Reader Questions - Who Decides? Lot Line AdjustingJan 12, 2015
Dear Mr. Richardson,
I am new to the HOA concept and have thoughts about running for the board. However, there seems to be two concepts out there about the power of the board. One side states, ‘The board makes the decision, the members have no say in the decision-making process.’ The other side states, “the board is there to serve the community and the voices of the community should be heard and considered.’ I prefer the latter but our current board members often state the other. Is it possible to change this attitude?
Your governing documents and the Davis-Stirling Act define which decisions are board decisions and which must be voted upon by members. Associations need boards to make most decisions, so the members are not required to meet each month to decide everything. For the same reason, only the board deliberates at board meetings, with members listening (except for open forum).
However, from time to time certain board decisions arise which are of sufficient impact or importance that it better to consult the membership. The Davis-Stirling Act already requires this for operating rule changes – the decision is still the board’s to make, but homeowners receive extra advance notice of the proposed rule change.
Members can be consulted in many ways, such as through “town hall” meetings. Straw polls or inviting comments by e-mail also might be appreciated by members on major decisions. Consider announcing the agenda item weeks in advance, giving interested members ample opportunity to espouse their views in open forum.
Even though the board may legally make certain decisions, sometimes it is healthy to “listen a little harder” to the neighbors.
Thanks for your question,
I live in a PUD. Yesterday I inquired what the agenda item “lot line adjustment” referred to on the agenda of the upcoming board meeting. I was informed that the lot lines go up to our front doors and that the driveways are common area, and so maintained by the association, and that we need to change our governing documents stating that the homeowners will now be responsible because the Association cannot afford it.
I would definitely prefer that my lot line remain as I purchased it and the common area remain the same. I don’t see how they can just be “changed” from where they have been since the development of the complex. Is that legal? Can these lot lines be changed so easily?
I would appreciate any insight you can offer. Your column offers great information and guidance.
Your planned development (many call them “PUD’s” but there actually is no “U”) has its lot lines defined by a subdivision map recorded in your County Recorder office. Changing lot lines is very difficult, requires city approval, and would probably be cost prohibitive in your situation. Fortunately, it is unnecessary. Your association could modify its CC&Rs (by a membership vote) to reallocate driveway maintenance and repair responsibility to the homeowners. The definition of who owns what does not change; only the maintenance and repair responsibility changes.
In either case, you all will be paying for your driveways – directly from your checking account to the contractor, or indirectly, through the HOA budget.
Written by Kelly G. Richardson
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to [email protected]. Past columns at www.hoahomefront.com. All rights reserved®.