Halloween is a kid’s delight. It’s a blast to dress up in costumes, go trick-or-treating, attend parties and most of all, eat a lot of candy. At the same time, Halloween can be scary for parents. Costumes can be dangerous, too much candy can be sickening and walking around at night can be risky, even in your homeowners association community.
The Centers for Disease Control and Preventionoffers the tips below to make sure your little ghouls and goblins have a SAFE HALLOWEEN. It’s not too late for your HOA board to hand them out to the members in your Association.
Halloween Safety Tips:
S – Swords, knives and similar costume accessories should be short, soft and flexible.
A – Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Children should walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
F – Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see trick-or-treaters.
E – Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before they’re eaten.
H – Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help see and help others see you.
A – Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it when done to avoid skin irritation.
L – Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
L – Lower the risk for serious eye injury by avoiding decorative contact lenses.
O – Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
W – Wear well-fitting masks, costumes and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips and falls.
E – Eat only factory-wrapped candy. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook.
E – Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.
N – Never walk near lit candles or other open flames. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
If members will be hosting a party in your homeowners association or expecting trick-or-treaters recommend they:
Provide healthy treats, such as individual packs of raisins, trail mix or pretzels. Offer fruits, vegetables and cheeses to party guests.
Use party games and trick-or-treating as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause falls.
Keep candlelit jack-o-lanterns and other open flames away from doorsteps, walkways, landings and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
Drive safely and watch out for trick-or-treaters.
Be aware of the Association rules, especially regarding decorations, parking, and noise.
It’s the role of the HOA board to protect, maintain, and enhance the homeowners association. Keeping members informed or even providing a place where they can gather to celebrate Halloween – such as the clubhouse – will help everyone have a fun and safe Halloween.
Encourage your HOA board members to pass out these simple guidelines to members to promote a safe environment to enjoy Halloween in your homeowners association for parents and kids too!
October’s historic fires in the North Bay are a stark reminder of a growing reality across California: during fire season, millions of people live in harm’s way. That number is only expected to increase as the population grows.
Many Bay Area cities are trying to halt the pattern of sprawl that has put so many homes on hillsides and in the path of fires.
“Certainly, it’s an opportunity for reflection and it is a moment where we can think about doing things a little bit differently,” says Teri Shore of the non-profit Greenbelt Alliance.
Shore works on land use policy, but was also one of the evacuees who fled their homes as fires roared across the Sonoma County for days on end.
“What became the Nuns Fire got within two miles of our home,” she says.
Her home was spared. Now, she’s focusing on how her community will rebuild. Even before the fires, housing was in short supply with high prices and low vacancy rates. Now, thousands of people will also need to rebuild. In Santa Rosa, fires razed fully five percent of the city’s housing stock.
Historically, cities expanded their boundaries as they grew.
“People wanted single family homes and were willing to drive for hours to have that American dream of the white picket fence and the home,” Shore says.
Those choices, made over decades, have put many Bay Area residents in the fire zone.
“Clearly, a lot of people are in dangerous areas,” says Jon Keeley, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
It’s an area prone to fires whether or not people live there, because many of the ecosystems evolved with fires.
“They are an inevitable feature,” Keeley says. “All you need is the conditions we saw in the North Bay. So, we need to respect the fact that these are going to happen in the future and we need to have communities adapt to the fires.”
But for city and county governments, that often comes at the end of a much longer list of priorities.
“Historically, communities have by and large assumed the state and federal government will solve the fire problem and they’ve left fire issues to them,” Keely explains. “And the communities haven’t taken a real serious look.”
The Bay Area is expected to add more than 2 million people by 2040. And Keeley says where the housing is built will matter. Instead of sprawling outward, there are ways to reduce the fire risk.
“One is to take existing development areas and fill in those areas within the developments,” he says.
Keeley is describing “infill development,” where housing is packed into the urban core, close to shops and public transit. The trend is currently on display in downtown San Jose.
“The question isn’t whether or not we’re going to grow,” says San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo. “The question is: how are we going to grow?”
Like a lot of cities, San Jose looks a bit like a doughnut: growing on the edges but not a lot going on in the middle.
“We’ve got a lot of work now to revitalize that middle,” Liccardo says.
Google is currently negotiating with the city to build a tech campus downtown, which would bring thousands of jobs. San Jose is trying to fast-track housing development nearby, but it’s not as simple as it sounds.
Infill is often more expensive to build; permitting and zoning can be more complex. San Jose has changed downtown zoning to make it easier there.
“That enabled a tower to get a permit within 66 days,” he says. “I’m told that’s a record in the state of California.”
Long Road Ahead
But many developers are still pursuing suburban subdivisions, like a 900-home development planned for the Evergreen foothills of San Jose. City voters could see a measure to approve it on the ballot next year.
“We’re gonna fight like heck on this because we can’t continue this pattern of sprawl,” Liccardo says. “It’s utterly unsustainable.”
In the Bay Area, the hills are often where the wildfire risk is highest.
“The North Bay fires are illustrative of the perils of hillside development, certainly,” Liccardo says.
In Sonoma County, many cities have instituted “urban growth boundaries,” which rein in the expansion of development outward. But the challenge has been figuring out where to build housing within city boundaries. Denser development often faces local opposition.
Shore of the Greenbelt Alliance says the region has a new opportunity for infill close to the public transit system, the SMART train, which just started running a few months ago.
“Most of the cities along the line have station-area plans that were adopted around ten years ago,” she says. “Now we need to do it. Stop talking and planning but actually start building in the right places in the right way.”
Regional planning agencies are trying to encourage denser development through Plan Bay Area, their transportation and land use plan.
Under that, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has restricted some funding for transportation projects, giving it only to cities doing infill development. The commission is seeking to link even more funding to those goals set by SB 375, a state law that requires regions to cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of miles driven by cars.
But many agree, the region has a long way to go to break the pattern that has put so many people in the path of wildfires.
It’s a great building with lots of green features, but there is more to sustainability than a high BREEAM score.
Mike Bloomberg is one of my favourite billionaire philanthropists, building his new European headquarters in London, one of my favourite cities, designed by Norman Foster, one of my favourite architects. But I do wish everyone would stop calling it “the world’s most sustainable office building,” which both Bloomberg and Foster (and every other website) do; it’s not.
There is a lot of green goodness in this building, and it did get a BREEAM score of 98.5 percent, the highest ever for an office development. (BREEAM is a sort of British version of LEED). There are some really interesting innovations, like the ceiling, described by Foster + Partners:
Integrated Ceiling Panels: Bespoke integrated ceiling panels combine heating, cooling, lighting and acoustic functions in an innovative petal-leaf design. The system, which incorporates 500,000 LED lights, uses 40 percent less energy than a typical fluorescent office lighting system.
It has serious water conservation measures that reduce consumption by 73 percent, including vacuum toilets. There is also a Foster favourite:
Natural Ventilation: When ambient weather conditions are temperate, the building’s distinctive bronze blades can open and close, allowing the building to operate in a “breathable” natural ventilation mode. Reducing dependency on mechanical ventilation and cooling equipment significantly reduces energy consumption.
Foster has tried this on a few buildings, notably the Gherkin, where nobody ever opens the windows. I suspect nobody will in the Bloomberg building either, given the awful air quality in London. But there are also “smart CO2 sensors that vary the amount of fresh air required when they are running the air conditioning, and a big combined heat and power (CHP) plant that supplies heat and power in a single, efficient system with reduced carbon emissions. Waste heat generated from this process is recycled for cooling and heating and, in use, is expected to save 500-750 metric tonnes of CO2 each year.”
All of these are wonderful things; Foster and Bloomberg deserve much credit. But calling it “the world’s most sustainable office building” just because it has a high BREEAM score doesn’t make it so. For example, CHP plants usually generate heat and power by burning natural gas. The most sustainable office building in the world wouldn’t burn fossil fuels.
The Bullitt building in Seattle doesn’t; it has solar power and gets its heat through ground source heat pumps. But it’s not BREEAM; it is built to the Living Building Challenge standard.
The world’s most sustainable office building would consider the embodied energy of the materials in it; Oliver Wainwright notes that “the embodied energy levels are not slight, given that it contains 600 tonnes of bronze imported from Japan and a quarry-full of granite from India.” That doesn’t even include the embodied energy of the concrete in it.
The PowerHouse Kjørbo, an office building outside of Oslo designed by Snøhetta, was designed to produce not only more energy than it needs from its solar panels, but “generates more energy than what was used for the production of building materials, its construction, operation and disposal.” It actually pays back its embodied energy.
We believe that environmentally-friendly practices are as good for business as they are for the planet. From day one, we set out to push the boundaries of sustainable office design — and to create a place that excites and inspires our employees. The two missions went hand-in-hand, and I hope we’ve set a new standard for what an office environment can be.
Even when you turn off your electronics, they could still be wasting electricity. When you press the off switch, many electronics — like televisions, DVRs and satellite boxes– go into standby mode.
During standby mode, electronics don’t turn off completely. They perform updates, record your favorite shows and generally just wait for you to come back, sucking up energy as they do. This is called standby power or phantom load. The energy lost is called vampire energy or leaking energy.
According to the US Department of Energy, your electricity wasters account for 10 percent or more of your electricity bill.
Televisions, DVRs and satellite boxes aren’t the only energy users. Chances are, you have several chargers around your home and they stay plugged in 24/7. Phone chargers use around 0.26 watts when plugged in, but not in use. A laptop charger also wastes energy, using 4.42 kWh when not in use and 29.48 kWh with a fully charged laptop plugged into it. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has a full list of gadgets and how much energy they waste, here.
Test your home for excess energy usage
Want to see if your home is affected by leaking energy? Turn off your AC or heating unit and your hot water heater. Now, turn off everything in your home, but leave it all plugged in.
Then, go look at the electric meter box that’s typically located on the side of your home. Are the numbers still going up? If they are, that means that your devices are still sucking electricity.
Duke Energy also has a nifty calculator that can help you see just how much your devices and appliances may be wasting… without getting out of your chair.
How to kill vampire waste
The most obvious way to stop energy leaks is by unplugging everything when you aren’t using it. But this can be a huge pain, especially when you use various items throughout the day or the outlets are behind heavy furniture.
One way to make things a little easier is by using power strips. Whenever you aren’t using your devices, flip the switch on the power strip to cut off all power to your devices so that they can’t go into standby. Some power strips even come with remotes so you can shut off power from across the room, like the Conserve Switch AV Surge Protector or the Uninex Surge Protector.
Smart power strips take this idea a step further. They have outlets that are meant for different types of devices. Some of the outlets are designated for items that need to stay on all the time, like your DVR. Other outlets are for items that go into standby mode or use energy, but don’t need to be on. When you shut off a device or disconnect your device from its charger, the power strip senses it and will shut off all power to the device.
Largest Fire Cleanup in State History Begins in North Bay
In Northern California, local, state, and federal agencies are launching what they call the biggest fire clean-up effort in state history.
Pigs Fleeing North Bay Fires Find Refuge in Half Moon Bay
Those whose homes burned in wine country have to live somewhere else for awhile. That includes animals, as well as people. I recently attended a Pumpkin Patch day at a farm in Half Moon Bay that’s offering refuge to some of those animals.
Federal Agency Promoted Ranger Five Months After His Gun Was Stolen and Used in Steinle Killing
A Bureau of Land Management ranger is expected to testify in a high-profile murder case over the slaying of Kathryn Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015. The trial opened in the city yesterday.
Steinle was killed with ranger John Woychowski’s gun, which was stolen after he left it unsecured in his car.
Half of California Children Live in Household with Immigrant Parent
In California, nearly half of all children live in a household where they or one of their parents is an immigrant. That’s according to a new study released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
State Senate Hires Outside Firm to Investigate Sexual Harassment
Fall out continues at the State Capitol over claims of sexual harassment within Sacramento’s political circles. The leader of the state Senate has hired two outside firms to investigate the problem.
Fierce Santa Ana Winds Predicted for Southern California
Just as extreme fire conditions are easing up in Northern California, they’re heating up down south.
Fresno Hopes ‘Nothing’ Is Enough to Attract Amazon Headquarters
Some cities are going to great lengths to get the company’s attention: New York temporarily turned the Empire State building orange, to match the Amazon logo; Stonecrest, Georgia offered to rename itself “Amazon.” And, of course, lots of cities are hoping to win the company over with massive tax breaks. But one California city is taking a gamble on a different offer: nothing.
Returning to your home after a natural disaster can be tough — emotionally as well as practically. KQED gathered advice from FEMA, Sonoma County and Rob Goodman, who lost his home in the 2015 Valley Fire in Lake County, to help out those who have been given the OK to return to their residences.
“Some may not want to return, because of the difficulty of seeing your home and possessions in ashes. And seeing your neighbors’ homes gone as well,” Goodman said in fliers he created for survivors of natural disasters. “When we first returned to our street, we were shocked to see every home gone. Seeing our home in ashes left us feeling numb.”
“If you do decide to return I must urge great caution,” he added. “Your site will be toxic — containing everything from metals to plastics to wiring, plumbing, etc. Everything that was in your home will be melted and covered in ash.”
A Checklist From FEMA and Sonoma County:
What to Bring/Wear
☐ Sturdy shoes (steel toes and shanks are recommended)
☐ Heavy-duty mask (N95)
☐ Heavy-duty gloves
☐ Long pants and long-sleeve shirt
☐ Garden cultivator to sift through ashes
☐ 5-gallon bucket for any possessions
☐ Battery-powered radio to listen to emergency updates and news reports
☐ Battery-powered flashlight to inspect a damaged home
Do not use your water if you suspect or have been told it is contaminated.
Keep hands clean during an emergency to help prevent the spread of germs.
If your tap water is not safe to use, wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected or use a large water jug that contains clean water.
Foods exposed to fire can be compromised (including canned goods).
Clean and sanitize your household after an emergency to help prevent the spread of illness and disease.
Hazardous chemicals and conditions may be present.
Inspect propane tanks for visible damage before turning on.
Be aware of slip, trip, fall and puncture hazards.
Watch out for animals, especially venomous snakes.
Stay off the streets. If you must go out, watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.
Rob Goodman’s Lake County home, which burned down in the 2015 Valley Fire. (Courtesy of Rob Goodman)
Before You Enter Your Home
Take care around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Do not enter if:
You smell gas.
Your home was damaged by fire and authorities have not declared it safe.
In the case of flooding, floodwaters remain around the building.
Going Inside Your Home
When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do. Enter the home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. The following items are other things to check inside your home:
Sparks, broken or frayed wires
Roof, foundation, and chimney cracks
Water and sewage system
Food and other supplies
Household chemical spills
Call your insurance agent. Take pictures of damage. Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs.
Asked – Our documents were created in 1981 and have not been updated since that time. I imagine that we are out of legal compliance with some of the items listed within both documents. The HOA membership does not want to pay to have them rewritten and brought up to the codes and I am not sure what the implications are if we do nothing.
Answered – This a common question asked by many of our clients, especially those with governing documents that look like they were typed on a typewriter and digitally stored on microfiche. However, it is important to note at the outset that just because your documents are old, does not mean that it is necessary to amend/restate them. Nevertheless, there are several reasons why an association may want to update its documents.
The first, and most obvious, reason why an association may want to update its documents is to address particular issues affecting the community. While an association’s operating rules can easily be amended to tackle many of these issues, not all can be addressed through adopting an operating rule. Thus, certain situations may require a CC&R or Bylaw amendment.
The second common reason why an association may want to update its CC&Rs is to remove developer-specific provisions. When an association is formed, the developer’s attorney prepares the governing documents, including the CC&Rs. And while the California Bureau of Real Estate exercises some oversight, many of the provisions are drafted to benefit the Developer and not necessarily the individual homeowners. Accordingly, it may be worthwhile to remove these provisions and reallocate the rights and responsibilities to the Association and its members.
Other reasons why an association may want to update its documents is to reduce quorum and membership approval requirements, and to address changes in the law. For example, a recent change to the Civil Code further defined the maintenance and repair responsibilities of the association and owners concerning Exclusive Use Common Area (“EUCA”) components. For condominium associations that have traditionally held owners responsible for EUCA repairs, changes in the law may require them to change that position if the provisions in their CC&Rs fail to address the issue.
Board members should be aware that amending an association’s governing documents can be an expensive endeavor. The expense is often exacerbated by the difficulty experienced in obtaining membership approval, either because of the unpopularity of the proposed amendments, or membership apathy. The foregoing is meant to underscore the importance of discussing potential updates with the association’s legal counsel to determine if they are necessary and/or advisable.
Authorities say some of the most destructive wildfires in California’s history have killed at least 31 people. Seventeen people have died in Sonoma County, eight in Mendocino County, two in Napa County and four in Yuba County.
The Sonoma County Coroner’s Office has positively identified the following decedents and their next of kin have been advised:
• Carol Collins-Swasey, 76 years old from Santa Rosa
• Lynne Anderson Powell, 72 years old from Santa Rosa
• Arthur Tasman Grant, 95 years old from Santa Rosa
• Suiko Grant, 75 years old from Santa Rosa
• Donna Mae Halbur, 80 years old from Larkfield (Santa Rosa)
• Leroy Peter Halbur, 80 years old from Larkfield (Santa Rosa)
• Valerie Lynn Evans, 75 years old from Santa Rosa
• Carmen Caldentey Berriz, 75 years old from Apple Valley
• Michael John Dornbach, 57 years old from Calistoga
• Veronica Elizabeth McCombs, 67 years old from Santa Rosa
They join Charles (100) and Sara Rippey (98) of Napa who were identified earlier this week.
Firefighters gained some ground on the blazes but face another tough day with low humidity and high winds expected to return Friday night through Saturday night, leading to a red flag warning in the North and East Bay.
But Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the agency wants to be as aggressive as possible on the fires Friday.
“Today we have a little bit of a window of opportunity as the winds are going to be relatively light throughout much of the day,” Berlant said. “We’re going to bring in some fresh crews and we’re going to be doubling up on some of the containment lines on the southern portion of these fires because the north winds are expected to pick back up late tonight.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Rowe says winds will start to pick up late in the day.
“Right now we are most concerned about the North Bay mountains as well as the East Bay hills for the threat of strong and gusty off-shore winds and low relative humidity values,” Rowe said.
In those areas wind gusts out of the north and north east are expected to hit 20 to 30 mph and could reach 40 to 50 miles an hour.
Meteorologists say there’s a chance the area could see isolated gusts reaching 60 mph at the highest ridges and peaks.
High winds have created power outages in the North Bay, and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said 34,000 customers are without electricity — most of them are in Sonoma and Napa counties.
The Atlas Fire burning in Napa and Solano counties has scorched 48,228 acres and is 27 percent contained.
The Tubbs Fire near Calistoga and Santa Rosa has burned 34,770 acres and is 25 contained.
Santa Rosa Mayor Chris Coursey said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that 2,834 homes had been destroyed by fires in the city alone.
Thousands of firefighters are battling at least 17 fires spanning more than 200,000 acres (about 300 square miles), according to Cal Fire.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued Wednesday for the entire city of Calistoga, and residents are being told to leave immediately and shelter at American Canyon High School, 30 miles to the south between Napa and Vallejo. About 2,500 residents have evacuated their homes in Solano County because of the spreading Atlas Fire, which began in neighboring Napa County. The fire has destroyed two homes and 11 other structures and is still threatening 400 other homes in the county, according to Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrera.
Geyserville and surrounding communities in Sonoma County were also put under evacuation Thursday.
The winds fanning the catastrophic Northern California fires are borne out of a complicated mash-up of meteorology, physics, geography, and topography.
Sonoma and Napa counties are thick in the midst of what some are expecting to be California’s worst set of fires ever. Those in the Golden State know to expect massive fires in the wilderness, but this particular firestorm has broken normal convention and is devouring whole neighborhoods at a terrifying rate. It’s as if a giant flamethrower has been aimed at blocks and blocks of tidy homes, leaving little more than charred rubble punctuated by the eerie pillars of fireplace chimneys. So far, 160,000 acres have burned, 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed – and much more is threatened.
There have been so many stories of people waking up to the smell of smoke and seeing flames in the distance, only to see those flames charging towards them at a furious rate. So rapacious have these fires been that many have reported fleeing their homes in only robes and slippers, leaving everything from their wallets to their pets in order to get out in time.
To anyone who hasn’t experienced California’s surreal hot winds – the Santa Anas in the south and the Diablo Winds (AKA the Diablos or El Diablo) in the north – it may be hard to fathom how a fire could devour a football-field sized parcel of land in three seconds. But if you know these winds, it is all too sadly comprehensible.
Basically, imagine a gigantic blow drier on its hottest setting, being turned up to high in random gusts – and when I say high, I mean hurricane force. This wind is hot and dry and strong; and if it weren’t for its diabolical relationship with wildfires, it might be kind of a sexy thing. But no, at this point it’s just dreadful.
The winds originate in the Great Basin, which you can see in the map below.
Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, describes it like this:
If an area of high pressure is situated over that region [the great Basin], winds blow from the central Great Basin toward the Pacific coast. In the northern hemisphere, winds flow clockwise around high pressure and that creates the aforementioned flow.
With such a flow regime, the winds are forced over and descend down the elevated terrain and mountains on the western edge of the basin and in California. Since Mt. Diablo is in the region east of the Bay Area, these particular winds get the name Diablo Winds. Here is where the physics comes in. As these winds descend, they are compressed and warmed. These winds can reach tropical storm (39 mph) to hurricane force (74 mph).
(He then goes into the nitty gritty of adiabatic compression and the First Law of Thermodynamics – and much, much more, all of which you can read over at Forbes.)
For this particular perfect storm, fuels were at or approaching an all-time record for dryness, according to analyses by land management agencies. The weather service described an abundance of grasses produced by “record winter rains combined with heavier vegetation stressed by years of extreme drought and disease.” Mix that with a bit of wind from the devil and the result is a burned barren landscape, ravaged and grim.
In iconic Californian writer Raymond Chandler’s short story, “Red Wind,” the state’s oven-hot winds are such a prominent component of the narrative they practically become a character on their own. The story opens with a telling description:
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen.
And the same goes for the red wind’s devilish relative in the north. Anything can happen when the Diablo Wind starts fanning the mayhem. Now if only some Angel Rain would come in and save the day.
Forget the condo in Boca or the anonymous, singles-only, low-rise golf-course abodes on the edge of town that you may have associated with condos if you’re not from San Francisco or New York. In urban areas like ours, condominiums comprise a huge and expensive part of the real estate inventory in the City. Just as the rest of the city’s inventory, variation in this sector is enormous. From a Twin Peaks economy 1970s model for $300,000 to the gleaming South Beach/FiDi Penthouse in the sky for $20,000,000, you will see almost every type of condo in the City proper. Here are a few items you should know about condos, the laws, documents and entities that govern them. Most HOAs in large buildings will be assisted by property management companies; management will be more procedural and formal. For smaller associations (let’s say 2–4 units) matters are handled more informally where personal relationships and politicking is the norm. Both approaches have detractors and benefits. It’s just a matter of which is right for your needs.
When you purchase a condo, you’re buying a three dimensional space within the condo complex/building while the homeowner association ‘owns’ the rest in common and has obligation to maintain these ‘common areas.’ Parking spaces are usually exclusive use common areas attached to a given condominium.
Relevant condo maps will define how a property is divided into units or lots, parking, and common areas. These maps are recorded and are connected to every deed and mortgage on every unit or lot within the property. Changing the map or plan is next to impossible without every other owner agreeing to do so. Your unit is defined by these documents and the title of your property is defined in relation to the relevant map.
Therefore, common areas generally consist of the parts of the property apart from the units and any other privately deeded properties. Easements and use restrictions or allowances may be part the rights and interests granted to a particular owner.
All the rights defining which parts of the condo development/subdivision belong to who, rules and allowed uses are contained in a series of documents called most commonly known as the “CC&Rs” — Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. The CC&Rs describe the rights and obligations of the homeowners’ association and of each owner. CC&Rs vary widely in content and length and usually cover the following topics:
the demarcation between private and common areas;
budgets, reserves, assessments and dues;
usage restrictions like pet regulations, leasing rights and alteration controls;
maintenance responsibilities of the association and the individual owners;
how operating costs are shared among the owners, and the mechanism for collecting owner payments;
dispute resolution procedures;
HOA Board or Member enforcement powers; and,
CC&Rs are required for all condominiums and planned developments and are prepared by lawyers as they do have to conform with various parts of state law.