HOA Homefront: Celebrating 600 columns with no calls for court action – OCRegister

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I’m excited to share the 600th column of “HOA Homefront,” which was 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 newspapers and digital news websites in Southern California.
I thank former real estate editor Harold Medina, who encouraged me to begin writing, suggesting the title “HOA Homefront.”
There have been 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 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 here 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 not once in these 600 columns have I 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 fewer than 100 members probably could handle their affairs without a hired manager. Today, 33 years later? I recommend management for even the smallest of 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 because sometimes a 6-year-old question pairs nicely with one from last month. I also greatly appreciate the kind words that so often begin your questions. And by the way, I remove those comments, not for ingratitude but for space reasons. My allotted 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 it ethical, 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!
Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and Partner of Richardson Ober DeNichilo LLP, a law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Kelly@rodllp.com.
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