Under Civil Code section 1354, the fee-shifting provisions relating to CC&R disputes between homeowners and HOAs, the prevailing party is determined based on who practically won--identical to the standard under Civil Code section 1717.
In Pope v. Oaks of Calabasas HOA, Case No. B237442 (2d Dist., Div. 5 Feb. 13, 2013) (unpublished), an HOA voluntarily reduced a monthly assessment by a small amount but defeated homeowner’s primary objection to an $11 monthly assessment. The trial court found HOA prevailed, awarding it $137,000 in fees and $15,244.19 in costs. (Ouch -- all over an $11 assessment!)
Fee/costs awards affirmed on appeal. Although homeowner did get a $2,027.76 refund due to HOA’s voluntary reduction of another component of assessments, the HOA was the practical winner on the $11 monthly assessment battle which was the key donnybrook. The trial court actually ruled that even more costs were recoverable on the monthly assessment component than just the $11, so it definitely prevailed.