California Law Revision Commission

Since 2000, the California Law Revision Commission [CLRC] has been studying and revising the laws governing common interest developments or “homeowner associations.” Collectively, the laws are known as the Davis-Stirling Act.  [Civil Code 1350 et seq.]   The authors were San Diego Judge Larry Stirling, now an attorney with the law firm of Adams Kessler, and Gray Davis, the former Governor.

The CLRC launched its work by commissioning UCLA Law Professor Susan French to write an overview of California laws governing associations and to make tentative recommendations. Her report is on the CLRC website at http://clrc.ca.gov/pub/BKST/BKST-811-French-CID-Scope.pdf
 
After releasing the French report, the CLRC held public hearings in 2001 at the Capitol to take public comment.  The bulk of it was from homeowners, who are forced to live under Davis-Stirling.  Few homeowners understand when they buy an association home that they are expected to take on the duties and the liabilities imposed by these laws.  But – as their testimony indicates -- they become eloquent about Davis-Stirling after a few years of living under its constraints.    
 
We are now in the process of posting the 2001 homeowner testimony on the CCHAL website. It is startling to read. 
 
Homeowners complained ten years ago – as they do now – about nonjudicial foreclosure and sky-rocketing assessments; about renegade boards who flout the law: boards that refuse to hold elections, that hold secret meetings, that make it difficult for homeowners to find out how their money is being spent; about boards that Davis-Stirling makes immune from liability for their actions.  
 
So why hasn’t the Commission tackled these problems?
 
In the last decade, the Commission has sponsored significant legislation benefiting homeowners, most notably AB 512/Bates establishing rulemaking procedures for homeowner associations to follow [Civil Code 1357.100.]  
 
Equally important was AB 1536/Harman that created a dispute resolution process for associations to follow. Both bills were founded on the Commission’s belief that boards and homeowners need tools for devising rules together and for resolving disputes internally when they arise. 
 
But ten years later -- 2010 -- homeowners are still writing the Commission urging it to use its influence and authority to make boards -- and the vendors they hire -- accountable to homeowners.  In other words, the Commission has still not grappled with the core complaints lodged by Californians a decade ago.