Edgewater Isle stops payment on check to homeowner: fed-up homeowner displays a sign

After dealing with a rat infestation for months, a homeowner attempted to work with the Edgewater Isle North Association to be reimbursed for their costs of dealing with that infestation.Edgewater Isle North stops payment on check to homeowner

Edgewater Isle North Homeowners Association issued a check to a homeowner to cover expenses the homeowner incurred fighting a rat infestation problem. The homeowner received the check, deposited it 3 days later, only to get it back from the bank with "STOP PAYMENT" notation on the returned item. The check was dated in October, but the homeowner received it in January.

After months of seeking the reimbursement again, the homeowner became fed up, and on May 13, 2011, the homeowner placed this sign in the window:

Sign in condo window at Edgewater Isle

Association demands removal of sign

Days after placing the sign in the window, the homeowner received a letter from the association demanding that the homeowner remove the sign.

The "Board" says noticed this on a "site walk." Since the sign went up on Friday, May 13, the site walk must have occurred between then and Monday, May 16.

How did the management company fire off a letter that quickly? Was there "action without a meeting?" If so, was this an emergency? Did all of the board members consent in writing to an action without a meeting? Would a board retroactively create such documents afterward? You be the judge.

Edgewater Isle demands removal of sign from condo window

Homeowner cites California civil code about signs in HOAs

To which the homeowner replied via e-mail and pointed out a little part of the California Civil Code:

Civil Code §4710 (§1353.6 prior to 2014) Display of Noncommercial Signs

(a) The governing documents, including the operating rules, may not prohibit posting or displaying of noncommercial signs, posters, flags, or banners on or in an owner's separate interest, except as required for the protection of public health or safety or if the posting or display would violate a local, state, or federal law.

(b) For purposes of this section, a noncommercial sign, poster, flag, or banner may be made of paper, cardboard, cloth, plastic, or fabric, and may be posted or displayed from the yard, window, door, balcony, or outside wall of the separate interest, but may not be made of lights, roofing, siding, paving materials, flora, or balloons, or any other similar building, landscaping, or decorative component, or include the painting of architectural surfaces.

(c) An association may prohibit noncommercial signs and posters that are more than 9 square feet in size and noncommercial flags or banners that are more than 15 square feet in size.

The law has been in effect since 2004. Why didn't CMS know this?

Wouldn't an association management company and/or a property manager have known this? Shouldn't the property manager advised the "board" of this? This law, which was Assembly Bill (AB) 1525, Longville, was signed by Governor Davis on October 10, 2003, and has been in effect since 2004. In fact, the revised North Association CC & Rs, which were drafted by the HOA's lawyer and recorded in San Mateo County on February 24, 2004, failed to recognize this new section of the law.

Community Management Services's web site says on its FAQ web page:

Community Management Services claims licenses and certifications for managers

That's interesting because we have to ask why this law never came up in Community Management Services' "ongoing in-house training" in the 7 years since it was enacted. Hmmm. Especially since the Legislature included this language when the law was passed:

SECTION 1. It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to provide for all of the following:
(a) That homeowners throughout the state shall be able to engage in constitutionally protected free speech traditionally associated with private residential property.
(b) That owners of a separate interest in a common interest development shall be specifically protected from unreasonable restrictions on this right in the governing documents.

The Edgewater Isle board of directors, and their management company should review the California Constitution, Article 1, Section 2.

North Association retracts everything

So, the association "letter from the board" turns out to be nothing other than a few board members gossiping and directing the property manager to do what those board members ask.

Apparently the gossipy board members and property manager looked up the law they should have known, and they then sent this letter:

In summary

Let's count how many times the story changes from the first letter to the second:

First Letter
Second Letter
"Writing to you on behalf of the Association" becomes "A few board members requested"
"On a recent site walk" becomes "A few board members noticed"
"You have unauthorized signage" becomes "We retract our previous correspondence, but please take the sign down."
"It is our obligation and duty to enforce the standards of the Association" becomes "We were unaware of this provision."
"Failure to do so could result in your being called to a Board Hearing." becomes "We appreciate you bringing Civil Code 1353.6 to our attention."

It's a rare occasion to see an association back pedal as fast as this one. It's fun to watch how a "site walk" becomes "a few board members noticed." A few "board members" can dictate letters, legal correspondence from the Association, as coming from an entire board that has discussed and voted on the matter and it's recorded in minutes?

Yes, it happens all the time. And see, the North board of directors did not learn from this and did it again.

And yet, the Edgewater Isle North Association later threatens to dispose of owners' property.

An Edgewater Isle North homeowner wrote to say that the North Association is threatening to remove homeowners' property as they see fit.

In its March 2014 newsletter, the Edgewater Isle North Association wrote that any owner who has a security sign in a flower pot will have it (the sign) removed by the board of directors without notice.

In light of the two known Megan's Law offenders and other criminal offenders (e.g., convicted thieves) living at Edgewater Isle, as well as other known violent incidents, why are owners prohibited by "The Board" from protecting their own interest?

The Edgewater Isle North board of directors may be unaware that "traditional tort principles impose on landlords, no less than on homeowner associations that function as a landlord in maintaining the common areas of a large condominium complex, a duty to exercise due care for the residents' safety in those areas under their control."[Frances T. v. Village Green Owners Assn., 42 Cal 3d. 490 (1986.] "Directors are jointly liable with the corporation and may be joined as defendants if they personally directed or participated in the tortious conduct." [United States Liab. Ins. Co. v. Haidinger-Hayes, Inc., supra, 1 Cal.3d 586, 595.]

It is doubtful the Association's insurance policy would protect individual board members under their Directors and Officers' insurance policy if an owner is robbed (or worse) after an Association deliberately removes security signs. And therefore, individual board members could be held personally liable for damages.

Edgewater Isle North threatens to remove security signs from owners' personal property


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Kelly McGuirk's Criminal Past

On and off again board member had access to the HOA's checking account while being a convicted thief.

2016: Arrested for Assault
2009: Convicted of Theft
2008: Convicted of Theft
1997: Convicted of Theft
1996: Convicted of Theft
1995: Convicted of Theft
1993: Convicted of Thefts
1988: Convicted of Theft
1986: Convicted of Theft