If you have never heard of or supported the “Buck a Door or More” campaign and you’ve wondered how or why we have crazy new laws cropping up every year, you should read on.
How many of us understand the “Buck a Door or More” program other than it being a request for support of CAI-CLAC (The California Legislative Action Committee of the Community Associations Institute)? In a nutshell the program requests financial support of a dollar or more per door within our community associations. But, the associations with which we work are nonprofit organizations and do not generate tons of extra money so why should they raise their assessments by a dollar or more per door to support this fund? I’m glad you asked! Well, okay, you didn’t really ask, but you should have!
If you have been in this industry for more than one year you have seen firsthand the changes to laws that take place on an annual basis. You have probably attended one, if not more, legislative updates and listened to attorneys drone on about changes in the laws and what those changes mean for our associations. Well maybe we don’t all drone, but I digress.
The point here is that the laws change every year. And every year there are even more law changes that are proposed than those that are passed. Some of these proposed laws fade away, some are withdrawn by the author, some are voted down and others are vetoed by the Governor. While not all of these proposed laws have an effect on associations, many of them do. The scary part is that the Legislators drafting the laws are doing so usually at the behest of their constituents. If you’ve been in this industry for more than a month you know that the letter you receive from an owner is usually because the owner is not happy about something. Well Legislators are no different only they may receive tons of letters from many owners within their district or heaps of letters from only one owner. And chances are that owner lives in an association and is likely upset about something.
So now you might know the answer to the question “where did this crazy law come from?” Crazy laws come from crazy homeowners. Okay so maybe that’s an unfair and sweeping generalization and perhaps not always true. If a Legislator is provided sufficient information from a concerned homeowner or group of owners that a problem exists at their association and is urged to do something to protect constituents, the Legislator may take action by way of proposed legislation (you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease).
Without CAI-CLAC, that Legislator then creates the proposed legislation and carries it through with the benefit of information and insight from experts in the association field. With CAI-CLAC, however, that Legislator is provided with information and expert advice derived from the CAI-CLAC’s full-time lobbyist and the many volunteers serving on local Legislative Action Committees (LAC).
So where does the “Buck a Door or More” campaign come in? This campaign allows CAI to pay the salary of the lobbyist and the other members of the full-time CLAC team. Without this financial support, CAI-CLAC would not be able to spend the time necessary to educate the Legislators on how associations function and why their proposed legislation may cause problems for the thousands of communities in California.
While you are now aware of where these laws may come from, what you may not know is how many laws that would have been bad for associations were never passed, or how many changes were made to existing laws to better help associations that would never have been made but for CAI-CLAC’s efforts.
Take the most recent Fair Housing Act changes as an example. By now we’ve all learned about changes relating to harassment and potential vicarious liability for harassment in the housing realm. The new law, as adopted, is fairly specific and applies to only specific circumstances. Thankfully there are now only tangential applications to associations. This feat was accomplished by the efforts of CLAC. Specifically, through the efforts of CLAC, HUD modified the final rule to:
- Provide guidance as to those resident disputes that rise to the level of housing discrimination
- State that there is no general duty for an association to halt housing discrimination, and that associations must take prompt action only when required to do so my law or the association’s governing documents
- Clarify that associations are not required to take action outside the scope of authority under law or the association’s governing documents
- Add a “reasonable person” standard as to when an association should have been aware of a housing discrimination issue
None of these changes would have taken place but for the efforts of CLAC, the many volunteers supporting CLAC and the many associations, companies and individuals providing financial support to CLAC. Seriously.
To answer the question as simply as possible, the “Buck a Door or More” campaign is designed to generate funds to allow CAI-CLAC to educate Legislators and to effect positive changes to proposed legislation and/or to encourage positive legislation for the thousands of community associations in California and nationwide. If your community has not yet added a “Buck a Door or More” to your budget to support this amazing effort, please add this item to your next agenda. If there’s one thing on which we can all agree it is that bad laws are bad for all of us. Let’s do our part to try to avoid them. Thanks!