Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Zika Virus and Your Community Association

Ask the average community association resident whether or not the association board has a duty to protect him or her from foreseeable risk inside the community and the answer is likely to be a resounding "OF COURSE".

Whether or not that duty is spelled out in the governing documents there is the expectation that the association will ensure that residents do not get sucked into a non-compliant pool drain and drowned, trapped inside an unsafe elevator or mugged in the parking lot.

With the growing threat of Zika virus in the U.S. and particularly in South Florida what, if anything, should your community be doing to lessen this threat to your residents?

A physical inspection of your community is warranted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued important recommendations on how to address any property conditions which might be attracting mosquitoes and providing convenient breeding grounds for them. Standing water in your community should be drained if possible or treated with insecticides. Non-functioning fountains should be drained and turned off and birdbaths drained.

The CDC is also recommending that air conditioning be used to combat mosquito breeding grounds so if you have vacant units or you keep the air off in your clubhouse or other indoor common areas to save money now is the time to address those situations.

Aerial spraying in your community may be useful in combating mosquitoes but may also draw the ire of your chemically sensitive residents.  Speak to your city or county officials to see what if anything is being done to address a potential Zika problem in your geographic area.

Lastly, if you host outdoors community events in the summer for your residents you might want to consider hosting those events inside this year rather than outdoors. You might also wish to adjust the hours your pool and other common areas are open at night.

There is no reason for your community to panic nor is there a reason for your Board to undertake responsibilities that are not yours to bear.  However, taking reasonable steps to prevent a potentially devastating problem for some of your residents should be explored.

For more information about how to combat the Zika virus in your community please click here:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Pokemon GO.... Away! Mobile game can spell headaches for private residential communities.

After writing this blog for well over a decade, I often think that I have covered every conceivable topic which can impact shared ownership communities. Almost inevitably, just when I start thinking this is the case something new crops up like drones or, more recently, locating, battling and capturing virtual creatures called Pokemon.
Recently a condominium board called me to discuss a new security risk in their community. When I inquired if the risk pertained to infrastructure deficiencies (inadequate lighting at night, overgrown landscaping, etc.) or recent criminal activity such as vandalism or theft I heard something entirely new: "there is a PokeStop just outside the entrance to our community." 
I had a vague familiarity with what appears to be the biggest fad of Summer, 2016 as several of my friends and relatives are enthusiastic participants in this augmented reality game played on mobile devices.  Apparently, participants find a variety of these creatures and other game-related goodies at locations called PokeStops which have been assigned this status by the game's maker, Niantic. 
Unfortunately for my client in question, the entrance to their community had been randomly listed as a PokeStop which meant that over the course of the prior week, hundreds of people were milling outside their entrance looking at their phones and not the incoming or outgoing traffic from the community.  Needless to say, this situation presented a real concern for the community and its inhabitants. In addition to creating possible security risks given that most players are entranced by their virtual surroundings and not their physical location when at a PokeStop or Gym (a place where virtual battles occur) there are also just locations that do not lend themselves to a whimsical game like Pokemon Go; for example, the National Holocaust Museum would not seem to be the best fit for this kind of activity.
A little research revealed that it is possible to request that a PokeStop be removed. However, it is also possible to request a specific PokeStop location. For some residents intent on creating mayhem in a community, this might be an innovative new way to rile up the neighborhood. For those of you like me who never thought you would have to discuss virtual creatures in the context of community security, think again and check out whether or not you might have one of these locations near you.  To remove a PokeStop that might be impacting your community, you can visit the Niantic site here: