Restructuring HOAs: “CAI School and member benefits” pt. 2

Mentoring: “CAI School of HOA Governance”

Part 2 addresses the heavy influence of the CAI and its affiliated, shill, organizations functioning as supporters of HOAs and the questionable claim of also supporting homeowners.

CAI heavy influence

Several HOA attorneys have maintained that the expression of the common interest of all the members is found 1) in the Declaration that they all agreed to be bound by and 2) because the members still remain a resident and a member of the HOA. It is through the Declaration itself that provides their benefits and the BOD is not derelict in its duties and obligations to the members. And that’s all there is to it!

However, herein and in my intents and purposes paper[1] I argued that the BOD’s mission statement, vision and values are one-sided and heavily influenced by the mindset created by the CAI School of HOA Governance[2] that neglects constitutional protections for the members. The alleged benefits for the members as contained in the CC&Rs do very little to provide the benefits of a democratic government. In fact, they restrict or deny the application of constitutional rights and freedoms, and the privileges and immunities of citizens of this country and their state.[3]

The policy makers have failed to understand that the HOA CC&Rs have crossed over the line between purely property restrictions to establishing unregulated and authoritarian private governments.”

In order to correct these serious defects in the HOA legal model the HOA must be restructured to conform to and be subject to the Constitution and laws of the land. It must begin with a declaration of citizenship to be made a covenant in all declarations, charters, bylaws and other governing HOA documents. State laws and CC&Rs must be amended according as proposed in my HOA Member Declaration shown in part below:

Therefore, the members of the association, having not waived or surrendered their rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and as citizens of the state within which they reside, the CC&Rs or Declaration for any planned community, condominium or homeowners association shall state that, or be amended to comply . . . .”[4]

In order for this revision to become a reality the BOD and HOA members must be reoriented away from the teachings of the CAI School and toward the forgotten and neglected principles and values of democratic America. The CAI School needs to be replaced with a qualified program of education and training on municipal government: its structure, objectives and mission, functions and operations.

CAI support of HOAs

Why does CAI oppose holding HOAs subject to the Constitution? How can CAI take this stance and still assert that it’s supportive of the homeowners? It seems by adopting the WW II Fascist philosophy of Italy’s Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, who proclaimed, “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”[5] And who described Fascism a being “for the State; and it is for the individual in so far as he coincides with the State[6] Just substitute “HOA” for “state” and it all makes sense. Essentially, this is CAI’s true position on HOA governments.

While there is much to support and justify the need to remove the heavy influence by CAI over HOA-Land, a few instances are provided.

In the context of community associations, the unwise extension of constitutional rights to the use of private property by members . . . raises the likelihood that judicial intervention will become the norm.”[7] (NJ).

In other words, CAI doesn’t want our constitutional judicial system to be applied to HOAs. They can rule themselves without judicial oversight. All other forms of local government, including the most liberal of self-government charters under the home rule doctrine are subject to the Constitution.

AGAINST

[CAI] Kathe Barnes, Self(02/10/2020); Jason Barraza, AZ ASSN OF COMMUNITY MANAGERS (AACM)(02/10/2020); Terry Carstens, Self(02/23/2020); Quinten Cupps, Self(02/06/2020); [CAI, AACM] Mary Jo Edel, Self(02/06/2020); Alexis Glascock, COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS INSTITUTE(02/09/2020); [CAI attorney] Lynn Krupnik, Self(02/06/2020); [AACM] Linda Lang, Self(02/10/2020); Mark Logan, Self(02/10/2020); Dave Norton, Self(02/06/2020); Jeff Sandquist, AZ ASSN OF COMMUNITY MANAGERS (AACM)(02/10/2020); Vicki Sears, Self(02/06/2020); [AACM] Mark Wade, Self(02/06/2020); Donna Wood, Self(02/06/2020); [AZ]

The above quote represents the persons and/or organizations against Arizona Senate bill SB 1412 (2020). The bill would bring homeowner protections for HOA political activity and free speech rights. Note the absence of any identification of several persons who are members of one or the other mentioned organizations, CAI and AACM (AACM is a spin-off from CAI in 2003). That’s 8 out of 14 persons in opposition. Please also note that none of these persons have identified themselves with any HOA. Where are the HOA directors or presidents?

California’s SB 323 (2019) introduced fair elections procedures for HOAs that protect homeowner voting rights. It addressed one of my 6 substantive defects in the HOA legal scheme.[8]   It has become California law. Long time California lawyer Adrian Adams is heavily involved in CAI policy and management at the HQ and chapter levels. He writes:

Last year, the Center for California Homeowner Association Law (CCHAL), an organization hostile to community associations . . . The train wreck legislation . . . The bill also forces members . . . In another hostile move against associations . . . The California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) is a volunteer organization consisting of homeowners and professionals serving homeowner associations by monitoring legislation, educating lawmakers, and protecting the interests of those living in community associations.[9]

CAI’s California LAC:[10]

The California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) is a committee of Community Associations Institute (CAI), a national not-for-profit educational and resource organization dedicated to fostering vibrant, competent, harmonious community associations. CLAC consists of homeowners and professionals serving community associations.

We worked hard to defeat SB 323 and we came very close, especially on the Assembly Floor where the bill passed and was sent to the Governor. . . . Let’s work closely together to make sure legislators understand the negative consequences SB 323 potentially will have on community associations.

It should be obvious by now that CAI is not a friend of the homeowner in spite of its lofty, high sounding pronouncements, policies and Best Practices. The acts of its members both in CAI HQ and in the numerous state chapters speak an entirely contradictory message. CAI is there to support the HOA and the BOD that is the real person representative of the HOA association. It is obvious that granting and admitting individual rights and freedoms to the homeowners presents an obstacle to its personal agenda; CAI is a business trade tax-exempt nonprofit entity to make money for its members, the attorneys and managers for the most part, the

After consideration of the above and earlier posts under Restructuring HOAs, I ask and answer: Does the Declaration provide covenants that implement and accomplish the intents and purposes of the HOA that serve the interests of the members? My answer is NO. It raises the question of why BODs accept the HOA model of local government and resist revisions in order to bring the HOA within the Constitution for the protection of its members?

Notes

[1] See “Restructuring HOAs – intents and purposes,” George K. Staropoli, HOA Constitutional Government (Feb 2020).

[2] The basis for a definition can be found in “CAI claims Factbook 2018 at home with Democracy in America.”, in HOA Constitutional Government, footnote 9.

[3] See “Would the HOA legal scheme collapse under a democratic form of government?” in HOA Constitutional Government (2014); “HOA-Land and the decline in democratic institutions” in HOA Constitutional Government (2019).

[4] See “HOA member Declaration of US and State citizenship” in HOA Constitutional Government (2012).

[5] See Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932.

[6] Fundamental Ideas of Fascism,” Benito Mussolini, Souciant, Inc. (2016).

[7] CAI amicus curiae brief in CBTR v. Twin Rivers, 890 A.2d 947 (NJ Super. App. Div. 2006).

[8] See HOA Common Sense: rejecting private government, Democratic elections, No. 5. (2019).

[9] Adams Stirling Newsletter, Adrian Adams, Esq. (Feb. 24, 2019). Adams is a member of CAI’s Community Association Research Foundation, CAI chapter director and CLAC delegate.

[10] CAI-CLAC Feb. (2020).

 

 

 

Toward a democratic HOA subject to the Constitution

The news is good lately as several state legislatures have and are dealing with substantive HOA reform legislation that confronts the HOA legal structure as un-American. California’s SB 323 passed into law last year amid the hostility of CAI; Florida’s HB 623 is in the legislative process of becoming law; and Arizona’s SB 1412 is just starting out in the legislature.

The substantive amendments to state laws are:

SB 323 (CA) — seeks to introduce fair elections procedures for HOAs, addressing one of my 6 substantive defects in the HOA legal scheme.  Deborah Goonan’s excellent discussion of this bill[1] brought to my attention a second defect in the HOA legal scheme, the lack of enforcement of the law.

“A member of an association may bring a civil action for declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of this article by the association. . . . “A member who prevails in a civil action to enforce the member’s rights . . . the court may impose a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars ($500) for each violation.”

HB 623 (FL) —

“This provision will amend 718 F.S. so any bylaws, or reasonable rules or regulations of the association which diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the Fourteenth Amendment[2] to the United States Constitution or Art. 384 II of the State Constitution and would be void and unenforceable without further action of the association. However, the provision states that the association may record a notice in the public records of the county in which the condominium is located evidencing its intention to not enforce such provision, it would foolhardy for them to do so. This has been overdue in our quest for achieving equal rights.”[3]

Much to my surprise Eric Glazer, of FL HOA & Condo Blog and host of HOA Condo Craze, warns of danger if HB 623 is made law.[4]

To simplify, the 14th Amendment made The Bill of Rights (The first ten amendments to the Constitution) applicable to the states.  So, this law basically says no provision of your governing documents can infringe upon the rights you have under the Bill of Rights.  All of you know several of these rights such as the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.

There is plenty of law out there that says when you move into an association, you may give up some of the rights you may ordinarily have in your private home. You do this by agreeing to be bound by the governing documents.

SB 1412 (AZ) — seeks to prohibit HOAs and condos from restricting political free speech. Members are permitted to associate, meet, discuss, show signs regarding political activity.

“NOTWITHSTANDING ANY PROVISION IN THE CONDOMINIUM DOCUMENTS, AN ASSOCIATION MAY NOT PROHIBIT OR UNREASONABLY RESTRICT A UNIT OWNER’S ABILITY TO PEACEFULLY ASSEMBLE AND USE PRIVATE OR COMMON ELEMENTS OF THE CONDOMINIUM IF DONE IN COMPLIANCE WITH REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS FOR THE USE OF THAT PROPERTY ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS. AN INDIVIDUAL MEMBER OR GROUP OF MEMBERS MAY ORGANIZE TO DISCUSS OR ADDRESS PLANNED COMMUNITY BUSINESS, INCLUDING BOARD ELECTIONS OR RECALLS, POTENTIAL OR ACTUAL BALLOT ISSUES . . . .”

I cannot emphasize that these bills have a very large umbrella covering many issues found at fault in HOAs. They provide the legal authority supporting many, many complaints, even those where the homeowner is just not happy with the way the HOA is run. In these cases, the HOA hasn’t really violated any law of the governing documents per se. The complaints should their focus on the lack of fair elections to remove wayward boards, or due process and equal protection of the law violations. The 14th Amendment applies!

What is needed is the strong support for the champions of these bills, Sen. Bob Wieckowski in CA, Senator D. Farnsworth in Arizona, and Representative Jason Shoaf in Florida. The California bill made law was achieved, in my opinion, with the help of the strong support of Marjorie Murray of CCHAL.[5] They fought and are fighting the system — state legislatures do not favor HOA reforms.

References

[1]California HOA elections bill update (March 2019)”, Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities.

[2] The 14th Amendment. Section 1 state prohibitions against laws denying due process of law and the equal protection of the laws, and abridging the privileges and immunities of citizens.

[3] Comment number 6, CCFJ.net, Milena Macias, Esq. (Feb. 4, 2020).

[4] “A PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE LAW THAT HAS DANGER WRITTEN ALL OVER IT”, Florida HOA & Condo Blog, Eric Glazer, Esq. (Feb. 3, 2020)

[5] Center for California Homeowner Association Law.

 

 

 

 

As an HOA member, “Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”

“Are you a citizen of the United States of America?”, asked Trump in his news speech today[i].  And he added, “There was a time when you could proudly declare  ‘I am a citizen of the United States’.”

In 2012 I raised the issue of HOA members being US and state citizens in my proposed Arizona bill[ii].

Therefore, the members of the association, having not waived or surrendered their rights, freedoms, privileges and immunities as citizens of the United States under Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, and as citizens of the state within which they reside.

As part of the bill I declared,

The association hereby waivers and surrenders any rights or claims it may have under law and herewith unconditionally and irrevocably agrees 1) to be bound by the US and State Constitutions, and laws of the State within which it is located, as if it were a subdivision of the state and a local public government entity, and 2) that constitutional law shall prevail as the supreme law of the land including over conflicting laws and legal doctrines of equitable servitudes.

Very disappointedly, there was no outcry, there was no demand to assert citizenship by HOA members or homeowner rights advocates.  That says a lot, doesn’t it?  I am not sure as to whether the HOA legal scheme and members shunting the Constitution contributed to the Washington dysfunction, or was it just a top-down, a trickle-down public sentiment pervading HOA members?

 

Discover the truth about HOAs!  Read The HOA-Land Nation Within America exposé on sale at Barnes & Noble (BN.com);  Amazon.com, KDP Unlimited & Lending; Google HOA-Land Nation. Join the many others who have received a copy of the eBook or paperback and open a broad discussion.

Notes

[i] See Video of speech, FOX10. The only site I could find that recorded Trump’s opening words. Not even on the official WH website.

[ii] See “Declaration of US and State citizenship” in HOA member Declaration of US and State citizenship. The bill was not sponsored or backed by advocates.

 

Beware of unsupported legal arguments and opinions when in court

All too often judges make decisions on HOA cases, making new law and new contract meanings, with unsupported statements not related to the case on hand. For example, in a question of signage, a court may state that the HOA is not a mini-government and offer no legal authority for that statement. It is referred to as a dictum (dicta) and is non-binding. However, it is used as if it were indeed a court proven and decided fact.

In the Nevada Supreme Court decision in Sanzaro v. Adiente HOA, Nev. No. 61288 (Oct. 16, 2015) we have a good example that deals with the question of proper notice. (“Proper notice” is a 14th Amendment due process requirement.) Here, arbitrators ruled that Sanzaro had “constructive notice” — here we go again, no need to read the notice — that no dogs were allowed and charged the homeowners with $17,000 in legal fees (and I thought arbitration was the best solution to HOA decisions). The district court upheld that decision, finding that the homeowners had “not shown by competent evidence any deficiency that would warrant the relief being sought.”

As it happened, the homeowners, at purchase time, were told to see the HOA webpage for a copy of the rules, but the web page rules were not the latest with the dog restriction. The HOA insisted that sending a welcome letter about the web page with its rules amounted to constructive notice. In other words, like with the CC&Rs, the homeowners were told that there was another document affecting them. Go get it and read it.

The Court found that arbitration awards are reviewed to determine whether the arbitrator’s decision represents a ‘manifest disregard for the law’ . . . the error of accepting respondents’ [HOA’s] contention that appellants [homeowners] received proper “constructive notice” of the amended rule . . . or that such notice was even properly achieved in light of appellants’ arguments and evidence to the contrary, demonstrates a manifest disregard for the law.”

In regard to CC&Rs, most state laws and CC&Rs require a mailing or personal delivery of the changed rules, or other governing documents. Nevada is one of them. In other words, constructive notice does not trump statutory notice. Some allow constructive notice of amendments by simply filing with the county clerk — BEWARE!!!!

Of course, in regard to the CC&Rs, there are no provisions in the CC&Rs requiring the delivery of the documents to a new buyer. While some states require delivery of the governing documents before closing, this requirement is waived or the documents are not read to the detriment of the buyer.

The important point is that arguments used against homeowners by HOA lawyers must be based on evidence and legal authority and not on a vague statement, like 95% of the people in HOAs like HOAs. The HOA lawyers claim to be the experts; get them to prove it and demand the legal basis for their statements.

Protecting HOA political free speech on matters of general community interest

Should matters of concern and interest to the general HOA member-community be protected from suits designed to stifle participation in HOA governance?  Homeowners in HOAs should be protected from these suits, called SLAPP suits, just as the general public is protected in most states that have anti-SLAPP laws.

The question becomes: will the courts hold issues of HOA governance to be a matter of general public interest and concern?  A failure of the courts to do so puts HOA governments solidly into the category of independent principalities, where members are not permitted free speech on community public issues, especially about their governing body, the HOA.

The expected defenses are 1) that HOAs are private, contractual governing bodies not subject to the 14th Amendment protections, which the members have agreed to obey; and disregarding the Ruiz opinion above,  2) the local HOA community cannot be considered as a public body that is interested in and concerned with matters of public interest; it’s a local, private matter.

There are several California cases holding that HOA concerns amount to public speech because it affects the community at large.  The following are anti-SLAPP suits.

“A SLAPP suit (strategic lawsuit against public participation) is a lawsuit brought primarily to chill a party’s constitutional right of petition or free speech. The anti-SLAPP statute was enacted to prevent and deter lawsuits that chill the valid exercise of the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and petition for the redress of grievances and provides “an efficient procedural mechanism to obtain an early and inexpensive dismissal of nonmeritorious claims” arising from the exercise of those constitutional rights. . . . . The resident’s front lawn is a public forum for purposes of the First Amendment. . . . Moreover, it is now well established that the anti-SLAPP statute protects private conversations as well as those occurring in a public forum.” (Santa Barbara).

“’Public interest’ within the meaning of the anti-SLAPP statute has been broadly defined to include, in addition to government matters,  ‘private conduct that impacts a broad segment of society and/or that affects a community in a manner similar to that of a governmental entity.’ (Ruiz; according to California statutes).

[My emphasis]

“[W]e hold the trial court properly determined the anti-SLAPP statute applied because the evidence showed the alleged defamatory statements were made “in a place open to the public or in a public forum” and concerned “an issue of public interest. . . .  The two locations where the alleged defamatory statements were made–at the Board meetings and in the Village Voice newsletter [HOA] –were open to the public and constituted “public forums.” Additionally, because each of the allegedly defamatory statements concerned [*11] the manner in which a large residential community would be governed, they concerned “issue[s] of public interest.”  (Damon).

A homeowners association board is in effect ‘a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government’ (citing Cohen v. Kite Hill Community Assn).”  (Damon).

My quick survey of state anti-SLAPP laws shows AZ, IL, HI, GA and MD as having strict laws relating to only issues before the legislature or a law, as petitioning rights.  A host of other states contain the much broader right to file an anti-SLAPP suit for issues of public interest. They are: CA, FL (as of 7/2015), IN, LA, OR, RI, TX, VT, and WA.  Check current status.

Case references:

  1. Santa Barbara Beach Club HOA v. Freeman, 2d Civil No. B212972 (Cal. App. 2nd 2010)
  2. Ruiz v. Harbor View CA, 37 Cal.Rptr.3d 133 (2005)
  3. Damon v. Ocean Hills [an HOA], 102 Cal.Rptr.2d 205 (2000)