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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

December 3, 2014

(Approved)

The monthly meeting of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities was called to order at 7:02pm by Chairman Elizabeth Molloy.

Present: Commissioners Molloy, Dubin, Cromwell, Ethier, Fishbein, Fonoroff, Kabakoff, Mays, Rahmani, Stone, Weinstein, Winegar, and Zajic. (13)

Absent: Commissioners Brandes, Coyle. (2)

Also attending: Associate County Attorney Walter Wilson; CCOC Staff Ralph Vines and Peter Drymalski; Larry Dorney, Charles Bruno, Kathleen Hastings, Nadene Neel.

            1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the November, 2014, meeting were approved as drafted (Zajic, abstaining).

            2. RESIGNATION OF RALPH VINES.  Mr. Vines, staff administrator, announced that he was retiring at the end of December, 2014.  The Commission, by acclamation, stated its sincere thanks for all his work in support of the Commission and its goals.

            3. COMMUNITY FORUM: None.

            4. NEW CASES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW:

            The staff, with the concurrence of the County Attorney, Walter Wilson, recommended that the CCOC reject jurisdiction of #37-13, Hastings v. Naples HOA.  The staff reasoned that once a complainant settled the complaint—which happened here in a mediation arranged by the staff—there was no longer any live “dispute” under Section 10B-8.  CCOC cannot enforce the mediation agreement as it is written, the complainant’s remedy for a violation of the agreement is in the court system for breach of contract pursuant to Section 10B-14(a).  Staff agreed that it was possible to word a mediation agreement in such a way that the complaint could proceed to a hearing if a party failed to comply with the terms of the agreement, but it should not allow the case to remain open indefinitely.  The Commission voted unanimously to reject jurisdiction of the complaint.

            The Commission also directed the Ad Hoc Committee on Dispute Resolution Process to take up the issue of mediation agreements and their enforceability.

            The Commission voted 10 to 2 (Ethier, Dubin opposed, May abstaining) to accept jurisdiction of #65-14, Cosler v. Landing Glen Condominium, with the exception of Issue #5 as listed in the Staff Summary.  There was debate on the issue of whether the complainant put the HOA on proper notice of her complaints before filing the CCOC complaint, but there was evidence that the HOA was already aware of most of her complaints, if not all of them or of all the details of them.  Commissioners Cromwell and Zajic were appointed to the hearing panel, and the hearing was set for January 14, 2015.

            The Commission also voted unanimously to accept jurisdiction of #70-14,

Williamsburg Square CA v. Gitome and Mburu, and to issue an order of default.  Commissioners Molloy, Dubin and Rahmani were appointed to the hearing panel

            4. REQUESTS TO THE COMMISSION:

            The Commission considered a letter from Ms. Vicki Vergagni and others to the County Council and County Executive requesting that the County support state legislation to amend the existing priority lien act by expanding its coverage to all mortgages and by enlarging the number of months of assessments that can be given priority.  The Commission unanimously agreed to support the concept and to write to the Office of Intergovernmental Relations to express its support.

            The staff also brought up legislation proposed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission that would allow it to set up a fund of money to be used the assist “ratepayers” who are in default on their bills.  This matter was referred to the Legislation Committee for consideration and a report at the January meeting.

            5. DECISIONS AND ORDERS ISSUED; OTHER LITIGATION:  None.

            6. COUNTY ATTORNEY'S REPORT:

            Mr. Wilson reported that the County Executive determined not to intervene in McBeth’s appeal of a ruling in McBeth & Muse v. Fountain Hills CA.

            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            Staff reported that complaints through November now exceed last year’s totals.  Staff added that almost all the new associations registered this year are small condominiums, of less than 40 members each, which can be expected to have trouble surviving financially.  Staff also met with Councilmember Leventhal’s staff and several citizens and electric car advocates to discuss possible County legislation that will allow community association members to install electric charging stations at their own cost on the common areas.  This proposal was also referred to the Legislation Committee for discussion and a recommendation at the January meeting.  The Commission also asked the Committee to review the survey results on bylaw amendments and to make a recommendation on that issue as well.

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Ms. Winegar reported for the Annual Forum Committee.  The Committee recommends that the next “forum” be a “beta test” of the proposed online training class.  It would be a preview of the online class and allow for feedback from students that can be used to improve the class content.  Those taking the class could receive the necessary certification that will be required if Bill 45-14 passes.

            The Ad hoc committee on Budget and Planning stated that the Office of Legislative Oversight will soon begin its review of the CCOC dispute resolution process.  It will begin by conducting an online survey of the parties to CCOC cases closed in the last two years.  Another survey might be conducted of other people who have had contact with the CCOC on other issues not involving formal complaints.  The committee is concerned that the OLO review not be limited to dispute resolution but should include the CCOC’s educational and advocacy functions as well.  The committee plans to meet with members of the Council as well.

            Ms. Winegar also presented the results of the CCOC’s survey on capital reserves and bylaw amendments.  The Commission expressed its praise for the detailed information obtained and for all the efforts put into the survey and its compilation.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:

            Ms. Molloy announced that the election of officers will be held at the January meeting and she encouraged that the officers represent both sections of the Commission—professional and residential.  Mr. Fishbein announced he was a candidate for the chairmanship.  Mr. Stone nominated Ms. Mays for vice-chairperson, and she accepted the nomination .

            10. NEW BUSINESS:

            The Commission nominated Ms. Ethier and Mr. Zajic to serve as the Interviewing Committee to meet with new applicants for the CCOC.

            The Commission expressed its appreciation to Ms. Molloy for providing tonight’s refreshments.

            11. NEXT MEETING:  The next meeting will be Wednesday,  January 7, 2015, and the following meeting will be Wednesday, February 4, 2015.  The Commission adjourned at 8:37 pm.

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