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Watts v. Oak Shores Community Association

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

March 24, 2015

KEN WATTS et al., Plaintiffs, Cross-defendants and Appellants,
OAK SHORES COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION, Defendant, Cross-complainant and Respondent ROBERT C. BURLISON, JR., Cross-defendant and Appellant.


Superior Court County of San Luis Obispo No. CV060326 Charles S. Crandall, Judge

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Burlison Law Group and Robert C. Burlison, Jr., for Plaintiffs, Cross-defendants and Appellants and for Cross-defendant and Appellant.

Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, Roy G. Weatherup, Michael B. Wilk, Caroline E. Chan, Ryan D. Harvey; Adams Kessler, Adrian J. Adams, Gary S. Kessler, Paul S. Ablon, Aide C. Ontiveros and Tina Chu for Defendant, Cross-complainant and Respondent.



Here we hold, among other things, that homeowners associations may adopt reasonable rules and impose fees on members relating to short term rentals of condominium units.

Two owners of one lot in a common interest development and one of two owners of another lot brought an action challenging regulations and fees adopted by the homeowners association. The association cross-complained against all owners of both lots for fees and declaratory relief. The association

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prevailed on the complaint and cross-complaint. The trial court also awarded the association statutory attorney fees and costs on the complaint and cross-complaint. As we explain in the unpublished portion of this opinion, the judgment must be clarified so that the attorney fees awarded on the complaint are against plaintiffs only, and not against the cross-defendant who was not a plaintiff. In all other respects, we affirm.


Oak Shores is a single-family residential common interest development. It is governed by the Oak Shores Community Association (Association). The Association is governed by a board of directors (Board). All property owners in the development are members of the Association.

The Association's governing documents include its covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&R's) and its bylaws. The Board "may adopt, amend, or repeal Rules for the use, occupancy and maintenance of the Project; for the general health, welfare, comfort, and safety of Members; and to interpret and implement these CC&R's, and establish penalties for violation of such Rules." (CC&R's, art. 6.2.) "In the event the Association undertakes to provide materials or services that benefit a particular Member, such Member in accepting the materials or services agrees to reimburse the Association for the costs incurred by the Association, which shall become a Special Assessment against the Member." (Id., art. 3.8.)

Oak Shores consists of 851 parcels of land. Six hundred sixty parcels are developed with single-family homes. Only about 20 percent, 125 to 150, of the homes are occupied by full-time residents. Approximately 66 absentee homeowners rent their homes to short-term vacation renters.

Ken and Joyce Watts and Lynda Burlison (collectively "Watts") are absentee owners who rent their homes to short-term vacation renters. Watts filed a complaint against Oak Shores challenging fees charged and rules and regulations enacted by the Association. The challenge included: a rule stating the minimum rental period is seven days; an annual fee of $325 imposed on owners who rent their homes; a rule limiting the number of automobiles, boats and other watercraft that renters are allowed to bring into Oak Shores; a mandatory garbage collection fee; boat and watercraft fees; building permit fees; and property transfer fees.


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Short-term Renters

The Association has a rule stating that the minimum rental period is seven days. The Association's general manager testified that, based on his discussion with Board members, staff and code enforcement officers, as well as his review of gate and patrol logs, short-term renters cause more problems than owners or their guests. The problems include parking, lack of awareness of the rules, noise and use, and abuse of the facilities. Expert James Smith testified that, unlike guests who are typically present with the owners, short-term renters are never present with the owner. Guests tend to be less destructive and less burdensome. Short-term renters require greater supervision and increase administrative expenses.

A $325 fee is charged to all owners who rent their homes. A 2007 study calculated each rental cost the Association $898.59 per year.


All short-term renters and guests who bring watercraft into Oak Shores pay a fee of $25 per day or $125 per week. Short-term renters and guests are limited to one boat or two personal watercraft. Owners and long-term renters do not pay such special fees and are ...

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