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Commission on Common Ownership Communities

Minutes of the Monthly Meeting

March 4, 2015


The monthly meeting of the Commission on Common Ownership Communities was called to order at 7:02 pm by Chairperson Rand Fishbein.

Present: Commissioners Fishbein, Mays, Coyle, Cromwell, Ethier, Rahmani, Stone, Weinstein, Winegar and Zajic (10).

Absent: Commissioners Brandes, Dubin, Fonoroff, Kabakoff and Molloy (5).

Also attending: Associate County Attorney Walter Wilson, CCOC Staff Peter Drymalski; Larry Dorney, Charles Bruno, Tiffany Releford, Esq., Terry Anderson.

            1. MINUTES.  The minutes of the February, 2015, meeting were approved as drafted.

            2. COMMUNITY FORUM: 

            Mr. Larry Dorney presented 4 petitions on which he requested that the CCOC take action.  Dr. Fishbein stated that the CCOC would review the materials provided and would discuss them at the April meeting.




            The staff presented a request from Lucille Smith, of the Columbia Towers Condominium Association, for the CCOC to send speakers to her community at a date to be determined.  Ms. Mays and Ms. Winegar volunteered to accept the request.  Staff will notify Ms. Smith and arrange a date.




            Mr. Wilson reported that he filed the County’s Motion to Intervene in the appeal of Baroni v. Avenel, #55-11.  If the court grants the motion, the County will have the right to file a brief replying to Avenel’s brief. 

            7. STAFF REPORTS:

            Staff reported that it was concentrating on moving forward with older cases in which complaints had not been served because the Post Office would not deliver them, or in which default orders had been issued or default judgments issued and no inspection has been performed to determine whether the party had complied.  [OLO noted that some of the users it surveyed complained that the CCOC was not enforcing its rulings.}

            8. COMMITTEE REPORTS:

            Ms. Winegar circulated a substantially-complete draft of the text of the online training class and asked for feedback from commissioners.  She noted that the text is only part of the class and must be supported with online tools including PowerPoint slides, pdf documents, photographs and other visual aids.  In addition the CCOC must develop a plan to publicize the training requirement and to encourage voluntary compliance, to set standards for “licensed’ training classes, to track compliance and to confirm the identities of those taking the training.

            Dr. Fishbein reported that the CCOC has had meetings with the County’s Department of Technology Services and with the Institute for Governmental Service and Research on developing programs to allow the CCOC to monitor compliance with the law and to create additional programs to gather and use information on common ownership communities.

            Staff reported that Bill 44-14, allowing the County to deny or revoke licenses of landlords who were in default on their association dues had passed the County Council unanimously and was signed by the County Executive; it will become law June 21, 2015.  When asked how the law would be enforced, Mr. Wilson stated that  the failure to have a landlord license was a Class A violation of the County Code, which meant it carried a daily fine of $500; in addition, an unlicensed landlord cannot sue in court to enforce his lease.

            Dr. Fishbein reported for the Budget and Policy Reform Committee.  He began by noting that although the County collects $400,000 per year in registration fees, the CCOC has no control over the use of the funds.  DHCA withholds a sum that it alone determines and OCP allocates the rest without input from the CCOC.  The mandatory training requirement adds to the burden.  Mr. Leventhal stated in hearings on 45-14 that he was prepared to allocate up to $200,000 to implement and enforce the law.  The CCOC lacks the technology to monitor the compliance of at least 5000 board members.  He met with the County Executive to present the CCOC’s concerns and Mr. Leggett asked the CCOC to present a budget proposal.  Dr. Fishbein’s proposal asked for $700,000 to modernize the CCOC’s data processing ability up front, and $20,000 thereafter to maintain the programs current.

            Ms. Ethier added that the “ideal” CCOC should be an independent agency with a staff of 10 or 10 ½ employees, and its budget would be approximately $2 million.  Mr. Coyle said that the concept should be phased in, it was a big change to request all at once.  Dr. Fishbein agreed in principle, but he also noted that common ownership communities contribute hugely to the County’s fiscal health and its value, and that by comparison a $2 million request is small.

            Dr. Fishbein also said his request was a “no year” budget request, meaning the funds were not for one year only, but rather that any surplus could be carried over into the next year’s budget.  The budget increase should come from general revenues and not from the registration fees; and the CCOC should have the authority to negotiate with other county agencies for their services rather than, as now, have to accept whatever other agencies unilaterally determine what they want.

            Dr. Fishbein stated he also wants to move quickly on the dispute with the Ethics Commission so that the CCOC can resume using all of its panel chairs.  One possibility is an “ethics compliance” staffer and another is to use a retired judge to rule upon any complaints of bias or conflict of interest.

            Dr. Fishbein asked all the committees to meet before the April monthly meeting.

            9. OLD BUSINESS:

            10. NEW BUSINESS:

            Staff presented a draft of a policy on enforcement of the mandatory training law.  The Process and Procedures Committee will consider it and make a report at the April meeting.

            The Commission discussed the concept of licensing other training programs as substitutes for the CCOC program.  The CCOC must develop a policy for this as well.  One helpful comment that was offered was that the CCOC policy should require that the person doing the training must be qualified as well. Dr. Fishbein asked that all commissioners start to consider this topic because the CCOC will have to deal with the issue and the staff is already receiving inquiries from interested managers and other firms about how they can be licensed.  Mr. Wilson noted that the CCOC can copyright its training class.

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