CALIFORNIA – Assembly Member Wagner’s Bill to Protect Homeowners Fails in Committee
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 1720 by Assembly Member Donald P. Wagner (R-Irvine) recently failed in the Housing & Community Development Committee. The bill would have restored the intent of the Common Interest Development Open Meeting Act and allowed homeowners to obtain information about what their elected homeowner associations are doing.
However, in the face of vehement and self-serving opposition from homeowner association lobbyists and lawyers, the committee bowed to those lobbyists. On the committee, only staunch pro-private property rights champion Beth Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) sided with the homeowners and the principle of openness in government.
AB 1720 would have effectively overturned the 2013 case of SB Liberty LLC v. Isla Vista Inc., which gutted the open meeting act by eliminating the homeowners’ right to bring anyone – a friend, family member, interpreter, or attorney – to advise or assist at a meeting of the homeowner association board. It would have helped individuals better understand what these quasi-public entities were doing.
“But,” said Wagner after the hearing, “sunshine and the free flow of information were exactly what the associations don’t want. At the hearing, one of their lobbyists even testified that the associations’ attorneys object to having other attorneys in the room on behalf of homeowners. Of course they do! But what a betrayal of fundamental principles of fairness for a government committee to go along with that abuse of due process.”
“I’ve always suspected that continued secrecy was the real goal of the opposition,” Wagner added. “It was extraordinary to hear a lobbyist actually admit that, though.”