PMCPOA Board to Vote Today on “Re-Do” of Fines Schedule Adopted Without Following State Law

  • This is page 1 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Pages 2 and 3 follow

    Image 1 of 3
    This is page 1 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Pages 2 and 3 follow

  • This is page 2 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Page 3 follows.

    Image 2 of 3
    This is page 2 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Page 3 follows.

  • This is page 3 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Double click to enlarge.

    Image 3 of 3
    This is page 3 of the 2018 schedule of PMCPOA fines, which details what are considered the infractions. Double click to enlarge.

At the Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 a.m. Pine Mountain Club Property Owners Association Board meeting, a vote affecting all homeowners will be made. All homeowners can attend and speak to the board.
The letter below was provided to the board by Katherine King, Ph.D. back in early August. It illustrates, step by step, with detailed research of documents and video records, how the PMCPOA board failed on March 16, 2019 to follow the laws of the State of California (California Civil Codes #4355 and #4360 Davis-Stirling) in voting to pass a new schedule of fines.

From $3,500 In Fines To Over $20,000 In One Year
By the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the illegal board vote led to over $20,000 in fines being levied against residents and guests in that one year, according to the PMCPOA’s own auditor’s report.
The Mountain Enterprise has reported several news stories about extreme distress caused to elders, including widows struggling to make ends meet, after receiving certified letters from the PMCPOA about major fines.

King is a 20-year resident, former PMCPOA board member and an eight-year veteran of the PMCPOA Governing Documents Committee.

The primary concerns regarding the new schedule of fines is the fact that it was adopted without notifying members and the size of the fines It was passed by the board without providing the community, as required by law, an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of a dramatic change in advance.

King’s research also alleges that the new schedule of fines appears to be three times higher than the state norm. She reports the fine schedule is out of line for a community with a lower middle class median income (according to U.S. census data) and a population that is over 33% seniors, most on fixed incomes.

King provided exhibits to verify her allegations. They are attached here below the letter. Fine schedules are in the image files at right.

She was informed by PMCPOA Chairman of the Board Bill Lewis II that he intends to re-introduce the identical schedule of fines at the September 18 meeting of the PMCPOA board. Katherine King said her goal is that the board also agree to reduce the  high schedule of fines to half or less of that which was passed illegally.

King is concerned that members also are unaware that their right to ask for a public hearing and to have an attorney are likely to be voted away by the board in this Saturday’s public board meeting. Here’s the letter:

Page 1 of 7
August 5, 2021
To: Bill Lewis II, Chair
Phyllis Throckmorton, Vice-Chair
Peggy Hoyt-Volker, Secretary
Cam Acosta, Treasurer
Steven Burkett,
Tony Harmon
Philip Gabriel
Ellen McClellan
Richard Ballard

Dear Board of Directors,
Because the procedure by which it was adopted did not conform to requirements of California Civil Codes #4355 and #4360 (Davis-Stirling), I ask that you immediately rescind the Rules Violation Fine/Penalty Schedule adopted at the BOD open meeting of March 16, 2019.

If today’s board still wishes to double the fines listed on the May 2018 schedule, it should do so only after following the civil code requirement to give general notice 28 days in advance, including an explanation of the new schedule’s rationale and an invitation for community input on its likely effect.

PROCEDURAL CONFORMITY WITH DAVIS-STIRLING
Although the board of directors may have sincerely believed that “the board may update the ‘Rules Violation Fine Schedule’ at its discretion” – indeed, they created and added this very statement at the bottom of the 2019 schedule (per note 3) – Davis-Stirling laws indicate that it may not do so without following strict procedures that bring the membership into the process.

(When I quote from the codes below, all emphases are mine.)
Civil Code Section 4355(a)3 says that “Member discipline, including any schedule of monetary penalties for violation of the governing documents and any procedure for the imposition of penalties” is an “operating rule” governed by Civil Code Section 4360. Changes to the “PMCPOA Association Rules Violation Fine/Penalty Schedule,” therefore, must be given “general notice”  [of] “at least 28 days” before the board meeting at which they are approved.

According to Civil Code Section 4360(a), “the notice shall include the text of the proposed rule change and a description of the purpose and effect of the proposed rule change.”

A simple printing of the text of a motion would not suffice even if it were brought to members’ attention 28 days in advance.

The intent of the 28 days advance notice of text, purpose and effect is to give members the opportunity to offer thoughtful comments before a decision is taken at a board meeting. As Civil Code Section 4360(b) states, the board can decide on a proposed rule change only “after consideration of any comments made by association members.”

Page 2 of 7
It would appear, however, that the revised Rules Violation Fine/Penalty Schedule approved by Resolution 06-03-16-2019 was not noticed 28 days in advance. No indication was made at the February board meeting that a change was in the works. No reference to 28-day posting appears on the agenda of the board meeting. None at the meeting itself. None in the packet, where there is no reference even to a Governing Documents Committee review.

The only reference to an advance posting of Resolution 06-03-16-2019 came from a member attending the March 16, 2019 meeting. Just as the chair was calling for a vote on the user fee schedule (the item that immediately preceded the resolution on the fines), a member called out “It needs to be posted for 30 days.”

The Chair apologized for forgetting to invite member discussion and invited him to the podium. There the member stated that this and the succeeding resolution (that is, 05-03-16-2019, user fees, and 06-03-16-2019, fines) required 30-day posting. The Chair responded: “A process is a process is a process. We have to approve it first, then post it.”

The member replied, slightly bemused: “We approve it, then we post it.” The Chair replied, “Yeah. Everything has to be posted.” The member walked back to his seat, and the vote on the user fees took place. (See the beginning of part 8 of the video of the March 16, 2019 meeting.)

Although the Chair may have been correct that the user fees resolution did not need general notice, per the above civil codes he was definitely wrong about the fine/penalty resolution, which did need notice.

Nonetheless, any challenge on advance posting having been preemptively dismissed, the Rules Violation Fine/Penalty Schedule resolution was read and passed quickly with absolutely no discussion from directors and none invited from members.

The only “purpose and effect” of the resolution was offered in a brief statement by the Chair before the vote: “These are required for the mailing of the ballot.”

The only “purpose and effect” described in the resolution itself is that it “will be part of the Annual Assessment mailing.” There is nothing about a revision to the schedule of fines nor why they might need revising. There is no indication in the resolution that the amount of the fines will change in any way.

In a review of past years, I cannot find another March or April meeting in which a similar vote on the schedule of fines was held purely and simply for the purpose of including it in the annual assessment package. Neither, as a matter of fact, was this one.

In the directors’ packet for the March 16, 2019 meeting we discover instead that the schedule of fines to be included in the Annual Assessment Package of May 2019 significantly increases all fines, doubling the first offense fines from what they were in the previous version.

In the 2018 Schedule of Fines (both the May 1 and September 15 versions), the highest possible fines for first, second, and third offenses (except firearms and feeding wildlife) were $500,  $1000, and $1500; in the new schedule, the highest fines are raised to $1000, $1500, and $2000.

Page 3 of 7

(Discharging firearms, fireworks, hunting, and feeding wildlife, violations that endanger life and limb, carry much higher fines and are also significantly raised.)

It would have been impossible for members who had not purchased a directors’ packet to tell how different the March 2019 schedule of fines was from what preceded it, because nothing is said in the resolution itself, and no schedule, marked up or otherwise, was printed on the agenda.

It was therefore impossible for members (even if they had been asked for input at the meeting) to ask questions about the rationales and give input about the economic effect. If members had been able to do so, the board might have been better equipped to decide the proper balance between individual economic hardship and community benefit.

Increasing the fines was not the only major change the board made to the 2018 Fine/Penalty Schedule. It also eliminated the three-page list of fineable infractions (each with a reference to a specific Association Rule for more guidance), reducing the schedule to one-half page and printing only 16 broad categories (like “Traffic” “Clubhouse,”) plus the 4 infractions (firearms, fireworks, hunting, and feeding wildlife) that carry higher fines than the rest.

Members and their guests are left on their own to extract from the Association Rules the specific offenses that will be fined. Such extraction is not always easy. For example, one category in the new Fine/Penalty Schedule is Article 3: General Rules, which like almost all other categories lists a fine of “up to $1000″ for the first offense.

Article 3, however, contains several rules that put forth policies instead of penalizable actions. For example, 3.03, states that “Association property shall be used at the user’s risk,” a policy that does not contain a punishable violation. But what are we to make of 3.01, which says “Valid membership/guest cards must be presented when requested.” Does that mean I need to carry my PMC member card with me at all times when I walk the dogs? If I don’t, am I putting myself at risk of a fine “up to $1000”?

On the basis of long experience (and the details in the 2018 schedule of fines), I believe not, but this rule is open to interpretation under the skeletal schedule approved on March 16, 2019. Other categories also contain many such rules ambiguously related to the schedule of fines/penalties.

The new minimalist printing policy was not questioned until August 2020 when directors again voted to make changes to the Fine/Penalty Schedule, specifically for discharging firearms, hunting, feeding wildlife, and rentals.

(I note in passing that the change in fines approved by motion –not resolution– on August 15, 2020 was not given general notice 28 days in advance, and no member who did not buy the packet would have known to what the motion referred.)

In the directors’ discussion of the motion, Director Browne suggested that the schedule should stipulate what the individual offenses are in order to eliminate confusion. Chair Lewis responded that the old schedule, which did list every offense, took up many pages [actually only three] and merely repeated identical fines. He said that if directors agreed with the fine amount change, “we can approve that, and I would offer that we add some clarification maybe to the schedule to explain it further.” To date no clarification has been added.

Page 4 of 7
Director Browne was correct, I believe, that the bare-bones schedule might be confusing and thus less of a deterrent to members and their renters, who now are forced to meticulously search through all the Association Rules to discover punishable infractions and match them to fines.

The detailed schedule printed before 2019 was much easier to understand and thus more likely to deter unwanted behavior by members and their guests.

Given the increased fines coupled with the loss of explicit guidance to fineable infractions, it is not surprising that the amount of fines collected by PMCPOA in 2019-20 hit a shocking high of $21,000, a six-fold increase from the $3500 collected in 2018-19.

When in the future a new proposal to revise the 2018 Rules Violation Fine/Penalty Schedule is correctly noticed as per Civil Code Section 4360(a), member input might persuade the board to act somewhat less drastically in choosing both the form of the schedule and the fine amounts.

I will now proceed to argue the issue from an entirely different perspective, not legal but
moral/cultural. I will argue, that is, that in adopting a fine schedule the board should take into account community welfare based on median income and the expectation that we want our community to retain its current mix of members.

COMMUNITY WELFARE AND THE SCHEDULE OF FINES
I think we can all agree that the purpose of fines is to deter specific unwanted behaviors. Fines, therefore, must take into account the membership’s level of income.
As Adrian Adams puts it:  “to be enforceable, boards must adopt reasonable fine schedules that are appropriate to the demographics of their association. For example, a $25 fine that may be significant to owners in one association may be pocket change to owners in another.”

What, then, is the right level for Pine Mountain Club? What is high enough for serious
deterrence but still reasonable for our community?
Here is what Adrian Adams’ Davis-Stirling website suggests:
PENALTY SCHEDULE
1st Violation………………………………warning or fine up to $200
2nd Violation (same offense)……………………………$50 to $200
3rd Violation (same offense)…………………………..$100 to $300
Additional Violations (same offense)…………………….up to $400
Safety Violation………………………….warning or fine up to $500
Continuing Violation……………………………daily fines until cured
Page 5 of 7
Suspension……..common area privileges may also be suspended
Assessment……………may be levied to reimburse HOA expenses
Even if this “reasonable” schedule was created as long ago as 2004 (the copyright on Adams’ website reads 2004-2021), it is still relevant given a low inflation rate of 2.16% between then and now.

Since $100 in 2004 equals $143.83 in 2021 (some websites put it slightly lower), a
reasonable fine for a first violation today might be as high as “up to $300″. A reasonable fine for a second offense, $75-$300; for a third offense $150 -$450; for a safety violation “up to $750.”

Our PMCPOA current schedule for most violations (“up to $1000, up to $1500, up to $2000″) is more than triple that.

Is our demographic so wealthy that only such high fines will deter? I ask the board to look at the data before deciding.

According to several websites, the median household income in PMC is $54,265. Compared to the California and USA median household incomes of $75,235 and $79,900 respectively, our community is on the lower side of a middle class demographic. Fines of “up to $1000″ for nonlife-threatening violations are very steep for such a demographic.

One might find such fines “unreasonable” even for the half of the community that is above the median (except perhaps for the15% of households who make over $150,000).
For the half of our households that make less than $54,265, such a schedule of fines is the stuff of nightmares. A typical widow living on social security might be able to pay assessments and keep her house in repair, but a large fine might force her to leave her long-time home. Just the threat of such a fine might cause her to live in a state of fear, especially since it is not always easy to tell what will bring the Association down on her head. For such a person, the threat of a $500 fine (as per the schedule from 2007-2018) would be more than enough.

It would also be more than enough for seniors living on fixed incomes and reverse mortgages. (Over a third of our full-time adult residents are seniors, by the way.) One of our retired long-time members writes the following: “If the association fined me I would fight it, but at the end of the day, if I had to pay I would have to take the money from my reversed mortgage. Same for the annual assessments. There is a reason I had 3 friends sell their houses in the last 2 months” (Pine Mountain Club Official Page by Property Owners, July 22, 2021).

It is not only widows and the 16% of PMC’s population below the poverty line who are made anxious by this fines situation. A young wife who recently moved to PMC writes, “Living in fear of exorbitant fines in your own community is not a great feeling!”(Pine Mountain Club Official Page by Property Owners Facebook page, July 22, 2021).

Another new resident spoke at the regular board meeting July 17, 2021, asking for leniency for new residents who hadn’t yet memorized all the governing documents. He was worried that he’d be cited for “something I didn’t even know was an issue.” I believe that two things might alleviate his fears: a detailed list of violations like that which used to be part of the schedule of fines prior to 2019 and reasonable fines that wouldn’t make a mistake so costly.

Page 6 of 7

I note that at the last board meeting we were informed that housing units turned over at a record rate this past year: 518 changes of title compared to 277 in 2019-20 and 358 in pre-covid 2018-19. High turnover as well as an increasing number of short-term rentals means a constant stream of new people learning the rules.

Shouldn’t we make it easier for them by retaining a detailed schedule of fines like the ones printed before 2019?

The resident population of PMC is apparently decreasing. The 2019 American Community Survey estimates that we now have only 1751 residents (down from 2315 in 2010).  The data shows 59% of the housing units are not occupied, which means that they are either second homes or investment properties. Many are apparently now being used for short-term rentals; many are occupied by their owners only on weekends and vacations.

These weekender and investment members may well be more wealthy than the resident population. But do we set our fines with an eye to wealthier members or do we set them with an eye to the majority of full-time residents? Do we want to encourage full-time residency in the hope the percentage will grow to 50%, or do we want to shape PMC into primarily vacationland?

These are questions the board and the members need to discuss when we decide on a schedule of fines.

Chair Lewis sent an email to members on June 3 about how many citations were issued since June 2020. He divided the 57 citations into three categories of violators: short-term renters (26),long-term renters (19), and owners (12). These numbers are useful, but they would be even more useful if we knew what association rules are being broken, and if any are broken over and over.

As the membership and the board review the schedule of fines, it would also be good to know these statistics over a period of 5 years. That is, in order to make good decisions about how to enforce our rules, we need to know how many citations per year, what the citations were for, and how long the person cited had been in PMC.

There are some who believe that “ members who follow the rules and governing documents do not get fines. … Those who think the rules are for everyone else are the ones who may receive a citation or fine” (“Message from the General Manager” July 27).

In fact, some who respect the rules and try to follow them scrupulously over long residency in PMC may once in a long while neglect to fasten the dog’s halter securely or fail to notice the cat slipping out the door as they close it. As fallible humans, we may sometimes forget to check if a child has dropped some candy on the car floor (food for bears), or to turn off our cell phones when we enter the clubhouse lobby to pick up something at the office.

Our directors, too, are fallible, not always aware of the rules they need (and want) to follow in the course of making official decisions. They do not deserve punishment for this, merely correction.

The same should go for members. Official written warnings and reasonable fines should be enough to focus a member’s or resident’s attention on a rule they had forgotten or never understood. Huge fine ranges that terrify them are both unkind and unreasonable, especially for first offenses.

Page 7 of 7

A person who was mistakenly sent a harsh letter about a non-existent violation recently contributed to a Facebook string about her experience. After five days of discussion, she happily announced that the issue was resolved and the violation letter withdrawn. However, although she was happy and relieved, this woman’s vision extended beyond herself to the community as a whole. She offered us some good advice that it would be well to keep in mind as we revisit the schedule of fines.

“Yesterday,” she wrote, “a neighbor called and told me she has an elderly PMC friend who received the same letter I did and she was so stressed out by it she cried — and she is not able to sleep. I don’t know that person — I’m just sharing that to say we are all one community — and while we are correcting visible things like paint colors, we can also prioritize our community being more beautiful in the invisible connections too.”
(Pine Mountain Club Official Page by Property Owners, July 28]

I look forward to receiving your response as to how we will proceed to update the schedule of fines. I hope that dialogue between members and the board will result in a reasonable schedule that in addition to protecting lives and property will enhance the beauty, both external and internal, of our community.
Best wishes,
Katherine C. King
Member since 2000
Director 2005-2006
Governing Documents Committee 2006-2014
Attachments:
Appendix 1: Davis-Stirling on Amending Operating Rules
Appendix 2: PMCPOA 2018 Schedule of Fines/Penalties
Appendix 3: CID websites on Reasonable Fines
Appendix 4: Data on PMC Demographics
APPENDIX 1 Adams/Stirling on Amending Fines Schedule

APPENDIX EXHIBITS ATTACHED:

Davis-Stirling.com ADOPTING & AMENDING HOA RULES
https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/Adopting-Amending-HOA-Rules#axzz2HyOLWiUw
Procedure. Following is a summary of the procedure used for adopting new rules or amending existing rules:
Board prepares rules and legal counsel review them (or attorney prepares rules).
Board reviews, approves and gives general notice (we recommend mailing) to members.

Notice should include purpose and effect, text of rules and set a deadline for written comments at least 28 days later. Notice should also set an open meeting at least 28 days later.

At open meeting, allow more comments at open forum. Consider all comments. Vote to approve or not. Give notice of approval within 15 days.

“Operating Rules” are broadly defined as any rule or regulation that applies to the management and operation of a common interest development or the conduct of its business and affairs. (Civ. Code §4340.)
As provided for in Civil Code §4355(a), “Operating Rules” are specifically defined
as a rule or regulation that applies to:
Use of the common area or of an exclusive use common area.
Use of a separate interest, including any aesthetic or architectural standards that govern
alteration of a separate interest.
Member discipline, including any schedule of monetary penalties for violation of the
governing documents and any procedure for the imposition of penalties.
Delinquent assessment payment plans.
Resolution of assessment disputes.
Reviewing and approving or disapproving a proposed physical change to a member’s separate interest or to the common area.
Election rules. (No amendments are allowed within 90 days of an election.)

Exceptions. Per Civil Code §4355(b), the following do not fall under the definition of an “Operating Rule” and are free of the requirements of Civil Code sections 4360 and 4365:
A decision regarding maintenance of the common area.
A decision on a specific matter that is not intended to apply generally.
A decision setting the amount of a regular or special assessment.
A rule change that is required by law, if the board has no discretion as to the substantive effect of the rule change.
Issuance of a document that merely repeats existing law or the governing documents.

Notice of Proposed Change. Before adopting or amending an Operating Rule or changing the fine

APPENDIX 1 Adams/Stirling on Amending Fines Schedule
schedule, the board must provide notice of a proposed rule change at least 28 days before making
the rule change. (Civ. Code §4360(a).)
Text of Change. The notice must include the text of the proposed rule change and a description
of its purpose and effect.
Emergency. Notice is not required if the board determines that an immediate rule change is necessary to address an imminent threat to public health or safety or imminent risk of substantial economic loss to the association.
See additional 90-day restriction for Election Rules.
Comments by Members. A decision on a proposed rule change must be made at a board meeting, after consideration of any comments made by association members. (Civ. Code §4360(b).) The board must consider comments by members but is not required to adopt them.

Notice of Adoption. Within 15 days of making the rule change, the board must deliver general notice pursuant to Section 4045 of the rule change. (Civ. Code §4360(c).)

Appendix 2 [See three attached images at right]
PMCPOA 2018 RULES VIOLATION FINE/PENALTY SCHEDULE
Page 1 of 3 Appendix 2
PMCPOA 2018 RULES VIOLATION FINE/PENALTY SCHEDULE
Page 2 of 3 Appendix 2
PMCPOA 2018 RULES VIOLATION FINE/PENALTY SCHEDULE
Page 3 of 3

APPENDIX 3: HOA Websites on Fines policies
https://www.davis-stirling.com/HOME/HOA-Fine-Policy#axzz2DibvtWko
website copyright is 2004-2021

Associations are not required by law to impose monetary penalties on members who violate the governing documents. If they do, the fine schedule must be distributed to the membership.

Deterrence Effect. Monetary penalties are intended to deter unwanted behavior. As a result, to be enforceable, boards must adopt reasonable fine schedules that are appropriate to the demographics of their association. For example, a $25 fine that may be significant to owners in one association may be pocket change to owners in another. If the fines are too low, they will be viewed by some as a fee for the right to break the rules.
Flexible. Fines should also be flexible enough to allow for a significant fine on the first violation rather than just a warning letter.

Most associations have a fine policy that requires a warning letter on the first violation. This ties the board’s hands if the directors need to discipline an owner who commits a serious violation as a first occurrence, such as endangering others. An owner who
evacuates a building with a false fire alarm because he is angry at his neighbor’s loud party, warrants a significant penalty rather than a simple warning letter.

Revised Policy. Unless an association’s CC&Rs or bylaws require a warning on the first offense, boards of directors can adopt a fine policy similar to the following:
PENALTY SCHEDULE
1st Violation………………………………warning or fine up to $200
2nd Violation (same offense)……………………………$50 to $200
3rd Violation (same offense)…………………………..$100 to $300
Additional Violations (same offense)…………………….up to $400
Safety Violation………………………….warning or fine up to $500
Continuing Violation……………………………daily fines until cured
Suspension……..common area privileges may also
be suspended
Assessment……………may be levied to reimburse HOA expenses

If the CC&Rs or bylaws require a warning, they must first be amended by the membership before the board can adopt a more flexible fine policy related to warnings.

Membership Review. Before adopting a fine policy, boards must send a draft to the membership for 28 days of review and comment. Once the policy has been adopted, notice must be given to the membership.

Adams Stirling PLC
APPENDIX 3: HOA Websites on Fines policies Page 2 of 3

HOA Fine Policies: What’s Reasonable And Legal?


website copyright 2021
How Much to Fine a Violator
When deciding how much to fine someone, it is important not to set the amount too low or too high. Too small an amount will not deter homeowners from breaking the rules, while a fine too large might be considered extortion. A good range most HOAs follow is somewhere between $25 to $50 per violation.

Of course, you must also keep the community’s economic status in mind. For example, a $25 fine may not be enough to discourage residents in a wealthy and upscale HOA community. It is also important to consider the severity of the violation. Smaller violations can rack up smaller fines.

On the other hand, larger violations may warrant larger fines, especially if the violation has serious consequences such as risking the safety of other members or economic losses. It would be unreasonable to levy a $200 fine against a homeowner who simply failed to clean up after their dog.

Moreover, it is a good idea to adopt an escalating system for your HOA fine policies. When a resident commits a violation the first time, you can let them get away with it with just a warning letter. If they do it again, you can charge them $25, and then $50 for the third time. You can then increase this to $100 for the fourth time and for every succeeding violation.
https://hub.associaonline.com/blog/hoa-101-what-are-fees-fines-assessments
Associa’s Living Better Blog Copyright 2017

HOA 101: What Are Fees, Fines, & Assessments?
What is a reasonable fine?
Your HOA board determines fine amounts and whether they’re reasonable. Most HOA fines start at around $25 and increase to $50 and $100 if you don’t pay or continue to violate the rule. The type of violation also influences the fine amount. To encourage people to pick up after their dogs, for example, an association may set higher fines of $100 or more for this particular violation. If you believe a set fine amount is not reasonable, you can help change it. Work with your board to
make sure any fine your HOA issues is reasonable and fair.

APPENDIX 3: HOA Websites on Fines policies Page 3 of 3
https://www.calassoc-hoa.com/Homeowners-Association/General-Information/Assessing-Fines-and-Penalties.aspx
California Association of Homeowners Association, Inc
Website copyright 2021

How Much Should an HOA Fine?
Like all provisions of an association’s governing documents, fines must be “reasonable.” No statute or case law defines when the amount of a fine is, or is not, reasonable. Like all
restrictions, a fine cannot be arbitrary or discriminatory and must be imposed in good faith with the best interests of the association as a whole in mind. However, that’s not very helpful for deciding how much the fines to be included in a schedule of monetary penalties should be.

Two Factors to Consider When Determining Fine Amount
Economic status of the community comprising the association is the first factor to consider when figuring out how much to fine. A $50 fine in a condominium project comprised of blue collar families may be sufficient, while the same fine in a community of $3 million single family detached residences may be essentially meaningless to the owners (but it may still accomplish some deterrence from the embarrassment factor discussed above).

Seriousness of the violation can significantly alter the amount an HOA fines a member. Actions that create a safety hazard for other persons or involve actual or potential economic losses to the association (repair of common area damage, increased insurance premiums, etc.) justify a higher fine than actions that only have an aesthetic impact, e.g., improper window coverings.

Keep the Court in Mind
When figuring out how much money to fine for a violation, a board of directors should keep in mind the court’s potential reaction. Although there are no statistical studies on this issue, it is likely that if an association imposes any fine totaling more than a few hundred dollars for a single violation, it will, if challenged in court, face an uphill battle in proving that the fine is reasonable.

This does not mean that an association will never be permitted to impose a higher fine than $200 or $300 for a single violation; depending on the factors discussed above and the particular judge,

it is possible that significantly higher fines may be allowed. However, if an association wants to minimize the possibility that a fine will be found to be unenforceable by a court, it should limit fines to a few hundred dollars per violation at most.

APPENDIX 4: PMC Demographics Page 1 of 2
https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities/pine-mountain-club-ca-population
2021 population: 1751
Income by Household Type
Median
Households $54,265
Families $64,803
Married Families $71,923 –
Non Families $31,250
[compare California $75,235 census bureau] [compare US $79,900 HUD] Average Household size = 1.98
Type Count Average Size
All 886 1.98
Non Family 455 1.12
Married 408 2.89
Female 23 2.7
Male 0 0
Pine Mountain Club Adults
There are 1,495 adults, (567 of whom are seniors) in Pine Mountain Club.
191 widowed adults; 196 divorced; 297 single (never married)
Poverty rate 16.05%
Pew defines the middle class as those earning between two-thirds and double the median
household income. [[In PMC alone that would mean $36,176 -$108,330; in California, it would
mean $50,150-$150,470]] APPENDIX 4: PMC Demographics Page 2 of 2
https://censusreporter.org/profiles/16000US0657240-pine-mountain-club-ca/
2168 housing units, 59% occupied.
www.census.gov
Confirms all of the above, and adds:
Percent of households with a broadband Internet subscription
85.1 %
Source: 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
Male Median Income
$ 43,854
Source: 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
Female Median Income
$ 21,415
Source: 2015-2019 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

This is part of the September 17, 2021 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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