Meetings law isn’t a gag order
Question: I live in a condominium complex near Studio City. At the association’s general meetings there is an “open forum” for discussion. If an owner raises an issue that is not on the agenda during the open forum, the board president says it cannot be discussed under the Davis-Stirling Act. The president says that because this issue was not on the agenda, discussion must wait until the next month, when it can go on the agenda. Is she correct in her interpretation of the Davis-Stirling Act?
Answer: The president’s interpretation of the Davis-Stirling Act is inaccurate. California Civil Code section 1363.05(i)(1), part of the Davis-Stirling Act, says that although the association’s board of directors “may not discuss or take action on any item at a nonemergency meeting unless the item was placed on the agenda included in the notice that was posted and distributed,” this “does not prohibit a resident who is not a member of the board from speaking on issues not on the agenda.”
The protections provided in California Civil Code section 1363.05, the Common Interest Development Open Meeting Act, were not intended to silence homeowners, and the efforts of your president to do so are a direct violation of the law.
Moreover, if a homeowner’s issue involves maintenance in the common area, the board also is required by the Davis-Stirling Act to justify its delay in responding to the owner’s maintenance request or report. This includes learning of the maintenance problem during the open forum.
A statement by the president that is contrary to the law needs to be corrected immediately either by you or by another entity, such as the management company or the association’s attorney. Obeying the mandates of the Common Interest Development Open Meeting Act is not a board president option; it is the law.
Send questions to Box 11843, Marina del Rey, CA 90295 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.