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Discussion Starter #1
I came back to find my volt nplugged with a note telling me that charging in a community space plug is prohibited. It was plugged in the garage that is shared with other community members.

Is this type of bylaw permitted in California?


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Fortunately being in CA there is a lot on your side as far as what HOA's are allowed to do. I would suggest you speak with the HOA and find out what may be necessary on your part to allow charging. Some argue that because parking lot plugs are not metered to you that you are "stealing" electricity. Others state that it overtaxes the demand on the wiring causing an unsafe condition, etc. From what I've understood an HOA can't just simply say "because we say so in the bylaws". I would however make every effort to come to an agreement without having to resort to other more invasive means.
 

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Have you seen a copy of the Bylaws?

Condominium home owner associations have to file documents when a community is first developed. There is a hierarchy of documents pertaining to what owners can and cannot do while residing within a community.

Articles of Incorporation => Bylaws => Rules and Regulations

The Articles of Incorporation are typically boilerplate, conform to city, county and state residential property law.

The Bylaws are drafted by the developer, then enforced by the Home Owner Association. The Bylaws cannot be in conflict with the Articles of Incorporation. Bylaws can be amended but it is time consuming and can be expensive as all homeowners, including absentee homeowners, must be contacted. Usually a 2/3 majority must vote in favor of the amendment for it to pass.

The Rules and Regulations (R&R) further interpret the Bylaws. The Board of Directors is responsible for creating a set of R&R. The R&R cannot be in conflict with the existing Bylaws or Articles. (Example: The Bylaws state that owners are allowed to keep one small house pet but does not specify type of pet or define small.) The Board of Directors establishes a rule regarding pets that states that owners are allowed to keep (1) small dog or cat as long as the animal weighs less than Xx pounds. The Board cannot establish a Rule that provides for more that one small pet as this would first require a change to the Bylaws.

Other times the R&R may include a Rule that follows the local fire code or health code, i.e. prohibit outdoor cooking or grilling on a balcony which based on the type of structure could be a violation of the local fire code. The Rule requires residents to conform to the local codes even though cooking and grilling is not explicitly covered in the Bylaws.

It may be that the Bylaws include a provision that prohibits charging electric vehicles anywhere on the property. This Bylaw could be based on outdated, inaccurate information but until the Bylaw is amended or repealed the Board of Directors is required to enforce the Bylaws if a violation is brought to the attention of the property manager or the Board.
 

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Can you plug in a 12-amp shop vac? If so, watts the difference?
 

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Have you seen
It may be that the Bylaws include a provision that prohibits charging electric vehicles anywhere on the property. This Bylaw could be based on outdated, inaccurate information but until the Bylaw is amended or repealed the Board of Directors is required to enforce the Bylaws if a violation is brought to the attention of the property manager or the Board.
Thankfully right to charge laws overrule blanket statements like the above but usually you have to pay for L2 on the lot out of your own pocket
 

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Ask before and agree to pay a fixed amount or a best guess ( or use a Kill-a-watt for a few weeks to show the cost)

Or get on the board and help set a rules for 120 or 240 car charging.
 

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The condominium laws that protect owners are written for assigned spaces. If your parking space is not assigned to you, but part of the common elements, the HOA Board has no duty to provide you with electricity. I sent the HOA a check for my estimated use. The HOA responded by banning electric vehicle charging on our premises. The President of the HOA was stupid enough to ask a Honda salesman how much it cost to charge an electric plug-in vehicle each day. The salesperson responded that it costs $3.00 per day, so that became the basis of all further discussions with the HOA Board. Despite providing a printed statement of my actual charging usage at a ChargePoint station, the HOA Board continues to argue that establishing electric vehicle charging on the premises is impossible. Electric vehicle owners: you lose until you are the majority of vehicle owners.
 

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Based on California law promoting the acceptance of EVCs in a homeowners association (Civil Code Section 4745 in the new Davis Striling Act) I would say that the HOA might be hard pressed to defend any charge that it is violating the statute unless it can prove that the system is being taxed or could be if many owners wanted to do the same thing. That is the concern of most HOAs – i.e. – if one plugs in more will want to plug in and “will our systems safely handle it?”

That is why recommend that associations take steps to figure out solutions so that owners can have EVC options. The statute is pretty clear (note bold language):

“4745. ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS

(a) 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, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in an owner’s designated parking space, including, but not limited to, a deeded parking space, a parking space in an owner’s exclusive use common area, or a parking space that is specifically designated for use by a particular owner, or is in conflict with the provisions of this section is void and unenforceable.

(b) (1) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on electric vehicle charging stations. However, it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations.

(2) For purposes of this section, “reasonable restrictions” are restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost of the station or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance.

(c) An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities, and all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permits.”
 

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I know in this area Condo/HOA boards have broad latitude, and if you try to sue them you are effectively also suing yourself. So the costs can be prohibitive. Based on what U5 posted, it would seem the CA provides you more of a leg to stand on. They can't prohibit it, but I read nothing about cost. My experience is that the board usually doesn't want to bear the cost of your charging. I would definitely approach them with the cost proposal. Then again, what you might get next from them is something about safety (i.e. someone tripping over the cord). Condos and HOAs have lots of benefits, but in many ways they also suck because they bread ultra-local politics.
 

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In California the HOA has to accommodate your charging. It can do this in a variety of ways but it has to do it. Here is a down to earth article advising HOAs about what is required. http://condolawguru.com/2016/12/electric-vehicle-charging-stations-in-hoas-what-must-be-allowed/

Essentially, your HOA needs to find a way to let you charge. It can do that the hard way or the easy way. If your HOA is smart, and that isn't necessarily assured, it would just let you keep charging until it needs to do something else. LOL Essentially since you are charging now, it's obviously POSSIBLE for the HOA to let you charge. The only issue of course is that you'd need to pay for the electricity, which I'm assuming you are prepared to do. Note that the charge would have to be the average kWh price or something. Not some crazy high number.

Can you plug in a 12-amp shop vac? If so, watts the difference?
Punny. Very punny!
 

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From what I understand, county/state laws supersede HOA rules. We have it written into our HOA regulations that homeowners are forbidden to place solar panels on their roof. When some homeowners challenged, it was determined that due to the fact that the homes are located in the county and the county promotes solar energy, the HOA regulation was null and void.

You'd think the HOA in your case would just be smart about it and install an EVSE that they could charge people to use and make some money from it.
 

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In California the HOA has to accommodate your charging. It can do this in a variety of ways but it has to do it. Here is a down to earth article advising HOAs about what is required. http://condolawguru.com/2016/12/electric-vehicle-charging-stations-in-hoas-what-must-be-allowed/

Essentially, your HOA needs to find a way to let you charge. It can do that the hard way or the easy way. If your HOA is smart, and that isn't necessarily assured, it would just let you keep charging until it needs to do something else. LOL Essentially since you are charging now, it's obviously POSSIBLE for the HOA to let you charge. The only issue of course is that you'd need to pay for the electricity, which I'm assuming you are prepared to do. Note that the charge would have to be the average kWh price or something. Not some crazy high number.
Beth Grimm said:
when it comes to money, the owner pays. He or she pays for the installation and power needed to charge his or her vehicle, and the insurance to protect the HOA from liability.
Beth's article refers to installation of charging stations. Plugging an EVSE into a random receptacle does not constitute a charging station solution. California HOA law speaks only of Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations as you can read for yourself:

Based on California law promoting the acceptance of EVCs in a homeowners association (Civil Code Section 4745 in the new Davis Striling Act) I would say that the HOA might be hard pressed to defend any charge that it is violating the statute unless it can prove that the system is being taxed or could be if many owners wanted to do the same thing. That is the concern of most HOAs – i.e. – if one plugs in more will want to plug in and “will our systems safely handle it?”

That is why recommend that associations take steps to figure out solutions so that owners can have EVC options. The statute is pretty clear (note bold language):

“4745. ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS

(a) 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, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in an owner’s designated parking space, including, but not limited to, a deeded parking space, a parking space in an owner’s exclusive use common area, or a parking space that is specifically designated for use by a particular owner, or is in conflict with the provisions of this section is void and unenforceable.

(b) (1) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on electric vehicle charging stations. However, it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations.

(2) For purposes of this section, “reasonable restrictions” are restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost of the station or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance.

(c) An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities, and all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permits.”
IIRC there's more to this law which anyone can look up online.

What Ergo and others have done is to assume they can use any 120V outlet in a garage to plug in their EVSE without even consulting the HOA board of managers or management company (if so employed by the HOA). This is not a "solution" that is covered by HOA law. The HOA is well within their rights to prohibit this kind of use of common assets, and I would suggest they can do this without any bylaws specific to electric vehicle charging.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the thoughtful replies.

I was just curious because I assumed California would be trying to promote EV use and at the same time address homeowners' rights in the community and not force them to subsidize one members' charging. I had parked in my mom and dad's space in a garage shared by 3 other cars and just plugged into the outlet where the garage door opener was plugged in.

The condo community is called "New Horizons" and is a "600 unit condominium complex with golf course, gym, and swimming pools, for seniors located in Torrance". I park in my folks' spot occasionally but wanted to get some background info should I run into a board member when I'm visiting. I'm not going to try to charge there again but would also like to be able to engage in an intelligent conversation should the opportunity present itself.


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I came back to find my volt nplugged with a note telling me that charging in a community space plug is prohibited. It was plugged in the garage that is shared with other community members.

Is this type of bylaw permitted in California?


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You're implying that California might require the HOA to pay for the electricity to charge a car plugged into a common-area plug. That's interesting to say the least.
 

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Beth's article refers to installation of charging stations. Plugging an EVSE into a random receptacle does not constitute a charging station solution. California HOA law speaks only of Electrical Vehicle Charging Stations as you can read for yourself:
Not to be overly picky, but the statute, by exempting the homeowner from the need to provide liability insurance if the charging is done from a 120v outlet, expressly contemplates a charging station can be an EVSE plugged into a 120v outlet.

What I've suggested to friends dealing with this issue in downtown condos is to run 120v outlets to every parking space and not charge for installation, just a monthly unlock fee for those wanting to use the power. Then, in addition, have a company like ChargePoint install a few DC chargers in a common area. That way everyone gets something.
 

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Not to be overly picky, but the statute, by exempting the homeowner from the need to provide liability insurance if the charging is done from a 120v outlet, expressly contemplates a charging station can be an EVSE plugged into a 120v outlet.
DAVIS-STIRLING Common Interest Development Act said:
(4) A homeowner shall not be required to maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy for an existing National Electrical Manufacturers Association standard alternating current power plug.
To be overly picky it says "standard alternating current power plug" which does not designate a voltage. Yes an EVSE with a plug can be used if the receptacle is properly installed and intended for this purpose. We can't take part (f)(4) in isolation....

DAVIS-STIRLING Common Interest Development Act said:
Civil Code §4745. Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.

(f) If the electric vehicle charging station is to be placed in a common area or an exclusive use common area, as designated in the common interest development’s declaration, the following provisions apply:
(1) The owner first shall obtain approval from the association to install the electric vehicle charging station and the association shall approve the installation if the owner agrees in writing to do all of the following:
(A) Comply with the association’s architectural standards for the installation of the charging station.

(B) Engage a licensed contractor to install the charging station.
(C) Within 14 days of approval, provide a certificate of insurance that names the association as an additional insured under the owner’s insurance policy in the amount set forth in paragraph (3).

(D) Pay for the electricity usage associated with the charging station.
(2) The owner and each successive owner of the charging station shall be responsible for all of the following:
(A) Costs for damage to the charging station, common area, exclusive use common area, or separate interests resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station.

(B) Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station until it has been removed and for the restoration of the common area after removal.

(C) The cost of electricity associated with the charging station.

(D) Disclosing to prospective buyers the existence of any charging station of the owner and the related responsibilities of the owner under this section.
(3) The owner and each successive owner of the charging station, at all times, shall maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the association as a named additional insured under the policy with a right to notice of cancellation.

(4) A homeowner shall not be required to maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy for an existing National Electrical Manufacturers Association standard alternating current power plug.
So you can't just run up to a random existing wall outlet and plug in. There's a process that has to be followed which includes getting approval, and for good reason. Randomly plugging in just anywhere could lead to an electrical fire when the capacity of the receptacle and supply circuit is not known.

And if I were giving an HOA advice (or doing this in mine) I would suggest a 240V receptacle.
 

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To be overly picky it says "standard alternating current power plug" which does not designate a voltage. Yes an EVSE with a plug can be used if the receptacle is properly installed and intended for this purpose. We can't take part (f)(4) in isolation....
...
So you can't just run up to a random existing wall outlet and plug in. There's a process that has to be followed which includes getting approval, and for good reason. Randomly plugging in just anywhere could lead to an electrical fire when the capacity of the receptacle and supply circuit is not known.
A "standard" electrical outlet is 120 V and 60 Hz. If you were representing a homeowner who wanted a 240 V plug I guess you could argue that such a plug was standard, but it would be a stretch.

Randomly plugging in is an entirely separate issue which is addressed by other sections. My point would be if there was a standard outlet available for charging then the HOA has no argument that charging is "impossible".

Having to run 240 V outlets is far more expensive than running 120 V outlets. Given that with DC charging available there isn't a need for 240 V, supporting the standard outlets just makes life easier and simpler for the HOA.
 
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