Governor signs Wieckowski bill to protect HOA residents' political speech rights

September 11, 2017

Sacramento – A bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to protect the political speech rights of residents living in one of California’s more than 52,000 common interest developments was signed by Governor Brown today. SB 407 passed the Legislature with bipartisan support late last month.

“For too long homeowner association (HOA) boards have infringed upon the rights of residents to engage in the political process by preventing them from exercising basic rights that the rest of us might take for granted,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  “SB 407 will bar HOAs from prohibiting activities such as peacefully assembling during reasonable hours to discuss to common interest living, association elections, legislation, public elections or ballot measures.  It also blocks the practice of requiring members to pay a fee, make a deposit, or obtain liability insurance to use the HOA’s common area. These boards serve important functions, but they should not be used to squelch people’s viewpoints.”

Supporters of SB 407 point to a number of occasions where residents were fined or threatened by HOA board members for engaging in routine political activities, including inviting candidates to speak at forums and canvassing a neighborhood about state legislation affecting residents’ voting rights.

“California’s 52,000 homeowner associations aren’t country clubs or casual neighborhood groups,” said Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law. “The Legislature and the courts have declared they are self-governing communities with many of the powers and duties of the state's cities and counties.  SB 407 re-affirms that the constitutional right to free expression is not conditioned upon where you live.”

Other organizations in support include the American Civil Liberties Union, Golden State Manufactured Homeowners League, Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Community Associations Institute.   

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