HOA Board in a Pickle with Sour Homeowners
Okay – so some stories are just really hard to resist. In Tucson’s Sunflower Community Association, a major controversy broke out over building pickleball courts. For some reason, the thought of playing pickleball cracks me up. My reaction makes no sense and is unfair since I don’t even know what pickleball is. For the life of me, I can’t imagine what a pickleball looks like or what you would do with it. . . Pickleball players – please forgive my ignorance and irreverence!
While I got a kick out of contemplating what uniform one would wear when playing pickleball, the events that occurred in the Association are no laughing matter. Best as I can tell from the Explorer Newspaper and other sources, here’s what happened: The Board of the Association determined that construction of pickleball courts was a good idea. In order to fund the courts, the Board planned to utilize funds collected through a transfer fee called the Community Improvement Fee (“CIF”). To utilize CIF funds, the Board would first have to obtain approval from the members. A vote was held and members of the Association voted against funding construction of the courts. The Board, still of the opinion that pickleball courts would benefit the community, followed provisions in the governing documents to levy a special assessment of $47.00 per unit to build the courts. Given the amount of the special assessment, the Board was not required to obtain member approval.
As you can imagine, this action met with a sour response. Members of the Association banned together to organize a recall of 3 board members. Instead of facing a recall, the 3 board members resigned – but not before signing a contract for construction of the courts.
While it seems that the action of the Board was perfectly legal and in compliance with the governing documents, should the Board have taken the action knowing that a majority of the owners weren’t in agreement with constructing the courts? Should the Board’s determination that the courts would benefit the community override the will of the owners? After all, the Board is elected by the members of the Association . . .
In the seemingly small matter of whether a board should construct something like a pickleball court – taking the input of members into consideration is certainly appropriate and politically wise. In fact, listening to members and attempting to build consensus on tough issues is also a good idea. However, sometimes boards have to make difficult decisions that are in the best interests of the association and not necessarily popular. For instance, increasing assessments to fund reserves and lay the foundation for a fiscally healthy community. While this action may not be popular, a board has the fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the association as a whole.
Oh – and could someone please tell me what pickleball is?!
Pickleball is an extremely fun sport that can be played by all ages. It is a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping pong. The court is about 1/3 the size of a tennis court. It is very popular in retirement communities.
See www.usapa.org for tons of info on the sport.