Recently, the Board of Directors updated the rules for our Lakeside Homeowners Association. The rules were last written in the year 2000, so we had to account for the advent of new technologies (e.g. drones, Airbnb, etc…), and especially changes in California laws pertaining to HOA communities.
One of the changes included the use of barbeques. The Board discovered that barbeques are in violation of California Fire Codes §308.3.1 and §308.3.1.1 which states that all open-flame cooking devices (including charcoal & propane grills) may not be operated on combustible balconies or within ten (10) feet of a combustible construction. This applies to condominium complexes such as Lakeside.
Single-family homes are exempt. However, if a fire broke out in a single-family home, the damage could be limited to one home. If a fire broke out in a complex like Lakeside, the damage could affect many units at once. Also, escape from a single-family home could be easier than from a multi-unit complex.
Another serious consequence to violating this law would be the cancellation of our Homeowners Association’s Fire Insurance policy. Lakeside’s fire insurance carrier has notified The Board and management that if a claim was filed due to damage caused by the use of a barbeque, our policy would be cancelled. This would have devastating effects on all owners:
- The person and/or owner responsible for the damage could face financial liability
- Escrow might not close without fire insurance – and you could not sell your unit
- Difficulty obtaining new fire insurance
Obtaining fire insurance for a Homeowners Association is not like obtaining personal insurance. If our fire insurance policy is cancelled, we would find that primary market insurers will generally not insure an association … especially one that ignored the law. We would be forced to shop the secondary insurance market where rates are three times or more the cost. And the deductibles would be ridiculously high. This might force the Board to raise our dues.
Think about this from the perspective of the insurance company. No competent actuary would allow an insurance company to underwrite a complex of 286-units who has ignored the California Fire Code. With all the wildfires in recent years, insurance companies (and their lobby) have been working to change policies to minimize their risk.
The Board takes no pleasure in having to enforce this rule, but we have a Fiduciary responsibility to protect Lakeside. In other words, the Board has to look out for our association’s financial health … and insure protection of our property values. We have to look at our complex as a whole, and make decisions to protect all our common interests.
For those residents with existing barbeques, we ask that you sell, donate, or cover the unit for non-use.
The Board, however, is just starting plans to build a Clubhouse at the Large Pool which will have a kitchen and dining area. And hopefully, we can start having our monthly board meetings there as well.
If you have any questions, though, please feel free to come to our next board meeting … or contact our property manager, Mark Gardner, at Optimum Professional Property Management:
Phone: (714) 508-9070 x227
The Board thanks you in advance for your cooperation.