Owners, it’s time for a lesson on how to get what you want out of your Condo or HOA board.
Have you used this one? “I HAVE FREE SPEECH RIGHTS” (implying that gives you carte blanche to be a bully or disrupt an association meeting). Well, it doesn’t.
There has been a lot in the news lately about the difficulties of “town hall” meetings in the context of informing constituents about pending legislative issues. A “town hall” meeting can be a great forum to discuss issues and collect gems that help to discover problems, and solutions. Or the meeting can be a melee, out of control, where people get hurt and nothing gets accomplished. (Maybe you have seen “Parks and Recreation” ion TV with Amy Poeler, very funny and sad at the same time – although she tries hard and keeps a stiff upper lip, it’s challenging to put yourself out there in front of a crowd that is less than satisfied with local government.)
The Constitution guarantees the right to “free speech” but for every rule there is an exception. With regard to these kind of rights time, place and manner restrictions can be imposed (ever wonder why you have to get a parade permit?).
Be advised that an HOA or Condo board can set reasonable time, place and manner restrictions too. Although California law requires boards to allow homeowners to speak at board meetings, it also allows the board to impose reasonable restrictions, such as when a “homeowner forum” will be held (before, during or after the meeting, or interspersed with action items) and allows boards to use an egg timer to limit time.
Bullying your way through claiming it’s your “Constitutional right!” is not a way to get what you want. It’s a way to get a meeting shut down and prevent others from exercising their rights. I recently did an E-newsletter on how to deal with bullies at meetings and otherwise – the E-News is free, and all editions are published on my website in the E-News Archives.
You can also check out my other blog – California Condo & HOA Law Blog. I just put up a blog about getting what you want without suing (which often turns out to be a complete waste of resources!).