FCAP Community—March 2021

FCAP Community

Published March 2021

     Florida Community Association Professionals’ (FCAP) training is offered on two levels. Level one consists of courses meeting Florida’s continuing education requirements for CAMs, and level two is the Florida Advanced CAM Studies (FACS) course. For further information about the more than 38 online continuing education classes available or to pursue the Certified Florida Community Association Manager (CFCAM) designation, please visit www.fcapgroup.com/membership/education-training/.

Betsy Barbieux

Because You Asked
By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA

     Could you please tell me the statute that speaks on board voting in an email? Also, I’m not sure if this is in the statute, but if there is a part that speaks on voting in an email, does the board need to ratify it in the next upcoming meeting? 
– Jackie

     Actually, the statute prohibits voting by email.
     Section 718.112(2) (c) Board of administration meetings.—Meetings of the board of administration at which a quorum of the members is present are open to all unit owners. Members of the board of administration may use e-mail as a means of communication but may not cast a vote on an association matter via e-mail. 
– Betsy

     I would like to know how you would handle the following situation regarding candidates for the board of directors. We have four two-year openings and one one-year opening. One of the four current board members who will remain on the board without having to run is married to one of the candidates who submitted a Notice of Intent to Run. There are four additional candidates, and two of them own a share together. So, as I understand it, the ones who own a share together can only both be on the board if there are not enough candidates to fill the openings. Would that mean that the three candidates who are running as the only ones not a part of the share automatically become directors? Then the one whose husband is already on the board and the two who own a share together would be the ones who have to be in an election? What if the two candidates who own a share together receive the most votes out of the three? Please help. I want it to be done right and not just based on opinion. 
– Kris 

     I don’t find anything in the statute that addresses your specific dil-emma, so this is just my opinion, which means you will need to seek legal counsel. My first thought is the candidates who own one share cannot both run for the board. Both of their names should not be on the ballot. Only one of them can run unless they own two shares. The candidate whose husband is already on the board cannot run for the board unless they own two shares. Her name should not be on the ballot. If that means there are the same number of eligible candidates as seats (or fewer), those eligible candidates are automatically on the board with no election. If that means there are more eligible candidates than seats, you will have a full-blown election. If that means there is still a seat to be filled after the annual meeting, those existing and new board members can appoint someone to fill that seat(s), and that person could be a spouse/joint owner of a board member if no one else in the community is willing to be appointed.
– Betsy

     Are HOAs in Florida required to have a website?
– William

     In Florida Statutes, Chapter 720, the Homeowners Association Act, communities are not required to have a website. Neither does Chapter 719, The Cooperative Act, require websites.
     Chapter 718, The Condominium Act, does require associations with more than 150 units to have a website, with certain documents required to be posted.
– Betsy

      I recall you saying that cable providers are to “give” a community channel with their contracts for large accounts. But I don’t see anything in the Chapters 718/719 that say that. Can you clear that up for me please?
– John

     You almost remember correctly. Many cable companies offer a channel to the community for their local news. There is no statutory requirement; it would be contractual.
– Betsy

      An owner is making a fuss about me opening proxies and counting them before the election. I do so because I have to know if I have a quorum and that the proxy was signed by the designated voter. What does the state say about proxies and who and when they can be opened?
     This owner wants the board to make a policy that the CAM does not open them (because he is an owner) and that it should be done the day of the meeting in front of other owners. I said she is mixing up the policy for proxies with the policy for ballots and the election of board members.
     She also said the proxies are not property of the association until after the annual owners’ meeting. I say they are the property once they have been delivered to the association.
– Matthew

     I don’t find any statutes or rules and procedures for opening proxies. Ballots, yes. You could have the board create a policy at a board meeting and vote on it.
     I always open proxies as they come in and put all that information and their vote (if a limited proxy) on the owner sign-in spreadsheet ahead of the meeting. I don’t find a law or rule against doing so. 
     I don’t have any help at my membership meetings, so I get as much done before the meeting as possible; otherwise, it will be another hour before the meeting can start.
     My understanding is that written documentation becomes a part of official records when in the possession of the association. 
– Betsy

Marcy L. Kravitz

Florida-Friendly Landscaping Policies, Part II
Marcy L. Kravit, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, CFCAM

     Editor’s Note: Part I was published in the January 2021 issue and can be read online at https://www.fcapgroup.com/flcaj/flcaj-articles/fcap-community-january-2021/. The following suggestions for landscaping policies can help promote Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles, though local requirements, association goals, and legal advice should also be considered.

Turf Management

  • The use of small, irregularly shaped turf areas is discouraged. The maximum allowable area of turf on a site shall be 70 percent of the landscaped area.
  • Selection of St. Augustine grass types shall be made while considering the long-term economic and aesthetic effect of possible drought conditions.
  • All plant material shall be installed in a fashion that ensures the availability of sufficient soil and water to sustain healthy growth. An irrigation system must be provided for all landscaped areas.
  • Water systems must be designed and maintained in a manner which eliminates staining of buildings, walks, walls, and other site improvements.
  • Landscaping and irrigation design shall promote water conservation. Water Conservation

     Water conservation may be promoted by providing the following:

  • The use of native plant species.
  • The use of drought-tolerant plant species.
  • The use of plants which adapt to soil and microclimate conditions.
  • The use of shade-producing trees.
  • Irrigation systems designed and installed in accordance with the Florida Irrigation Society.
  • Standards and Specifications for Turf and Landscape Irrigation Systems
  • Irrigation systems shall be designed, wherever possible, to zone high-water and low-water areas.
  • The system shall incorporate irrigation zones capable of applying water onto turf areas on a different schedule from those irrigating shrub and plant beds.
  • Landscape plants shall be grouped with consideration for drought tolerance. Irrigation design shall be in accordance with required water application rates.

     Trees, shrubs, flowers, and ground covers shall be watered utilizing low-volume, drip spray, bubbler emitter, or similar low-volume water application devices. All plant material shall be planted in a manner which is not intrusive to utilities or the pavement.


     Due to legislative action, Chapter 2019–155, Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 1159, has charged ISA Certified Arborists with the authority to advise residential tree owners about the potential risk their tree(s) pose to people and/or property prior to pruning or removal. 

  • A local government may not require a notice, application, approval, permit, fee, or mitigation for the pruning, trimming, or removal of a tree on residential property if the property owner obtains documentation from an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture or a Florida licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to persons or property. 
  • A local government may not require a property owner to replant a tree that was pruned, trimmed, or removed in accordance with this section.
  • Trees, other than palm trees, shall be of a species having an average mature spread of crown of greater than 25 feet and having trunks which can be maintained in a clean condition over five feet of clear wood.
  • Trees having an average mature crown spread less than 25 feet may be substituted by grouping the trees so as to create the equivalent of a 25-foot crown of spread.

Tree Height

  • Trees shall be a minimum of 12 feet in overall height immediately after planting.
  • Palm trees must be highly resistant to lethal yellowing disease.

     The following are recommended species:

  • Acer rubrum (red maple)
  • Bauhinia spp. (orchid tree)
  • Bourreria succulenta var. revoluta (strong bark)
  • Bucida buceras (black olive)
  • Bursera simaruba (gumbo limbo)
  • Calophyllum inophyllum (beauty leaf)
  • Celtis laevigata (hackberry)
  • Chrysophyllum oliviforme(satinleaf)
  • Clusia rosea (pitch-apple)
  • Coccoloba diversifolia (pigeon plum)
  • Cocos nucifera “malayan” (coconut palm)
  • Coccoloba uvifera (seagrape)
  • Conocarpus erectus (buttonwood or silver buttonwood)
  • Cordia sebestena (Geiger tree)
  • Delonix regia (royal poinciana)
  • Enallagma latifolia (black Calabash)
  • Erythrina crista-galli(coral tree)
  • Eugenia spp. (stopper)
  • Hibiscus tiliaceus (sea hibiscus)
  • Ilex cassine (dahoon holly)
  • Jacaranda acutifolia (jacaranda)
  • Lysiloma sabicu (Cuban tamarind)
  • Lysiloma tatisilique (false or wild tamarind)
  • Magnolia grandiflora (magnolia)
  • Myrica cerifera (wax myrtle)
  • Myrcianthes fragrans (twinberry)
  • Plumeria spp. (frangipani)
  • Quercus sp. (oak)
  • Sapindus saponaria (soapberry)
  • Simarouba glauca (paradise tree)
  • Swietenia mahagani (mahogany)
  • Roystonea elata (Florida royal palm)
  • Tabebuia aurea (tree of gold)
  • Tabebuia pallida (pink trumpet)
  • Tamarindus indica (tamarind)
  • Washingtonia robusta (Washington palm)

     The following species are unacceptable and may not be used for required landscaping:

  • Bischofia javanica (bishop wood)
  • Casuarina equisetifolia(Australian pine)
  • Melaleuca quinquenervia(punk tree)
  • Metopium toxiferum (poison wood)
  • Schinus terebinthifolius (Florida holly)

Number of Trees

  • The minimum number of trees required on a residential property is based on the square footage of the lot and how the property is zoned.
  • It is suggested one tree for every 2,000 square feet (or any portion thereof) of property.

     For example, a 6,000 sq. ft. lot would require a minimum of three trees. 

     Note: Corner lots require an additional tree be planted in the side yard. 

     Lot size Min. # of required trees/ shrubs—

  • 4,001 sq. ft.–6,000 sq. ft 3 trees/18 shrubs
  • 6,001 sq. ft.–8,000 sq. ft. 4 trees/24 shrubs
  • 8,001 sq. ft.–10,000 sq .ft. 5 trees/30 shrubs
  • 10,001 sq. ft.–12,000 sq. ft. 6 trees/36 shrubs

     Minimum replacement sizes: 

  • Category 1—Shade/Canopy trees 12 ft. height, 5 ft. spread, 2 in. minimum caliper, FL #1 or better (makes up a minimum 40 percent of total trees required).
  • Category 2—Intermediate trees 10 ft. height, 4 ft. spread, 2 in. minimum caliper, FL #1 or better (makes up a minimum 30 percent of total trees required).
  • Category 3—Small trees 8 ft. height, 4 ft. spread, 1 ½ in. caliper, FL #1 or better (makes up no more than 10 percent of total trees required).

     Do palms count as trees on my lot? Since palms generally do not provide significant canopy, in most cases they must be used in groupings of three to meet the requirements of one replacement tree. They must also meet certain size requirements, with the minimum clear trunk height starting at eight feet (which means that the palm trunk needs to be a minimum of 8 ft. tall before the emergence of palm fronds). Palms planted in groupings shall be planted with staggered heights. NOTE: No more than 50 percent of minimum lot requirements shall be made up by palms.


     Hedges in the front yard setback should be maintained at a height of 30 in. or less. Hedges in the side or rear setback should be maintained at a height of 8 ft. or less.

Landscaping Plan Requirements

     A landscaping plan shall be submitted in conjunction with an application for individual development ARB approval and shall contain at least the following:

  • A description of the type, quality, and location of existing vegetation.
  • The location of proposed landscaping, utilities, easements, and other improvements.
  • The species and potential alternative species along with each species’ drought tolerance rating (as listed in the South Florida Water Management District Xeriscape Plant Guide).
  • The height, spread, spacing, and quality of landscaping.
  • A description of the proposed installation of the landscaping.
  • Mulching, fertilizing, and plant preparation.
  • Irrigation systems design and specifications.


     The owner/agent shall be responsible for the maintenance of all landscaping and irrigation equipment.

     Landscaping shall be maintained in a good condition to present a healthy, neat, and orderly appearance at least equal to the original installation and shall be kept free from refuse and debris.

     Any dead vegetation and landscaping material shall be promptly replaced with healthy living plantings.


  • Specify types and color. (Florida-Friendly does not recommend use of cypress mulch, as its origins may be difficult to determine.) Include clauses that do not allow all mulch or rock areas (for yards), rubber mulch, or mulch next to roads or driveways where decayed organic matter or the mulch may find their way into storm drains.
  • Install edging around mulched landscape beds.
  • Replace grass with mulched landscape beds in shaded or difficult to mow areas.
  • Keep mulch two inches from the base of trees and shrubs.
  • Landscaped areas shall be mulched with a minimum two or three inches of clean, weed-free mulch.

Irrigation Systems

     Irrigation systems shall be maintained to eliminate waste of water due to loss from damaged, missing, or improperly operating sprinkler heads, valves, pipes, and all other portions of the irrigation system.

Tree Pruning

     Tree pruning shall be accomplished in accordance with standards established in Pruning Standards for Shade Trees, Revised 1989, promulgated by the National Arborist Association. There should be no excess pruning, which encourages pests.

Waterfront properties—lakes, canal, and ponds

  • Protect the waterfront by addressing plantings of vegetative buffers next to water bodies and in easements. Keep grass clippings away from storm drains and water bodies. 
  • Encourage residents to keep grass clippings on their lawns.
  • Establish at least a 10-foot no-maintenance zone along the shoreline.
  • Plant a buffer zone of low maintenance plants between lawn and shoreline to absorb nutrients and provide wildlife habitat.

Plant Material—Acceptable

  • Plans for all modifications to any existing landscaping beds or additional landscape beds must be submitted to and approved by the ARB.
  • Plant materials should be selected and grouped to reflect ultimate growth, maintenance requirements, texture and structural contrast, and seasonal color.
  • Plants shall be grouped together in drifts or masses whenever possible rather than being spaced equally around the property.
  • Plants must be able to stand up to the rigors of the Florida climate. Tender plants such as ixora, crotons, hibiscus, acalypha, etc., will be allowed as accent plants only, not as base plantings.
  • Some plants are toxic to children and pets. You should research these issues carefully before selecting plant materials.

Plant Material—Unacceptable

     Certain plant species shall not be permitted because of their nuisance characteristics, exotic origin, pest problems, or high maintenance concerns. The following shrubs, groundcovers, etc., are prohibited for use in the landscape: 

  • air plant
  • air potato
  • angel’s trumpet
  • barberry
  • bromeliads
  • cactus
  • cattail
  • century plant
  • coral vine
  • euphorbia/spurge
  • firethorn
  • glorybower
  • kudzu
  • pampas
  • grass potato vine
  • psychic nut vitex
  • yucca

     Homeowners should exercise care and not plant any plants, trees, vines, etc., that are known to be invasive or non-friendly to the area. Consider placement of trees and shrubs to maintain visibility, line of sight, and access for emergency services. Contact your city or county for information on crime prevention through environmental design.

     For reference and further information, please check out http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/education/district4.html

     For sample plant lists and specific landscaping ideas for the four major hardiness zones in Florida, and for landscaping options that address common situations encountered in various yards, see the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ pattern books at  http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/publications.htm

     Consider provisions for Firewise Landscaping at http://www.fl-dof.com/wildfire/firewise_landscaping.html or http://fireinflorida.ifas.ufl.edu/landscaping.html