A&A: Homeowner’s Association, the Brown Act, and tape recording

Homeowner’s Association, the Brown Act, and tape recording

Q: My senior homeowner’s association board prohibits members from tape recording board meetings.  I tried today, they asked me to leave, and they called the police. I stated “I will exercise my right under California law to record meeting”. Police would not take any action in civil matter.  The board adjourned meeting for two weeks. The board says they are not subject to the Brown Act.  An Oct. 2 LA Times article says recent decisions declare members have right to tape. Can you clarify this issue?

A: The first issue is whether the governing body of the association you belong to is subject to the Brown Act.  Under Government Code section 54952(c), the governing body of a homeowners association can be subject to the Brown Act under either of two circumstances.

1.      The association is created by an elected legislative body in order to exercise authority that may lawfully be delegated by the elected governing body;

– OR –

2.      The homeowners association (a) receives funds from a local agency (e.g., a county, city, town, etc) and (b) the membership of the governing body of the homeowners association includes a member of the legislative body of the local agency (e.g., if the agency is a city, a member of the city council) who the legislative body appoints to the governing board of the homeowners association as a full voting member.

If the association’s governing board is subject to the Act, the board may not prohibit you or any person attending its open meetings from video recording, audio recording or broadcasting the proceedings, absent a reasonable finding that such activity would constitute a disruption of the proceedings.  (Government Code §§ 4953.5 and 54953.6).