QUESTION: Since we are in a severe drought and our members barely use the pool, are we obligated to keep it open? It seems like a waste of water and money and we would like to drain it. Does the board have the authority to close the pool?
ANSWER: If they have good reason, boards can close and drain a pool. Often it’s done when a pool needs to be replastered. The closure is short-term and the pool refilled with water. Your scenario is different since the closure would be long-term. Doing so could damage your pool.
In-Ground Pools. In-ground fiberglass and concrete pools are built to withstand the pressure of dirt against them when drained. Even so, ground pressure on fiberglass pools can cause side walls and floors to bulge and split. If ground water is high enough, hydrostatic pressure can cause an empty concrete pool to act like a ship and float several inches. This will break the coping/bond beam and damage the surrounding decks and pipes. Insurance does not cover such damage.
UV Damage. Pools built on solid concrete foundations or in a concrete vault are immune to hydrostatic pressure. However, they are not immune to solar damage. Direct sunlight will dry out plaster, causing spider cracks and tiles to pop off. When the pool is eventually refilled, water will seep into the cracks causing the plaster to blister and crumble. This is also not covered by insurance.
Safety Issues. The possibility of someone taking a swan dive into an empty pool should keep boards up at night. Associations that drain their pools should make sure they lock their gates and post warning signs. Even so, drunks have been known to climb fences for midnight swims. Finding a body at the bottom of an empty pool has a way of driving down property values. Plus there is the problem of cleaning up the mess.
RECOMMENDATION: Before an association drains its pool to save money, the board should talk to a pool construction expert, their insurance broker, and legal counsel.
Thank you to Les Jillson of Design Build Associates Construction Management for his valuable insights on this issue.
QUESTION: Our highrise building looks onto another highrise where a resident regularly watches porn on his big screen TV. We asked the neighboring building manager to encourage him to lower his shades. This had the opposite effect. He now leaves his shades completely open, watching in the nude and single-handedly participating. Do we have any recourse?
ANSWER: That is an ugly visual. If the porn junkie is in a building that is not part of your association, your options are limited.
Police. The police can be notified. They will talk to the resident but not arrest him unless they witnessed the illicit activity. To arrest him, you would have to accompany the police to the building and make a citizen’s arrest. Penal Code §837 states, “A private person may arrest another: (1) For a public offense committed or attempted in his presence…”
Public Offense. A “public offense” is defined as a felony, misdemeanor or infraction. (Penal Code §16). Is your neighbor’s behavior a public offense? According to California Penal Code §647(a), engaging in lewd conduct in a public place is a misdemeanor.
The catch is the “public place” part of the statute. Lewd conduct by a lone adult in the privacy of his home wouldn’t normally interest the police or the courts. In your situation, your neighbor is knowingly making his conduct visible to his neighbors. Accordingly, action can be taken.
RECOMMENDATION: Before you rush over and make a citizen’s arrest, you should consider the possibility of retaliation. It’s clear your lewd neighbor does not have any boundaries. If a visit by the police does not resolve the problem, your best bet may be a strongly worded lawyer letter to the miscreant.
Social Events #1. When I bring a buyer to show homes, the number one impression is the curb appeal of my community and not social events the association is providing once or twice a year. Money is better spent on beautifying the neighborhood. The goal of the Davis-Stirling Act is keeping home values at the highest possible price by the principle of uniformity and not social events. -Aniko S.
Social Events #2. Three members of our board hold a coffee klatch “social event” every day for two to three hours beginning at 7 a.m. Although it’s open to all residents, it is the same clique of seven or eight people–board members and their spouses and friends. Owners have complained that this type of chit-chat could be held in their private residences, to no avail. The coffee klatch does not create a sense of community, it creates divisiveness, especially at a time when the HOA is strapped for funds needed for dire deferred maintenance repairs in the common area. -Christine B.
RESPONSE: I suspect the other side will argue that the coffee klatch has a positive effect and the cost is negligible, i.e., the cost of coffee grounds. But, if the community has not embraced the concept, it may be time for the board to reevaluate its utility.
Social Events #3. Relationships are the glue that hold an HOA community together. If the social event dollars are disclosed to the members in the annual budget and the budgeted dollars are a small percentage of the total budget then, yes, hold the social events and build that community feeling. -Phyllis H.
Adrian Adams, Esq.
Adams Kessler PLC
“Legal solutions through knowledge, insight and experience.” We are friendly lawyers; you can contact us at (800) 464-2817 or firstname.lastname@example.org.