Up-and-Down Dispute Headed to Court

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A dispute between a Corona del Mar resident and the local homeowner’s association has gone up and down over the past year and will soon be headed into court.

David Perrin, an 84-year-old resident in the Mai Kai Community on Bayside Drive, has taken legal action against the homeowner’s association regarding an elevator he wants to install in his home.

Perrin, who bought the condo with his wife, Sheryl, back in 1998, began having trouble climbing the stairs in his home in recent years and researched possible options to help. He decided an elevator going from his garage to his unit would work best for him.

By adding the elevator, his unit would expand into the common air space above his garage.

That’s when the trouble started.

According to his attorney, David Robinson, the HOA “keep coming up with new reasons to deny his permit.”

The current situation is tragic, Robinson commented.

“He has done everything to be a good neighbor and a good member of the HOA,” Robinson said.

Daniel Bacalski, Jr., the attorney for the Mai Kai Community Home Owners Association, said the HOA board initially gave Perrin “conceptual approval.”

The board took his application and asked him to come back with some plans and renderings, and other standard material, Bacalski said.

The board accepted his application and gave it conceptual approval, Bacalski said.

State law requires at least a 67 percent approval vote by homeowners, Bacalski said, so the association sent out the ballot and it came back a resounding “no,” he added.

“State law says that any HOA board that gives away common area is subject to a civil suit unless they get a 67 percent vote,” Bacalski said. “It’s state law, not the CCRs.”

So the board hired their own architect, who reported back that the most common accommodation for disabled or elderly people going up and down stairs is a powered chair lift. They are easily installed and cost, on average, 10 percent less, Bacalski said.

“This was communicated to him over a year ago. … Mr. Perrin has refused to put the chair lift in,” Bacalski said. “He insists on an elevator.”

The HOA has a responsibility to make a reasonable accommodation for the disabled, Robinson said.

The powered chair is a “reasonable accommodation,” Bacalski countered.

Perrin’s health is getting worse, Robinson said.

“He can’t get in and out of his house without assistance,” said Robinson, who described Perrin’s health issues as “severe.”

“If he were to hurt himself or worse, they would be facing an even worse liability,” Robinson said. “They’re gambling with his health and safety, and with their liability.”

Perrin has accused the board of purposefully denying his application, Bacalski said, but they conceptually approved it and sent out the ballot for homeowners to vote for it. They even encouraged homeowners to approve it, Bacalski said, but the homeowners didn’t want to give away common space and voted no.

“[The HOA] don’t want to subject themselves to lawsuits by other homeowners by giving away the common area,” Bacalski said.

Robinson said Perrin suggested swapping garages with his downstairs neighbor, and although the CCR’s allow it, according to Robinson, the HOA said he was not allowed.

Perrin has also offered to pay for everything, Robinson said.

Many of the HOA board members said in their deposition that they can’t remember why he was denied, according to Robinson, who added it will be interesting to hear what they say in court.

The ideal outcome for Robinson would be that he association realizes it has been “acting inappropriately,” he said, and seek to remedy the situation.

The HOA apparently disputed having an expedited trial, Robinson said, but the court overruled it.

“I think [the fact] that they are dragging it out speaks volumes,” Robinson said.

The case will be heard in July or August.





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