I receive a lot of emails from desperate board members and owners in homeowner associations asking about where they can go to learn about what they are supposed to be doing! It’s complicated, no doubt and yet there are no university or community college classes that I know of. And if you are counting on newspaper articles and especially the L.A. Times column that is suppposed to provide insight and advice regarding homeowner association living and the law, beware. For some reason, in my opinion, the bias is way too strong on many of the hints, tips and suggestions … against boards and associations! It doesn’t need to be that way. There are as many troubled and troubling owners out there as there are board members and boards. The L.A. Times used to provide (long time ago) balanced information – when Jan Hickenbottom was writing the column to help owners and board members. Now, well … I can hardly stand to read the column – so I don’t. But readers send me questions about it sometimes. When that happens, I try to reset the balance.
I used to teach a DRE accredited course called THE DAVIS STIRLING ACT IN PLAIN ENGLISH. I would go where anyone could get a group of 10 or more people together - but the price was steep. Travel is expensive – and time is a premium for me, since besides advocating for clients and providing free and low cost literature, I have other interests – like grandkids, photography, and writing.
I do provide lots of free information on my website in the form of free articles and a monthly free E-newsletter and have now about 40 Primers on various topics that are only $25.00. In addition, I provide information about resources on the Resource page of my website (www.californiacondoguru.com) on industry groups that do provide education.
And here is some timely information for those looking to learn.
CAI CAlifornia North Chapter is hosting a seminar on LEADERSHIP including dispute resolution, consensus building, and combatting apathy on September 13 – yes, this week! I have been asked to be the Keynote Speaker and I plan to share my tips on good leadership. I have a lot of experience in the industry in working to solve problems in HOAs where the Boards do not work together well ordo not give a **&^%$ about what the members think, and many boards that do. I work with some owners who are proactive and looking for ways to initiate change and want to do it the right way, as opposed to badgering, threatening, and distupting proceedings. Many boards do practice preventive law and call to find out how to prevent problems when some controversial or difficult issue rears its head.
For more information on this September 13 Leadership program, and to register, visit this website: http://www.cai-cnc.org/cal2/EventShow.asp?event_id=378123&event_batch=1.
Then, in the next week, the Community Associations Institute California Chapters and California Legislative Action Committee are hosting a legal forum. There are classes not only for attorneys, but also for board members and association members. James P. Lingl, Attorney from Thousand Oaks and I are presenting on the topic of the value of face-to-face meetings and how to prepare for a mediation. To register for this event, visit this site: http://www.caionline.org/events/CALaw/Pages/2011CALaw.aspx.
And if you visit www.caionline.com and the various chapter websites you will find local educational programs on Board Basics and Board Bootcamp. Owners can benefit as much as board members from these classes – after all, every member is a potential board member!
So go forth and learn! You’ll never know it all but there is much value in knowing when you need to get help to prepare for a difficult meeting, when assistance with process might help with a better flow, what to do when someone is acting out and causing problems (whether it be a board member or an owner), when to seek legal advice, and/or when to go searching for solutions.
And one last thought. The web is a GREAT “TOOL” for gathering information, but you have to watch out for the “TOOLS” that use it to spread vitriol. If you read something that blasts all homeowner associations or blasts all owners, it’s a perfect illustration of a clear bias and I caution you to beware of the message.