THE UNION: Robert Bumgarner: Restoring free speech rights to homeowner association members
October 1, 2017
If you live in a community that’s managed by a homeowner association, you know that they often stifle the free speech rights of individual owners.
That’s because First Amendment constitutional speech protections apply to governmental restrictions on free speech, not to private corporations like those that control common interest developments.
This year, the legislature addressed that issue by unanimously passing Senate Bill 407, a law that’s aimed at restoring constitutional free speech rights to 12 million Californians who live in common interest developments. Gov. Brown signed SB 407 into law on Sept. 11, 2017.
Here are some of the issues that prompted that action by the legislature:
Homeowner’s Associations often incorporate provisions in their governing documents that restrict door-to-door solicitation. Those provisions can be so broadly written as to prohibit non-commercial free and political speech. For example, a common interest development resident in Alameda County was cited for going door-to-door with information about an elections bill that would have impacted homeowner voting rights; she was summoned to a disciplinary committee, fined, and ordered not to approach her neighbors again.
A Solano County common interest development issued a homeowner a cease and desist order for inviting neighbors to an event he was hosting for a mayoral candidate in an impending city election. Read more: