Val Vista Lakes HOA had threatened to fine at least 11 residents $250 per day for criticizing the board on social media
State legislators consider bill to uphold First Amendment rights for residents of HOAs
By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities
For the second time in a week, widespread negative media attention, and the public outrage that followed, have tamed the HOA bullies — at least for now.
Earlier this week, owners of a home in the Estrella subdivision (a Texas HOA-governed community) dismissed their lawsuit seeking a court order to force their next door neighbors to remove a ‘playscape’ they installed for their terminally-ill 5-year old son.
Now the Val Vista Lakes HOA has backtracked on its plan to intimidate homeowners into removing negative comments about board members. The critical comments were posted on Facebook and Nexdoor last November, prior to the HOA election.
For the background story, see the link to the previous post below.
AZ Legislators to consider protections for free speech, freedom of assembly in HOAs
It’s probably not a coincidence that Val Vista HOA’s decision to stand down on its attack on free speech coincides with the introduction of Senate Bill 1412.
SB 1412 is the first important legislative effort of its kind in Arizona.
Its intent is to support First Amendment rights for homeowners and residents in HOA governed communities.
Reforming restrictive HOA political process
Specifically, SB 1412 would prohibit a homeowners or condominium association from banning HOA election campaign signs. The HOA would also have to allow other signs related to internal political issues.
The legislation protects residents‘ rights to use common areas to peacefully assemble. For example, HOAs would have to allow members to use common areas to meet their HOA board candidates.
In summary, members of any HOA-governed community would be free to promote or oppose board candidates, discuss plans to recall board members, or debate reasons to vote for or against any community referendum or ballot measure.
Under SB 1412, it would be illegal for an HOA to prevent assembly of members in the common areas. Likewise, an HOA could not enforce restrictions against door-to-door campaign “solicitation,” by imposing fines, withdrawing member privileges, or suspending voting rights.
Also noteworthy: HOAs would have to honor residents‘ requests to use the common areas for assemblies with political candidates running for government office.
Important notice for Arizona residents
Arizona Homeowners Coalition (AZHOC) encourages anyone who supports SB1412 to register with the Legislature’s Right to Speak (RTS) system.
The state’s innovative online system allows constituents the opportunity to express their support or opposition for any bill. ♦
Gilbert HOA retracts plan to fine residents over social media posts. Here’s the latest
Alison Steinbach, Arizona RepublicPublished 12:37 p.m. MT Jan. 31, 2020
Previously on IAC: