The Lumberjack Who Worked Too Hard For Results.
Would you believe it's been three years since I did an E-newsletter on "sharpening the saw". So I think its time! Just to get you oriented in the right frame of mind, and for the benefit of those who may not know the story - a lumberjack who was known for his work ethic and ability to produce worked very hard at his job. He was always in demand because of his productivity. However, over time, the more trees he cut down the harder he found he had to work to produce. The problem? His saw was getting duller and duller, and because he was bent on continuing to produce the same capacity, he never took the time to stop and sharpen his saw. Thus, he had to work harder and harder and became less and less efficient.
So what can I offer you to "sharpen your saw".
Stop and breathe. Stopping to focus nothing but on intentional breathing for 5 minutes anytime something happens that threatens to make your blood pressure go up or causes you to get into a state of short, fast breaths can clear your head and get your pulse back down, which allows the ideas and thoughts to flow freely. A 10 minute walk paying close attention to the trees, sky, and anything that nature has to offer can do the same thing.
Assess the problem areas that you would like to correct: Whatever your job or purpose is, make a list of problems you want to solve. You could do a list of 12 - one per month. Or 4, one per week, or .... You get the picture. There is nothing quite as satisfying as finding a solution to a problem, AND THEN, being able to cross it off your list.
Find the right resources to help solve those problems! There is so much information on the web that it's mind boggling. There are so many websites that provide articles, cases, and generally information about HOAs (but be cautious - consider the source for sure as some may mislead you or take you down the path of vengeance instead of resolution). And there are so many people who work in this industry that have experience and education that offer insight at seminars, in articles for journals, and brainstorming and networking opportunities with exhibitors at these seminars.
There are three well-known industry groups that offer resources and classes (ECHO, CAI (and CLAC), and CACM, all locatable here on the web - Resources ). There is direct access to the Davis Stirling Act here.
There are links to two blogs here - one for homeowners' questions and one for everyone else's questions. Visit the California Condominium & HOA Blog and Condolawguru.com.
There are more than 3 books, including THE DAVIS STIRLING ACTION IN PLAIN ENGLISH and more than 35 Guides, Primers and Forms PDF documents for sale in the webstore. You don't have to pay a lawyer by the hour to teach you about the laws.
Now for some real ideas! CREATE POLICIES and/or CHECKLISTS - These are popular choices:
Meetings/Agenda Policy: Help yourself to meeting self-control. The California statutes have many requirements for meetings and agendas and what you kind of business can be conducted at meetings. One has to also compare the governing documents for the HOA to determine what additional requirements exist. A meetings policy that includes a procedure for handling disruptions can be very helpful. There is a Primer on this - Operations and Operations Forms.
Enforcement Policy/Fines Policy: Many associations want to consider fines or remedies for violation of the governing documents. An HOA cannot fine any member until a fine schedule is drafted, circulated to members, approved at an open board meeting, and sent to members in final form. Get on that now! Don't wait for the violation! And expanding that to an enforcement policy can serve as a deterrent to violations. There are 4 Enforcement Primers on the website, some issue specific, and one on Forms.
Parking/Towing Policy/and Contract: The laws are complicated. Don't tow without a policy and a good contract that protects you! The tow companies have more restrictions and liability than the HOAs so don't let their liabilities become yours! There is a specific Enforcement Primer on this.
Records Inspection: Know your rights and responsibilities with regard to what records board members and owners have rights to see, and make it clear what responsibilities there are with regard to review place, time and costs. Get ideas from the Records Inspection Primer on the website.
Who Fixes What? Getting assistance with an enforceable Maintenance Policy or Matrix with information gleaned from the law, past practice and fair interpretation of the Association documents can make your life easier in figuring out who fixes what. There is a Primer on Maintenance to help with this. And, you may want to seek legal advice. There have been two cases related to sewage discharge and responsibility recently that have implications in other maintenance areas as well.
AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO ORGANIZE YOUR WORK. If you are a manager or director and you are tired of coming back through records to find out about historical maintenance, enforcement or architectural records, get a program for this! I happen to know of an excellent product that I previewed which has come down tremendously in price and is web based - SAVE THE PAPER! SAVE YOURSELF!
This program was developed by a long time HOA manager and teacher of management classes who knew how to make her life more efficient and who developed her many ideas into this program. The team at Net5se is offering its Community Association Manager program (CAM*Pro) by starting out 2011 with a reduction in the annual license fee from $695 to just $299! Whether you are a board member trying to set up a historical program for the HOA, or the manager, visit http://www.campro.us. You can avoid combing through boxes in storage rooms and garages by eliminating paper as you create and save your documents on the web.
Make Your Life Easier:
I hope your plan for 2011 gives you less time at the office and more time playing with children or grandchildren, enjoying nature or your favorite pastime, enjoying social activities, writing that novel, or whatever you want to do most!
© Beth Grimm, all rights reserved.
By Beth A. Grimm, Attorney. A "service oriented" attorney and member of ECHO and CAI and various other industry organizations in California and nationally, host of the website www.californiacondoguru.com; two Blogs: California Condominium & HOA Law Blog, and Condolawguru.com Blog, and author of many helpful community association publications which can be found in the webstore on her site.