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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Court rules there is equal access to media for HOA elections

From the newsletter of the Center for  California association law (https://www.calhomelaw.org) comes a report on an important ruling in association elections. Every state is different in association law but very similar in corporate law so it pays to keep abreast of important court rulings. Here is what they report:

In a victory for homeowners, a California appeals court ruled June 26 that, when holding an election, an association (HOA) must give homeowners with opposing views equal access to association media, if the board itself is promoting a position.
 The ruling reversed the trial court decision stating that the HOA did not violate Civil Code 1363.03 provisions requiring the HOA to give opponents equal access to the association’s newsletters, website, and other media during a campaign.
The campaign in question was to amend the association’s CC&Rs.
The law firm of Adams Kessler represented the association during the lower court bench trial.  It argued that the HOA board was only providing “information” about the ballot measure and was not engaging in advocacy, that is: the board’s activities did not trigger the “equal access” provision of the statute (Civil Code 1363.03, subdivision (a)(1) and (a)(2).
The Appeals court disagreed and reversed the trial court ruling.  It said that, for purposes of complying with the elections statute, the “board” is a “member” of the association with no greater rights of access to association media than any other member of the associations and that once it uses association media for “advocacy” then the “equal access” provision is triggered.
I think this is only fair--that way boards can't advocate and cut off the opposing views.

~Post by Shelly Marshall

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