Since 1986, a single body of law, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (“Davis-Sterling Act”), has governed both residential and commercial common interest developments.1 The provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act, however, were largely geared to the needs and interests of residential projects and homeowner associations, and resulted in cumbersome and unnecessarily restrictive limitations in the organization and structure of commercial and industrial projects. Hearing the call of commercial and industrial developers, and seeing an increase in the number of commercial common interest developments, in 2013 the legislature passed the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act, SB 752.2 Now two separate statutory schemes govern residential and commercial common interest developments. This article gives a brief overview of the evolution of the statutory scheme that has evolved for commercial and industrial developments and provides an introduction to the new Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act.
BACKGROUND OF COMMON INTEREST DEVELOPMENT LEGISLATION
A common interest development is created whenever a separate interest in a real property development, coupled with an interest in the common area or membership in an association, has been conveyed, provided that a declaration, condominium plan, and final map (or parcel map) have been recorded.3 The original Davis-Stirling Act was enacted in 1986,4 and provided for the following types of common interest developments:
Community apartment projects, Condominium projects, Planned developments, and Stock cooperatives.5Despite legislative history indicating that the Davis-Stirling Act was intended to
apply only to residential developments, the Davis-Stirling Act has been interpreted to govern commercial and industrial common interest developments as well.6
CIVIL CODE SECTION 1373 (1988)
In 1988, recognizing the numerous differences between commercial and residential common interest developments, the legislature enacted AB 2484 and exempted commercial and industrial common interest developments from certain provisions (particularly certain operational provisions) of the Davis-Stirling Act.7 Specifically, former Civil Code section 1373 provided that the following provisions, under the then existing Davis-Stirling Act, did not apply to an industrial or commercial common interest development:
Civ. Code, §1356, Petition court to amend CC&Rs.8 Civ. Code, §§1357.100 to 1357.150, Operating rules.9 Civ. Code, §1360.2, Rent restrictions.10
Civ. Code, §1363, subd. (b), Budget and disclosure.11 Civ. Code, §1365, Financial records and reporting.12
Civ. Code, §1365.5, Financial duties of board and reserve transfers.13 Civ. Code, §1366, subd. (b), Certain limitations on assessments.14 Civ. Code, §1366.1, Excessive fees prohibited.15
Civ. Code, §1368, Disclosure requirements of seller.16 Civ. Code, §1378, Architectural approval requirements.17
In drafting section 1373, the legislature found that these provisions, while appropriate for protecting purchasers in residential common interest developments, may not be necessary to protect purchasers in commercial or industrial common developments, and in fact, could result in unnecessary burdens and costs for such developments.18
Since the enactment of section 1373, commercial developers have relied upon its exemptions to avoid some of the more onerous operational conditions of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act. However, the exemptions, while helpful to commercial and industrial developments, were not expanded or updated with the numerous subsequent changes and additions to the Davis-Stirling Act, and thus, commercial and industrial common interest developments increasingly were subject to numerous provisions that are arguably not necessary for purchasers in
commercial and industrial developments. This was one of the factors that led to the legislature’s long-awaited restructuring of the common interest development statutes in 2012-2013.
THE COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL COMMON INTEREST DEVELOPMENT ACT, CIVIL CODE SECTIONS 6500 ET SEQ. (2014)
The California Law Revision Commission’s Recommendation:
In August of 2012, the California Law Revision Commission issued a recommenda- tion regarding the legislating of commercial and industrial common interest devel- opments.19 The Commission made three general recommendations:
- The law governing commercial and industrial CIDs should be separated from the law governing residential CIDs. This will prevent any new laws enacted to benefit residential owners from being inadvertently applied to commercial and industrial developments.
- The existing foundational provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act should continue to apply to commercial and industrial CIDs. These provisions are necessary for any CID regardless of type.
- Most of the existing operational provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act should be made inapplicable to commercial and industrial CIDs. These provisions are not strictly necessary for all CIDs. They appear to have been added to the Davis-Stirling Act to benefit residential property owners, without separate consideration of their effect on commercial or industrial property owners.20
The legislature adopted the Commission’s recommendations and on October 5, 2013, the Governor signed the legislation establishing the “Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act.”21
Enactment of the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act
The Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act was enacted in connection with a restructuring and relocation of the Davis-Stirling Act in the Civil Code.22 Although enacted earlier in 2012, the reorganization of the Davis-Stirling Act, like the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act, was made effective January 1, 2014.23
Structure of the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act
The regulations governing commercial and industrial common interest developments are now found at Civil Code section 6500, et seq. A “common interest development” under the Commercial and Industrial Act means a condominium project, a planned development, or a stock co-operative.24 A “commercial or industrial common interest development” is defined as a common interest development that is limited to industrial or commercial uses by law or by a declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions that has been recorded in the official records of each
county in which the common interest development is located. “Commercial use” includes, but is not limited to, the operation of a business that provides facilities for the overnight stay of its customers, employees, or agents.25 The Act does not apply to a project that does not contain common areas.26
The Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act consists of the following chapters and articles:
Chapter 1, General Provisions
Article 1, Preliminary Provisions27 Article 2, Definitions28
Chapter 2, Application of Act29 Chapter 3, Governing Documents
Article 1, General Provisions30 Article 2, Declaration31
Article 3, Articles of Incorporation32 Article 4, Condominium Plan33 Article 5, Operating Rules34
Chapter 4, Ownership and Transfer of Interests Article 1, Ownership Rights and Interest35 Article 2, Restrictions on Transfers36 Article 3, Transfer of Separate interest37
Chapter 5, Property Use and Maintenance Article 1, Protected Uses38
Article 2, Modification of Separate Interest39 Article 3, Maintenance40
Chapter 6, Association Governance
Article 1, Association Existence and Powers41 Article 2, Record Keeping42
Article 3, Conflict of Interest43 Article 4, Government Assistance44
Chapter 7, Assessments and Assessment Collection
Article 1, Establishment and Imposition of Assessments45 Article 2, Assessment Payment and Delinquency46
Article 3, Assessment Collection47 Chapter 8, Insurance and Liability
Chapter 9, Dispute Resolution and Enforcement48 Article 1, Disciplinary Action49
Article 2, Civil Actions50
Chapter 10, Construction Defect Litigation51
Differences between the Residential and Commercial CID Statutes
The Commercial and Industrial Act essentially mirrors the Davis-Stirling Act as it relates to foundational provisions, and excludes various operational provisions that were largely interpreted as only necessary for residential common interest developments. In sum, the foundational provisions relating to (1) governing documents, (2) property ownership, transfer, and maintenance, (3) establishing the governing body and its powers, and (4) definitions, all are found in both the Davis- Stirling Act and the Commercial and Industrial Act. Also, like the Davis-Stirling Act, the Commercial and Industrial Act contains the often-cited presumption that the covenants and conditions in the recorded declaration are enforceable as equitable servitudes “unless unreasonable” and are enforceable by the association or by any owner of a separate interest, or both.52
The differences between the two Acts include, but are not limited to, the following key provisions:
Governing Documents: Section 4275 of the Davis-Stirling Act, which provides the association or members with the right to petition to the Superior Court for approval of an amendment in certain circumstances, is not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. The Commercial and Industrial Act also does not include the requirements for notification to members of proposed new or amended operating rules or provisions regarding the ability of five percent of the members to challenge the proposed operating rules. 53
Ownership and Transfer of Interests: The Davis-Stirling Act’s requirement (Civil Code sections 4525 and 4530), that certain documents must be provided to prospective purchasers and the timing for providing the documents is not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. Also, Sections 4575-4580 of the Davis-Stirling Act, which prohibit the collection of transfer fees, are not included. The requirement of at least 67 percent of the members to approve a conveyance of exclusive-use common area for the benefit of an owner or owners (unless a different percentage is required under the Governing Documents) also is not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act.
Association Governance: The Davis-Stirling Open Meeting Act, sections 4900- 4955, which contains the provisions for the conduct of board meetings, is not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. The provisions for the conduct of director elections and important member votes (sections 5000-5145) also are not included. Inspection rights, which are expanded under the Davis-Stirling Act, are not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act, and are instead limited to the procedures in Corporations Code sections 8330-8333. The Davis-Stirling Act’s requirement, set forth in Civil Code section 5300, that the association provide financial disclosures and certain other information annually is not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. Finally, the association governance chapter of the Commercial and Industrial Act does not include provisions regarding regulating managing agents of the association which are found at sections 5375-5385 of the Davis-Stirling Act.
Association Finances: This chapter in the Commercial and Industrial Act, set forth in sections 6750-6760, is significantly different from the Davis-Stirling Act. There are a
number of provisions in the Davis-Stirling Act that are not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. For example, omitted from the Commercial and Industrial Act is a requirement of member approval for assessment increases that are more than 20 percent of the prior year’s assessments, or any special assessment over 5 percent of the budgeted gross expense. The Commercial and Industrial Act also does not include a member’s rights to invoke certain internal and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in collecting delinquent assessments that are found in the Davis-Stirling Act (including the right to request a meeting before the board and the right to demand alternative dispute resolution with the association).
Dispute Resolution and Enforcement: Again, similar to the differences noted in the handling of disputes involving assessments, the provisions for internal and alternative dispute resolution that are found in the Davis-Stirling Act at sections 5900- 5965 are not included in the Commercial and Industrial Act. Moreover, while section 5975 of the Davis-Stirling Act mandates that the prevailing party in an action to enforce the governing documents be awarded attorney fees and costs, this mandate is not expressly stated in the Commercial and Industrial Act.
The new Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act governs a common interest development that is limited to industrial or commercial uses and does not apply to residential common interest developments (although it does apply to a commercial development that includes the operation of a business that provides facilities for the overnight stay of its customers, employees, or agents).54 The Act includes the foundational provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act, but omits various operational provisions of the Davis-Stirling Act. As noted in the Law Revision Commission’s recommendation, the “operational regulations of the Davis-Stirling Act were enacted to benefit residential property owners. They are not needed by business property owners, who have the sophistication to order their own operations and are already adequately regulated by general commercial law. Because the operational needs of business property owners are different from those of residential property owners, the one-size- fits-all procedural mandates of the Davis-Stirling Act may impose undue burdens on commercial operations.”55
It is unclear at this stage what impact the Commercial and Industrial Act will have on commercial common interest developments that were created under the Davis- Stirling Act where the governing documents include provisions required by the Davis-Stirling Act that are not required by the Commercial and Industrial Act. The Act does not invalidate the documents prepared or actions taken prior to January 1, 2014, that were consistent with the Davis-Stirling Act at the time the document was prepared or the notice was taken, but this provision specifically does not apply to the “governing documents” of the development.56 The Act also provides for some special procedures to amend the governing documents of an existing project formed under the Davis-Stirling Act, but these provisions are far from comprehensive.57 While time will tell how courts will handle the effect of this new statutory scheme on existing commercial common interest developments that were created under the Davis-Stirling Act, associations should amend their governing documents if they want to make it
clear they are not subject to certain provisions that are contained in their governing documents, but which they should no longer be subject to.
This is not the last word on both the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act and the Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act. In the future, the legislature will need to continue to update both Acts, address which Act governs projects that do not squarely fall within one act or the other,58 and to further clarify the impact on existing commercial common interest developments that were created under the Davis-Stirling Act.