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April 2012

A Journal for California Community Association Leaders

echo-ca.org

Top Ten Security Mistakes HOAs Make

ALSO INSIDE THIS ISSUE:

• Overcoming Resistance to Funding Reserves • Email—It’s Time to Tame this Tool • Building Community Involvement

Change Service Requested ECHO 1602 The Alameda STE 101 San Jose, CA 95126

South Bay Seminar April 21, 2012 Register Now

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Taming Email —page 30

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Top Ten Security Mistakes HOAs Make Regardless of whether you live in a densely populated urban area or a suburban community, security is something most homeowners are concerned about— even if they are not sure how best to secure their own property. By listing ten common security mistakes made by homeowner associations this article can help you learn how to better protect your community.

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Overcoming Resistance To Funding Reserves When your association reserves get into an underfunded position you’re on a slippery slope. How does one overcome resistance to funding reserves? This article offers suggestions for selling a good reserve funding plan.

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Email—It’s Time To Tame This Business Tool In the last 30 years, email has become the primary delivery for all types of written communications. So how did this seemingly valuable tool become such a problem? In this article author Debra Warren identifies four of the challenges associated with email communication and shares common sense solutions that every business can apply.

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Building Community Involvement Listing the many factors that go into running a successful association would prove exhausting. An association does not even need to consider this list without first having community involvement. This article discusses ways to promote “community involvement.”

The ECHO Journal is published monthly by the Executive Council of Homeowners. The views of authors expressed in the articles herein do not necessarily reflect the views of ECHO. We assume no responsibility for the statements and opinions advanced by the contributors to the magazine. It is released with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent person should be sought. Acceptance of advertising does not constitute any endorsement or recommendation, expressed or implied, of the advertiser or any goods or services offered. We reserve the right to reject any advertising copy. Copyright 2012 Executive Council of Homeowners, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction, except by written permission of ECHO, is prohibited. The ECHO membership list is never released to any outside individual or organization.

Executive Council of Homeowners, Inc. 1602 The Alameda, Suite 101 San Jose, CA 95126 408-297-3246 Fax: 408-297-3517 www.echo-ca.org info@echo-ca.org Office Hours: Monday–Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Board of Directors and Officers President David Hughes Vice President Karl Lofthouse Treasurer Diane Rossi Secretary Jennifer Allivato Directors Paul Atkins John Garvic Robert Rosenberg Brian Seifert Steven Weil

Jerry L. Bowles David Levy Kurtis Shenefiel Wanden Treanor

Executive Director Brian Kidney

Departments

Director of Member Services Jennifer Allivato

29 Legislative at a Glimpse 32 News from ECHO

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34 Directory Updates 35 Events Calendar 36 ECHO Bookstore

Design and Production George O’Hanlon

41 ECHO Marketplace

ECHO Mission Statement

41 Advertiser Index

The mission of ECHO is to advance the concept, interests and needs of homeowner associations through education and related services to board members, homeowner members, government officials and the professionals in the industry.

On the Cover April 2012 | ECHO Journal

Legislative Consultant Government Strategies, Inc.

40 ECHO Volunteers

Top Ten Security Mistakes—page 6 4

Communications Coordinator Tyler Coffin


ECHO 40th Annual Seminar June 23, 2012 “Swinging with the Gatsbys” is Theme for 2012 On-site registration for the 2012 ECHO Annual Seminar will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, in the main lobby at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Now is the time for homeowner association board members and professionals to make advance reservations for this event. Ask your fellow board members and your associates who live in other common interest developments to join you for a day of education and fun at this important event. Convince them that they need to hear

Annual Seminar sessions this year as always will address many of the challenging concerns currently facing association board members. Just a few of the highlights of the 2012 program are listed below:

responsibilities for beginning board members. Certificates will be awarded to those who complete the entire program. • Update on Proposed New Legislation that will affect community associations. • Find out more about Hidden Damage and Its Threat to Older HOAs. • Governing Without Email: There are plenty of ways to carry on association business without meetings via email.

• The “HOA University” track will review every major aspect of board duties and

Continued on page 41

updates about every important CID responsibility and issue, to see new products and to share in the large number of prizes and favors distributed by 125 Trade Show exhibitors.

SWINGING WITH THE GATSBYS ECHO Journal | April 2012

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By Kenneth Carlisle

Top Ten Security Mistakes HOAs Make egardless of whether you live in a densely populated urban area or a more suburban community, security is something most homeowners are concerned about— even if they are not sure how to best secure their own property. Most people know how to avoid the garden-variety, shady-looking miscreant on the street. But, how do you protect your building from unsavory characters? Hopefully, by pointing out ten security mistakes commonly made by homeowner associations, this article will help you learn how to better protect yourself and your

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April 2012 | ECHO Journal

community. The goal is not to frighten but to inspire you to start taking practical action steps that will make you and your property safer. There is one general mistake many of us make that is probably more important than any of the formal ones; that is “assuming crime won’t happen to you.” There is not a city, community or neighborhood that is immune from crime. Rather than assuming it won’t happen to you, be prepared. The list of mistakes that follows is not arranged in any particular order. Don’t rely on this arbitrary ranking to give you a false


ECHO Journal | April 2012

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sense of security should the top few mistakes not apply to your association.

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Mistake #1: Not Conducting a Security Survey, Audit or Assessment Without a good security survey “you don’t know what you don’t know.” A good security survey identifies problems by defining vital assets (what must be protected) and then identifying exposures, vulnerabilities and threats to those assets. This obvious approach is really just basic “Problem Solving 101.” Once it is clear what the problems are, targeted solutions in the form of courses of actions and their costs to implement can be developed. By developing at least three courses of action, security measures, for each problem and considering the feasibility, effectiveness, consequences, and costs of each, we can create a decision document from which the courses of action that provide the greatest return on investment can be selected. Typically these solve or mitigate specific threats defined in the security survey. This gives us a real Security Plan that accomplishes security objectives in a cost responsible manner and identifies specific steps that will detect, deter, delay and deny criminal attacks. What’s that? The Four Ds: Detect, Deter, Delay and Deny?” Yes, yes! Now we have some practical criteria to apply. Rather than wringing our hands in frustration saying “But what can we do!” we can sensibly ask “Will that security measure truly detect, delay, deter, or deny criminals an opportunity to hurt us?” The Four Ds approach helps us more clearly understand that the true objective of “Security” is prevention of crime. This orientation is different from that of law enforcement, which has a primary focus on efficiently arresting and jailing criminals who have already committed crimes; this law enforcement approach is a reaction to crime.1 We don’t want a home invasion to happen and then try to catch the criminal; we want to prevent it! We don’t want to have to go to court where the perpetrator is often released for a surprising number of possible reasons—e.g., as a child he was subjected to bad potty training. We want to prevent the event, the damage, the injury, the costs, the fear and the loss of owner’s equity. We want to live in a safe place. Mistake #2: Implementing the Wrong Thing Implementing the wrong thing is a common result of flying blind without a security


survey. When quickly reacting to a criminal event, HOAs often end up putting bandaides on a sucking chest wound by implementing security measures that don’t solve the problem. For example, it may seem that hiring a guard or installing CCTV cameras are obvious things to do. However, these solutions can often be double-edged swords and the “obvious” approach may be completely wrong. As in any endeavor, the greatest costs are manpower costs. Therefore, do not be shocked to learn that a single security post with one person on a 24/7 basis costs about $150,0002 per year. Consigning security requirements to cameras and remotely controlled locks in lieu of human staff is often much more economical; however, there can be drawbacks to that approach as well. For example, cutting costs by replacing the guard at the guard booth with improperly applied technology can lead to “piggybacking,” where residents let themselves in and three or four other cars come in behind, thereby allowing easy entry to potential criminal elements. Better solutions can be realized by clearly recognizing when either guards or technology or both make the most sense. Here are some tips: (1) Retain a guard where a physical action or response must be employed to solve the security problem; (2) Install security technology to either replace or enhance the guard when a human response is unnecessary; (3) Understand that a guard only provides security where he happens to be standing; beyond his view and presence there is no security. A good use of well-designed technology, such as CCTV or alarms or even simply giving guards cell phones to call in police support, is to extend the strengths of real time human response to all areas of a large property. Many times we see systems where folks have implemented the wrong thing by being “penny wise and pound foolish.” For example, a “bean-counter” mentality can lead HOAs to buy on the cheap when it comes to security guards (if you pay peanuts you get monkeys) or technology. They take the lowest bid without considering security objectives or sometimes even the layout of the HOA community. I have seen HOAs buy dummy cameras (what about a dummy guard or perhaps a dummy owl) that don’t actually do anything but serve as props. This may seem clever, but associations can pay a giant price later when criminals call their bluff or when someone unknowingly depends upon

that dummy camera to provide security and is harmed because there is no real protection after all. A premises liability lawsuit against such an HOA typically results in a settlement in favor of the victim. Another example of the wrong thing is when the relationship between security and livability is not fully considered. Recognize, for example, that security and freedom have an inverse relationship—greater security results in diminished freedom. A lack of understanding of such trade offs may result in installation of systems that are not in concert with the HOAs internal culture or external environment. The result is often antagonism as well as non-compliance with the security program. If a security program seems silly or dumb, residents will act counter to desired behavior and defeat its purpose. Mistake #3: Ignoring Premises Liability Law Security is no longer an amenity but a legal necessity. Speaking broadly, California law stipulates that property owners have a legal duty to provide a safe and secure environment. The legal theory of “premises liability” holds that owners and occupiers of 1 Law Enforcement does recognize the importance of “crime prevention” and many departments even have Crime Prevention or Community Service officers formally trained in this subject. However, Police Departments are usually on tight budgets and thus are so busy responding to crimes already committed they can only spend a few hours at most on a security audit. A truly useful security survey may often require days to accomplish and even more days are needed to develop, implement and maintain an effective security plan derived from it. 2 Normal full-time hours for one person annually are 2,080 hours. Twenty-four hours, seven days a week requires 4.5 personnel. To pay a guard $10.00/hour, a guard company will charge the HOA approximately $16.00/hr. Therefore, 2,080 hrs. X 4.5 men X $16 = $149,760. This does not include overtime, holiday pay, or in some cases the costs of training or special uniforms. 3 Further, defendant property owner is negligent if he/she/it allows a dangerous condition on its property or failed to take reasonable steps to secure its property against criminal acts by third parties.” (Delgado v. American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1403, 1406, fn. 1) “Even when proprietors... have no duty... to provide a security guard or undertake other similarly burdensome preventative measures, …there are circumstances (apart from the failure to provide a security guard or undertake other similarly burdensome preventative measures) that may give rise to liability based upon the proprietor’s special relationship.” (Delgado, supra, 36 Cal.4th at pp. 240-241) ECHO Journal | April 2012

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property are legally responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on that property. Furthermore, the defendant property owner is negligent if he/she/it allows a dangerous condition on its property or fails to take reasonable steps to secure its property against criminal acts by third parties.” 3 Not only does a good security program protect the physical investment and protect the owner in court; it also helps sell the property. Astute owners are well aware that good security leads to increased owner’s equity by protecting people and assets and by increasing resident satisfaction and owner’s reputation. Mistake #4: Installing Dumb Security Measures Dumb security measures are those that can be easily bypassed by friend or foe. Systems that present a perception of security without foundation frequently lead to a false sense of security. Ah yes, this is the problem where you have the appearance of security rather than the real thing. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) comes to mind, but that’s another story. 10

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

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CCTV (closed-circuit TV) is often viewed as “the” security solution by the uninformed. We’ve already discussed how “dumb cameras” can be a dumb thing to do. CCTV can be a splendid security tool; however, if it is not monitored and no immediate response to events is forthcoming, then it is only useful for forensics. As any devoted viewer of video of convenience store robberies and bank robberies will tell you, CCTV does not provide for three of the FOUR D’s. Which ones? For the determined robber, CCTV doesn’t deter, delay, or deny. It only detects, perhaps aiding forensics and maybe not even then if the video only shows the top of a head or blurred pictures. Very common problems are poor cameras or poor camera placement—dumb. If you are using CCTV, the important question is “Are the images useful?” Another typically dumb mistake is spending $1,198.00 to protect $1.98. Perhaps a good example is when vandals paint graffiti on a wall. Do we spend $5,000 on CCTV to catch them or do we repaint the wall? Always consider both the objective and the cost. Will the course of action cost selected responsibly deter, detect, delay or deny criminal activity?

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Saturday, April 21 Campbell Community Center 1 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell Seminar Agenda 8:00 a.m. 8:45 9:00 9:50

Registration and Continental Breakfast Welcome and Introductions Fighting Cyber Crime—Alan Crandall, Mutual of Omaha Bank How Good Are Your Governing Documents? —Stephanie Hayes, Esq., Hughes Gill Cochrane PC 10:40 Break 11:00 Legislative Update—Sandra Bonato, Esq., Berding|Weil 11:50 Dealing With a Difficult Board—Larry Russell, Esq., Russell & Mallett LLP; Brian Campisi, PCAM, Manor Association 12:40 p.m. Questions & Answers—All speakers 1:10 Vendor Prizes and Adjourn

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Mistake #5: Depending on CCTV As discussed above, CCTV is not “the” solution. In fact, no single stand-alone measure is rarely “the” solution. Security measures should be aptly integrated to take advantage of a multiplier effect. For example, an access control door can be much more effective when it is also being monitored by a CCTV camera. A good door and camera system working together can detect door status (did someone leave it open?), detect early warning visual information about the area (who is coming?), deter (scare less serious intruders off), delay (it takes time to get through a good door), and give an alarm insuring appropriate human denial responses (alert a busy guard and detect for him how to best respond). Cost and ROI are important factors as well. Effective modern CCTV systems can be very expensive so their value and return on investment should be carefully analyzed and compared with alternative measures. Will the large expense actually accomplish anything worthwhile? Legal hassles are another concern. For example, recently in a HOA project a homeowner was enraged because a FastTrak tollpaying device was stolen from his car and the HOAs CCTV system did not provide useful video that would help recover it; therefore, in his opinion the HOA was liable for the loss and he threatened suit. Mistake #6: Having HOA Members Provide Security Services This is clearly a conflict of interest. In the FastTrak device case mentioned above one of the board members was an employee of a security company. The board thought CCTV would provide protection against vandalism and burglary; and they had the security guy acquire the cameras from his company at cost. He and another board member installed the cameras at no charge. These cameras were installed at an unused sentry booth, which had neither gate nor guard, at the entry to the property. The very angry homeowner whose car had been burgled demanded to know the following: who voted on the measure, how much money was spent, to whom did the money go, who selected that model camera and why, who decided the placement, what level of security did the CCTV provide, and when was the HOA going to pay for the theft from his car. Lastly, he was going to file charges because the HOA was violating his First Amendment Rights by not allowing him to publish a letter of dis12

April 2012 | ECHO Journal


pleasure in their newsletter or address all HOA members regarding his grievance and charges. Weee! Now, having said all that, does everyone understand the importance of using independent third party providers? Mistake #7: No Service Contract If a system can’t be serviced, it is garbage. Warranties on security systems are normally one to three years; however, they do not usually include labor. In my experience it is wise to have a service agreement with the original installer. This gives the installer a vested interest in making sure the system he installed actually works. Also, since modern systems are complicated, having a second company come out to provide service for another company’s installation often results in finger pointing and greater costs. Finally, did we say, “If it can’t be serviced, it is garbage.” Mistake #8: Not Taking Advantage of “Crime Prevention through Environmental Design” The Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies have spent billions of dollars studying and implementing the concepts of crime prevention introduced by architect Oscar Newman’s book Defensible Space, Crime Prevention Through Urban Design. Crime prevention through environment design builds upon five key strategies: (1) territoriality, (2) natural surveillance, (3) activity support, (4) access control and (5) education. These ideas are presented below to suggest a systematic intellectual approach to preventing crime by influencing offender decisions that precede criminal acts. It would be an egregious mistake not to consider them.

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(1) Territoriality: People protect territory they feel is their own and they tend to have a certain respect for the territory of others. Art, signs, good maintenance, fences, and landscaping are some physical ways to express ownership. Identifying intruders is much easier in a welldefined space. It is important to know the people in your building and HOA as well as in the general community. Let trustworthy neighbors know when you’re going away for extended periods of time. Let them know whether you are going to have somebody checking on your condominium or not. Reciprocate when they are gone. ECHO Journal | April 2012

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Be aware that criminals often watch a potential target building for a considerable time prior to breaking in, taking note of the ebb and flow of traffic, residents’ work schedules, and possible points of entry. Therefore it is important to recognize who belongs in your space and who doesn’t. Also understand the importance of not letting mail and newspapers pile up, always a clear sign that a home is probably unattended. (2) Natural Surveillance (and General Vigilance): Criminals don’t want to be seen. Open areas that permit residents to easily see activity provide natural surveillance. Placing physical features, activities and people in ways that make it easy to see what’s going on discourages crime. We are living in the most difficult economic downturn since the Great Depression. Besides causing many other problems it also means that threats of criminal attack are now greater than they were five years ago. There has been a big rash of daytime burglaries. Just being aware of this fact can help increase general vigilance, thus making your building more secure. Vigilance of residents is vital to any security plan for a building. In practice this means doing such things as risking being impolite by not holding the door for a stranger—even a well-dressed one who doesn’t look like a thief. Explain that the building has strict entry protocols, and apologize—but don’t let him in. Good lighting is one of the most effective and cost responsible enhancements to natural surveillance that one can take. Consider the reason retail stores often keep their lights on all night even when closed. It makes it harder for intruders to hide from law enforcement, building residents, passers-by and cameras. Finally, as a caveat, keep in mind that there is a difference between lighting in general and good security illumination. Mood lighting may be nice for lovers but security illumination makes it uncomfortable for evildoers. (3) Activity Support: Encouraging legitimate activity in public spaces helps discourage crime. It helps create a feeling of ownership. It also helps neighbors get to know each other and thus better know who is possibly an unwelcome stranger. Any activity or place that gets people out and together – a homeowners’ social, a neighborhood watch group, or even a pleasant com-

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April 2012 | ECHO Journal


mon area where people naturally meet each other over time – helps prevent crime. (4) Access Control: Access control is a significant concern. It includes such practices as not letting guests into the building prior to getting approval, establishing the identity and purpose of nonresidents before granting entry, and not holding an access door open for unidentified individuals. Below are more points about access control that a security conscious HOA should consider. Well-located entrances, exits, fencing, landscaping and lighting can direct both foot and automobile traffic in ways that discourage crime. Think about easy or especially effective ways this can be arranged in your particular situation. Condominiums and multi housing properties are popular for intruders because of amenities such as swimming pools, gyms, spas, recreational facilities, playgrounds and parks. These amenities are often found on the outskirts of the property, which make them harder to supervise. Therefore, HOAs should pay particular attention to controlling access to them. Another simple concept: make sure the doors are locked. How often are service doors left propped open and left unattended by someone waiting for a delivery? Or, how often is a front door opened wide while a resident goes to her car to fetch parcels or to move a sofa out of his apartment? Doors should never be propped open and left unattended for any reason for any period of time. This includes doors from basements or underground garages and roof doors as well the more obvious lobby and other groundfloor access doors. Key control is also an important component of door control. Your building or HOA should have specific policies with regard to how keys are to be stored and who is to have access to them. We have even seen policies providing for large penalties (used to reimburse for complete common area rekeying) in critical situations such as large retirement communities for the very elderly. Consider what vendors should be given keys to common areas? Should cleaning ladies or caretakers be given keys to apartments? Keep in mind the various unseen vendor personnel and caretaker’s relatives who may be getting secret access without official approval. By the way, according to the pros, keys to your home should never be labeled with apartment numbers; rather, they should

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be coded so that only the few individuals responsible for them know which doors they open. (5) Education: Education influences the environment by increasing security awareness in ways that help residents, individually and as a group, to recognize and prevent potential crime scenarios. Motivation reinforcement is another benefit of the education. If residents, managers and directors are not all onboard even the most well thought-out security program is useless. The security of the property is everyone’s collective concern—not just the security team. Effective education usually involves participation. Some good ways to increase participation include a neighborhood watch program, training seminars, and quarterly meetings where residents meet with security staff to discuss what is happening on the property and in the neighborhood. Also consider regularly adding brief educational content about security, such as status and practical ideas for improving safety, to your HOA newsletters and regular member meetings. Mistake #9: System Grows Like Topsy4 This mistake is usually not recognized until after the fact; i.e., after several unrelated security measures have been instituted in reaction to a variety of unsettling events. Typically something happens—a crime. Then an urgent call goes forward to do something. In response to each new call a new security measure is hastily installed without serious consideration of unintended consequences or return on investment. As time goes by and more and more disturbing events occur the security systems grow in a haphazard fashion. Elements fall into disuse or just don’t work. Costs climb sky high. Sometimes, even ineffective bureaucracies can take root and start growing all on their own (just like in government?). Then people start asking “Why was this done, what does it really accomplish, how much did that cost”? Security may become the laughing stock of the community, which rapidly loses confidence in it. Residents cease to follow security protocols because they are too hard, don’t make sense, and are inconve4 The phrase “growed like Topsy” (later “grew like Topsy”; now somewhat archaic) ...of unplanned growth, later sometimes just meaning enormous growth. Ref: Stowe, Harriet Beecher (1852) Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

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April 2012 | ECHO Journal


nient. Then security really goes to pot! Oh! What to do! Stop! Stop feeding the monster or it will only get larger and uglier. Assess what is there—do a security assessment with objectives and goals, evaluate costs versus benefits, remove equipment and protocols that are not working.

So! What’s your point? The point is that if the worst happens and building codes have been ignored, then the ensuing lawsuit and/or other penalties can bankrupt a blissfully ignorant HOA.

Mistake #10: Ignoring Building Codes Government building codes often require installation of specific security measures. For example, San Francisco Building Code, Chapter 10A. Security Requirements stipulates, “Apartment houses (Group R, Division 1 and R, Division 2 Occupancies) and buildings containing more than two residential condominium units shall meet the security requirements of this chapter.” It goes on from there to mandate several specific security measures. Here’s a related tip for the wise: Be sure to always get the fire marshal’s blessing on access issues before making expensive security changes. Ignoring or hiding something from a fire marshal will only make him angry and capricious. And they definitely can and definitely will force changes in anything at all that could possibly affect fire safety.

There you have it, or at least a good start. As one can see these ten mistakes often tend to overlap, run together, and have quite a bit of each other in them. That’s the point: good security is not just one thing; it is an integration of several interrelated concepts, actions and items that tend to be mutually supporting and to have a multiplier effect.

Conclusion

The idea is to get started stacking the odds in your favor. Just knowing the most common security mistakes is a beginning. Choosing small or easy things that will convince criminals to move on is a good next step. Often even little improvements can help you sleep more peacefully at night and let you enjoy an evening out without worrying if your heirlooms will still be there when you get back home. I have also shown you how to start developing a more serious security plan should you have attractive valuables,

large legal risks, or can otherwise anticipate problems. I know! Feeling concern every time you leave your property is basically un-American. Years ago we Americans felt safe at home and saw such issues as problems only in foreign countries where homes had bars on the windows and had surrounding walls with broken glass atop. But now criminals can often be found literally on our own personal American doorsteps as well. So, let us begin to put things right again and stop being ignorant and thus easy victims for miscreants. A good security assessment is the underlying secret behind effective security. Many mistakes can be quickly fixed, some very easily, when confronted by a well-done security survey. Call it a survey, audit, assessment, whatever you wish. But do one. Soon!

Ken Carlisle is the principal consultant at www.SecurityNet.com. He holds the professional designation of Certified Protection Professional from the American Society for Industrial Security. He has provided security-consulting services to a variety of both large and small organizations. ECHO Journal | April 2012

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April 2012 | ECHO Journal


By Graham Oliver

Overcoming Resistance to Funding Reserves ne of the most famous books of the last century is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Published in 1937, it has sold millions of copies (and it’s still selling) and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 10 years. It addresses two things we all want to do better in our family relationships, among our neighbors, with our staff and our bosses. But almost nowhere is winning friends and influencing people more important than when matters connected with your condominium or planned development association arise. The way we live and interact togeth-

O

er in these communities is a vital part of our everyday lives. Plus, it’s worth reminding ourselves that our personal views on how our association should be run and what the “rules” should be are not simply incidental issues that are easily dealt with. Quite the contrary. As you may have already guessed, I’m “going somewhere” with this. And where I’m going is into the reserve fund area, drilling down to a specific element—funding—and from there going one layer deeper right into bed rock…the matter of setting monthly contributions amounts.

ECHO Journal | April 2012

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First, a startling statistic—consider that recent studies of representative condominiums in California found that, on average, common-ownership properties were only about 50 percent funded. That means that (again, on average) properties had only about half the funds required to carry out the major repairs and replacements called for in their reserve plans. Why? In some cases we might surmise that the plan itself was poorly put together—the funding schedule was incorrectly worked out. In other cases, there may have been delinquencies, i.e., uncollected (or uncollectible) assessments payable by the unit owners. But it seems much more likely the most prevalent reason is that funding required to meet a 100 percent-funded level was consciously rejected by the boards and by the owners. How come? We think it’s because two powerful forces are at work: One of them is the reluctance of individuals, be they owners-atlarge or individual board members, to agree to higher monthly payments for all the usual reasons. The other one is that the boards, even when they know that the need for an increase is real, are loathe to get into a predictably unpleasant hassle with owners at the annual general meeting. It’s easier to say “Let’s deal with it later,” or “Let the next board deal with it.” A huge mistake. When your property gets into an underfunded position, you’re on a slippery slope. Not only will a loan or a special assessment loom in the not-so-distant future, but the fundamental underfunding problem will not have gone away. A need to pay the loan, plus the need to raise fees at the same time, is the fate that awaits. And that’s a very tough row to hoe. What to do? We have a suggestion. It’s not infallible. It will succeed sometimes, but not always. Before we get into that, let’s describe what we mean by “resistance to funding plans.” Well, what’s the first step to increasing unit owner’s monthly fees in order to get more money into the reserve fund? It’s usually initiated by a reserve plan submitted by a Reserve Specialist (RS). The RS has found that in order to meet anticipated expenditures for repairs and replacements, the projected balances in the fund will have to be higher. And to attain these higher balances the RS would have recommended a level of monthly contributions from owners high enough to bring the reserves up to where they should be.

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April 2012 | ECHO Journal


Simple enough, isn’t it? Well, yes, as long as all the board members agree with the higher amounts, and as long as the owners, when presented with those numbers, all nod their heads in agreement. First let’s deal with the problem of one or more board members who try to roadblock the resolution to raise contributions. Seems to us there may be two reasons for it. One is that they themselves, personally, don’t like the idea of paying higher fees. The other is that, while they themselves, personally, aren’t against it, they know that some of the unit owners will be; and they don’t want to get involved in a potentially unpleasant free-forall with their neighbors.

Anticipating that some of your fellow board members may lower the recommended level of contributions can help you prepare for their objections. If the majority of the board buys into the fee increase, well, the majority rules and motion passed. But if you and other likethinking board members are in the minority, what then? You’re on the receiving end of other board members’ arguments that paint a picture of the hue and cry the board will face. (They have a point, by the way. The owners won’t like it. But we’ll deal with that later in this article.) Your colleagues suggest that the board should fiddle with the recommended amounts to bring them down to a more acceptable level or what they think will be a more acceptable level. They try to persuade you that the upcoming Annual Meeting will run along like a schooner going before the wind. The board will score again! Or will it? Consider that the board has already bought into the notion that the reserves will, by their decision, become (or remain) underfunded. If that scenario isn’t distasteful to you, it should be. Look at what a highly respected accounting institute says. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Audit and Accounting Guide

for Common Interest Realty Associations (CIRA) recognizes the need for funding of reserves stating that “Above all, boards of directors need to be aware that the goal of whatever policies they set should enable them to meet their fiduciary duties to maintain and preserve the common property.”1

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We might say, therefore, that when board members are tempted to fiddle with the recommended numbers, one of the members should put the above quote on the table. Our hope is that the recalcitrant members would audibly “gulp” and surrender—all at the same time! The above, folks, is what I might call the “techno-legal” approach. But we promised to pull Dale Carnegie out of our hat to use the winning friends and influencing people strategy. Let’s introduce one or two of his widely accepted teachings right here. One in particular that we think would work well here is anticipation. That is, anticipating that some of your fellow board members may want to fiddle; i.e., water down the recommended level of contributions. If you anticipate, you can prepare. And you’ll be following Dale Carnegie’s advice… “Dramatize your ideas.” Here’s how. Before your board meeting, use a copy of your Reserve Specialist’s spreadsheet that provides the recommended funding level and water it down yourself. Reduce the planner-recommended contributions increase by, say 50 percent. And see what happens. (This means reducing the increase by 50 percent, not the entire reserve fund contribution amount). What you’ll arrive at is a string of annual reserve balances that are inadequate. With those numbers in your pocket you can confidently demonstrate that the wateringdown idea should be quickly dismissed. Dale Carnegie advocates, “Throw down a challenge.” What could be more challenging than asking your fellow members if they really want to go to the Annual Meeting knowing that their watered down plan is decidedly dangerous. Game over? By no means. We’ve had our little skirmish at the board level. Now we start the next world war—getting the plan approved by the owners. Let’s look at tactics that could help to reduce owners’ objections to a required contributions increase. We’ll

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see how we can win friends and influence people. Let’s first explore what reasons people give when they do not want to see the plan adopted; i.e., in order to escape the dreaded passing of a motion to demand higher monthly payments. • The favorite. “I may move some day and I won’t be able to recoup the money I’ve paid into the reserve fund.” • Or…“I just can’t afford it. Everything gets more expensive, and this is one increase we can avoid.” • “How do we know the plan is a good one? Who’s to say all the repairs on your computer spreadsheets are actually going to be required?” • “Last year they put new carpeting in the South Wing but did nothing where I live. I keep paying for improvements that benefit others.” • “What’s the worst that can happen if we don’t raise the fees?” • “The board is incompetent, dishonest, careless or unintelligent. Or all of the foregoing.” Let’s take them, one at a time in the above order. An effective2 response to the first one might be something like this: It’s true, as the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you,” whether it’s about moving or dying. But there is an obligation to pay our way as we go through our lifetimes. During the occupation of your unit, you have been responsible for part of the wear-out that constantly occurs. You have walked on the carpets, used the elevators, and been around while the winds blew and the rain came down and the sun shone, affecting the paint, the brickwork and the driveways. You have been cooled by the air-conditioning, warmed by the heating system, and showered by the hot water from the boilers. Money is required to bring all the elements of the property up to scratch, and to keep them that way. All that money is spent for your contentment and for

2 We really mean “relatively” effective. That is, if one does the things we suggest, it’s likely that the outcomes will be more effective than if one does not do them. “Absolute” effectiveness is the result of a number of factors. In the context of our attempts to win over the other side to our point of view, these factors might include the real or perceived experience of the speaker, the natural intransigence of the complainer, the preparedness of the presenter and his or her ability to address the other party in a clear and objective manner. And so on.


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maintaining resale values. Besides, if reserve contributions aren’t collected you would walk away some day and leave behind a community that had deteriorated and that had no money to pay for restoring itself. Is that really what you’d like to do?

qualified help, to put up with an axle-breaking driveway. Then what happens? Your community begins to look shabby, selling a unit becomes difficult, the people who would have agreed to pay for better upkeep move out and the spiral continues, downward.

The second one—simply can’t afford it— is a toughie. It’s not easy for people, at a public meeting, to say it, but if the property has a disproportionate number of senior owners, someone stating this might evoke a lot of sympathy. You might, then, want to say something like…

The end result is that your investment— possibly your biggest single investment—goes into a nose-dive. The increase we’re recommending isn’t really an option. It’s a must.”

“Yes, on a fixed income, all price increases are hard to take. But the reality is that even though inflation has been relatively low lately, much of what the property spends its money on has seen more rapid cost increases. Some workers’ costs have risen by 15 percent over the last two years. We were in danger of losing our caretaker by not paying the going rates. The driveway repaving uses oilbased tar; so it’s much more expensive. You know that certain items in your personal budget have zoomed upward lately— gasoline being a prime example. The alternative is to not do the repairs, to get less

Have the reserve planner attend the meeting to explain how he or she went about creating the plan. Our third item (the plan may not be good) should be easy to answer. If the board has engaged a reputable planner with professional qualifications and an impressive client

roster, this criticism should be put to rest quickly. But how, exactly, do you do it? It depends. If you get the chance to meet with the dissenter one-on-one you can trot out the specialist’s detailed plan. Point out the exhaustive list of components. Describe how each one is individually analyzed regarding its life expectancy and the costs of repairing or replacing it. Show how the predicted opening and closing balances are computed, including the interest on money percentage. And, most importantly, demonstrate that if the recommended funding amounts were watered down the balances would become perilously low—maybe even “negative.” If this objection surfaces at a general meeting, you won’t have the time to go into this much detail but (unless you’ve prepared a flip chart or PowerPoint presentation beforehand) you’ll just have to do it with wellrehearsed words. In fact, why not even do a “What if…” that uses lower funding numbers? That would convincingly illustrate what the balances would look like. Here’s another idea. Have the reserve planner attend the meeting to explain how he or she went about creating the plan. This ECHO Journal | April 2012

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idea assumes the planner is a reasonably good speaker and can hold his or her own with the audience. And it assumes as well that the planner’s presentation has been thought through ahead of time. It’s not the place for ad libs or fancy footwork. One downer…the planner may charge a fee for attending the meeting if that task wasn’t part of the contract with him or her. It would be money well spent, we believe. Now we come to the fourth and fifth items on our list, above. Both of them can be handled easily. The notion of paying for someone else’s benefits—well, it happens all the time. The community a mile down the road gets a new park. Bus service in the south end of town is improved and you live in the north end. Your kids have finished school but you still pay school taxes. Our point? Your association is a “community” just like a town, a county, a state or indeed a nation. The argument that every payment must bring direct benefits to the payer is indefensible. Case closed. The question about the worst that can happen? The answer is that your community will face a quickening downward spiral; i.e., 24

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

dilapidated buildings and grounds, more renters and absentee unit owners; lower resale values, and in time virtually valueless assets. These scenarios are, regrettably, not fictional. But they don’t “just happen.” They happen precisely because when the need for adequate contributions is incontrovertibly demonstrated, people still prefer to go into denial. Finally, the last “beef.” And a nasty one it is. On a purely technical note, the answer to attacks on the board of directors could simply be that rules are in place in the associa-

tion’s charter, (or CC&Rs or constitution or by-laws) that explicitly describe the processes related to the election and removal of directors. These should be at hand and referred to if necessary at the appropriate time. But quoting from the constitution is not nearly as good as winning over, or at least mollifying, complainers with the kinds of approaches that Dale Carnegie proposes. There’s a long list of them and they include the following: • Using a person’s name when you address him or her. • Listening. Demonstrating that the person’s opinions merit your attention, at least. • Admitting it, when the board has indeed blundered, and adding what you intend to do to ensure it won’t happen again. • Making the other person feel important and do it sincerely. • Asking questions. Making sure you understand exactly what the complaint is about. Asking what your complainer would have done under the same circumstances. • Dramatizing your ideas with examples, analogies, charts and quotes from authori-


ties. We previously covered this fully where we stressed the need to anticipate questions and objections. If you anticipate, you can prepare! • Referring to the more agreeable parts of the grievance before explaining why the other parts may not be justified. Not to be overly “touchy-feely” about it all, there are times when you must close down a debate and state that the parties must finally “agree to disagree.” A board must walk the line between acquiescence and dictatorship. The board has been elected to head up a democratic, republican society (if we can use the two words in the same sentence)—not a kingdom. The board members’ constituents are also their neighbors, and a happy community isn’t possible where over-the-fence battles prevail.

Graham Oliver is an author and a contributor to reserve fund evolution. He is a past board president and now calls himself a Reserve Fund aficionado. Graham is the co-author of the book Reserve Fund Essentials, from which some of the above ideas were taken. The book may be obtained from the ECHO Bookstore.

Find answers to almost any question about CIDs Questions & Answers About Community Associations Member Price: $18.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 For 12 years, Jan Hickenbottom answered homeowners’ questions in her Los Angeles Times column on community associations. Now collected in one volume, readers can find answers to almost any question about CIDs. Order today from ECHO! Call 408-297-3246, fax at 408-297-3517 or email: info@echo-ca.org ECHO Journal | April 2012

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hroughout the past year I’ve been gathering information about the various ways that email has impacted our business environment and specifically the community association industry. While email is a valuable tool and there are certainly benefits that can be identified, most of the impact associated with email is experienced negatively. This is not

T

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the picture anyone would have predicted back in the early 1980s when the first LAN email systems were introduced. In the last 30 years, email has replaced the fax, and for that matter the USPS, as the primary delivery for all types of written communications. It has saved us time, money, and storage space–the latter only if we can

avoid the temptation to print every message. So how did this seemingly valuable tool become such a problem? In this article we will identify four of the challenges associated with email communication and share the common sense solutions that every business can apply.


By Debra A. Warren, CMCA, PCAM

Email—It’s Time to Tame this Business Tool

Delivery Method Does Not Dictate Priority As your morning begins, you have a very clear plan or list of the things you need to accomplish that day, right? Then what happens? Without a doubt the number one distraction that keeps us from our priority list is email. Many of us suffer from “inbox addiction.” We constantly watch

what comes into our email inbox and make it a priority to keep the box “empty.” This practice has, by default, made the delivery method of the request itself more important than the content. Think about the last time you received a letter from a customer through the postal service. I’ll bet it ended up in a To Do pile somewhere in your office, or you

may have passed it on to someone else for review. Even if this letter contained information about a “priority” project, it was probably addressed after a non-priority request that came to you via email. Solution: In order to treat email communication as just one aspect of your overall communication system and establish reasonable priorities to ECHO Journal | April 2012

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email requests, you will need to apply some discipline and use your planning and communication skills. Since there are also many others that are struggling with “inbox addiction,” you will need to educate your clients, customers and co-workers about your email protocol to avoid the multiple follow-up requests (with red exclamation mark attached) if you delay responding for several hours. Practice: Check your email three to four times a day at specific intervals. When you are not using email, close your inbox so that you do not receive a notification every time a new message is received. You will be less tempted to check. Put the “Business” Back in Business Communication Another challenge with many email communications is that the users become too relaxed and familiar in the tone of the message, and they ignore the basic requirements of a business communication. In other words, the delivery model should not alter formality. If you are sending an email to your clients, it is important to construct your communication carefully. First identify who should be included in the distribution. If the email is to board members, it should be to only board members. A communication intended for a single homeowner should be sent only to that homeowner. Do not use the cc or bcc function to inform others of your communication. Instead, save copies of sent emails in PDF and distribute to others separately. When you use the carbon copy (cc) function it is equal to extending an invitation to others to participate in the interaction. Use proper grammar and spelling, and give your response adequate consideration and thought before sending. Your professionalism is judged by how you present yourself, and an email is a document that can linger for a long time. As an expert witness, I can review hundreds of emails for a single case. It is often an informal email to a board member or homeowner that ends up being a key piece of evidence. Solution: Develop a clear email protocol that defines how to construct communications and share that with your clients, staff or co-workers. Think carefully about whom you include in the distribution of an email message and create your content accordingly. If you are using email to schedule meetings with multiple participants, look for other tools like Doodle (www.doodle.com) to avoid 28

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

circular emails, and share reports using Dropbox (www.dropbox.com). Practice: Implement a practice of reviewing your email carefully before sending. Begin reducing the number of emails you send by using online tools for scheduling or distributing reports. Community Associations and Open Meetings In California there are legal requirements for the board of directors to conduct meetings that are open to the members. The intent of these requirements is to allow homeowners to hear the board’s discussion, not just their decisions. The board should therefore refrain from debate and discussion via email. Use conference calls, or “open” work sessions if additional debate outside of the official meeting is necessary. Email is for Information —Not Relationships In our embrace of email technology, one of our greatest errors is that we began to use email to replace the conversation. While information can be exchanged via email, the other important contents of a conversation cannot. Research shows that 55 percent of a communication is visual, 38 percent is tone, and 7 percent is content. When you are attempting to communicate anything other than factual information, you have a 93 percent chance there will be a misunderstanding if you cannot see the facial expressions or hear the voice of the other person. While you may find it easier to express yourself on email, rather than face to face, you are more likely to experience negative results. Solution: Develop clear guidelines for the use of “internal” email. Encourage regular face-to-face communication and train supervisors in the appropriate ways to provide feedback to team members. Practice: Make it a habit not to use email to evaluate or criticize the actions of another. Conversely, if you receive an email and you perceive that the sender is upset, pick up the phone or make an appointment to talk face to face. Always make time for developing your professional relationships that will help you in the event of a future misunderstanding. Personal Email Habits It has always been my philosophy that if I have wanted a situation to change, I first needed to look at my own behavior. This was also my approach in dealing with email. The first step is to look at how you use email

throughout the day. Email is perfect example of “you reap what you sow.” In other words, if you send a lot of email you will receive a lot of email. Begin to evaluate your efficiency by the total amount of time that it takes to accomplish a task. While it may appear that email is the most efficient method, if you have a lengthy email exchange or there is a miscommunication, perhaps a phone call would be better and ultimately more efficient. Only use email when it is the best form of communication after considering the information presented above. You are also likely to get a fair amount of advertising, jokes, videos and offers in your inbox. You could easily waste away the day if you were to give time to all these regular arrivals. Take a look at your email box and begin to remove those things that are time wasters. Ask your friends not to share the latest chain message, and unsubscribe from advertising that does not interest you. Solution: While a good laugh can break up the day, don’t get sidetracked by all the information you receive. Be as selective about your email communication as you are about your phone communication, and don’t engage in activities that take your attention away from what is most important. Practice: Limit the time you spend each day on email. Delete unwanted messages and jokes and develop folders for storing messages that require a response. This will allow you to work through your emails in a thoughtful manner and avoid feeling overwhelmed. By addressing each of these challenges proactively, we can still utilize the benefits of email communication, and tame this tool so that it meets our needs and supports our productivity. The key is to establish an email protocol for yourself and your organization. Once the protocol is created it can be provided to everyone that is in your communication sphere, both inside and outside of the organization. The more individuals that are conscious of email best practices, the more effective we will all be when using this valuable tool.

Debra Warren, CMCA, CCAM, PCAM is the principal of Cinnabar Consulting LLC, a professional services firm specializing in community association management and governance. She is a regular speaker at ECHO seminars and contributor to the ECHO Journal.


Legislation at a Glimpse As of March 15, 2012 Bill No.

Author

Subject

Status

Position

Summary

AB 805

Torres

Davis-Stirling Revision Part 1

Passed Senate Housing. To Judiciary.

Support

This is the first of two bills from the California Law Revision Commission that restate and clarify the Davis-Stirling Act.

AB 806

Torres

Davis-Stirling Revision Part 2

Passed Senate Housing. To Judiciary.

Support

This is the second of two bills from the California Law Revision Commission that restate and clarify the Davis-Stirling Act.

AB 1547

Eng

Extend “Blight” Fines

In Assembly Finance.

Support

This bill would remove the sunset provision in a law that allows local municipalities to fine owners of foreclosed units for failing to maintain their properties.

AB 1557

Skinner

Extend “Blight” Fines

In Assembly Finance.

Support

This bill would extend the sunset provision to 2018 for a law that allows local municipalities to fine owners of foreclosed units for failing to maintain their properties.

AB 1720

Torres

Gated Communities

In Assembly Support Judiciary. Hearing 3/20.

This bill would require that gated communities grant access to licensed private detectives for the purpose of service of process, provided they produce required documentation.

AB 1726

Allen

Pool Maintenance

Introduced. May be heard 3/18.

Oppose Unless Amended

This bill would require that all public pools (including CID pools) use a “qualified pool operator” as defined by law. The operator must take state-mandated courses.

AB 1838

Calderon

Association Records

In Assembly Judiciary.

Support

Existing law requires associations to provide a form containing estimates of costs associated with providing documents to a prospective purchaser. This bill would require that the form be written in at least 10-point type.

AB 1963

Huber

Tax on Services In Assembly Taxation.

Watch

This bill would make dramatic changes to California’s tax code. One portion of the bill extends taxes to services.

AB 2273

Wieckowski

Purchaser Information

Introduced.

Watch

This bill would require that an owner who is selling his or her unit provide information about the purchasing owner to the association.

SB 561

Corbett

Third Party Collections

In Assembly Judiciary. Hearing cancelled.

Oppose

Would require any third party acting to collect payments or assessments on behalf of an association to comply with the same requirements imposed on the association. Makes statement of legislative intent.

SB 880

Corbett

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Signed by Governor.

Neutral

This bill cleans up problematic sections of last year’s electric vehicle charging station law. The revisions give more oversight and control to the association.

SB 1244

Harman

Foreclosure Procedures

In Senate Judiciary.

Support

This bill eases the notice requirements for units sold in a foreclosure sale. If a unit owner is not able to be served, the bill would, among other requirements, allow the association to post notice in a reasonable location.

ECHO Journal | April 2012

29


By Colletta Ellsworth-Wicker, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

Building Community Involvement here are so many factors that go into running a successful association that listing them could prove exhausting and counterproductive in the area of reader interest. However, an association would not even need to consider this list without first having community involvement. How do you promote this “community involvement?”

T

30

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

There are numerous ways to recruit and involve new members as participants in association activities and governance. Possibly the first opportunity comes with the presentation of a “welcome package” to new association members. This first communication with a new owner or resident can go a long way toward dispelling misgivings that

new members may have formed due to any number of reasons. The “welcome package” can explain the workings of the association’s governance and at the same time invite newcomers to participate. This communications tool can actually educate residents about what it means to live in a community association. It is even better if other residents


deliver the welcome information. They can personally welcome the newcomers and invite them to any upcoming social events. Another important means of recruitment is through the association manager. The manager has contact with the members as well as with the board. When residents call in with problems, the manager is in

a position to act as their voice and at the same time educate them on how the system of governance works. Chances are that if they are interested enough to complain about something, they will be interested in participating in the activities and governance of the association. The manager needs to make an effort to get to know everyone

and work at using even difficult issues to create a unified community. Many times individuals will accept not getting exactly what they want as long as they have had the opportunity to be heard. In this manner, they may gain a better understanding of why they can’t Continued on page 33

ECHO Journal | April 2012

31


News from ECHO funding schedule incorrectly worked out. In other cases, there may have been delinquencies, uncollected (or uncollectible) assessments payable by the unit owners. But it seems much more likely the most prevalent reason is that funding required to meet a 100 percent-funded level was consciously rejected by the boards and by the owners. Overcoming Resistance to Funding Reserves Nowhere are winning friends and influencing people more important than when matters connected with your homeowner association arise. The way we live and interact together in these communities is a vital part of our everyday lives. Plus, it’s worth reminding us that our personal views on how our association should be run and what the “rules” should be are not simply incidental issues that are easily dealt with. Quite the contrary is true. Where I’m going is into the reserve fund area, drilling down to a specific element—funding— and from there going one layer deeper right into bed rock—the matter of setting monthly contributions amounts. Recent studies of representative condominiums in California found that, on average, commonownership properties were only about 50 percent funded. That means that properties had less than half the funds required to carry out the major repairs and replacements called for in their reserve plans. Why? In some cases the reserve plan itself may have been poorly put together with the 32

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

How come? We suggest it’s because two forces are at work. One of them is the reluctance of individuals, be they owners-atlarge or board members, to agree to higher monthly payments. The other is that the boards, even when they know that the need for an increase is real, are loathe to get involved in hassles with owners. It’s easier to say “Let’s deal with it later,” or “Let the next board deal with it.” This is a huge mistake. When your property gets into an underfunded position, you’re on a slippery slope. Not only will a loan or a special assessment loom in the not-so-distant future, but also the fundamental underfunding problem will not have gone away. A need to pay the loan, plus the need to raise fees at the same time, is the fate that awaits. And that’s a very tough row to hoe. What to do? One good suggestion, not infallible but sometimes successful, is to set monthly contributions from owners high enough to bring the reserves up to where they should be. Building Community Involvement There are many factors that go into running a successful association. An association may want to consider the following list of

possible ways to promote community involvement: 1. An early opportunity comes with the presentation of a “welcome package” to new association members. 2. Another important means of recruitment is through the association manager. The manager has contact with the members as well as with the board. 3. Surveys can be very effective in promoting community involvement. If the surveys are done door to door, there is the opportunity to speak personally with community residents. 4. A suggestion box placed in a prominent area could be a great source of owner/resident input. Some individuals might find it difficult to actually attend a meeting but might have some great suggestions for the board to consider. 5. Newsletters are a valuable tool that can be used to get residents involved in association activities. They serve to communicate information ranging from board actions to upcoming social events. 6. With an open meeting policy, the board can get to know the residents personally. The residents can see how the board functions and gradually mature

into potential new board members. 7. Social functions are another great means of involving new people in the workings of the association. A real sense of community is of vital importance to a community association. Without it, people become complacent and do not care. 8. Last but not least, the utilization of committees can go a long way toward promoting active participation by the association’s owners and residents. The more people are involved in the workings of the community, the more they will network in the community as a whole. How do you promote community involvement? Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! A sense of community increases involvement and involvement is based on interaction and communication. It is important to use every source available to communicate and to share the responsibility of the community as a whole.

Important Upcoming Events Saturday, April 21 South Bay Seminar 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Campbell Community Center 1 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell Friday and Saturday June 22, 23 ECHO Annual Seminar Santa Clara Convention Center Santa Clara


Building Community Involvement Continued from page 31

have things their way and how to go about making a change if the community agrees with their point of view. Surveys can be very effective in promoting community involvement. If the surveys are done door to door, there is the opportunity to personally speak with community residents. In addition, a survey lets people know that their opinion is appreciated and that they have some input relative to the decisionmaking process. Surveys can include a section that deals with volunteerism and getting involved. Surveys can give residents a chance to communicate their interests and concerns about the community. A suggestion box placed in a prominent area can be a great source of owner/resident input. Some individuals might find it difficult to actually attend a meeting but might have some great suggestions for the board to consider. If the board communicates that they have heard and considered the suggestions, individuals might feel that their input is appreciated and be more inclined to make an effort to devote some of their time to association business or functions. Newsletters are a valuable tool that can be used to get residents involved in association activities. They serve to communicate information ranging from board actions to upcoming social events. They can list upcoming board meetings and present financial information. When residents know how and why things are happening, they are much more likely to get involved. With an open meeting policy, the board can get to know the residents personally. The residents can see how the board functions and gradually mature into potential new board members. If the residents can see and understand the governing parameters within which the board works, they will be in a much better position to understand how the board arrives at its decisions for the good of the community as a whole. When the board finds it necessary and within its authority, it can adjourn the meeting and go into executive session. This tool will allow the board to welcome attendance by homeowners and still have the opportunity to work on certain issues in closed session when the situation dictates. Holding an open forum at board meetings will allow owners and residents to be heard. The open forum can be conducted before the actual meeting begins and can be

an informal session of conversation between the board and interested owners and residents. The board is elected to act on behalf of the owners, and it is extremely important that the board be sensitive to what the owners want and need. Social functions are another great means of involving new people in the workings of the association. A real sense of community is of vital importance to a community association. Without it, people become complacent and do not care. Frequent social functions will allow a relaxed atmosphere in which interactions can flourish. Information is shared and common concerns and needs can be identified. Individuals will slowly merge into a real community and will actually become acquainted with their neighbors. Once a sense of community is established, it is much easier to work out problems without involving management.

How do you promote involvement? Communicate! Last but not least, the utilization of committees can go a long way toward promoting active participation by the association’s owners and residents. The more people are involved in the workings of the community, the more they will network in the community as a whole. Committees serve to provide communication from the board and input from the residents. In the committee setting, individuals can be educated and groomed to move on to more structured positions within the community. Even if committee members never serve on the board, the education gained from being on a committee will enable them to share their knowledge with others in the community. These others may want to get more involved themselves, or at the very least, will better understand the workings of their community government. How do you promote community involvement? Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! A sense of community increases involvement and involvement is based on interaction and communication. It is important to use every source available to communicate and to share the responsibility of the community as a whole.

Colletta Ellsworth-Wicker is a vice-president with the Community Group, AAMC, an Associa company with several offices in Virginia. This article has previously been printed in Association Times.

To make your investment sustainable you need this book Condos, Townhomes and Homeowner Associations Member Price: $29.00 Non-Member Price: $45.00 To make these a sustainable investment, new buyers, owners and board members need to understand “best practices basics” of how this form of housing works and have more realistic expectations of this form of “carefree, maintenance free” living.

Order today from ECHO! Call 408-297-3246, fax at 408-2973517 or email: info@echo-ca.org

ECHO Journal | April 2012

33


Directory UPDATES Updates for listings in the ECHO Directory of Businesses and Professionals, now available online at www.echo-ca.org.

New Members TBS Construction Inc. 3283 De La Cruz Blvd, Suite #A Santa Clara, CA 95054 Tel: 408-824-8888 Fax: 408-727-7777 California Rainguard, Inc. 935 N. 9th Street San Jose, CA 95112 Tel: 408-279-6116 Fax: 408-279-6115 6(59,1*&20081,7,(67+528*+2871257+(51&$/,)251,$672&.721 +4 ‡)5(0217 6 (59,1*&20081,7,(67+528*+2871257+(51&$/,)251,$672&.721 +4 ‡)5(0217 PLEASANTTON‡&233(5232/,6‡02'(672‡6$17$&/$5$ PLEASANTON‡&233(5232/,6‡02'(672‡6$17$&/$5$

M & C Associa Association tion Management Mana n gement Services Services pr provides ovide es community community association association m anagement and and developer developer services services to to Fremont, Fremont, Pleasanton, Pleasanton, Santa Santa Clara, Clara, Stockton, Stockton, management M odesto, Copperopolis Copperopolis and and the the surrounding surrounding foothills. foothills. Modesto,

Tri-City Roofing 4450 Enterprise St., Suite 106 Fremont, CA 94538 Tel: 510-797-3901 Fax: 510-659-1023 CertaPro Painters of Contra Costa P.O. Box 1495 Brentwood, CA 94513 Tel: 925-890-2111 Fax: 925-634-2916

Since 1 990, o ur so le focus focu us has been been to to deliver deliver performance performance that enriches enriches 1990, our sole communities proud co mmunities and enhances enhancces the lives lives of the people people we we serve. serve. M & C iiss p roud to to be be Ž Ž Accredited an A ccredited Association Association Management Management Company Company (A (AAMC AAMC )),, w which hich iiss tthe he C Community ommunity Associations Associations Institute’s Institute’s highestGHVLJQDWLRQDZDUGHGWRPDQDJHPHQWÀUPV highestGHVLJQDWLRQDZDUGHGWRPDQDJHPHQWÀUPV

Become an ECHO Business and Professional Member and receive the many benefits of membership. To learn more, visit our membership page at www.echo-ca.org

3OHDVDQWRQ‡)UHPRQW‡6DQWD&ODUD  3OHDVDQWRQ‡)UHPRQW‡6DQWD&ODUD Stockton Stockton 209.644.4900 209.644.490 00 ‡ ‡0RGHVWR‡&RSSHURSROLV 0RGHVWR‡&RSSHURSROLV For management pr proposal oposal information, informattion, please visit www www.mccommunities.com w.mccommunitiess.com or email inf info@mccommunities.com fo@mccommunities.com s.com 34

April 2012 | ECHO Journal


ECHO Events Calendar

Important dates! Wednesday, April 4 Maintenance Resource Panel 12:00 Noon ECHO Office, 1602 The Alameda, Ste. 101, San Jose Wednesday, April 11 South Bay Resource Panel 12:00 Noon Buca Di Beppo 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell Friday, April 13 East Bay Resource Panel 12:00 Noon Massimo Restaurant 1603 Locust St., Walnut Creek Wednesday, April 18 Wine Country Resource Panel 11:45 a.m. Eugene Burger Mgmt. Co. 6600 Hunter Dr., Rohnert Park

Save these dates for the 2012 ECHO Annual Seminar June 22, 23

Wednesday, April 18 Legal Resource Panel 6:30 p.m. Porterhouse 60 East 3rd Ave., San Mateo

Wednesday, May 16 Wine Country Resource Panel 11:45 a.m. Eugene Burger Mgmt. Co. Rohnert Park, CA

Wednesday, June 20 Wine Country Resource Panel 11:45 a.m. Eugene Burger Mgmt. Co. Rohnert Park, CA

Saturday, April 21 South Bay Seminar 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Campbell Community Center 1 W. Campbell Ave., Campbell

Wednesday, June 6 Maintenance Resource Panel 12:00 Noon ECHO Office, 1602 The Alameda, Ste. 101 San Jose

Friday and Saturday June 22, 23 ECHO Annual Seminar Santa Clara Convention Center Santa Clara

Thursday, May 3 North Bay Resource Panel 11:45 a.m. Contempo Marin Clubhouse 400 Yosemite Rd., San Rafael Tuesday, May 8 Central Coast Resource Panel 12:00 Noon Pasatiempo Inn, Santa Cruz Monday, May 14 Accountants Resource Panel 6:00 p.m. Francesco’s Restaurant Oakland

Friday, June 8 East Bay Resource Panel 12:00 Noon Massimo Restaurant 1603 Locust St., Walnut Creek Wednesday, June 13 South Bay Resource Panel 12:00 Noon Buca Di Beppo 1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell

Regularly Scheduled ECHO Resource Panel Meetings Resource Panel Maintenance North Bay East Bay Accountants Central Coast South Bay Wine Country Legal

Meeting First Wednesday, Even Months First Thursday, Odd Months Second Friday, Even Months Second Monday, Odd Months Second Tuesday, Odd Months Second Wednesday, Even Months Third Wednesday, Monthly Quarterly

Location ECHO Office, San Jose Contempo Marin Clubhouse, San Rafael Massimo Restaurant, Walnut Creek Francesco’s Restaurant, Oakland Pasatiempo Inn, Santa Cruz Buca Di Beppo, Campbell Eugene Burger Management Co., Rohnert Park Varies ECHO Journal | April 2012

35


Netwion Edi

Beyond Privatopia $20.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 The rise of residential private governance may be the most extensive and dramatic privatization of public life in U.S. history. In Beyond Privatopia, attorney and political science scholar Evan McKenzie explores emerging trends in private governments and competing schools of thought on how to operate them, from state oversight to laissez-faire libertarianism.

Condominium Bluebook 2012 Edition $17.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00

Condos, Townhomes and Homeowner Associations Member Price: $29.00 Non-Member Price: $45.00

Community Association Statute Book—2012 Edition Member Price: $15.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00

To make these a sustainable investment, new buyers, owners and board members need to understand “best practices basics” of how this form of housing works and have more realistic expectations of this form of “carefree, maintenance free” living.

Contains the 2011 version of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, the Civil Code sections that apply to common interest developments and selected provisions from other codes important to associations.

Robert’s Rules of Order $7.50 Non-Member Price: $12.50

The Board’s Dilemma $10.00 Non-Member Price: $15.00

A step-by-step guide to the rules for meetings of your association, the current and official manual adopted by most organizations to govern their meetings. This guide will provide many meeting procedures not covered by the association bylaws or other governing documents.

In this essay, attorney Tyler Berding confronts the growing financial problems for community associations. Mr. Berding addresses board members who are struggling to balance their duty to protect both individual owners and the corporation, and gives answers to associations trying to avoid a funding crisis.

2012 Community Association Treasurer’s Handbook Member Price: $29.00 Non-Member Price: $35.00

This well-known compact guide for operation of common interest develop ments in California now includes a comprehensive index of the book and a chapter containing more than 200 frequently-asked questions about associations, along with succinct answers.

Netwion Edi

cial e p S rice P

Homeowners Associations— How-to Guide for Leadership Member Price: $15.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 This well-known guide and reference is written for officers and directors of homeowner associations who want to learn how to manage and operate the affairs of their associations effectively.

FOR Board Members Reserve Fund Specialists Property Managers Unit-Owners, Accountants Lawyers, Builders

NEW

2 CHAP TERS ON OP ERATI BUDGETS NG

The Handbook is an in-depth guide to all aspects of association finances, including accounting methods, financial statements, reserves, audits, taxes, investments and much more. Not for the accounting novice, this is a tool for the treasurer or professional looking for specific information about association finances.

RESERVE FUND

ESSENTIALS THIRD EDITION FIFTH PRINTING JONATHAN H.

JUFFS Reserve Fund Specialist

Two experts discuss reserve fund planning and control in a refreshingly readable and exceptionally levelheaded style.

GRAHAM D.

OLIVER Board President (ret.), Reserve Fund Aficionado

INCLUDES RESERVE FUNDS FOR CONDOMINIUMS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATIONS HOAs CO-OPS MEMBER-OWNED PROPERTIES MUNICIPAL FACILITIES

Reserve Fund Essentials Member Price: $18.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 Questions & Answers About Community Associations Member Price: $18.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 For 12 years, Jan Hickenbottom answered homeowners’ questions in her Los Angeles Times column on community associations. Now collected in one volume, readers can find answers to almost any question about CIDs.

This book is an easy to read, musthave guide for anyone who wants a clear, thorough explanation of reserve studies and their indispensable role in effective HOA planning. The author gives tips to help board members mold their reserve study into a useful financial tool.

The Condo Owner’s Answer Book $15.00 Non-Member Price: $20.00 An excellent guide to understanding the rights and responsibilities of condo ownership and operation of homeowner associations. The question-and-answer format responds to more than 125 commonly-asked questions in an easy to understand style. A great resource for newcomers and veteran owners.

2011 ECHO Annual Seminar Program Book $15.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 This 300+ page reference book contains the presentation outlines, text and handouts from the sessions at the 2011 ECHO Annual Seminar held on June 18, 2011. It also contains vital information for association directors, such as assessment collection policies, internal dispute policies, and much more.


Dispute Resolution in Homeowner Associations Member Price: $20.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 This publication has been completely revised to reflect new requirements resulting from passage of SB 137.

Publications to answer your questions about common interest developments Now Order Online at www.echo-ca.org

Bookstore Order Form Board Member’s Guide for Contractor Interviews $20.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00

Executive Council of Homeowners 1602 The Alameda, Suite 101, San Jose, CA 95126 Phone: 408-297-3246 Fax: 408-297-3517 TITLE

QUANTITY

This report is a guide for directors and managers to use for interviews with prospective service contractors. Questions to find out capabilities and willingness of contractors to provide the services being sought are included for most of the contractor skills that associations use.

SUBTOTAL CALIFORNIA SALES TAX (Add 8.25%) TOTAL AMOUNT

Yes! Place my order for the items above. Board Member’s Guide for Management Interviews Member Price: $20.00 Non-Member Price: $25.00 This guide for use by boards for conducting complete and effective interviews with prospective managers takes the guesswork out of the interview process. Over 80 questions covering every management duty and includes answer sheets matched to the questions.

q Check q Visa q MasterCard Credit Card Number Exp. Date

Signature

Name (please print) Association (or company) Address City Daytime Telephone

State

Zip

AMOUNT


SWINGING WITH THE GATSBYS


ECHO 40th Annual Seminar The ECHO 40th Annual Seminar is Swinging with the Gatsbys this year. Ask your associates in other common interest developments to join you for a day of education and fun at this important event. They need to hear updates about every important CID responsibility and issue, to see new products and to share in the large number of prizes and favors distributed by 125 trade show exhibitors.

Saturday, June 23, 2011 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Santa Clara Convention Center Santa Clara, California Join the Friday Night Gala! Join us for food, music and socializing at the Annual Seminar Reception on Friday, June 22, 5:00–7:30 p.m. The cost is $40 to attend. Special Hotel Rates Don’t miss out on the special room rate of $89 at the Hyatt

Regency adjacent to the Santa Clara Convention Center. Call the Hyatt Regency at (800) 2331234 and mention the Executive Council of Homeowners. The special rate is available until June 1, 2012.

at (408) 297-3246 or online at www.echo-ca.org/annualseminar/.

Register Online Now is the time for homeowner association board members and professionals to make advance reservations for this event. Register today by calling ECHO

Educational Sessions SESSION TRACKS

HOA UNIVERSITY Rooms 203–204

LEGAL Rooms 209–210

MANAGEMENT & FINANCIAL Ballroom G

FACILITIES MANAGEMENT Ballroom H

Administration

They Are At It Again in Sacramento— 2012 Legislative Update

Charging Electric Vehicles in HOAs

Hidden Damage and Its Threat to Older HOAs

Saturday Morning 10:50 to 12:00

Legal Considerations

Accessibility and Other ADA Issues

Association Newsletters— Keeping Members Informed

Practical HOA Maintenance Part I: Presentations

Saturday Afternoon 1:30 to 2:40

Finances

Enforcement Issues: Correcting Old CC&R and Rules Violations

Operating Without Email

Practical HOA Maintenance Part II: Demonstrations

Saturday Afternoon 3:20 to 4:30

Insurance

Director Recall!

Ask The Attorneys

Who Does What? Understanding Construction Experts

Saturday Morning 9:00 to 10:30


ECHO Honor Roll

About

ECHO Honors Volunteers Beth Grimm 2011 Volunteer of the Year ECHO Resource Panels Accountant Panel Richard Schneider, CPA 707-576-7070 Central Coast Panel John Allanson 831-685-0101 East Bay Panel Beth Grimm, Esq., 925-746-7177 Mandi Newton, 415-225-9898 Legal Panel Mark Wleklinski, Esq. 925-280-1191 Maintenance Panel Brian Seifert, 831-708-2916 North Bay Panel Diane Kay, CCAM, 415-846-7579 Stephany Charles, CCAM 415-458-3537 San Francisco Panel Jeff Saarman, 415-749-2700 South Bay Panel Toni Rodriguez, 408-848-8118 George Engurasoff, 408-295-7767 Wine Country Panel Maria Birch, CCAM, 707-584-5123

Legislative Committee Paul Atkins Jeffrey Barnett, Esq. Sandra Bonato, Esq. Jerry Bowles Joelyn Carr-Fingerle, CPA Chet Fitzell, CCAM John Garvic, Esq., Chair Geri Kennedy, CCAM Wanden Treanor, Esq.

40

April 2012 | ECHO Journal

SF Luncheon Speakers John Allanson Jeffrey Barnett, Esq. Tyler Berding, Esq. Ronald Block, PhD. Sandra Bonato, Esq. Wendy Buller Doug Christison, PCAM, CCAM Karen Conlon, CCAM Rolf Crocker, CCAM Ross Feinberg, Esq. David Feingold, Esq. Tom Fier, Esq. Kevin Frederick, Esq. John Garvic, Esq. Beverly Gordon, CCAM Sandra Gottlieb, Esq. Beth Grimm, Esq. Brian Hebert, Esq. Roy Helsing Stephen Johnson, CFP Garth Leone Nico March Kerry Mazzoni Thomas Miller, Esq. Larry Pothast Larry Russell, Esq. Steve Saarman Jim Shepherd Nathaniel Sterling, Esq. Debra Warren, PCAM, CCAM Steven Weil, Esq. Mark Wleklinski, Esq. Glenn Youngling, Esq.

Seminar Speakers June 18, 2011 ECHO Annual Seminar Julie Adamen John Allanson Jeffrey Barnett, Esq. Tyler Berding, Esq. Jacquie Berry Sandra Bonato, Esq.

Jeffrey Cereghino, Esq. Timothy Cline Paul P. Cordova, PE Alan Crandall Bradley Epstein, Esq. Lisa Esposito, CCAM John Garvic, Esq. Beverlee Gordon Sandra Gottlieb, Esq. Patrick Holman Linnea Juarez, PCAM, CCAM David Kuivanen, AIA Kerry Mazzoni Evan McKenzie, Esq. Steven Saarman Brian Smith Deon Stein, Esq. Wanden Treanor, Esq. Steven Weil, Esq.

Recent ECHO Journal Contributing Authors January 2012 Linda A. Bartel, PCAM Sandra M. Bonato, Esq. Michael Gartzke, CPA Beth A Grimm, Esq. Ken Kosloff Susan Spott February 2012 Jeffrey A. Barnett, Esq. Robert Booty Carl Brown, RCI, RRO Tom Fier, Esq. Steven S. Weil, Esq. March 2012 Julie Adamen David L. Hughes John R. Schneider Kevin Scroggins David C. Swedelson, Esq. Steven S. Weil, Esq.

ECHO What is ECHO? ECHO (Executive Council of Homeowners) is a California non-profit corporation dedicated to assisting community associations. ECHO is an owners’ organization. Founded in San Jose in 1972 with a nucleus of five owner associations, ECHO membership is now 1,525 association members representing over 150,000 homes and 325 business and professional members.

Who Should Join ECHO? If your association manages condominiums or a planned development, it can become a member of ECHO and receive all of the benefits designated for homeowner associations. If your company wants to reach decision makers at over 1,450 homeowner associations, you can become an associate member and join 350 other firms serving this important membership.

Benefits of ECHO Membership • Subscription to monthly magazine for every board member • Yearly copy of the Association Statute Book for every board member • Frequent educational seminars • Special prices for CID publications • Legislative advocacy in Sacramento

ECHO Membership Dues HOA Size 2 to 25 units 26 to 50 units 51 to 100 units 101 to 150 units 151 to 200 units 201 or more units Business/Professional

Rate $120 $165 $240 $315 $390 $495 $425

ECHO Journal Subscription Rates Members Non-members/Homeowners Businesses & Professionals

$50 $75 $125

How Do You Join ECHO? Over 1,800 members benefit each year from their membership in ECHO. Find out what they’ve known for years by joining ECHO today. To apply for membership, call ECHO at 408-2973246 or visit the ECHO web site (www.echo-ca.org) to obtain an application form and for more information.


ECHO Marketplace

Advertiser Index

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ECHO 40th Annual Seminar Continued from page 5

The preliminary seminar program and registration information appear on pages 38 and 39 in this issue. The 2012 Seminar and Exhibit will follow the same format as last year’s seminar. There will be a full day of educational sessions and the usual 300-page program book. A Friday evening reception honoring exhibitors is planned as a part of the 2012 Seminar. The Trade Show will be open all day Saturday. ECHO publications will be on sale throughout the seminar. Rooms are available at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara adjacent to the Convention Center at the special ECHO rate of $89 single or double. Reserve directly with the Hyatt Regency (408-986-0700) to obtain the special rate, being sure to mention the Executive Council of Homeowners. This special rate is available only until June 1.

Scholarship Program A limited number of scholarships to cover the cost of Annual Seminar tickets are available, thanks to the generous sponsorship of a number of member businesses and professionals. These scholarships are generally reserved for board members or owners who are first-time attendees at the Annual Seminar or who are residents of smaller, poorly funded associations or associations with other sorts of serious operational prob-

lems. Preference will be given to representatives of ECHO member associations, but membership is not mandatory. Recipients are not required to members of their association board. Awarding of scholarships will be handled by selected managers and the ECHO office. Anyone who wishes to be considered for a scholarship should apply, preferably in writing, to Brian Kidney, ECHO’s Executive Director, at the ECHO Office.

Summary

Ace Property Management . . . . . . . .15 American Management Services . . . .9 Angius & Terry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 A.S.A.P. Collection Services . . . . . . .20 Association Reserves . . . . . . . . . . .25 Berding | Weil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Collins Management . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Common Interest Management . . . .22 Community Management Services . .12 Compass Management . . . . . . . . . .13 Cool Pool Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Cornerstone Community Mgmnt. . . .12 Ekim Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Eugene Burger Management Co. . . .24 First Bank Association Bank Srvcs . . .8 Flores Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Focus Business Bank . . . . . . . . . . .13 Helsing Group, The . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 M & C Association Services . . . . . . .34 Massingham and Associates . . . . . .23 Master Plumbing & Sewer . . . . . . . .43 Mutual of Omaha Bank . . . . . . . . . .14 PML Management Corp. . . . . . . . . .14 Pollard Unlimited . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 R. E. Broocker Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Rebello’s Towing Service . . . . . . . . .17 REMI Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 Saarman Construction . . . . . . . . . .20 Statcomm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 Valley Landscape Management . . . .21 Varsity Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

The ECHO Annual Seminar is the do-not-miss event of the year, and every ECHO member association should participate. The Seminar is the place to get all the up-to-date information about operating your association efficiently and legally. Register online now at www.echo-ca.org/annual-seminar/ and take advantage of the early-bird registration rates and save on every ticket. You may also reserve by telephone to the ECHO Office, using your Visa or MasterCard. Plan to attend all day to take full advantage of the information that will be available. You don’t want to miss this exciting event— California’s largest annual homeowner association seminar and trade show. No matter how many previous seminars you have attended, there will be plenty of new information in 2012 to hold your attention. We want to see you there! ECHO Journal | April 2012

41


New election rules: $500 In today’s economic crisis, there may be some items that associations can cut to reduce costs. ECHO membership is not one. Let’s face it, educated board members are better fiduciaries, which helps them to avoid costly law suits and possibly personal liability. ECHO is the premier resource in California for board member education. ECHO offers new articles each month with practical and easy to understand advice about current California requirements, and what may be on the horizon. ECHO staff is available by phone or E-mail to answer members’ questions about association problems or to recommend competent professional services when necessary. And with discounted member rates at more than a dozen educational events throughout the year, ECHO is simply the best educational resource for California homeowners.

Avoid Litigation Each year, as a member benefit, ECHO sends every board member a copy of the updated Community Association Statute book. Every issue of the ECHO Journal and every seminar examine one or more aspects of compliance with association law, because one of the major causes of expensive litigation is ignorance of the law.

Mailing ballots: $200 Make Better Financial Choices Many associations struggle to understand reserve funding requirements and strategies, the benefits and disadvantages of using special assessments, proper collections practices, and even how to determine what components the association is required to maintain. At a time when wise financial planning is essential, ECHO members have access to a wealth of articles about reserve funding, budgeting, insurance, collections, and much more. Fight Costly Regulation Every year, Sacramento legislators introduce more legislation that confuses the job of California board members and increases the costs of compliance. ECHO is committed to fighting unnecessary regulation in California and promoting the interests and welfare of common interest developments. Hire Competent Professionals ECHO offers a variety of articles and publications to help members evaluate their service providers, including questions to ask prospective management firms and contractors. All ECHO Journal articles are available to members at no cost, and publications are sold to members at a discount.

Avoiding a lawsuit: Priceless. Spend a Little, Get a Lot The cost of ECHO membership is minimal. In a worsening economy, associations are looking to cut big expenses from their budgets. Yet, ECHO membership is as little as 25¢ per unit each month. For that small cost, here’s what every board member receives as part of being a member of ECHO: • A subscription to the ECHO Journal • An annual copy of the current Community Association Statute book • Unlimited access to ECHO’s library of past articles • Telephone consultations with ECHO staff about their problems • Reduced fees for ECHO events • Discounted prices on publications • And much more… In These Tough Economic Times, ECHO Membership is a Necessity As the only California organization devoted exclusively to board member and homeowner education, ECHO is a one-of-a-kind resource that your association can’t afford to lose.


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