Reply To: SCA Board gets Wrong Advice

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Reply To: SCA Board gets Wrong Advice

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Although I respect Rana’s opinion, in my opinion SCA got good legal advice.  I am a lawyer from Washington. We recently bought a home in SCA.  Below is my perspective as a Washington lawyer.

In Washington, part of my law practice was representing HOAs. Some HOA disputes involved rules violations.  A frequent defense by a person cited with a rule violation is that persons X, Y and Z also did the same or similar thing. The argument goes that when persons X, Y and Z also violate the rule, that (a) the rule is waived by lack of enforcement or (b) the HOA engaged in “selective enforcement” so the rule should not be enforced. Those arguments are made even though the covenants contain savings clauses to avoid those arguments.

Sometimes persons X, Y and Z violate a rule, but no one has turned them in. Many of us have polite neighbors who don’t want a conflict, so they would not report a violation even when a blatant rule violation occurs.

In my practice in Washington, none of those boards hired a person to drive around the community to look for violations. But then, none of those associations had 7200 homes. My associations were all smaller, so board members and managers could easily see rule violations when they occurred.

If I painted my house purple, without board approval, that does not mean it is OK to have a purple house just because my neighbors fail to complain? If I have a dead tree, does that mean it is OK to leave it there until my neighbors complain to the ARC? A purple house, and a dead tree, will lower neighboring resale values and will likely annoy good neighbors.

To prevent against those and other problems, it appears the SCA lawyer recommended to have a person drive around the community 4x each year. Imposing on the SCA ARC or board members the duty to periodically drive around all 7200 homes would be too burdensome for those volunteer positions.

If the ARC issues a citation based on the drive by, then the defense should not be that the neighbors did not complain. If flowerpot or a bench citation is so petty that the circumstances do “not justify taking further enforcement action, ” then the citation should be dismissed. If the rules unreasonably prohibit a bench or flowerpots, then fix the rules.

It appears SCA’s lawyer recommended this policy change. I am not privy to what the SCA lawyer said, but I believe given the size of SCA, that recommendation was reasonable.  Likewise, the decision by the SCA board appears reasonable.