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Subject: Appeal Process and it being Perceived to be Biased/Unfair
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JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 8:59 AM  
Hi HOATalk! Just wanted to tap into the collective knowledge of the community, and ask for their thoughts/opinion on the appeal process topic. I will attempt to lay out some background to get a full picture of understanding here;

Background)
- March 10th, a member of both the Board of Directors (BOD) and Architectural Change Committee (ACC) reported me to my city code enforcement for the *exact* same thing the ACC approved (while a follow-up email to the city revealed a different concern).
- I have copies of the report, and the email correspondence between the city and the BOD/ACC member.
- Within the email, there is a line that states "I am on the BOD/ACC" then another line that says "please investigate on our behalf" .. my interpretation is that the full BOD/ACC is involved on the report.

Notice of Violation)
- April 13th, I was given a notice of violation.
- This was almost a month after they went to the city (and after the city concluded the inspection and city is refusing to push the issue).
- I request to Appeal this violation.

April 15)
- I was approved to submit in writing an appeal letter to the BOD/ACC.

May 13th)
- Submitted my appeal

May 15th)
- Appeal was Denied
- Within the appeal letter, it specifically stated the members of the ACC ruled (same group as mentioned in the Background).

--------
I feel that my appeal was unfair and biased in such that I already had judgement passed on me (as evidenced by the report to the city) prior to even having a notice of violation (evidenced being correspondence between the city/acc/bod and the city investigation ticket/request).

Q1) Does this qualify as an unfair/biased appeal process?
Q2) Is there anything I can do to fight it?
Q3) Do I have a right to find out who voted? I have been unable to get any documentation regarding my denial decision (as in who voted) after multiple requests. It was mentioned via phone that all votes are confidential.
AugustinD


Posts:1675


07/10/2021 10:15 AM  
Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 8:59 AM

- March 10th, a member of both the Board of Directors (BOD) and Architectural Change Committee (ACC) reported me to my city code enforcement for the *exact* same thing the ACC approved (while a follow-up email to the city revealed a different concern).
...
- April 13th, [the HOA? gave me?] a notice of violation.


I cannot get past these statements. First you say the ACC approved xyz. Then you say the HOA issued a violation notice for this same xyz. Don't you think this is incredibly confusing?

Poor writing. Try again.

Appeals are supposed to follow the procedures given in state statute, the covenants and the HOA's Rules and Regulations. Usually, the latter three authorities require an in-person hearing. You will have to attempt to do some homework. Else I for one do not like pulling teeth from a HOA member who is fairly illiterate when it comes to HOA statutes, covenants and rules.

I see no reason for you to know who voted yes and who voted no.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2466


07/10/2021 10:41 AM  
Others have commented that it can appear to be unfair if the same people issuing the violation also determine the results of the appeal.

However, the appeals process is an opportunity for a homeowner to present additional evidence that the BOD/ACC may be unaware of - such as a copy of an approval letter from several years ago or additional facts that may not have been considered initially but are relevant now.

So the appeal isn't just a rubber stamp for the violation letter. However, the process often does not result in any change - the homeowner may be uninformed about something or may be fighting covenants that are black and white (and which the homeowner agreed to abide by when purchasing the home). These two situations are *very* common, unfortunately.

I was confused about your BOD/ACC reporting something to City Code Enforcement. Generally that means you've violated a city ordinance and it's the city's job to deal with it, not the HOA's. It's possible that your whatever-it-is violates both, but we generally let the city enforce things like that - they carry a bigger stick and are more likely to get someone's attention.
JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 10:45 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2021 10:15 AM
Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 8:59 AM

- March 10th, a member of both the Board of Directors (BOD) and Architectural Change Committee (ACC) reported me to my city code enforcement for the *exact* same thing the ACC approved (while a follow-up email to the city revealed a different concern).
...
- April 13th, [the HOA? gave me?] a notice of violation.


I cannot get past these statements. First you say the ACC approved xyz. Then you say the HOA issued a violation notice for this same xyz. Don't you think this is incredibly confusing?

Poor writing. Try again.

Appeals are supposed to follow the procedures given in state statute, the covenants and the HOA's Rules and Regulations. Usually, the latter three authorities require an in-person hearing. You will have to attempt to do some homework. Else I for one do not like pulling teeth from a HOA member who is fairly illiterate when it comes to HOA statutes, covenants and rules.

I see no reason for you to know who voted yes and who voted no.




Awesome, thanks for the reply! I appreciate it. Sorry for the bad writing skills, let me try again:

For point 1) I have an ACC approval for adding concrete to my driveway.
- Copy and Paste the title from the city violation report: Concerns of increased impervious surface to driveway (3/12/2021).
- Copy and Paste the title from another city violation report: HOA has reported a resident has increased their impervious surface to the driveway (3/24/2021).
- All dimensions on the drawings given to the ACC (and approved) match dimensions on the physical alteration.
- This is incredibly confusing to me. Quite literally the same person who approved my driveway alteration reported me to the city (see above points, evidence is the complainant recorded by the city).

For point 2) The email to the city stated the issue was parking 3 cars wide on my driveway (recorded outside of city violation reports).
- No where in the email does it state that there are "increased impervious surface to the driveway" concerns.
- There is no law in my city prohibiting 3 cars wide parking (confirmed by code enforcement).
- I was issued a notice of violation from the HOA about parking 3 cars wide on my driveway (4/13/2021).

For point 3) Originally, I was scheduled a zoom meeting for the appeal. Then it was changed (by the HOA) to submit appeal in writing.
- I had an appeal, but the same people who voted to denied my appeal were the same people who reported me to the city.
- NOTE: I can't prove who voted to deny my appeal, but I can prove that the "ACC" denied my appeal. Yet, the ACC went to the city and reported me.
AugustinD


Posts:1675


07/10/2021 11:03 AM  
JosephM23, a few observations:

-- It appears the ACC is whacked, since it approved your driveway and then reported your driveway for a city code violation.

-- I am not sure you understand what the deal is with "impervious surface." FWIW, impervious surface is a big deal. As you may be aware, this is about drainage. "Impervious means it's not good 'ol dirt and earth. Dirt and earth absorb water some, reducing run-off to other parts of the community. Drainage culverts, retention ponds, arroyos and so on are designed for only so much drainage. Subdivisions are strictly regulated with regard to impervious surface, since typically, only so much impervious surface is allowed. You may think, "It's one little extra bit of driveway." If everyone added a little extra bit of driveway, the problems add up. Ordinances that try to control drainage are designed to avoid a Tragedy of the Commons. Drainage is maybe Thee Hottest Topic to which city land use departments give attention.

-- I just now recall you have either submitted an FHA complaint to HUD, or will be submitting one.

-- I think you ought to let things unfold. When questioned, give your explanations, with attention to disability needs.

-- Anything CathyA3 posts I probably agree with and then some.
JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 11:14 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2021 11:03 AM
JosephM23, a few observations:
-- I am not sure you understand what the deal is with "impervious surface." FWIW, impervious surface is a big deal. As you may be aware, this is about drainage. "Impervious means it's not good 'ol dirt and earth. Dirt and earth absorb water some, reducing run-off to other parts of the community. Drainage culverts, retention ponds, arroyos and so on are designed for only so much drainage. Subdivisions are strictly regulated with regard to impervious surface, since typically, only so much impervious surface is allowed. You may think, "It's one little extra bit of driveway." If everyone added a little extra bit of driveway, the problems add up. Ordinances that try to control drainage are designed to avoid a Tragedy of the Commons. Drainage is maybe Thee Hottest Topic to which city land use departments give attention.




Thanks for the response, I appreciate it! I do now understand about the impervious surface subject, and code enforcement did their calculations and I am slightly below the maximum allowable surface. No concerns on size/placement/additions.
Another thing that really has me wondering too; there are others in the neighborhood that have added more concrete to their property, yet none of them were reported (proof is a public records request to the city). I believe this report was used (by the HOA) to try and get the city to bring down the hammer on me.
AugustinD


Posts:1675


07/10/2021 11:24 AM  
Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 11:14 AM
I do now understand about the impervious surface subject, and code enforcement did their calculations and I am slightly below the maximum allowable surface. No concerns on size/placement/additions.
Another thing that really has me wondering too; there are others in the neighborhood that have added more concrete to their property, yet none of them were reported (proof is a public records request to the city). I believe this report was used (by the HOA) to try and get the city to bring down the hammer on me.
-- Good to read that your driveway is okay with regard to impervious surface. Does this mean you are in compliance with the City code, and so the city is not pursuing further a violation of its code (against you)?

-- Regarding possible selective enforcement: Gather your proof. It may be part of a retaliation claim under Section 818 (42 U.S.C. 3617) of the Fair Housing Act.


-- You are welcome.
JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 11:28 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 07/10/2021 10:41 AM
Others have commented that it can appear to be unfair if the same people issuing the violation also determine the results of the appeal.

However, the appeals process is an opportunity for a homeowner to present additional evidence that the BOD/ACC may be unaware of - such as a copy of an approval letter from several years ago or additional facts that may not have been considered initially but are relevant now.

So the appeal isn't just a rubber stamp for the violation letter. However, the process often does not result in any change - the homeowner may be uninformed about something or may be fighting covenants that are black and white (and which the homeowner agreed to abide by when purchasing the home). These two situations are *very* common, unfortunately.

I was confused about your BOD/ACC reporting something to City Code Enforcement. Generally that means you've violated a city ordinance and it's the city's job to deal with it, not the HOA's. It's possible that your whatever-it-is violates both, but we generally let the city enforce things like that - they carry a bigger stick and are more likely to get someone's attention.




Hi Cathy, thanks for the response, I appreciate it!

I personally agree with you on letting the City handle it. I don't think there should be any "duplication" of rules since it may open the HOA to litigation. Not to try and derail the conversation, on 7/1/2021, the HOA implemented new rules. Some of which, I think, have the potential for discrimination against other religions. The phrase is "allowed only during the holiday season" comes to mind as being non-inclusive to other religions. There are a few new rules that blatantly violate state laws, "no political signs" is the phrase. RCW prohibits restrictions on display, however they can regulate placement it seems. Ohh, and all the new rules were decided in an "executive session" and the management company is denying me gathering any supporting information about this. The home owners had no input with the rules.

Anyway, your thoughts are welcome! Even to tell me I'm wrong (which I am looking for as well). I can only improve if I know what to improve and where to improve.
JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 11:37 AM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2021 11:24 AM
Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 11:14 AM
I do now understand about the impervious surface subject, and code enforcement did their calculations and I am slightly below the maximum allowable surface. No concerns on size/placement/additions.
Another thing that really has me wondering too; there are others in the neighborhood that have added more concrete to their property, yet none of them were reported (proof is a public records request to the city). I believe this report was used (by the HOA) to try and get the city to bring down the hammer on me.
-- Good to read that your driveway is okay with regard to impervious surface. Does this mean you are in compliance with the City code, and so the city is not pursuing further a violation of its code (against you)?

-- Regarding possible selective enforcement: Gather your proof. It may be part of a retaliation claim under Section 818 (42 U.S.C. 3617) of the Fair Housing Act.


-- You are welcome.




Thanks for the response; a couple of items for the driveway from the City;
1) If I were to use the addition solely as a walkway, there is no concern.
2) If I were to use the addition as a parking stall, I have two options;
2a) cut at a 45 degree angle both sides of the driveway to meet the established city ordnance of only 20ft allowing the touch the city sidewalk.
2b) seek approval from the design deviation of the 20ft requirement (*note: I went this route with an application in-flight)

Since the third vehicle was sold (due to the disabled home member being unable to parking >500ft away) I believe I am in compliance with city ordinances today. I'm still trying to remedy the issue prior to the home member purchasing a new vehicle.

For the 2nd item;
I have kept most records about this entire ordeal. There have been some verbal conversations, but I write notes during or following the conversation so they're "fresh in my mind" at the time of recording.
I think the "big items" are recorded in emails and documents.
For the FHA Retaliation: I did report this to US HUD, but only a few days ago. I'm not sure if this would still cover me, but I am keeping an archive of everything anyway. In my mind, if I were to sell this home, I would want to pass along all of this information to the new home owner so they could defend themselves.
AugustinD


Posts:1675


07/10/2021 11:52 AM  
JospehM23, I cannot address details of the design.

Too often HOA/COA members communicate something that yields the tl; dr response. I think it is important to be able to communicate the big picture quickly.

Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 11:37 AM
In my mind, if I were to sell this home, I would want to pass along all of this information to the new home owner so they could defend themselves.
See, this is the dilemma Boards face when certain reasonable accommodation (for disability) requests arise: If it's an architectural change that is sought, does the change have to be corrected before sale? Often times this is a reasonable requirement. Sometimes, like when the expense of correction is "high," it is not.

I realize you have gone through an ordeal. But it is entirely possible certain ACC members or HOA directors are giving enormous time, and unpaid, to your personal issue. I hope you understand that many in addition to yourself are not having fun with all this. Stuff happens.

(Granted I do not know the details of your family's disabilities, and I do not need to know. If things are really awful, then I hope you temper my statements above accordingly. I have extraordinarily little patience with those who are inconsiderate to those with disabilities that are severe and have been known to snap at strangers who think it's okay to let a wheelchair person wait three hours in her wheelchair for a free community service like food stamps, income tax form prep, and the like. Idiots.)
JosephM23
(Washington)

Posts:19


07/10/2021 12:01 PM  
Posted By AugustinD on 07/10/2021 11:52 AM
JospehM23, I cannot address details of the design.

Too often HOA/COA members communicate something that yields the tl; dr response. I think it is important to be able to communicate the big picture quickly.

Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 11:37 AM
In my mind, if I were to sell this home, I would want to pass along all of this information to the new home owner so they could defend themselves.
See, this is the dilemma Boards face when certain reasonable accommodation (for disability) requests arise: If it's an architectural change that is sought, does the change have to be corrected before sale? Often times this is a reasonable requirement. Sometimes, like when the expense of correction is "high," it is not.

I realize you have gone through an ordeal. But it is entirely possible certain ACC members or HOA directors are giving enormous time, and unpaid, to your personal issue. I hope you understand that many in addition to yourself are not having fun with all this. Stuff happens.

(Granted I do not know the details of your family's disabilities, and I do not need to know. If things are really awful, then I hope you temper my statements above accordingly. I have extraordinarily little patience with those who are inconsiderate to those with disabilities that are severe and have been known to snap at strangers who think it's okay to let a wheelchair person wait three hours in her wheelchair for a free community service like food stamps, income tax form prep, and the like. Idiots.)




Thanks! I understand this is fun for no one, and I understand the BOD/ACC are unpaid volunteers. My wife and I both believe that the BOD/ACC members have never served in government before, and with bad advice from the management company, they're most likely making bad decisions that affect us all.
Within my appeal letter, I specifically called out the danger to my family's health for enforcing them to park >500ft away, uphill, across a 2-lane unlit highway through uncontrolled intersections where several fatal accidents have occurred. Didn't change their vote.
AugustinD


Posts:1675


07/10/2021 12:09 PM  
Posted By JosephM23 on 07/10/2021 12:01 PM
Within my appeal letter, I specifically called out the danger to my family's health for enforcing them to park >500ft away, uphill, across a 2-lane unlit highway through uncontrolled intersections where several fatal accidents have occurred. Didn't change their vote.
Understood, at least as best I can without all the facts.

I will say that the media has reported a lot on how morale among long-time HUD civil servants was way down under the prior presidential administration. I am seeing signs (from media reports and observing an acquaintance working with HUD) that morale is rising; some good, former HUD and FHA specialized folks are returning to HUD; and increasing funding somewhat to HUD is either in progress or happening.
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