Govenor Signs Senate Bill 209 Dealing With Electric Charging Stations – Article by David C. Swedelson

Article by David Swedelson

With the proliferation of electric vehicles comes a new law that limits and restricts California community associations’ ability to prohibit an owner from installing their own electric charging station. On July 25, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 209, which adds new Civil Code Section 1353.9. The new law takes effect January 1, 2012.

New Civil Code Section 1353.9 will prohibit California condominium and other community associations from unreasonably restricting the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. Homeowners who place charging stations in the common areas will be responsible for costs associated with maintaining and repairing the station, as well as costs for damage to common areas and adjacent units resulting from installation and maintenance of the station. The new law will impose other responsibilities on the homeowner, including maintaining a liability insurance coverage of $1,000,000 that names the association as an additional insured.

Unfortunately, the new law allows individual owners to use or occupy common areas, contrary to existing statutes and case law. In his signing message, Governor Brown stated that the author of the bill plans to introduce legislation that protects the right of common interest developments to establish reasonable rules for any use of common areas for charging stations. Governor Brown recognized this issue in his signing message:

“To the Members of the California State Senate:

Senate Bill 209 advances the important state interests of lowering vehicle emissions and decreasing dependency on foreign oil. These interests are advanced statutorily by removing unreasonable burdens in common interest developments to the installation of plug-in vehicle charging stations. Charging stations are part of the infrastructure that must be built to integrate electric vehicles into our daily lives by allowing plug-in vehicles to be recharged faster and to minimize impact to the electrical grid. I enthusiastically support this bill.

This bill, unfortunately, contains language that could permit individual homeowners to unreasonably use or occupy common areas. The author has assured me that she will pursue legislation that clearly protects the right of the common interest developments to establish reasonable rules for any use of common areas for charging stations.”

This new law restricts any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a common interest development, or any provision of the governing documents of a common interest development, from effectively prohibiting or restricting the installation or use of an electrical vehicle charging station as being void and unenforceable. The new law will authorize an association to impose reasonable restrictions on those stations, and would impose requirements with respect to an association’s approval process for those stations.

This is new law, and as the technology it deals with is improving and changing, and as this law will most certainly be modified to deal with the common area issue, we would encourage California community associations to take a wait-and-see position before taking steps to modify the common area to allow for these charging stations. We will be monitoring the new law and will keep you advised.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Govenor Signs Senate Bill 209 Dealing With Electric Charging Stations – Article by David C. Swedelson”
  1. Robert Aronoff says:

    Read your great article on the passage of Civil Code Section 1353.9. Would you happen to have a form agreement between a homeowner and a HOA for the installation of a Charging Station? Or do you know of anyone such as an Electric Company that has one that can be downloaded?

    • AmberPM says:

      Great question!

      This law does not go into effect until January 1, 2012, but Boards will need to act now in order to implement a policy for the installation of Electric Vehicle charging stations by January 1st. Why? Per Civil Code §1357.130(a) at least 30 days before a vote on adopting or amending an operating rule, the board must mail a copy of the proposed change (the policy) to the members, along with an explanation of their purpose and effect.

      After the 30-day period, the board may adopt the rules at a duly noticed open meeting of the board, taking into consideration any comments made by association members. Within 15 days of voting on the rules, the board must notify the membership of the results of the vote.

      The Board may want to work with the HOA’s General counsel and a respected Architect or engineer to create the proposed Electric Vehicle charging station policy.

      As this process is likely to take several months to complete, Boards should act sooner, rather than later.

      Southern California Edison has a good website that discusses many of the issues surrounding Electric vehicles. Other power companies may have similar information posted on their website.

      **EXTRAS** – Check this out: Electrician’s Guide for Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Single-Family Homes

      If you have any additional questions, please contact me at mark@amberpm.com.

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