2019 Bills Proposing New HOA Laws Are A Mixed Bag

h o a homefront legislation Mar 18, 2019

This year Sacramento presents another spring season full of ideas for HOAs – some bad, some good, and some well-intentioned but needing revision.

SB 323

Senate Bill 323 is a recycle of last year’s SB 1265, a bill vetoed by Governor Brown in September 2018. SB 323 would add burdensome new elements to the HOA election process and dictate to HOAs who could or could not serve as directors. The bill is as bad an idea this year as it was last year. As Governor Brown wrote while vetoing its predecessor, SB 323 “takes a once-size-fits-all(sic) approach, but not all homeowner associations are alike. If changes to an election process are needed, they should be resolved by the members of that specific community.” Associations should set their board eligibility standards, not Sacramento.

SB 652

SB 652 addresses the conflict between architectural conformity and religious observance. Does a Jewish Mezuzah or Christian cross violate rules banning alteration of doorways? SB 652 would add a new Civil Code 4706, prohibiting associations from limiting or prohibiting display of religious items on entry doors of a member’s residence. There is no limitation on size, number, or appearance of doorway decorations, so long as they are religious. Perhaps some reasonable limit could be stated. Coauthored by sixteen legislators, it awaits committee assignment.

SB 434

SB 434, authored by Senator Archuleta of Southeastern L.A. County, proposes to add a new Civil Code 5382. The proposed statute would require managing agents to produce the association’s records and property (manuals, transponders and keys, for example) within a certain time after termination and/or association request. Managers could not hold association records hostage, if, for example, they claimed the HOA owed them money. There is no penalty for non-compliance, and managers would not be required to produce email correspondence unless it had previously been given to the association. The bill is a good idea but should include correspondence as part of the HOA’s “records.” The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary and Housing Committees for hearing.

SB 754

SB 754, authored by Senator Moorlach of Orange County, would make technical amendments to Civil Code 4230. Section 4230 currently allows association boards after 30 days’ notice to the membership to delete CC&R provisions which relate only to developer marketing or completion of the project. SB 754 would increase the required notice to 60 days and also allow deletion of provisions solely related to the developer’s planning of the project. The bill awaits committee assignment.

SB 222

SB 222 proposes to add a new protected class, “veteran or military status,” to California’s anti-discrimination laws by amending several Government Code Sections. Authored by Senator Hill of the San Francisco area, it awaits hearing in the Judiciary Committee.

AB 446

Assembly Bill 446 would if adopted add a new protected class, “domestic violence victim status,” to California’s anti-discrimination statutes. However, the bill does not define “domestic violence victim status.” Civil Code 1946.7 allows domestic violence victims to break their leases, and perhaps that statute might somehow lead to a definition, to avoid a vague and therefore less helpful statute. Authored by Assembly Member Choi of Irvine, it is pending hearing by the Housing and Community Development Committee.

To review legislation or laws, or contact a bill’s author or your representative about proposed new HOA laws, the official California Legislature web site is www.leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

Written by Kelly G. Richardson

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 [email protected]. Past columns at www.hoahomefront.com. All rights reserved®.