We are fifteen days from the 2014 midterm elections, and candidates are undoubtedly working hard to get those elusive swing voters to the polls. Yard signs are one tool that candidates use to build name recognition and sway votes. A multitude of signs for federal and state political offices, as well as several ballot initiatives, are jostling for real estate this year. In years past, community associations could rely on restrictive covenants to prohibit political signs from disrupting the neighborhood aesthetic. But, since 2005, Colorado law has outlawed any outright prohibition of political signs in covenant-controlled communities. Colorado statutes provide guidance on what political signs associations can regulate, where signs can be placed, and when political sign regulations can apply.
A judge in Michigan recently sued her homeowner’s association seeking a declaratory judgment (a judgment from a court that determines the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages) that the more than six foot tall shed she installed in her yard does not violate the association’s covenants. The homeowner’s association claims the shed violates a deed restriction in the covenants and the association has threatened to sue the judge if she doesn’t remove or downsize it.
Football season starts this Friday with College kicking-off (Rams @ Buffs, Friday, August 29, 7:00 PM on FS1, Air Force Falcons vs. Nicholls Colonels Saturday, August 30, 12:00 PM on ESP3), and the AFC Champions, the Denver Broncos, start the regular season the following weekend (vs. Cowboys, Sunday, September 7, 6:30 PM).
A few …
All of us have complained about a loud and noisy neighbor or some other disturbance that we have deemed a nuisance at one point or other in our lives. However, we should all be thankful that none of us reside in the Plaza at Five Points Condominium Association in Sarasota, Florida. Apparently, the condominium association sits atop of a nightclub. As a single man I appreciate a good nightclub and having one downstairs from where I live sounds interesting. However, this is not just any nightclub but rather one which allegedly stages “drag queen pillow fighting and gelatin wrestling”. Some of the older residents did not appreciate the noise and activities downstairs from them and filed complaints with the city and police and, according to the club’s attorney, pressured the owner of the building to break the club’s lease. The efforts by the association apparently have failed and now the club’s owner has filed a lawsuit against the association claiming that it went too far. www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140515/ARTICLE/140519808
Okay – so the nicest thing I can say about the snow we had on Mother’s Day is that it was really annoying. However, regardless of our quirky Colorado weather, spring really is here! That means HOA boards and residents need to anticipate and avoid common pitfalls and controversies that can arise as we spend time outdoors during the spring and summer. Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
I do not have a green thumb. Our new attorney, Doug, is an excellent gardener, so I am trying to figure out ways to convince him that beautifying my lawn is a requirement of his employment. I think he’s starting to figure me out.
I’m not the only one who wants a nicer lawn. Now that it’s Spring, many homeowners throughout Colorado are breaking out their shovels and trowels, turning their soil, and installing velociraptor lawn ornaments.
Spring is in the air and I think it’s time to rethink the look of our home exterior and landscaping for the summer. Lately, I’ve been looking back a bit on my younger years when life was full of adventure and wonder. There’s no better way to recreate that feeling than to go with a retro theme for our house and yard. I’m inspired now and here’s what I’m thinking:
● Paint the house a lovely shade of pea green;
● Use recycled bowling balls as edging for the flower gardens;
● Hit yard sales this weekend and hunt down 6 or so of those “house butterflies” that were so popular in years past (make sure to spray paint them burnt orange, lime and gold before attaching them to the house in strategic locations to give our neighbors maximum enjoyment);
● Find a cute fountain that mimics a little boy peeing in the grass (that would be perfect for the front yard near the culdesac);
● Bury 1/3rd of an old claw foot bathtub in the ground and place a statue of the Virgin Mary in it (some might think that’s sacrilegious – so probably not a good option);
● Find weathered statues of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and place along the edge of the yard near the culdesac for the neighborhood children to enjoy;
● Last, but not least, make sure to find a statue of Bambie to place by the tree in the front yard right next to the mooning garden gnome.
"You know your neighbors will love me."
As you’re probably aware, effective January 1, 2014, recreational pot became legal in Colorado. This new law is already affecting homeowners associations. While some associations started planning for pot smoking residents last year when the law was passed, not every community association moved quickly to adopt rules and regulations or amend restrictive covenants to address anticipated issues related to recreational pot smoking. If your association has not yet considered whether the new marijuana laws will affect your community, or if you’re thinking about how to tackle problems before they occur, here are some things to consider:
Shared spaces. Most associations have the authority to create rules and regulations that control activities in outdoor and indoor common area spaces. If your association already regulates tobacco smoking in these areas, the association, through board of director action, may consider extending those smoking policies to marijuana use. Associations should also evaluate the extent to which local laws interact with association rules and regulations and seek to fill any regulatory gaps that warrant attention in specific communities. Boards will want to pay particular attention to areas of their communities where use of marijuana will impact other residents. For example, with tobacco smoke, smoking near doorways and windows of other units are areas that typically result in complaints from residents.
I recently read an article about a homeowner in Texas who received a violation notice from her homeowners association as a result of chalk drawings left on her driveway by her son – something the owner and neighbors do not feel the Association’s governing rules specifically address. The article goes on to state that the owner and her neighbors organized an event where they handed out bundles of chalk to kids from the neighborhood who gathered to decorate their sidewalks and driveways. While this may be a knee-jerk reaction for most folks, intentionally violating the rules in an attempt to “send their neighborhood association a message” may only worsen the situation by subjecting more owners to similar violation notices and potential fines. Though the Association may not have a rule specifically addressing chalk use, most Association’s have rules and regulations that deal with the maintenance and upkeep of a property and require owners to keep their property in a clean, safe, and attractive manner – something “chalk drawing” could surely fall under.
Readers of this blog know that CCIOA came into effect on July 1, 1992, but by its definitions, only applied to certain common interest communities, and further, only in limited respects to those communities formed before July 1, 1992. Many legal practitioners held the opinion for many years that CCIOA did not apply to homeowners associations that did not actually own any real property that they were responsible for maintaining, improving, insuring, or paying taxes for.
However, that opinion changed in 2009, when the Colorado Court of appeals issued a ruling that essentially said that CCIOA does not require ownership of real property by the homeowners association. Rather, by the terms of CCIOA, if the owners in the homeowners association were bound to pay assessments, and the assessments were used in part to pay for enforcement of the restrictive covenants or provide services to the members, that was sufficient to make the community subject to CCIOA.