Video Surveillance And Community Associations

[ Blog/News ]

Video Surveillance And Community Associations

Video surveillance is proliferating throughout the nation. As the effectiveness and acceptance of this technology increases, so does its application, including widespread use by condominium and homeowner associations. To minimize controversy and maximize results, an association board of directors should be aware of the following issues before installing cameras and videotaping its community.

Types of Video Surveillance Systems

There is a myriad of wireless video surveillance systems on the market, ranging in cost from $250 to multiple thousands of dollars. Obviously, the capability and complexity of the system increases with its cost. Anecdotal reports from a few local associations show that it might cost upwards of $2,000 for a condominium or homeowner association to purchase and install an appropriate system. The more practical question is not cost, but monitoring. Video can be recorded remotely or seen real time from a computer, tablet or smart phone. Who from the association will watch the many hours of mindless video, especially if multiple cameras are used? It is impractical to expect a board member or manager to perform this time consuming task. Accordingly, some communities rely upon community watch members to view video while others contract this service out to a security company for a fee.

How Video Surveillance Should Be Used

The number one goal of video surveillance is crime prevention. In addition to stopping serious crimes, such as car prowls, assaults, vandalism and drug activity, video surveillance can also be used to enforce CC&R violations for associations. Owners who park in visitor stalls or fail to keep dogs on leashes, for example, can be confronted with irrefutable evidence of their wrongdoing. To be most effective, those being watched should know that the cameras are actually working and that the video is being monitored. The association should post signs not only warning persons that the area they are in is being monitored, but that specific action will be taken if crimes or CC&R violations are committed.

A board should keep in mind that video surveillance is only part of a broader security program that integrates one or more of the following: paid security guards, safety doors and locks with close control of access keys (digital or other), community/neighborhood watch programs, specially designed fencing, landscaping and lighting, and close coordination with local police liaison or community resource officers.

Video Surveillance & Privacy

Associations should beware that video surveillance has its share of detractors and controversy. Challengers to increased surveillance Argue that video cameras inflict injury, whether or not they reduce crime. First Amendment proponents claim the cameras constitute a form of government or quasi-government sponsored intrusion on personal conduct, even when that conduct is perfectly legal. The opponents also cite a “slippery slope” argument that broad surveillance will lead to more targeted and focused monitoring of private behavior.

For condominium and homeowner associations, one must ask what expectation of privacy exists for an owner walking through an association parking lot or other common area. It is doubtful that a community association would purchase and deploy a surveillance system with capability to zoom into interiors of cars or eavesdrop on private conversations. Arguments that surveillance of a parking lot is only the first step before monitoring bathroom stalls or individual homes should also be dismissed as outrageous or inciting.

A homeowner who is caught failing to pick up after her dog on the HOA’s camera aimed at the parking lot to deter car prowls may claim that rules violation wasn’t the purpose of the camera—that “it’s not fair” that she was observed. But the bottom line is her action violated the association’s rules. She was not targeted nor was her action “innocent.” She was caught red handed, or more accurately, empty handed.

Provide Video Surveillance Disclaimers for Owners

Importantly, associations who utilize video surveillance, or any security steps, should provide a written disclaimer to all owners that the association’s efforts are not designed to ensure a safe, risk-free environment. In adopting the measures, the association is not taking responsibility for the welfare of its members and guests, and each owner must exercise diligence and common sense. There have been cases outside of Washington where condominiums who employed security measures but did not provide any type of written disclaimer were held liable when an owner or guest was harmed on the premises and proved in court that the association created a heightened standard of care. Signs posted within the community notifying persons of video surveillance should also include a short liability disclaimer.

Video surveillance’s popularity is increasing. When deployed thoughtfully and reasonably, this technology can be a useful tool in deterring crime and CC&R violations within community associations.

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Chapter Magazine

Journal July-August 2022

Jul/Aug 2022 Issue

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Taking Back Your Life from the Whirlwind

[ Blog/News ]

Taking Back Your Life from the Whirlwind

About five years ago, when people would ask me what I did for a living I’d confess that I managed a portfolio of homeowner associations, but in those few seconds before the blank stare or some exaggerated version of, “Wow!  I could NEVER do what you do,” my mind would drift into fantasy and I’d feel my clothes begin to tighten with the expanding pressure of the blue and red Superman tights beneath.  Yep, faster than the speeding bullets of cranky homeowners, more powerful than a locomotive pulling railway cars full of lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers and other mere mortals, and able to leap tall Seattle buildings with a single bound! Of course then I would wake up.  Ultimately this is my personal story of taking back my life, back from the whirlwind; of getting off the Superman roller coaster and learning to live and work in a relaxed state of self-control and stress-free productivity. This is my story, but I have every confidence that it can be the beginning of your road to freedom as well.  My road began with the help of nationally acclaimed speaker and best-selling author David Allen of GTD® fame.  If you’re familiar with his work you will recognize much of what follows.  Because of space limitations I have broken this introductory article into two parts.  Part One explores a couple of core concepts that, when embraced, could cause a paradigm shift in the way you think about your work.  Next month I will examine in detail a couple of tools which could really begin to get you moving forward.

 

So just how does a Portfolio Manager stay consistently on top of his/her game?  How does s/he avoid the trap of putting out one community fire after another and completing bigger projects as time allows without ending up in what Pink Floyd described as the “English way” of “hanging on in quiet desperation?” Is it really possible for busy Community Association Managers to maintain healthy levels of pride and optimism for our future when we know full well that as we attend that party, or sleep, or God forbid, take a vacation, that the whirling tornado that is our job is even now touching down in undisclosed locations leaving behind a nasty trail of stress-filled destruction adding even more wreckage to the already huge piles of debris cluttering our minds and offices?

“The mind is an excellent place to process information; it is a terrible place to store it.” ~David Allen 

I can think of no better jumping off point than getting comfortable with the above statement.  It is so important that, at the risk of padding the word-count of this essay, I must repeat it: “The mind is an excellent place to process information; it is a terrible place to store it.”  I’m not much into reciting mantras, but if I was this would be mine.  Your assignment this month is to simply think about what I just said.

The minds of Community Association Managers are positively brimming with stuff; so much stuff that many of us are driven to the point of distraction, some even to despair.  We are carrying around massive quantities of things in our short-term memory.  We’ve got emails to answer, phone calls to make, bids to solicit, bills to code, financial statements to review, reports to write, meetings to attend, packets to assemble, sites to visit, delinquencies to collect, and developers to sue. There is grass to mow, weeds to pull, roofs to clean,  elevators to fix, cars to tow, keys to make, special assessments to consider, websites to update, and violations to enforce, just to name a few!  As our minds begin to resemble a hoarder’s living room our desktops, drawers, and every other flat spot or shelf can become covered with stacks of undefined amorphous blobs of paper.  And then there are those relationships to manage with homeowners, board members, vendors and co-workers, not to mention spouse and kids.  If we Managers are really committed to getting everything done, and our job demands that we are, then each piece of data, each scrap or pile of paper and every thought that has an action-item associated with it represents an open loop in our minds which must be stored someplace for easy retrieval, and at the proper time, or our career could very well go down in flames.  Our employers give us great tools like computers, notepads, sticky notes, file cabinets, calendars, cell phones and middle-managers to help us manage the steady stream of commitments we make but we generally make limited use of each of them.  Subconsciously we all understand that when it comes to actually getting things done for our clients the most important stuff is kept “right up here” (Point at brain).  And that’s all good as far as it goes, but experience proves that using your head as a filing cabinet or personal information manager in a busy environment like ours can come at a tremendous price to our productivity and personal well-being.  The price first shows up as reduced productivity, added stress, and stunted interpersonal relationships.  When stress is buried or otherwise left unchecked it may turn up again as deep personal dissatisfaction with our job, a reduced capacity for meaningful hobbies, a rejection of social interaction, and other destructive patterns of behavior.  In the extreme, stress can become the source of serious illness, burnout, job loss, or worse.  I contend that most of our stress is caused by carrying around hundreds of open loops in our heads.

 Out of Your Head and Into a Single Trusted System

Wouldn’t it be great if this marvelous brain of ours would only remind us of our prior commitments, unfinished projects and tasks when we could actually do something about them?  Unfortunately, our brain isn’t wired that way.  When the over-full kettle that is our brain arbitrarily decides to spill out one of these half-remembered commitments it comes at really strange times; like while we’re driving down the freeway, or in the middle of writing an email, or while we’re eating, or laying in bed, or conversing with a friend, or a hundred other times and places where we are either ill-equipped, indisposed, and least able to do anything meaningful about them.  Because of the random timing of these reminders we usually just resolve to remember to remember, and the thought is pushed back into our subconscious where it remains an open, stress-inducing, loop.  And this is how many of us live our lives, hour by hour, day by day, and month after month.

There is good news.  The cycle can be interrupted.  In fact, the first step to getting off of the work-related stress mill is surprisingly simple.  It is this: Get and keep as much of this data as possible out of your head, off of your desk, out of your email Inbox and into a single trusted system which you review regularly.  It is only when every open loop is captured in a safe place, a place completely trusted by the former storekeeper, that your mind is truly free to do what it does best: process information; create beautiful things; innovate; resolve conflict; interact meaningfully with others, or to just have fun.  If your system is not trusted by your brain and reviewed regularly, it will immediately and permanently take back the controls.

Next month I will introduce you to two excellent tools which are right at your fingertips which, if customized properly and used consistently, can completely revolutionize your ability to get things done in a more relaxed, stress-free way.  For further study, I highly recommend David Allen’s best-selling book, “Getting Things Done,” available online for about $10.

By Mike Walker, CMCA, AMS

The CWD Group, Inc., AAMC

  • Condominium Law Group, PLLC - General Counsel & Collection Services - Partners Ken Harer & Valerie Oman - Phone: (206) 633-1520 Website: www.condolaw.net
  • HUB International NW - HOA And Condo Solutions - Web Ad
  • Newman HOA CPA - Banner Ad
  • Barker Martin
  • Porter Construction Inc - Building With Integrity - www.porterci.com
  • Rafel Law Group - Banner Ad
  • The Copeland Group - Banner Ad

Search WSCAI


Search Business Partners Directory


Diamond Sponsors

  • Rafel Law Group PLLC - Logo
  • RW Anderson Services - Logo
  • Transblue - Logo
  • Columbia Bank - Logo
  • Association Reserves WA - Logo
  • CAU - Community Association Underwriters - Logo
  • Newman HOA CPA - Audit & Tax - Logo
  • HUB International NW - Logo
  • ServPro Of Seattle NW - Logo
  • SageWater - Logo
  • CIT - Community Association Banking - Logo
  • Superior Cleaning & Restoration - A COIT Service Company - Logo
  • Agynbyte - Logo

Chapter Magazine

Journal July-August 2022

Jul/Aug 2022 Issue

Journal Advertising Partners:

  • Newman HOA CPA Audit & Tax
  • CIT Group Inc. - Logo
  • Rafel Law Group PLLC - Logo
  • The Copeland Group - Logo
  • Bell-Anderson & Associates - Logo
  • Community Association Underwriters - Logo
  • Ruff Construction - logo
  • Charter Construction - Logo
  • Popular Association Banking
  • SSI Construction
  • Sagewater
  • RW Anderson Services - Logo
  • Pacific Engineering Technologies, Inc - Logo

  • Pacific Western Bank - Small Ad
  • Association Reserves of Washington - Ad