The victories are precious and few, but once in a while homeowners win a small victory against the fascists in HOA Amerika. An appeals court in California has issued a ruling that’s making the lawn Nazis twist in their graves.
The court ruled that all Homeowners Associations, when holding elections, must give homeowners with opposing views equal access to association media, when and if the board itself is taking a position in the election.
Amazing! This is one court in the nation that now says homeowners have rights. They cannot be shut out of the neighborhood newsletter or website. They cannot be shut up when trying to speak at the local board meeting when a campaign is in progress. The really stunning thing here is that a lower court ruled the exact opposite. But the Court of Appeals overturned the junk ruling from the lower court.
The Adams Kessler law firm, representing the HOA boards, adamantly opposed the Constitution’s Free Speech provision arguing that HOA boards have the right to stifle dissent during campaigns to amend the association’s by-laws. It argued that the HOA board was only “providing information” when it stomped on equal access provisions in California law.
The Appeals court essentially ruled that an association “board” is only a “member” of an association and does not have greater rights of access than any other member of the neighborhood.
Yes, it’s a subtle distinction, but no so subtle as to dodge the outrage of the Adams Kessler law firm. The Community Associations Institute routinely holds training seminars (think brainwashing) of the officers of HOA boards, during which it trains its puppets to always deny homeowners any access in newsletters, community bulletin boards or common areas if they hold an opposing view.
The Community Associations Institute is going to work its little black heart out to get this decision modified or overturned. CAI makes billions of dollars for its lawyers, its managers, its contractors, and its ‘training’ of board members. It simply cannot allow homeowners to regain any rights they lost to these fascist empires known as gated neighborhoods. And those billions of dollars will be thrown into the fight against this decision.
Still, my thoughts towards Adams Kessler: On this day, my friend, you lost.
The homeowners won.