We all know that Colorado is now in phase 2 of the re-opening process. We’ve read that the virus isn’t going to go away soon. We’ve all heard that the method by which we lift the lockdown restrictions must be sustainable. You can look to the news, social media, various websites, the radio, etc. to find information on the various plans for re-opening the State of Colorado.
So now that you know what Colorado is doing, do you know what YOU’RE doing? If not, you need to spend some good quality time getting a plan in place now. While there are many things you should put in your post-pandemic playbook, here are three items to consider:
1. What are you doing about your pool/amenities?
Although we still haven’t received additional criteria or protocol from the Governor on conditions for opening the pools, we know that under the current Safer at Home order, which is in effect until midnight of May 26th, your pools must remain closed. So now is the perfect time to plan and get ready for the re-opening. You will likely be required to maintain certain social distancing protocols. Consider the following questions and put your answers in your plan:
- What’s your disinfection plan? What are you going to do about furniture? Will you remove it altogether? If not, how will you space the lounge and other chairs and tables to meet social distancing protocols?
- How regularly will you wipe down the pool gate, the tables, the handrails, and other frequently touched areas? Are you going to provide wipes for people to wipe down their furniture? Will you require people to bring their own furniture and towels?
- If you have staff/employees do they have a policy/protocol for regularly washing their hands and otherwise complying with social distancing protocols?
- What is your plan with the restrooms? Are you considering closing them? If not, how often are you going to clean and disinfect them?
- Are you going to require people to wear masks?
- If the new order states that only groups of no more than a specific number of people can be together in a pool – how are you going to monitor this?
- Will you put a registration system in place to ensure the maximum capacity is controlled? Will you place time restrictions on pool users?
- Are you going to only allow residents and not guests? If no guests, how will you verify this?
- Are you eliminating pool lessons, swim meets, etc.? If so has this been clearly communicated?
- Will you require residents to sign a waiver for use, and do you have a waiver form in place?
- Will you require temperature screening?
- Have you had your attorney review and assist with revising your rules and regulations to address all of the above?
- Have you revised your signage?
- Have you confirmed with your pool vendor that the pool is ready for use pursuant to the state/local health requirements?
- Have you spoken to your insurance carrier about potential coverage?
- Have you reviewed the CDC guidelines on pools?
- What are you going to do about monitoring and/or enforcing the new regulations? Is there going to be a pool attendant specifically for monitoring compliance? Is this financially feasible? Is a Board member or resident volunteer going to be present?
- Finally be ready to revise/tweak any such plan to make sure it complies with applicable state and local health requirements on re-opening (which should be forthcoming)
The same general analysis should be conducted and a plan put in place for all your other amenities (clubhouse, rec facility, playgrounds, tennis courts, game room, etc.).
2. How are you going handle the upcoming annual meeting?
While your annual meeting may still be months away, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a plan in place now given the likelihood of continued social distancing requirements. And, while Board members are probably quite familiar by now with conducting Board meetings online or via phone, conducting a virtual annual meeting is an entirely different creature. Some things to consider and put in your meeting plan:
- Determine whether this meeting will be completely online, or allow both physical and online/phone participation, such as with a meeting in a physical location with homeowners invited to join the meeting in person or via phone/online.
- If you are incorporating physical attendance, what rules will be in place to address social distancing concerns?
- Will there just be one room where people are spaced apart?
- Will there be several locations where the homeowners may gather in smaller groups to attend the meeting, which is broadcast from another room?
- Will there be a room attendant monitoring social distancing protocols?
- What’s your online/virtual platform? Zoom? GoToMeeting? Make sure your plan includes the Board and manager knowing the program and its controls/features very well, such as knowing how to mute/unmute people, how to share the screen, how to address questions and use the chat feature. Make sure the plan includes a test run so you’re prepared for glitches.
- Chances are your standard conduct of meetings policy has a number of gaps when conducting a virtual meeting. You will need to adopt special rules and regulations for conducting a virtual or telephonic meeting. For example:
- How is check-in to be handled and how do you verify the homeowner is the one attending? This may be problematic as you may only see the name on the screen with no picture. You should have instructions indicating that the name showing on the screen must match the owner name on the roster.
- How will proxies be handled, submitted and verified?
- How do homeowners address the chair? The platform should have a method of muting participants until the chair is ready to recognize them. Will they be unmuted so they can ask their question out loud? Will all questions be submitted via chat and then read out loud?
- How much time will be allotted to each individual for questions?
- How are votes to be handled? It may be possible for roll-call votes to be taken for smaller meetings, but what if you have over 100 participants? Is there some form of electronic voting that can occur? Will you conduct the physical vote by mail ballot while the discussion, Q&A piece occurs online?
- What if there is a contested election? Unless you are using some sophisticated platform that allows for both voting by ballot while preserving secrecy, you will likely have to use a hybrid approach of having the candidates speak online, while the vote occurs by mail using a double envelope system.
- How are votes documented? Will you be recording the meeting?
- What other procedural issues should be addressed?
- You might want to use a moderator who will assist with questions and ensure the virtual piece of the meeting runs smoothly.
- Make sure you have an IT person or someone who is very familiar with the technology available for troubleshooting purposes.
- Draft clear instructions to homeowners on how to sign-on, use of proxies, protocol for meeting itself, etc., and distribute them well in advance of the meeting.
- Be prepared for challenges to the meeting if some are unable to master the technology required to sign on. Your plan should allow for homeowners who are unfamiliar with technology to be able to contact someone with questions, and have this contact available before and during the meeting. Be clear that they will have to download software if applicable, to test the program ahead of time, to test their connections, etc.
- Finally, make sure your plan has a back-up plan. What if the technology doesn’t work? What then?
3. What are you doing about your budget for the remainder of the year?
Due to the pandemic many homeowners are likely experiencing financial difficulties; therefore, a shortfall in revenue may be inevitable. And, hand in hand with that shortfall, associations may also be experiencing an increase in expenses given the increased maintenance protocol due to enhanced cleaning measures, increase in administrative and management expenses due to additional monitoring/enforcement issues, and other unexpected COVID-19 related expenses. Accordingly, boards need to be mindful of their budgeted expenses for the rest of the year. Now would be a good time to review:
- Are there any nonessential expenditures that can be curtailed?
- Should certain services be placed on a reduced schedule for the remainder of the year?
- Are there planned construction projects that can be deferred safely until next year? You should not be ignoring leaky roofs but maybe the landscape beautification project can be delayed.
- Can reserves be used for certain expenses, with an aggressive payback schedule in 2021?
- Should the Association consider a loan?
Feel free to contact any of our Altitude Community Law attorneys regarding the above at 303-432-9999. And stay tuned for more post-pandemic playbook ideas to come!