On July 1, 2015, with the unwavering support of my family, I take a hiatus from my twenty-year practice of law. From judicial law clerk to associate at an excellent law firm, to a brief (legal pun intended) fling with the software industry (my true love), to building a successful law practice, it’s been an incredible and rewarding ride. I appreciate the support I’ve received from my former business partners, my peers, my staff, and others in the industry who have and continue to be exemplary role models for work, and for life, as I transition back home full-time. I can hardly wait for what’s next!
In Crystal Ridge Homeowners Assn v. City of Bothell, 89533-3 (Wash. February 12, 2015), the Washington State Supreme Court held that Snohomish County and its successor the City of Bothell assumed responsibility for maintaining drainage pipes based on a recorded plat that provided drainage easements where the pipes were located were reserved for and granted to Snohomish County. The City of Bothell lost at the trial court, and the Court of Appeals. And now the Supreme Court. Now on to The Hague.
A reminder of how important it is to read plat maps….
Washington State Supreme Court Denies Review in Curt Casey, et al. v. Sudden Valley Community Association
by Brian P. McLean
Our Supreme Court denied review yesterday in Curt Casey, et al. v. Sudden Valley Community Association. The Court of Appeals case creates significant uncertainty about the applicability of RCW 64.38 to budget-making so it is unfortunate that many homeowner associations will be left with that uncertainty.
At a more personal level the petitioners in the case were responsible owners trying to do what’s best for their entire community. Even if reasonable minds could differ about their objectives the final court decision likely leaves them exposed to hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs.
SB 5236 was introduced on 1/16/2015. Main sponsors are Senators Sheldon and Rivers. Referred to Committee.
The bill would amend RCW 64.38.025(3) and require that for associations with membership of two thousand or more that the budget be “ratified or rejected by a majority of votes cast by members in person or by proxy.”
The current ratification language in RCW 64.38 is one of the most elegant provisions in the statute – it protects the interests of the majority of the total population by giving owners the right to reject a budget while simultaneously recognizing that the vast majority of owners in large associations tend to be rationally indifferent to budgeting so long as the grass is cut, landscaping and roads are maintained, and the entry way sign looks nice.
The result of this legislation would be to defeat budgets – which is its likely intent – thus resulting in the remaining owners watching common areas and facilities tend toward disrepair. The proposed bill no matter how well-intentioned is not responsible legislation. Like a small city, a large association needs a budget to operate.
It’s Here. Washington State’s Common Interest Ownership Act by Brian P. McLean
Senate Bill (SB) 5263 – the Washington State Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act – was introduced on January 16, 2015, in the State Legislature and referred to the Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee. The sponsors are Senators Pedersen, Benton, Mullet, Fraser, Roach, Hobbs, Rivers, and Fain.
LET US HEREBY RESOLVE, to Elect Board Members
By Brian P. McLean, JD, CCAL
Most associations don’t have a good written election policy. Granted, the association’s original articles of incorporation and bylaws may take perfunctory stabs at describing when elections take place, or whether board members must be owners, or the über-complex staggering of director terms, but other than these perfunctory stabs at clarity one cannot expect the articles and bylaws to tell us anything other than the obvious: owners elect board members. An association should have a good election policy that Continue reading →
According to the Onion, a satirical online magazine and by their own admission, “America’s Finest News Source,” a condo association in Florida has adopted “strict rules of peerage mandat[ing] that children of the five presiding condo board members must marry into one another’s households….”
Reasonable? Unreasonable? Why should a condo board work any differently from a monarchy?
Club Envy of Spokane, LLC v. The Ridpath Tower Condominium Association, 31913-0-III (Wn. App. Nov 18, 2014)
The Ridpath Tower Condominium Association, by and through its president Greg Jeffreys, executed a second amendment that divided a unit spanning twelve floors, into three units, including two roof top units, lowered each association member’s voting rights from 5.263 percent to 4.762 percent, and converted some common elements to private ownership. Ridpath Revival, LLC, purchased units the two roof top units.
The Ridpath Tower declaration required that a minimum of 90% of the total voting interests held by the owners was required to adopt a general amendment. Additionally, RCW 64.34.264(4) requires the approval of “the owner of each unit particularly affected” for any amendment that increases the number of units, changes the boundaries of a unit, the allocated interests of a unit, or the uses to which any unit is restricted. The majority of owners wanted to develop the condominium into low-rent, micro-apartments. Ridpath Revival, LLC, the owner of two roof-top units created by the second amendment, wanted to develop the units into a luxury hotel. Continue reading →