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HOA Homefront: New Year resolutions for an HOA director

When starting the new year with commitments to improve, maybe your HOA could also benefit. This four-part series proposes resolutions for association directors, homeowners, managers and service providers.

As an HOA director, I resolve to:

First: Always follow the Golden Rule.

Check my attitude:

1)  I don’t control my neighbors; I serve them. A servant leader’s attitude will help me to be less defensive and less stressed when board decisions are challenged or criticized.

2)  Advocate our board follows the law and governing documents, spends money wisely, and preserves and maintains our community assets, while also enhancing the board’s relationship with our members. We will balance legal, financial, property, and community considerations in our association governance.

3)  Remember that our volunteer positions are different than our work.  Unlike the workplace, we cannot fire our HOA neighbors.

4)  Be aware that not all neighbors know their rights and responsibilities under the law and governing documents and will be patient and willing to explain our rules and decisions.

Be knowledgable:

5)  Review our governing documents (CC&R’s, bylaws, and rules).

6)  Monthly review of financial reports on budget, reserves, expenditures, and delinquencies.

7)  Understand the Business Judgment Rule and always ensure the board has a sufficient basis for each decision.

8)  Encourage my board colleagues to join a Community Associations Institute Chapter, and take advantage of the written materials, seminars and classes CAI offers to volunteers.

Improve board meetings:

9)  Help to limit our open board meetings to at most 2 hours, with a goal of an average meeting length of 90 minutes.

10) Arrive at meetings prepared, after reviewing the agenda and board packet.

11) Listen attentively during Open Forum without interrupting, giving my neighbors the same level of courtesy and attentiveness which I expect from them during the board’s deliberations.

12) Stay on topic during discussions.

13) Meet in closed sessions only when clearly necessary and authorized by law. Otherwise, I’ll oppose secret board meetings.

Teamwork:

14) Remember that my power as a director is the ability to vote.  Even the president has only one vote. I won’t be a “Lone Ranger” – we will act by majority.

15) Encourage directors to speak their minds and I won’t be insulted when another director disagrees with me.

16) When disagreeing with my colleagues, will respectfully argue my point of view, but if the board votes against my position, I will support that decision, because I am loyal to the corporation and it has spoken.

17) Let the manager manage. I will not personally direct management (the board directs management) or vendors (our manager directs vendors).

Community building

18) Be as open as possible. When a member asks for information or documents, I will first ask “why not?” rather than “must we?”

19) Encourage the use of committees, share the workload and provide members with opportunities for involvement.

20) Communicate better and more frequently with our neighbors (members) with newsletters, web page updates, e-mails and/or bulletins.

21) Confirm our manager holds a professional designation from either Community Associations Institute or California Association of Community Managers, qualifies as a California “Certified Common Interest Development Manager.”

22) Try to informally resolve disputes with members before “going legal.” We can always call HOA counsel next if our efforts fail.

Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner of Richardson Ober LLP, a California law firm known for community association expertise. Submit column questions to Kelly@roattorneys.com

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