Assembly Judiciary Committee approves Wieckowski bill to protect HOA residents' political speech rights

June 20, 2017

Sacramento – A bill to clarify that the political speech rights of residents in common interest developments cannot be infringed upon by homeowner association (HOA) boards unanimously passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee this morning.  SB 407, authored by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) now heads to the Assembly floor.

“Homeowner association boards are infringing on the rights of residents living in community interest developments by denying them basic First Amendment rights,” said Sen. Wieckowski, a member of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.  “SB 407 affirms these rights for all Californians regardless of their housing situation by ensuring the residents are permitted to peacefully assemble, invite public officials to speak to, or meet with, residents, use common areas for political meetings, and canvass and distribute information of general political concern.”  

Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, which supports the bill, said her organization has received complaints about aggressive homeowner boards blocking residents from exercising political free expression.  Residents’ rights are frequently denied through overly broad “non-solicitation” policies meant to deter commercial door-to-door solicitation.

That was the case with Tom Surh, who testified along with Murray in support of SB 407 before the committee.  Surh described how he supported a candidate for mayor in his small Bay Area city but was told he could not canvass his neighbors to invite them to his home to meet the candidate. 

“I did not surrender my constitutional rights when I moved into the development and that’s the way I felt,” Surh said.

In another instance involving an Alameda County resident, a woman was cited by her HOA for going door-to-door with information about an elections bill that would have affected homeowner voting rights.  She was fined and ordered not to approach her neighbors.

SB 407 is also supported by the ACLU, Golden State Manufactured Homeowners League, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California and the California School Employees Association.  The bill now heads to the Assembly floor for approval.  

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