Local Mediation as an Option
As an HOA attorney who represents individual homeowners, I often am contacted by owners who want me to assist them with a dispute that may only involve a few hundred dollars. For instance, they want to contest an association imposing a $50 fine for some rules violation like speeding or failing to bring in trash bins.
In these instances, I tell the prospective client that it would not make sense for them to hire me, as attorney fees would exceed the amount in controversy in less than an hour. Instead, if they do not want to utilize the Internal Dispute Resolution (“IDR”) protocol contained within their governing documents and the Davis-Stirling Act, they may want to consider requesting Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) utilizing one of the many no-cost or low-cost County local mediation programs.
In the jurisdictions where I practice: San Diego and Riverside Counties, there are several dispute resolution offices sponsored and subsidized by the Counties. These local mediation programs are either free or charge a nominal fee, designed with short time frames for efficient outcomes, and often utilize mediators who are well versed in community association matters. These centers offer mediation services for a wide variety of disputes, including divorce, community conflicts and other areas of conflict.
If you are in a community association dispute that involves a minimal amount at issue, you may wish to utilize one of these local mediation agencies:
San Diego County
National Conflict Resolution Center Main Office
663 East San Ysidro Blvd.
San Ysidro, CA 92173
Phone: (619) 428-3200
4305 University Ave., Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 398-0494
200 Michigan Ave.
Vista, CA 92084
Phone: (760) 726-4900
Phone: (800) 511-1110
|Hemet Service Center:
749 N. State St.
Hemet, CA 92543
|Blythe County Administrative Center:
260 N. Broadway
Blythe, CA 92225
Desert Hot Springs WIC/CAP:
Phone: (800) 511-1110
As a refresher, mediation is a process through which disputants work together with the assistance of a neutral third party, trained in the technique of mediation, to arrive at a mutually acceptable agreement with regard to their conflict or dispute. The purpose of mediation is to settle disputes, not to assign blame, fault, or to legally represent either party. Mediation saves money, time, and allows a workable relationship, whereas, the court procedure is time consuming, expensive, and places the parties in adversarial positions.
Good luck resolving your dispute utilizing one of these low cost services. If the value of your HOA or real estate dispute exceeds a nominal amount and you require legal representation, ensure you contact an attorney well qualified in community association or real estate law.