Lobbying for You

By Marybeth O. Green
March 26, 2019

In 2018, I came to Seabreeze as the Vice President of Training and Development. While that job title is broad by nature, one of the things I am laser-focused on is legislation.

Why? Because in training Seabreeze employees and our community board members, it’s my job to stay abreast of upcoming senate and assembly bills as well as how newly-passed legislation affects both the association industry and our clients. Because we need transparency around these critical issues to fight for the changes we want—and lobby against those we don’t. It’s what allows us to create plans of action, deploy processes and work to ensure compliance within all Seabreeze-managed communities.

One such measure where transparency was needed is last year’s bill, AB 2912, which took effect on January 1st. While each of our clients received correspondence highlighting changes that the bill would require, there were certain ambiguities within the bill that could turn into stumbling blocks, particularly around transferring funds from association accounts. According to the bill, it’s prohibited to have funds transfer above $10,000 or five percent of gross expenses, whichever is lower, without prior written approval from the board of directors.

This could mean a lot of things, particularly as it relates to budgets and minutes. It’s ambiguous and, if you know me, you know I’m not satisfied with ambiguity.

To gain clarity around the issue, I asked the Community Associations Institute (CAI) to coordinate a “think tank” of industry professionals to help guide us. While they do not advocate for a specific position, nor do they condone the establishment of a single interpretation of any laws, they graciously provided their facility as a gathering place to hold a discussion. With that in mind, I called a meeting with as many law firms, management companies, and CPA firms from my contacts in the industry.

Eventually 16 law firms, seven management companies, and a CPA met on March 12th for a productive and enlightening meeting. The gentleman who introduced the bill on behalf of CAI’s lobbying organization, the California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC), offered background, including the fact that this bill really was designed to create transparency around finances and to mitigate against fraud. We discussed the fact that there were multiple paths forward to achieve compliance.

After our conversation, we came to the conclusion that, for contracts over $10,000 or five percent of gross expenses, recording the transaction in the minutes is sufficient to be in compliance as long as we also record certain components in the minutes as well. I will cover these pieces with Seabreeze’s Account Executives and General Managers and share them with you via our next newsletter.

Giving our clients the information they need to be successful is a top priority here at Seabreeze—and we can’t afford to get behind. As new legislation is proposed and enacted, we will continue to fight for what’s best for our clients as well as the entire property management industry. Stay tuned for more updates along the way.