Judiciary Committee approves Wieckowski bill protecting HOA residents' free speech rights

Broad HOA rules squelch the rights of residents to hold candidate forums, put up signs, discuss local issues

May 9, 2017

Sacramento – The state Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved a bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to prohibit California’s more than 50,000 homeowner associations (HOAs) from suppressing the freedom of speech and freedom of association rights of their residents.  SB 407 now heads to the floor for consideration of the full Senate.

“We want a strong, active, engaged citizenry to participate in our elections and to keep our democracy vibrant.  This bill is aligned with those goals and will prevent HOA boards and management from denying basic rights to their residents,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Judiciary Committee.  “Choosing to live in a common interest development governed by an HOA does not mean you must relinquish core principles like freedom of speech and freedom of association.  But powerful boards are broadly applying rules that deny residents from having a candidate on the HOA grounds, holding events in the common area facilities and discussing ballot measures that are important to the residents.  Boards have fined and threatened legal action against home owners for simply exercising basic political free speech rights.  Millions of Californians live in these associations and SB 407 is needed to prevent these abuses.”

The Center for California Homeowner Association Law, which supports SB 407, has received complaints from residents across the state.  In Orange County, an HOA Board supported a ballot measure and repeatedly denied opponents of the measure permission to use a common area for a meeting.  A Solano County homeowner was issued a cease and desist order for inviting neighbors to an event he was hosting with a candidate for mayor. 

“SB 407 makes plain that homeowners within the association have the same constitutional right to political free expression as persons outside its boundaries,” said Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law.  

SB 407 is also supported by the Golden State Mobilehome Owners League, the American Civil Liberties Union, the California School Employees Association and the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.