Why is CAI member firm of Adams Kessler allowing criticism of LA Times HOA column?

Scanning the Adams-Kessler Blog, Davis-Stirling Condo Law, under Davis-Stirling.com (not a government website) revealed some 6 comments critical of the LA Time column written by Stephen Glassman and Donie Vanitzian. Just in the past 3 weeks, and nothing before the week of Sept. 18th. I am wondering what’s up?

Glassman and Vanitzian are also the authors of Villa Appalling!: Destroying the Myth of Affordable Community Living (2002). Vanitzian is the author of the Thomson-West legal treatise, California Common Interest Development — Homeowner’s Guide (2006-2007). Glassman is a practicing lawyer and Vanitzian holds a JD degree.

Lawrence Stirling, co-author of the California laws, is a Senior Counsel at Adams Kessler. Adrian Adams and Gary Kessler are members of Community Associations Institute, CAI, and Kessler is active in CAI’s legislative action committees (LAC) helping to shape the national lobbying organization’s (that’s CAI’s) view of the HOA industry. Among other things, in 2004 CAI had cautioned the NJ appellate court in the Twin Rivers free speech case against “the unwise extension of constitutional rights to the use of private property by members (as opposed to the public) . . . .” (Amicus curiae Community Association Institute (“CAI”), Committee For A Better Twin Rivers v. Twin Rivers Homeowners Association (TRHA), Docket No. C-121-00., p.19).

It seems that CAI California is feeling the heat from homeowner advocates like CAI is feeling in Arizona. The criticisms of the column shown below, except for the outright hostility and ignorance of the posters of the Oct. 2nd and Sept. 25th entries, centered around the authors’ statement that the hired-hand (my wording) management company people have no place at a board meeting. “Management employees, like any other vendor, do not belong at association board meetings. Although they may be invited to attend, they should not be taking minutes or offering suggestions on the conduct or content of the meetings.” This reply came under the September 4, 2011 column heading, How can you break management’s hold on board? It concerned a homeowner’s letter that the “board is so entrenched with this management company that it can no longer act in the best interests of our owners and the association.”

I was surprised that A – K did not provide a response with respect to the legal status of the management people, who are neither board nor HOA members. In my view, they are like the typical member who can be seen and not heard unless asked a specific question, and otherwise not participate in the discussions.. Otherwise, the cry of “we are poor volunteers” rings hollow as the board has turned the management of the HOA over to hired hands, while forgetting its ultimate legal responsibilities to the HOA, and to oversee acts and actions of its management agent.

Given the Blog as is, with its entries and lack of A – K responses, it seems that CAI is feeling the heat and felt the need to counter-attack voices for homeowner rights, and to silence Glassman & Vanitzian, the true advocates who are fighting for homeowners who live in regimes that deny their constitutional protections.

Adams Kessler Condo Law Blog

(Oct. 2)  LA Times. The discussion I had with the LA Times “Readers Rep” in 2005 got me nowhere. I think having their authors billed as HOA specialists is akin to having a self-proclaimed racist writing a column on fair housing. Sure, they are somewhat familiar with the issues but their take on them is biased and does not serve the public well. -Marla H.

(Sept. 25) LA Times. The LA Times columnists who pontificate about HOAs and present such misleading information regarding the operation of HOAs are a thorn in everyone’s side. Their views are so inaccurate and counterproductive to creating harmony between owners, board members and managers. Surely there is some avenue for rebuttal? Why is the LA Times so resistant to permitting rebuttals to the content of the column? Any ideas as to how we can find an avenue to present truthful information? -Diana S.

FEEDBACK (Sept 18)

LA Times #1. Thank you for your thoughtful response to whether managers should attend board meetings and take minutes. Sorry to say, the Los Angeles Times places little value on providing balanced information. The writers of the column have a clear bias against boards, attorneys and managers. If they could, they would abolish all HOAs. Why would you abolish a form of ownership that has made affordable housing possible to millions of people? I think it’s important to make it very clear that these people give bad advice and boards should not rely on their column for any guidance. -Judy C.

LA Times #2. Thank you for your rebuttal to the L.A. Times article!!! -Jan H.

LA Times #3. It is clear that the author has a bias against management companies. The manager’s job is to provide advice to the board that keeps them on the straight and narrow. Can the board assign some of its duties to its manager? You bet! Should it? This is a matter of contract, but in most cases it is a resounding “yes.” It has been my experience that the larger the association, the more complex it becomes, and with this comes the need for a manager with greater and more diverse skill sets. -Jim S.

LA Times #4. Managers at meetings???? Of course. We pay them to help manage and advise us even though all final decisions come from the BOD. They advise us when we might need an attorney’s advice and many other issues a board member might not be privy to. Come on guys wake up and smell the roses! -Gloria F.

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 2:48 pm  Comments (3)  
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  1. HOAs – our biggest and strongest Ponzi schemes. You innocently buy into one, pay dues and ‘vote’ for a Board. The Board you vote for hires a for- profit Management Company to do the job you entrusted to THEM, allows them to sit in on meetings and make ‘suggestions’ about who to fine and sue and generally harrass. And throws a chunk of money at the CAI, chock full of for- profit HOA Attorneys and Lobbyists who whisper into Legislators and Judges ears and throws $Millions into campaign funds, begging them not to extend Constitutional Rights to people who find themselves trapped in the HOA Ponzi, forever at the bottom of the pyramid, the homeowners…who pay and pay and pay forevermore.

    • In Utah, we had a manamgement company for a biref time–the manager lived 70 miles away, managed 450 lots, only 50 of which had a house (it is recreational property) and charged us $3000 a month to “manage” the 400 empty lots! We revolted for that and a lot of other abuses–but the manager told the board what to do, got them a new lawyer who would not allow us to vote, tried to give us absurd bylaws, told them they did not have to allow members to attend the board meetings–he was horrible, he was CAI, and he knew every dirty trick in the book. We, the members, got rid of him but it cost the association over $80,000! Why? Becasue the board was told they had a duty to “protect” us–from what? Ourselves? How about the board protect us from managers like that! Instead of listening to the members who voted them in, they listened to the CAI manager who turned the board against us.

      I even argued with one of the board members, Dale, and told him that the new rules the manager put in could cost a member up tot $500 a month for each violation. the board member pooh poohed that saying the rules did not say that–he woud lnever vote for somehting like that. But the rules did say it. The board member was clueless. I don’t think manager shoudl have more rights than the members.

      The whole system is absurd.

      • “Because the board was told they had a duty to “protect” us–from what? Ourselves?” This a very important comment for all members to understand. The board has a fiduciary duty, a duty of care and to act as a prudent person would, so say the state laws on director conduct. The problem is, is that under the contract interpretation of CC&Rs and the corporation structure of the HOA, that duty is owed to the objectives and purposes of the HOA corporation and not directly to the members. HOAs are not democracies.

        So the CAI attorney confuses the board and ignores the fact that the members are third-party beneficiaries, and any acts in support of the HOA objectives must also pass the test of its obligations to the members. Would a prudent person spend $3,000 a month for management under these conditions and spend $80,000 on litigation as presented here? Hell no! But that’s not the attorney’s concern. He gets paid win or lose. Remember that!

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