Celebrating Column #600 and What HOA Homefront Is AboutJan 17, 2022
By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL
I’m excited to share the 600th column since “HOA Homefront” inaugurated in March 2005. Except for a hiatus in 2010 and 2011, the column has been published continuously for 17 years and now appears in most of the major paper and digital news publications in Southern California. I thank former real estate editor Harold Medina, who encouraged me to begin writing, suggesting the title “HOA Homefront.”
There are several recurring themes in the column since its inception. First, is the importance of knowledge about the practical and legal complexities involved in operating common interest developments, also known as “HOAs.” The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act, now 36 years old, has expanded dramatically in scope and complexity as the Legislature continues intervening in the governance and management of private communities. Properly run communities need knowledgeable volunteers and managers, and hopefully, this column has been helpful for the many millions living in California’s common interest communities.
Another theme is the overriding reality that the homeowner association is not simply a legal or financial entity, or a piece of land. While all those characteristics are important, the salient focus always must be on the fact of community. The members are not just shareholders or voters, they are neighbors. So, the column continuously emphasizes neighborly behavior, transparent governance, and civility above all.
It may seem ironic coming from a career trial attorney, but another key theme has been the undesirability of litigation. I have never seen litigation accomplish peace in an association, but I have seen it tear apart communities financially and socially for years. I am proud that during these 600 columns I have never recommended court action as the primary strategy - and I don’t intend to do so in the next 600 either!
The importance of professional and credentialed management has been an enduring theme of this column since day one. When I began advising HOAs in 1989, I believed that associations of less than 100 members probably could handle their affairs without a hired manager. Today, 33 years later? I recommend management for the smallest HOAs.
To the thousands of homeowners who have submitted reader questions in these 17 years, I apologize if your questions did not appear in a column. I keep all those questions - sometimes a six-year old question pairs up nicely with one from last month. I also greatly appreciate the kind words that so often begin your questions - I remove those comments not for ingratitude but for space reasons - 600 words only goes so far!
To professional managers: Keep up the good work. Your job is difficult but essential. Be a credit to the profession and push for the highest performance, ethics, and excellence. Hang in there; we need you!
To volunteer directors: Thanks for volunteering your time. Keep ethical, keep civil, and always remember you are a servant not a boss of your community. Model excellent behavior and keep that standard high for all.
To my readers: Thanks for your frequent encouragement and kind words. Support your board and manager and volunteer for service. Be part of the solution!
Lastly, thanks to the many editors who reserve precious space in their publications each week for the column.
Now, on to #601!
Best regards, Kelly
Submit your own HOA questions here.