Six Do’s and Dont’s for HOA Board Meeting Success

Attend any HOA board meeting, and you’ll notice how different every board member and resident is. When it comes to your community, everyone brings their own set of opinions and preferences to the table. And while having a unique group of people with different backgrounds and viewpoints can be a great thing for your community, it may also lead to unproductive meetings and in some cases, conflict.

Your first step toward more cohesive board meetings is to enlist the help of your community management company. An experienced community management company can help you develop a great vision and give you the tools and resources to improve your board meetings. Better board meetings can play an important role in unifying your community, boosting its reputation in the market and ultimately enhancing resident lifestyles and property values.

By implementing a few principles before and during your association board meetings, you can make vast improvements to your meetings.

Read more in the article below, and fill out the form on this page to download a free, printable guide: “Six Principles for a Better Board Meeting.” By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to board meeting success.

Do: Plan ahead
As with most things in life, planning ahead is always a good idea. Before your meeting begins, review the agenda and any other need-to-know information. An accessible and responsive community manager, properly supported with the right resources from a great community management company, can develop an effective agenda for you. At FirstService Residential, community managers typically send out a board packet about five days before the meeting. This packet often includes the meeting agenda, suggested motions and answers to frequently asked questions. Plan to review this information before the meeting so that you’re prepared to tackle any important topics that may arise.

Do: Be professional
Take a deep breath and repeat the old adage, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Occasionally, board meetings can get heated because people are passionate about their communities. In any case, it’s best to treat your position as you would a job. If you don’t think you would bring something up in a business meeting, don’t bring it up in an HOA board meeting. To make sure you and your fellow board members are on the same page, make sure that you and your board members understand the basic meeting structure and procedures involved (e.g., making and seconding motions). You will want to work with an experienced community management company that can help you get additional training on board meeting procedures and communication tactics.

Do: Keep it concise 
Who likes long meetings? Spoiler alert: No one! This is especially the case with board meetings, where long meetings can often hinder decision-making. That’s why you should aim to keep the meeting at about 45 to 60 minutes. By planning ahead and staying under an hour, you’ll be able to keep the meeting productive. To create a brief but effective agenda, you’ll need to work directly with your community manager. And your community manager should have the support and resources they need in order to help you.

Don’t: Get emotional
If you’ve been a volunteer board member for any amount of time, you know how easily a board meeting can become grounds for a personal venting session. To help combat these situations, it’s helpful to place some limitations on topics and speakers. For example, you may want to limit an individual’s time speaking on a topic to a maximum of three minutes. A well-trained community manager can help you put together proper guidelines for board meetings and facilitate them.

Don’t: Forget the rules
Board members and residents alike are held to a code of conduct that should be outlined in your governing documents. These policies are designed to ensure a respectful and courteous environment. Your board’s code of conduct should include time limitations on speakers and identify who can attend and speak at meetings, among other policies. If you don’t have a code of conduct, your community management company should be able to help you both develop and enforce one.

Don’t: Tune out
As a rule of thumb, listen more than you speak. Often, board members and residents just want to be heard and valued. Even if you don’t fully agree with what an individual has to say, you should actively listen to their concerns and opinions.

Without a doubt, HOA board meetings play an important role in your community, but they are often bogged down by conflicting opinions and differing personalities. Following these do’s and don’ts can help you avoid common roadblocks and hold more successful and productive board meetings.

A smooth and productive board meeting can go a long way in setting up your community for success. By improving your board meetings, you’ll effectively help enhance your association’s reputation and strengthen your community’s relevance in the changing market. It’s important to partner with an experienced and knowledgeable community management company that can help you develop helpful guidelines and establish best practices in order to reach those goals.

Get Your Free Guide

Want to get additional information on board and community dynamics? Fill out the form to download your complimentary guide, Six Principles for a Better Board Meeting.


At least two dozen Kern County farmworkers arrested in latest immigration sweep across California

At least two dozen Kern County farmworkers arrested in latest immigration sweep across California
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent is shown during an operation in Los Angeles in 2015. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


At least 26 Kern County farmworkers were detained for deportation proceedings as part of a mass sweep last week across Central and Northern California that federal officials said was targeted at convicted criminals.

Many of the farmworkers appeared to have no serious criminal background and were stopped on their way to work by federal immigration officers in unmarked vehicles, said Armando Elenes, a vice president of United Farm Workers of America, which has been trying to document how many people have been detained.

In one instance, Elenes said, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents discovered the person they were looking for at a particular address no longer lived there. “But since they were there, they started to investigate and took some [other] people because they just happened to be there,” he said.

“This is a very divisive tactic that the Trump administration is using, instead of focusing on real solutions,” he said. “These are farmworkers who are trying to make ends meet, who are trying to work and provide for their families… It’s creating a wave of fear throughout the entire agricultural community.”

A total of 232 people were arrested in the latest statewide operation targeting “individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security,” according to a statement from ICE. The four-day sweep stretched from Bakersfield to the Oregon border.

Of those arrested, 180 were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal or had been previously removed from the United States and returned illegally, ICE authorities said. One hundred fifteen had prior felony convictions for serious offenses — such as child sex crimes, weapons charges and assault — or had past convictions for significant or multiple misdemeanors.

But ICE officials said the agency “no longer exempts classes or specific categories” of undocumented immigrants from potential enforcement action.

“During targeted enforcement operations, ICE officers frequently encounter other aliens illegally present in the United States,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said in a written statement. “These aliens are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and, when appropriate, they are arrested by ICE officers.”

ICE’s latest operation comes at a time when President Trump has pushed for a sweeping crackdown on the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. Trump and U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions contend that law enforcement agencies should give immigration agents limitless access to jails and delay releasing immigrants from custody so that agents can detain them.

But many of the state’s law enforcement leaders and city officials in Los Angeles, San Francisco and other municipalities have ignored those demands and instead have enacted policies or passed laws that restrict cooperation with immigration agents. Sessions has lashed out against such cities and threatened to withhold federal funding from some local agencies — a move that courts have found to be unconstitutional.

In its statement last week, ICE said the inability to cooperate and communicate with local law enforcement partners has “negatively impacted ICE operations in California.”

“ICE has no choice but to continue to conduct at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work-sites, which will inevitably result in additional collateral arrests, instead of focusing on arrests at jails and prisons where transfers are safer for ICE officers and the community,” the statement said. “We will continue to do our sworn duty to seek out dangerous criminal aliens and other immigration violators.”

In Kern County, news of the latest sweep has spread across the farming community and is sparking a sense of fear and helplessness, Elenes said.

In one case in Wasco, a truck that was taking a group of five farmworkers to the field got stopped. Immigration agents started asking questions, and four of the workers were arrested.

The United Farm Workers Foundation and UFW are focused on making sure workers know their rights and understand what to do if they get stopped, he said. “Most of them are being detained when [ICE] starts asking them questions and they start responding to the questions.”

Elenes is also making sure workers in the community are prepared. He urged them to put together a list of emergency contacts and to make sure, if detained, they knew who will take care of their kids.

Twitter: @RosannaXia

ICE: 232 Arrests in Northern California Operation This Week


Federal immigration agents have arrested 232 people in Northern California over the past four days, according to a statement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thursday evening, which announced the operation has ended.

Legal advocates for immigrants say they have confirmed arrests in the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, San Francisco and Santa Clara. There have also been arrests reported in Fresno, Merced, Monterey and Sacramento counties. ICE reported one arrest in San Joaquin County. All the counties fall under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco field office for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Sanctuary jurisdictions like San Francisco and Oakland shield dangerous criminal aliens from federal law enforcement at the expense of public safety,” ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan said in a written statement Tuesday. “Thanks to the dedicated and professional work of ICE deportation officers, we were able to remove many public safety threats from the streets of the Bay Area during the past few days.”

Advocates who work to rapidly respond to immigration arrests and connect detainees with attorneys had counted dozens of arrests as of late Tuesday and expected the actual number of those detained would be in the hundreds.

“We’ve often seen that actual confirmed reports that come through the local rapid-response networks and the hotlines are usually just a small percentage of how many people are actually being picked up,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, with the Northern California Rapid Response and Immigrant Defense Network.

The arrests came after a Saturday evening warning from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf that a sweeping immigration enforcement operation in Oakland and other parts of the Bay Area was imminent. The mayor cited “multiple credible sources,” and said Sunday that she did not learn of the planned operation through official channels. Schaaf was the targetof threatening phone calls and social media posts following her announcement.

Schaff has drawn significant backlash from the Trump administration.

“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens,” Homan said on Tuesday, adding that he believes Schaaf’s statement was reckless and politically motivated. “864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision.”

Schaaf reiterated throughout the week that she does not regret the warning.

“It was my intention that one mother, or one father, would use the information to help keep their family together,” Schaaf said in a written statement. “It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws. We believe our community is safer when families stay together.”

ICE highlighted arrests of those with prior criminal convictions, including those of alleged gang members who had previously been deported and had also been convicted of violent crimes. ICE also noted the arrest of one man convicted for lewd acts with a child under 14 years old.

The agency said on Thursday that 180 of those arrested “were either convicted criminals, had been issued a final order of removal and failed to depart the United States, or had been previously removed from the United States and returned illegally.”

ICE said 115, less than half, had prior serious felony convictions or past convictions “for significant or multiple misdemeanors.”

The ACLU of Northern California accused ICE agents of intimidation, racial profiling and “terrorizing communities of color” during the operation in a statement Tuesday evening.

“Reports of abusive tactics by ICE are nothing new, they are part of a pattern of fear-mongering and retaliation,” ACLU of Northern California attorney Angelica Salceda said. “We need strong families, not families torn apart by deportation. We need communities that trust each other, not communities living in fear of police every second of the day.”

Without legal representation, some detainees may agree to leave the U.S. voluntarily and waive their right to make a case for asylum or other deportation relief before an immigration judge. Yazdan Panah said that has already happened with one of the people arrested.

“People are often under tremendous psychological stress in those circumstances,” he said. “They’re often in shock, just given how they were apprehended.”

“ICE does not conduct sweeps or raids that target aliens indiscriminately,” regional ICE spokesman James Schwab said in a written statement this week. “The agency prioritizes public and national security threats, immigration fugitives and illegal reentrants. ”

Schwab wrote that anyone who violates immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and deportation.

The Trump administration altered an Obama-era policy that prioritized the arrest and deportation of people convicted of serious or violent crimes.

Blanca Vazquez, with the Bay Area-based Immigrant Liberation Movement, said the Trump administration’s stepped-up enforcement has galvanized immigrant communities to learn their rights and scrutinize ICE’s actions.

And that gives her hope.

The Right Screening Tool Can Ensure Protection of an Asset

The Right Screening Tool Can Ensure Protection of an Asset

An effective screening tool can pay dividends for property management companies. A tool that provides an applicant’s rental payment history as well as identity screening and transactional identification protects PMCs and is a catalyst to a successful community.

The better the renter, the most likely that management won’t be left holding the bag because of uninsured damage.

“It’s been proven there is a direct correlation between credit quality of the resident and the amount of damage that they may leave behind in insurable losses and uninsurable losses that a deposit is intended to cover,” says Ian McIntosh, Industry Principal, LeasingDesk Risk Mitigation at RealPage, Inc.

Finding the right resident, asset protection a growing concern

Finding the right balance of quality tenants while minimizing risk and exposure with limited impact to leasing agents and consumers is a growing concern in rental housing today. Not all screening tools paint a true picture of the applicant, and of those who are approved only 40 percent purchase renter’s insurance policies, according to RealPage, Inc.

Recent demand has provided PMCs a great opportunity to maintain high occupancies. In a good market, properties typically don’t have to lower screening thresholds and take on more risk just to fill assets.

But not all applicants are desirable tenants, even if they possess good credit scores. Rental payment history that includes late payments, whether or not deposits have been paid and damage-related charges may not always show up on a credit report. Such information can be just as big of a red flag as a questionable credit report.

Rental payment histories tell more about applicants

Good rental payment histories often are an indicator of applicants who are less likely to cause damage and purchase a renter’s insurance policy, McIntosh said. A property is most vulnerable when damage occurs by an uninsured resident, and, unfortunately, damages like fire, smoke, water and even pet damages may be unrecoverable or require the expense of a collection agency or attorney to resolve.

McIntosh says a quality screening tool enables management companies to better mitigate risk in a fast-paced rental housing environment.

A robust screening tool that includes rental payment history profiles helps properties identify higher quality tenants and keeps pace with applicants who are calling just as quickly as properties are available. Ideally, McIntosh says, property managers should rely on a tool that returns thorough results in just seconds so the application process continues to flow. Along the way, screening should focus on identity, transactional identification and renter history.

Anything less may not deliver the best paying renter to the property.

Asset Protection Plan can fill the gap when tenant-caused damage occurs

While screening offers big protection, it’s not the only line of defense against unwanted property damage that may not be fully covered by liability insurance.

Damage from kitchen fires, water and smoke from a patio grill require costly repairs, but these expenses typically fall below a policy deductible and are paid directly out of a property’s operating budget.

Propertyware Asset Protection is a new offering from Propertyware that provides a win-win for property managers and owners by providing up to $100,000 in coverage for owners assets. It includes guaranteed acceptance coverage against accidental tenant-caused damage that avoids costly out-of-pocket expenses, can protect tenants against owner claims and is integrated with Propertyware for compliance tracking.

It’s just another way that property managers can ensure that their assets are protected.

Higher resident quality should correlate to less losses

Still, attempting to head off damage down the road is good business.

Online leasing has helped by streamlining screening so properties can choose better tenants. PMCs learn what kind of applicant is knocking at the door, and whether he or she will enable the property to add to or maintain its value.

“It’s about the overall credit quality of the tenants, which drives bottom-line revenue because they have better folks in there,” McIntosh said. “Higher resident quality should correlate to less losses. Overall it, it Improves the asset quality and value.”

The Big Sort: What To Do With 2 Million Tons of Fire Debris

Piles of fire debris in Santa RosaPiles of fire debris await removal in a Santa Rosa parking lot.

California’s biggest disaster cleanup in a century is now three-quarters complete, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. And like the North Bay fires that caused it, this massive response is one for the record books.

“It is a very complicated debris removal operation,” California Office of Emergency Services director Mark Ghilarducci told a Santa Rosa Town Hall in January. “The largest debris clearance operation we’ve seen since the 1906 earthquake.”

But unlike after the 1906 quake, when people dumped debris in the bay and took bricks home in wheelbarrows to shore up their own property, current laws require that debris be safely removed, for the environment and public health. State and local officials also say they hope to recycle or re-use about half the recovered material.

Millions of tons went to landfills and recycling centers. (Craig Miller/KQED)Debris Measured in Bridge WeightsLast October, ten to eleven thousand structures burned, on about six thousand parcels of land, spread out across 250 square miles, in four counties. All those numbers add up to about $1 billion in contracts to clean up Sonoma, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties, issued by the Army Corps of Engineers under the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. (CalRecycle, a state agency, is handling fire clean-up in three additional counties.)‘It’s the largest debris clearance operation we’ve seen since the 1906 earthquake’Mark Ghilarducci, CalOESA typical residential parcel yields 200 to 250 tons of material. By the time cleanup is complete, thousands of truck trips will have removed about 2 million tons of debris: that’s double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge.Tricky BusinessHousehold hazardous waste was the first problem to tackle: the propane tanks, motor oil, pesticides, paint hanging around garages or sheds. The Environmental Protection Agency and state toxic regulators helped crews pick it out of the rubble safely; they finished last fall.In a second phase, Army Corps contractors are separating concrete from ash and metal, for transport to different places. It’s finicky work.“I’m picking up rebar in little pieces; that’s a four-five-foot bucket and you’re trying to pick up a little bicycle or a night awning or a chair or something,” explained Kenny Drew, who was operating an excavator for contractor Ghilotti Bros. in Santa Rosa’s Coffey Park neighborhood. “We grab what we can, push it into a pile, separate that, and the rest goes to the dumps.”Excavator operator Kenny Drew slings burned lawnmower into a dump truck. Metals are among the debris that can be recycled. “

Trump administration proposes food boxes instead of food stamps

For starters, let’s not compare this to Blue Apron.

grocery shopping, reading labels

SNAP recipients will have fewer chances to choose fresh fruits and vegetables under the proposed changes to the program. (Photo: CandyBox Images/Shutterstock)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a program that used to be known as food stamps and is still often referred to that way, allows earning a low income to purchase food with an Electronic Benefit card (EBT).

There are restrictions on what can be purchased using SNAP benefits. No alcohol or tobacco products can be bought. No pet food, paper goods or cleaning supplies. Prepared foods that are ready to eat can’t be purchased either. Other than that, the benefits can be used for anything the USDA determines is food, including junk food and luxury items (like steak or lobster).

In the 2019 budget proposal unveiled earlier this week, the Trump administration says it wants anyone who receives at least $90 a month in benefits to get about half of their benefits delivered to them in the form of a box, according to NPR.

The items in the box would be pre-determined, would contain no fresh fruits or vegetables, and would include “shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables.”

White House compares plan to ‘Blue Apron’

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said it’s a “Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” according to Fortune.

The Blue Apron comparison falls flat and it’s the epitome of a phrase that we hear all too often lately: “tone deaf.” There is absolutely nothing similar about Blue Apron and the proposed box of canned goods and shelf-stable milk.

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service, not a food delivery service. Those who choose to subscribe to Blue Apron can pick the meals that appeal to them, and all of the ingredients (most of them fresh) are delivered in perfectly measured portions, along with easy-to-follow directions, ready to throw together to make an entire meal.

In comparison, what Mulvaney calls “America’s Harvest Box” provides no choices. There’s no indication that families will be able to choose the foods they want in the box based on dietary choices, allergy restrictions, or personal preference. Will vegetarian households receive canned chicken? Will families who can’t allow dairy products in the house because a child will go into anaphylactic shock be required to accept shelf-stable milk?

The questions

In the day or so since the budget proposal was released many, many questions have been brought up that have, so far, gone unanswered. Here are several that I have (in addition to the ones I asked above), or that I’ve seen raised in various articles or on social media.

  • What’s the cost of delivering these boxes?
  • Who will get the contracts for the delivery? (Maybe giving living wage jobs to people who are currently on SNAP be a requirement to get the contract.)
  • If boxes need to be picked up, what happens when a family doesn’t have transportation to get there?
  • What will become of grocery stores and markets in low-income areas that rely on SNAP purchases to stay afloat?
  • Who will get the contracts to produce these foods?
  • Some SNAP recipients are homeless. How will they get their boxes and how will they store food when they get it? How would they cook foods that must be cooked?
  • What happens to people who live in a home or apartment but have their electricity or gas turned off, often because of landlord issues. What happens when the only food they have is food they’re unable to cook?
  • How is it that the political party that was opposed to the Obama administration adding healthier, fresh foods to school lunches — saying the government shouldn’t tell people what they can eat — now wants to tell low-income families what they must eat?

The list of questions could go on and on, and the questions I’m asking here don’t begin to address the topic of human dignity.

The outcry over this proposal is loud, but it could be louder. Congress must vote on this, and before they do, we have the opportunity to contact our representatives in the House and the Senate and let them know how we’d like them to vote. I’m on it. Are you?

San Jose Lets Residents Try Their Hand at Balancing the City Budget

Residents using the Balancing Act website must decide what spending to cut in order to balance the budget.

Think it’s hard putting together your personal budget? Try doing it for the largest city in the Bay Area.

San Jose has put together a new website where residents can try to balance the city’s budget for the upcoming year using a program called Balancing Act.

On the website, residents can see the city’s revenue streams (such as property and sales taxes) alongside what the city spends on things like public safety, parks and housing. They then have to try to decide what spending they would eliminate to balance the budget.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said one of the issues the city faces when it comes to balancing the budget is that more residents live in the city than work there, reducing the taxes the city can bring in.

“We’re challenged here in San Jose because as a city with the worst jobs-to-housing balance of any major city in the country, we know we need more jobs in order to provide services,” Liccardo said at a community event on Saturday. “On the other hand, there a lot of folks who are pretty fed up with growth, and we understand why they are.”

Liccardo will lay out his priorities for the city’s 2018-19 city budget in mid-March, but before then he’s using this website to see where residents would like the city to focus its spending. Around 40 San Jose residents listened to Liccardo as he walked them through last year’s budget, explained the breakdown of city funds, and discussed some of the budget constraints at the Mayfair Community Center over the weekend.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo directs residents to a new website where they can tell the city how they would build a city budget.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo directs residents to a new website where they can tell the city how they would build a city budget. (Alyssa Jeong Perry/KQED)

After his presentation, residents were on their own to craft their San Jose budget.

“I’m concerned about police funding. I know San Jose has had trouble with the police funding,” said South San Jose’s Kevin Kelleher. So he chose to give more money to police by cutting money for transportation, but he still ended up with a deficit of $3 million.

Liccardo says allowing residents to try to balance the budget themselves helps them understand the intricacies of running a city with restricted funding.

“We’re required to make trade-offs, as we do in life in our own personal budgets,” he said. “It’s important for us to really get a clear picture of priorities within that constrained budget rather than a wish list.”

When they’re done crafting their own San Jose budget online, residents can submit their proposals, giving Liccardo and his staff a picture of what the public would like to see done with city funds.

“It’s helpful to enable us to understand whether what we think the community wants is really what the community wants,” Liccardo said.