The Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act is the popular name of the portion of the
California Civil Code beginning with section 4000, which governscondominium,
planned unit development communities in California. It was authored by Assemblyman
Lawrence W. "Larry" Stirling and enacted in 1985 by the
California State Legislature. In 2012, the Act was comprehensively reorganized and recodified by Assembly Bill 805. As of January 1, 2014, Title 6 (commencing with Section 4000 of Part 4 of Division 2 of the Civil Code) is repealed, effectively replaced by newly added Part 5 (commencing with Section 4000) to Division 4 of the Civil Code.
Under Davis-Stirling, a developer of a common interest development is able to create a homeowner association (HOA) to govern the development. As part of creating the HOA, the developer records a document known as the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) against the units or parcels within the HOA with the county recorder.
Even though it is not a governmental entity, the HOA operates like one in some respects. As recognized by the Supreme Court of California, the Declaration of CC&Rs is the constitution of the HOA and is legally binding upon residents to the extent that it does not conflict with state or federal law. CC&Rs, once properly recorded, are presumed valid until proven otherwise. The
California Courts of Appeal have explained the quasi-governmental nature of the HOA:
||Indeed, the homeowners associations function almost 'as a second municipal government, regulating many aspects of [the homeowners'] daily lives.' [Citation.] " ' "[U]pon analysis of the association's functions, one clearly sees the association as a quasi-government entity paralleling in almost every case the powers, duties, and responsibilities of a municipal government. As a 'mini-government,' the association provides to its members, in almost every case, utility services, road maintenance, street and common area lighting, and refuse removal. In many cases, it also provides security services and various forms of communication within the community. There is, moreover, a clear analogy to the municipal police and public safety functions...." ' [Citation.]" [Citation.] In short, homeowners associations, via their enforcement of the CC&R's, provide many beneficial and desirable services that permit a common interest development to flourish.
The HOA's board may enact rules which are legally binding upon residents as long as they do not conflict with the CC&Rs or state or federal law. Board meetings, like the boards of government agencies, are generally open to HOA members, with some exceptions. As with government agencies, courts generally defer to the broad discretion HOAs enjoy in discharging their duties.
The HOA is also allowed to charge regular fees to homeowners within the development (comparable to taxes). These are used for functions like paying for security guards (including, for gated communities, the operation of a gatehouse) and maintaining common areas like corridors, walkways, parking, landscaping, swimming pools, fitness centers, tennis courts, and so on. The HOA can levy fines or sue homeowners for damages and/or injunctive relief to enforce the HOA's rules and CC&Rs.