AZHOC - Arizona Homeowners Coalition
Voice for homeowner rights and justice.

Removal of Community Sign Boards

We have a community of 120 homes. The past year has been filled with tension as new members tried to get some long overdue projects started. The board of directors blocked every proposal. The issue I am reporting and asking for your opinion and direction is this:
Community members were posting unflattering messages about the management company and the BOD on the message boards. The President with the agreement of the management company decided to remove the 5 message boards from the community. One day they were taken down with no notice. There was no Board discussion, meeting, vote. When asked, the community manager stated that the she had checked with the management companies attorney and the President had the authority to take down the message boards because they were not being used properly. After the message boards were gone, community members continued posting messages on the walls where the message boards had formerly been. These messages were torn down by associates of the President. A message was placed on the walls that posting messages on the walls was a violation of city ordnance. People who were expected of posting messages were turned into the post office (for posting on the mail box) and to the police for posting on the walls. Additionally, letters were sent to anyone in the community displaying a political sign threatening negative action if the signs were not taken down. (The was a Board election coming up.)
These actions by the President of the HOA and in the name of the HOA seem suspect. I would like your opinion and direction.
Thank you
Board Member

2 Responses

  1. dennisl

    Once again unfortunately your situation is all too common in these communities. Despite provisions in the governing documents as citizens of this country we have an unalienable right to freedom of speech. But as with everything all speech is not free, you are not free to make or post false statements about anyone, if you knowing post or even speak falsehoods about anyone you could be held accountable to slander and defamation. But the truth can never be considered slander or defamation if it is a true and accurate statement of facts. There are many communities where homeowners are prevented from communicating with other homeowners relative to community business or issues to protect the power of the board. The board and only the board has the ability to communicate their perspective or position on any issue to the entire community. Opposition to those positions are suppressed in any way possible, and the people casting those opposing positions are demeaned, and belittled and labeled as trouble makers and worse yet targeted for retaliation by the association.

    To this end I’ve presented two pieces of legislation and have obtained sponsors for that legislation to make all of this illegal. One piece of legislation will require associations to distribute to the entire community arguments for or against any issue to be decided by the community. With this the community will be given both sides on anything and then be allowed to make informed decisions for themselves as to how they will vote on the issue. This is what happens with every ballot issue for local municipality and state elections. It should not be different for these communities. The second bill will prevent the association from restricting the posting of signs for or against any issue facing the community or in the door to door soliciting of support or opposition on those issues. It will also prevent the association from disallowing the use of the common or private property for the peaceful assembly of community members for the purpose of discussing or communicating the need for community action on any community related business. The freedom of speech and to assemble is fundamental under our constitution and the principles of Property Servitudes Law clearly states that any provision in the CC&R’s that would unreasonably burden those fundamental constitutional rights are invalid and void. These bills will codify those principles into Arizona Law.

    Proposing legislation is the first step, getting a sponsor to introduce that legislation is the next but the real work comes in getting 16 Senators and 31 Representative and the Governor to vote for that legislation. This is where all of you come in. If you want these protections to come about and stop the abuse and attack of your fundamental rights then you must join us in our fight to get these bills passed. I will be there for all of you talking to every legislator that will listen of the significance and importance of these pieces of legislation and fighting for their passage, but will you stand with me and join that fight or simply watch from a distance and hope that I’m successful.

    Together we can get the legislators to listen to these please for justice, but alone I am simply one voice in the nearly 8 Million People living in this state, that can be easily ignored.


  2. dennisl

    Richard a little follow up.

    HOA management companies and attorneys will tell the board whatever they believe that the board wants to hear. The reality is that gang mailboxes are for the most part common property of the association and not the property of the post office. As such the association can establish rules for posting on that property but the post office has nothing to do with it. The same goes with walls, if the walls that you are talking about are private property either owned by the community as common property or by individual homeowners the city will not get involved in the regulation of those structures nor will the police. Unless the wall are public property the city has no authority to regulate them. These scare tactics are used to pass the buck and attempt to legitimize the boards attempts to censor the homeowners and deny them their fundamental freedom of speech. While HOA and Condo’s are corporations and not governments and the Constitution was written to protect the people from abuses of their governments the rights of individual citizens are still public policy and no contract even the contract that establishes the property servitudes your CC&R’s may not unreasonably burden your fundamental constitutional rights as a violation of public policy not under constitutional law but rather under property law. Any provision in the CC&R that would unreasonably burden your constitutional rights as public policy is void and unenforceable. Restatement of Law third Property Servitude 2000 American Law Institute section 3.1.


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