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Subject: Putting Security Cameras to a Member vote
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DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1489


10/04/2015 12:29 PM  
Our current board president has been pushing for years to get security cameras installed at our gated entrance way (since before he was president). He recently made another proposal since prices have dropped a bit. This would be cloud hosted, we discussed who would have access and president and his crew suggested giving the login info to all homeowners so anyone could view the video.

The majority of the board was against, but since most of the owners at the board meeting where it was brought up were for it, we agreed to a non-binding survey of owners before voting. About 2/3 of the owners responded, over 40% of responses were in favor, over 30% against, and the rest didn't care. That also left 1/3 who we considered probably most fell into the didn't care category. The president and the "in favors" mostly cited crime prevention and being able to see who caused any gate or panel damage. The againsts were concerned about costs, criminals knowing their comings and goings (both from a burglary perspective and also personal safety), and overstepping the responsibilities of the HOA. I'll also note that one of our homeowners is a judge, has had personal threats, and is very concerned about publishing her comings and goings to anyone who happens to be able to get access to the camera account.

The board voted it down, as expected, but the president is not giving up. He now wants to put it to a direct homeowner vote at the annual meeting. I don't see anything in our docs about homeowners voting for anything but board members and budgets. I have't reviewed the state statutes yet, but will do so soon.

Any thoughts on whether this is a reasonable thing to do? Any good rationale for allowing or not allowing a direct homeowner vote?

Thanks in advance for you insight on this.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:9136


10/04/2015 1:50 PM  
Call your local police department to find out their opinion. You may want to form a neighborhood watch system. That would be completely separate from the HOA. The video system sounds good but without laws to be able to enforce what it tapes, does nothing. Video only captures AFTER the crime is committed. Not very often does it ever stop a crime. If it did, how would you know?

The police would be the best resource to tell you how best or even if you should install such a system.

Former HOA President
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9322


10/04/2015 3:09 PM  
Doug

One can put anything they want up for a "opinion/advisory" vote but that is all it is. The BOD can do as they see fit.
GeorgeR8
(Arizona)

Posts:157


10/04/2015 4:45 PM  
Board vote not owners.

I like the idea of cameras but why would they want everyone to have access? They should only be checked after something happens to see if they show the offender.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7052


10/04/2015 5:57 PM  
I too think this is a board decision, but an advisory vote with so many-40% of respondents- in favor deserves some attention, imo. A 66% return rate is considered very high in the sampling biz.

We're 2 downtown condo buildings and have a lot of cameras on the sidewalks around the building, at the entry drive gates, in the elevators & lobbies, in the pool area, etc.

They've been used to determine who does damage when it occasionally occurs. There's no way to know if they deter misbehavior say, at the pool or elevators. We do have monitors at our entry kiosk (staffed 24/7) & at the lobby receptions desks (staffed part-time).

I too think it's very odd that any owner would be able to view the tapes??? What's the point of that?

And are there issues, Douglas, that suggest such cameras would be useful??
GlenL
(Ohio)

Posts:5491


10/05/2015 2:35 AM  
Douglas while I agree with others that this is a Board decision, if this many members are for it, why not take a vote since the homeowners will ultimately be the ones who pay for not only the cameras but their upkeep and eventual replacement. Although if it is a gated entrance, I don't know that cameras there would be all that effective in preventing crime, I doubt the bad guys are ringing the bell and hoping to be let in, I would imagine if mischief were afoot they would climb the wall or scale the berm, whatever else besides the gate protects your little slice of Utopia.

BTW What do your CC&R's say about Capital Improvements? Ours requires a HO vote if the amount is over $2,000.00.

Studies show that 5 out of 4 people have problems with fractions
FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:919


10/05/2015 5:32 AM  
> Any good rationale for allowing or not allowing a direct homeowner vote?

As long as it is understood that the vote is non-binding, then there is no reason not to get homeowner input. Although in fact you already have it. Ultimately the board would still have to vote in favor.


TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:16706


10/05/2015 6:11 AM  
I saw nothing in FL Statute 720 that gave authority for capital expenditures to the membership. Therefore, the only ways the membership could force the Board to install cameras would, in my opinion, be:

1) Replace enough individuals on the Board who agree with having the cameras

2) Propose an amendment to the governing documents that cameras will be installed and call a special meeting of the membership to vote on proposed amendment

3) Bring enough pressure that the Board finally gives in. Pressure can be brought by the use of surveys, attending every board meeting and constantly speak about the subject, letters, e-mail, advisory petitions, etc.


This is the Boards decision. However, if desired, the Board can relinquish this authority to the membership with a binding vote.


The Board sets the agenda of membership meetings that they call unless the governing documents specify otherwise.
I would recommend providing an opportunity to discuss said issue (make sure you have the facts and figures (for both installation & upkeep) and the stats of the polling) at the meeting.

Keep in mind that the survey was likely more of an indication then holding a vote (as attending said meeting is more effort then filling out a short survey). If the Board holds a vote, then the membership will expect it to be a binding vote. Therefore, it's best to not hold a vote unless the Board will abide by it (because this will cause other issues if the Board goes against the vote).


The Board needs to put together a one page, paper explaining the issue. Use bullet points rather then long explanations (simply provide the longer explanation on the Associations website).

One way to turn pressure off of the issue is, using the facts (perhaps actual bids) for the installation of said camera, power, internet service, etc. mention that as this is a capital improvement, the Board would need a special assessment to make such improvement. People tend to turn down things they don't really need if the money comes out of their pocket.




NinaR
(Florida)

Posts:26


10/05/2015 7:16 AM  
Before moving into my neighborhood, a previous board installed a security system in the community. we don't have a crime problem, however, I am glad that we have it.

Since I have been on the board, we have used it to see who vandalized the bathrooms at the community pool. We identified the kids, were able to show their parents the video and that led to collecting money for the damages. I could go on with other examples, but suffice it to say that I am glad to have a system in place.

The board has the final vote on buying a system, but it would be nice to have input from the residents in your community. After all, the money to buy the system is collectively all of your money.

Which brings up my last point. Before you make a purchase for something like a security system, you must determine the start up cost and then occasional maintenance and possible upgrades in the future. Is the money there now? Will the money be available to future boards? Are you using money that should go into new roofs for a security system? You get the idea.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1489


10/05/2015 10:39 AM  
Thanks for the responses, especially those who answered the questions asked and didn't go off an other camera related tangents.

Our docs require 1/3 of the owners (22) for a quorum at the member's meeting. One concern I have about voting at the annual meeting is that they typically aren't well attended, and we often struggle to get a quorum. If this happens and we vote at the meeting, a fairly small number of owners will make the decision for everyone.

George,
There was much discussion about who could have access and under what circumstances. There were concerns that some owners felt the board was "keeping secrets" if they didn't share the access to everyone. That's also what the proponents (president et al.) suggested. The other thought is that if anyone gets a call from the gate, the owner could look at the camera before deciding to allow access.

Kerry,
We've had a few problems with car "break-ins", mostly from vehicles left unlocked. Since the president's last name starts with "A", he is the first name on the gate panel, and on a couple occasions he has gotten middle of the night calls from the gate that he deems "suspicious". Another owner noted that one of those coincided with an occasion where we appeared to have a replacement newspaper delivery person, who might have not had the access code.

Glen,

Our docs don't say anything about capital improvements needing homeowner approval.

Tim,

I'm going to suggest option 1, and respond to the president that this is the boards decision, if he and his cronies aren't happy with it, then vote in some board members who are in favor. Since the rest of the board is against, they probably would not agree to put cameras to a member vote during the annual meeting. It has already been decided by the board, for around the 3rd time in 4 years.

The amount of money (assuming the president's numbers are correct and he hasn't missed anything) is around $30/house for install and $20/house per year on-going. This would be incorporated into next year's budget and wouldn't require a special assessment.

We're still concerned that the president will try some end run to get a vote on the annual meeting agenda. I'm not sure that we shouldn't consider replacing the president before then. He is mainly in that role because the long term prior president wanted out from the position (he is still on the board and might be convinced to take on that role again) and nobody else wanted the position. Now he seems to be letting the title go to his head.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1489


10/05/2015 10:43 AM  
I'll also add that we have gates and wall fronting the main road, but most of the boundary of the association is open, with a church parking lot on one side and woods behind that abut a local park, so cameras at the gate will not catch everybody going in and out. It is suspected that most of the vehicle break ins were by people on foot who didn't enter via the gate.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
PatriciaH4
(Texas)

Posts:42


10/05/2015 11:19 AM  
We have a gated limited access community with a guard at the entry area 24 hours per day. We also have video surveillance - only the management company and/or board members are able to access the information.

We have lots of residents who ask to look at the cameras, but we don't release footage unless the police ask us directly for it, or if it is subpeonaed.

It was originally viewable online by all residents, but it was felt that kids were utilizing it to see just what areas were out of range (we had a big issue with vandalism at that time).

KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7052


10/05/2015 11:22 AM  
Ah, so your borders are very porous. And the camera(s) would only "catch" someone doing damage to your entry?

But they also would supply an actual gatekeeper's function because residents can see who wants entry. But would any resident in the current system let someone in-- sight unseen--if they don't know the person?

Sorry if I overlooked it, but when's your annual meeting? And if soon, would you really want to replace the prez before then?

Can you send out a fact sheet and ballot to accompany the annual mtg. ballots for directors.

I don't recall--can absentee ballots count as Present? Or only those physically present or votes by proxy in FL?


JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:9322


10/05/2015 11:39 AM  
douglas

With all those open approaches to your neighborhood, I say a camera system is a waste of money.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1489


10/05/2015 11:53 AM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 10/05/2015 11:22 AM
Ah, so your borders are very porous. And the camera(s) would only "catch" someone doing damage to your entry?

But they also would supply an actual gatekeeper's function because residents can see who wants entry. But would any resident in the current system let someone in-- sight unseen--if they don't know the person?

Sorry if I overlooked it, but when's your annual meeting? And if soon, would you really want to replace the prez before then?

Can you send out a fact sheet and ballot to accompany the annual mtg. ballots for directors.

I don't recall--can absentee ballots count as Present? Or only those physically present or votes by proxy in FL?



The cameras would catch damage to the entry, and hopefully license plates of people who came in to cause problems. And on the flip side, they would catch comings and goings of owners and residents, which is a concern to some.

The gate panel current provides audio, but sometimes it's hard to hear so I wouldn't be surprised if some residents buzz in without knowing who it is. I only buzz in if I'm expecting someone or can identify them via audio.

Our members's meeting is in January, we'll have at least one board meeting before that when we decide about the vote and the budget. If the prez starts getting too dictatorial or making end runs around the rest of the board, removing him is an option. Obviously we can't remove him as a director, just his office. If the owners were allowed to vote and decided to install cameras, they wouldn't be in next year's budget, so the board could potentially stall another year.

We sent out a pretty detailed email with the survey covering all costs, pros/cons from board members on each side, and some disclaimers about the HOA not being responsible for security.

Proxies do count towards quorum and we also allow them to be directed (absentee ballot) rather than just general (voted by whoever holds them). Our docs don't say anything about members voting for anything other than directors and approving the budget, so they are silent on whether proxies could be used for this kind of vote.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
DouglasK1
(Florida)

Posts:1489


10/05/2015 11:54 AM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 10/05/2015 11:39 AM
douglas

With all those open approaches to your neighborhood, I say a camera system is a waste of money.



That's how 4/5 of the board feels about it too, but the president and a vocal minority won't let it rest.

Escaped former treasurer and director of a self managed association.
ValK2
(Tennessee)

Posts:36


10/05/2015 1:25 PM  
Quick summary.....


Member survey, cameras or not? Yes....not overwhelming.

Couple of board presentations by suppliers, organized by Security Committee.

Board vote: Yes.

Security Committee has responsibility for project, and operations.

If you have a NEED to review the tape, you contact a member of the security committee and together you go through the tape.

Seems to work well for everyone involved.




NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3987


10/05/2015 6:34 PM  
Posted By DouglasK1 on 10/05/2015 11:54 AM
Posted By JohnC46 on 10/05/2015 11:39 AM
douglas

With all those open approaches to your neighborhood, I say a camera system is a waste of money.


That's how 4/5 of the board feels about it too, but the president and a vocal minority won't let it rest.

We have a similar situation of open access on foot. We installed dummy video cameras at the entry/exit roads. The cameras have motion sensors, so lights flash when there's activity. No actual recording. If I remember correctly, cost for 2 cameras and batteries was less than $100. Cheap alternative.

Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
KerryL1
(California)

Posts:7052


10/05/2015 6:46 PM  
Perhaps getting the audio system at the gate to work better would help.

I've read, I think at Davis-stirling.com, that dummy cameras aren't a good idea--maybe check that site, NpS?
NpS
(Pennsylvania)

Posts:3987


10/05/2015 7:05 PM  
Posted By KerryL1 on 10/05/2015 6:46 PM
Perhaps getting the audio system at the gate to work better would help.

I've read, I think at Davis-stirling.com, that dummy cameras aren't a good idea--maybe check that site, NpS?

Thx Kerry. Here's what DS has to say:
"Even if they deter some criminal activity, dummy cameras create potential liability for the association because they create an expectation in owners and visitors that the association is monitoring the common area. In my opinion, it is better to spend the money to have working cameras. In addition, some insurance companies may offer discounts to associations that have working security cameras."

Will look into the insurance benefit of having real cameras.

Not really concerned about liability of the dummy cameras. In our opinion, better than nothing. Most homeowners don't even know that we put up the dummies. Got maybe half a dozen inquiries. Always tell anyone who asks that they are dummies.


Sikubali jukumu. Read all posts at your own risk.
BonnieG1
(Nebraska)

Posts:1186


10/05/2015 7:56 PM  
Posted By JohnC46 on 10/04/2015 3:09 PM
Doug

One can put anything they want up for a "opinion/advisory" vote but that is all it is. The BOD can do as they see fit.




I like your response, Dave. In 2014 the current President insisted we put over 10 items to a vote of the members. After the annual meeting, I was the only remaining board member. The other four were new except for one who had previously been on the board. Basically we negated many of her decisions. We did try to honor some of the votes, but items like what temperature to keep the common areas we let go by the way side especially since there was no clarification as to winter and summer temperatures.
BonnieG1
(Nebraska)

Posts:1186


10/05/2015 7:58 PM  
Posted By GeorgeR8 on 10/04/2015 4:45 PM
Board vote not owners.

I like the idea of cameras but why would they want everyone to have access? They should only be checked after something happens to see if they show the offender.




I agree George. In 2008 a few days before I moved into my apartment in the condo, I was a movie about a gated community. In this gated community, one could even see by television into the neighbors homes. Without going into detail it was more of a horror movie than anything else.
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