A&A: Brown Act and Home Owners Associations

Brown Act and non-profit organizations

Q: Our HOA is non-profit California Corporation and my wife last night tried to video tape a meeting that I could not make, and security told her to stop and she complied. It is my understanding that the Brown Act applies to HOA’s from this site, I believe. Is this true, did the HOA do something illegal last night in denying my wife access of videotaping? She did not make noise, did not illuminate, and did not obstruct anyone’s view. A member saw her doing it and then went and told security. Then security asked the GM and then they stopped the recording.

A: In response to your inquiry below, the threshold question is whether or not the HOA is in fact subject to the Brown Act. With respect to private entities, the Brown Act applies only under the following (somewhat narrow) circumstances set forth in Government Code section 54952(c): If the entity (A) was created by an elected legislative body in order to exercise authority that may lawfully be delegated by that body to a private entity,
or (B) receives funds from a local agency AND the governing body of the private entity includes a member of the legislative body of the agency, which is appointed to that governing body by the agency.

Thus, for example, if the HOA was created by a public entity and constituted as some sort of public district, the board or other relevant body would be subject to open meeting laws.

Assuming that the Brown Act does apply here, pursuant to Government Code section 54953.5, “any person attending … Shall have the right to record the proceedings with an audio or video tape recorder … In the absence of a reasonable finding … That the recording cannot continue without noise, illumination, or obstruction of view that constitutes, or would constitute, a persistent disruption of the proceedings.”

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