitimate purpose. Instead, the conduct became a tool of harassment or other potential illegal activity which justified the restraining order.
Learn more about Manrodt v. Albelo.
6. LNSU #1, LLC, et al v. Alta Del Mar Coastal Collection Community Association
The Court examined whether board members can engage in email discussions about association business outside of regularly noticed meetings. Two homeowners sued, claiming that the board violated the Open Meeting Act (Civil Code § 4925 et seq.) by discussing landscaping and other association business without giving members notice or an opportunity to participate.
The Court rejected the homeowners’ argument that board members’ email exchanges constituted a board meeting in violation of the Open Meeting Act. The Court first looked at the definition of a board meeting as “[a] congregation, at the same time and place, of a sufficient number of directors to establish a quorum of the board, to hear, discuss, or deliberate upon any item of business that is within the authority of the board.” The Court went on to point out that:
Since emails are often sent hours or days apart and from different homes and offices,
Since they don’t allow the participating directors to hear one another, and
Since the discussion didn’t take place at the same time and place,
email exchanges in which no action is taken on the items discussed do not fall within the definition of a board meeting under the Davis-Stirling Act.
The Court went on to say that while the Open Meeting Act prohibits the board from acting on items of association business outside a board meeting, it doesn’t prohibit the board from discussing items via email outside a meeting. This case has been pending possible review by the California Supreme Court. In mid-December the Court denied the review so the Alta Del Mar decision can be relied upon as precedent.
Association counsel Robert DeNichilo and Melissa Ward caution that just because boards can conduct email discussions, does not mean they should!
One reason for caution: board emails will be subject to discovery in any lawsuit.
7. Takiguchi v. Venetian Condominiums
In this case the association hadn’t conducted an election for 12 years.
One family member owned 18 units of the 368 units. After being elected to the board, he appointed his son as a board member, and they controlled the 3-member board and stayed in power by failing to hold elections. The membership recalled the board and the usurped directors sued, claiming that quorum hadn’t been met and thus the election results were invalid.
The Court upheld the election, holding that quorum is determined by counting not only those members who appear by proxy or by secret ballot but also by those who had appeared virtually – attending the meeting pursuant to the Covid-19 emergency procedures.
The year ahead is bringing significant changes to homeowners' associations (HOAs) throughout California. The updates to California HOA laws in 2024 are set to reshape association governance and homeowner rights. It's crucial for homeowners to stay informed and understand the key aspects of these legislative updates to navigate the evolving landscape confidently and protect their interests. These updates encompass enhanced transparency requirements and new statutes that promote fair governance with the goal of creating a more equitable and harmonious environment within HOAs.
California Legislative Information. 2023. “SB-428 Temporary restraining orders and protective orders: employee harassment.” https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240SB428
California Legislative Information. 2023. “AB-1572 Potable water: nonfunctional turf.” https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=202320240AB1572
Adams Sterling Professional Law Corporation. 2023. “Fairly-Haze v. Whitesails Community Association California Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District, Division Six.” https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Case-Law/Fairly-Haze-v-Whitesails
Adams Sterling Professional Law Corporation. 2023. “Lake Lindero Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Barone Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three.” https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Case-Law/Lake-Lindero-HOA-v-Barone
Adams Sterling Professional Law Corporation. 2023. “Manrodt v. Albelo”. https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Case-Law/Manrodt-v-Albelo
Adams Sterling Professional Law Corporation. 2023. “LNSU #1 v. ALTA DEL MAR COASTAL COLLECTION CMTY ASS'N Court of Appeal of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One”. https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Case-Law/LNSU-1-v-Alta-Del-Mar
Adams Sterling Professional Law Corporation. 2023. “TAKIGUCHI . v. VENETIAN CONDOMINIUMS MAINT. CORP.”. https://davis-stirling.com/HOME/Case-Law/Takiguchi-v-Venetian-Condominiums