Accessing Local Lo-Cost Mediation Services

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
530 B St., Suite 1700
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 238-2400 or (760) 494-4728

South Bay
663 East San Ysidro Blvd.
San Ysidro, CA 92173
Phone: (619) 428-3200
City Heights
4305 University Ave., Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92105
Phone: (619) 398-0494
North County
200 Michigan Ave.
Vista, CA 92084
Phone: (760) 726-4900

Riverside County

Community Action Partnership

Main Office:
2038 Iowa Ave. Suite B-101/B-102
Riverside, CA 92507

Phone: (800) 511-1110

Hemet Service Center:
749 N. State St.
Hemet, CA 92543
Blythe County Administrative Center:
260 N. Broadway
Blythe, CA 92225

Coachella Valley

Desert Hot Springs WIC/CAP:
14320 Palm Drive
Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240

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.