Dear Kelly: I am on the Architectural Review Committee for our association. Recently homeowners have asked to attend the meetings. What are the guidelines for homeowner attendance at these meetings? We have said they can sit and observe without comment. Some homeowners have attended strictly to attack the members for what they perceive as a slight to their plan approval process. Should we allow attendance? A.C., Westlake Village
Dear A.C.: HOA committees do not fall under the Open Meeting Act unless a quorum of the board attends the meeting – then the committee meeting meets the definition of “board meeting” under Civil Code Section 4090. Otherwise, committee meetings are not required to be open to observation. If members are attending just to attack other homeowner proposals, then perhaps the attendance policy should be reviewed. Also, committees are not bound by the Open Meeting Act requirement of an agenda posted 4 days before the meeting.
Best regards, Kelly
Kelly: Many homeowners are upset that the HOA board is voting in rules and regulations without notifying the homeowners and having them vote. At a recent meeting about 10-12 homeowners attended to report such circumnavigation around policy. In fact, no minutes have been recorded for many years. What can we do? Thanks again. B.J., Huntington Beach
Dear B.J.: Rules are adopted or changed by the board of directors under Civil Code Sections 4340 and 4350. However, boards are required by Civil Code Section 4360(a) to announce proposed changes, including the specific new wording proposed, at least 28 days before considering the change. Then, the board makes the decision at the meeting, “after consideration of any comments made by association members.” (Civil Code Section 4360(b)). Each rule change involves at least two board meetings and so two board minutes. During the first meeting, the board approves the announcement of the proposed change, and in the second meeting the board adopts the rule change. Before adopting rule changes boards should listen to any attendees’ comments, as rules that are completely out of step with the membership could result in a petition for a membership vote to overturn the rule change under Civil Code Section 4365.
Thanks for your question, Kelly
Dear Mr. Richardson: It has always been my impression that owners can address any topic of matter affecting the owners, and even bring motions regarding such matters. What I am contemplating is a motion to bring an issue to the vote of the Association at the next annual association meeting, but not for any immediate vote in the annual meeting. I would appreciate your take on this.
Sincerely, B.M., Irvine
Pursuant to Civil Code Section 4925(b), part of the Open Meeting Act, open board meetings and membership meetings must give an opportunity for members to speak on any topic. However, the audience may not make motions at board meetings, because the board is the deliberating and voting body in that meeting. Members may make motions at membership meetings, but they need to be motions on which either the law or governing documents give the members and not the board the decision-making authority. Also, notice of many membership decisions or voting must be given at least 10 or 30 days in advance, depending on the subject.
Kelly G. Richardson Esq., CCAL, is a Fellow of the College of Community Association Lawyers and a Partner of Richardson | Ober | DeNichilo LLP, a California law firm known for community association advice. Submit questions to Kelly@rodllp.com. Past columns at www.HOAHomefront.com. All rights reserved®.