Reader Questions: Do We HAVE to Zoom?Nov 05, 2023
By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq., CCAL
Dear Mr. Richardson: I'm still confused about holding board meetings. We use Zoom for our meetings as we have no convenient place to meet in person. Is it a hard and fast rule that we must hold an occasional in-person meeting somewhere? If so, what if I offered to meet with any homeowners at the pool to answer any questions they may have? We could schedule this on a regular basis if necessary. Thanks, M.H., Oceanside.
Dear M.H.: Presently, HOAs may not have purely telephonic or virtual board meetings except in emergencies. However, the new Civil Code Section 4926 beginning in 2024 will permit purely telephonic or virtual board meetings if required announcements are given and all votes are by roll call. Your idea of periodic informal meetings with homeowners to answer questions is great. However, if a quorum of the board attends the event it becomes a “board meeting” under Civil Code Section 4090(a), which then triggers the Section 4930 requirement to post an agenda announcing the question and answer session. Thanks, Kelly.
Kelly Richardson, that was the worst news I have read, that HOA meetings can be completely virtual. What do mean when you write an HOA should adopt rules regarding virtual meetings. Is it possible for an HOA to still adopt a rule that it will hold an in-person meeting location? I can tell you it will only get worse with that law, more hiding of property conditions, violating civil codes, and non-transparency. Owners are the big losers with that mistake. The Legislature should realize someone can wear a mask at a meeting. With extreme disappointment, T.H., Pacific Beach
Dear T.H.: The new Civil Code 4926 will allow purely telephonic or virtual meetings, but it doesn’t require them. The new law gives HOA boards a third option, purely telephonic or virtual, for meeting “venue,” in addition to in-person meetings and meetings where members may attend in person or virtually/telephonically (“hybrid” meetings). Associations can pick which format works for their HOA. Virtual or telephonic participation is not mandatory, and I suspect that many HOAs will opt not to have telephonic participation.
Adopting meeting rules which include procedures for virtual or telephonic participation will help clarify the procedure.
I believe that the best format is “hybrid,” with directors expected to meet in person. I find that the directors’ level of engagement and deliberation is generally better when they meet in person. Allowing members to attend by virtual platform gives them a helpful option to observe meetings, thereby improving communication within the HOA. Best, Kelly
Kelly: Are board members required to show their faces at zoom meetings? V.W., San Diego
Dear V.W.: What is good for the goose, should also be good for the gander. Why not have meeting rules requiring that all virtual participants (not only directors) have their cameras on if they are attending? The new statute does not provide guidance on such questions, including whether the “chat” function is required, if attendees must identify themselves as owners, or if they must use their real name in the virtual meeting software. These are practicalities that each board should consider and then include in written meeting rules so that all members know in advance how meetings happen, and how they may attend.