SB 323 improves voting rights in the 50,000 HOAs in California
SACRAMENTO – A bill by Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) to enable better oversight of elections at California’s more than 50,000 homeowner associations (HOAs) was signed into law tonight by Governor Gavin Newsom. SB 323 will rein in boards that have disenfranchised homeowners across the state and add other requirements to ensure fair elections.
“Millions of Californians live in homeowner associations and some of them are well run by elected boards and management firms,” said Wieckowski, a member of the Senate Housing Committee. “But in far too many HOAs, the boards have disenfranchised homeowners with minor violations and disqualified others from even running for a board seat. “The boards wield enormous power and these abuses should not be tolerated. I applaud Governor Newsom for signing SB 323 to put in place measures that will lead to fair and open elections.”
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.
“It is vital that association elections be governed under the democratic principles of SB 323,” said Cassandra H.B. Jennings, president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League. “Too often incumbent boards have ignored, violated, or undermined the California laws governing association elections in the same way that numerous states have undermined the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We believe SB 323 makes it harder for associations to manipulate HOA elections and goes a long way toward restoring confidence in this essential democratic process.”
The bill is supported by the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, the Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California, the Greater Sacramento Urban League and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Senator Wieckowski represents the 10th District, which includes southern Alameda County and parts of Santa Clara County.