As a current association member and a community manager, I’m strongly opposed to Sen. Bob Wieckowski’s Senate Bill 1265 and object to his characterization of homeowner associations (“Homeowners associations are abusing power,” Viewpoints, Aug. 17).
There are more than 55,000 homeowner associations in California. They are not quasi-governmental entities, but instead are nonprofit corporations. Many are senior communities whose members live on fixed incomes. The average size is less than 25 units and nearly 40 percent of associations are run by volunteer boards, with no professional management at all.
The current election process is one of the most comprehensive and complex in the nation. It is also fair. Most of the evils that SB 1265 seeks to remedy are already barred by current law, which requires associations to provide notice of all elections, provide ballots to all eligible members and count all valid ballots in an open meeting.
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Current law also allows association members to decide for themselves who is and is not eligible to run for the board. SB 1265 would take that local control away.
The senator also fails to discuss how SB 1265 will reduce participation in elections because members would be able to photocopy the secret ballots and their signed envelopes. Many members won’t vote because they
don’t want their neighbors to have a copy of their name, address and signature. When the Legislature is seeking to protect online privacy, SB 1265 would create serious privacy issues for association members.
According to a recent survey by Community Associations Institute, 85 percent of members rate their overall experience as positive and 84 percent say their elected boards serve their best interests. These are real facts, not anecdotal evidence from a few disgruntled residents.
SB 1265 will force associations throughout California to raise assessments to incorporate its changes and to protect owners from litigation. It is a solution looking for a problem. When California is so concerned about affordable housing, SB 1265 is the wrong approach.
Laura Ravazza is a senior community association manager in Dublin. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.