SB 323 strengthens the integrity of elections and improves voting rights in the 50,000 HOAs in California
SACRAMENTO – Stronger oversight of elections in California’s more than 50,000 homeowner associations (HOAs) is one step closer to taking effect after the state Assembly approved SB 323 by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont). The bill will go to the Senate today for a concurrence vote.
“HOA board members have broad power to fine residents, sue residents, and even foreclose on their homes,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee. “Unfortunately, that power is sometimes also used to control who can run for office and who has a seat at the table. Homeowners with minor or fabricated violations are disqualified from running for a board seat by associations more interested in maintaining the status quo than holding fair elections. SB 323 will change that by ensuring that HOA members are not disenfranchised.”
The bill limits the power of incumbent boards to set arbitrary “qualifications” for homeowners wanting to run for a board seat. It requires that an inspector of elections be a neutral third party and that ballots be counted in an accessible location. It also gives guidance to the courts hearing challenges to election procedures and results.
“The California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA) is a fierce advocate of the consumer protection of seniors living in HOAs because for most seniors, their homes are their chief financial asset,” said CARA Legislative Director Hene Kelly. “If they lose their homes, they can’t re-enter the workforce and earn enough money to buy a new one. Too often seniors report to us how they are denied the right to vote and the right to run for a board seat because of the “qualifications” set by the boards. SB 323 makes sure these fundamental rights will not be denied to homeowners.”
In addition to CARA, SB 323 is supported by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Sacramento Urban League and the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California.
Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.