HOA's and free speech

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Buffacuse
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HOA's and free speech

#1 Post by Buffacuse » Tue Oct 06, 2020 11:26 am

OK, just got a note from our HOA that frosted my cookies...said that there is a ban in our development on political yard signs.

Huh? 1st Amendment? Freedom of speech and expression?

Apparently not. An HOA is a private association able to set its own rules (so they say.) When we bought here, we agreed to those rules--no one made us move here. So, even though it was buried in the fine print--no political yard signs are allowed here.

OK, so let's say the HOA bans door-to-door political canvassing--legal? Let's say they mandate that only white residents can be on the Board...legal? At what point does their right to limit conduct as a voluntary association cross an unacceptable legal, in this case constitutional, threshold?

Man I'd like to lawyer up on this one.

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Bob Juch
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Re: HOA's and free speech

#2 Post by Bob Juch » Tue Oct 06, 2020 11:36 am

Buffacuse wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 11:26 am
OK, just got a note from our HOA that frosted my cookies...said that there is a ban in our development on political yard signs.

Huh? 1st Amendment? Freedom of speech and expression?

Apparently not. An HOA is a private association able to set its own rules (so they say.) When we bought here, we agreed to those rules--no one made us move here. So, even though it was buried in the fine print--no political yard signs are allowed here.

OK, so let's say the HOA bans door-to-door political canvassing--legal? Let's say they mandate that only white residents can be on the Board...legal? At what point does their right to limit conduct as a voluntary association cross an unacceptable legal, in this case constitutional, threshold?

Man I'd like to lawyer up on this one.
I forget what state you're in. Many specifically ban the ban.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
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Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to drive in New Jersey.

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Re: HOA's and free speech

#3 Post by Beebs52 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:14 pm

Our area used to limit to only one sign per candidate, but since we're a special purpose district now don't believe that still goes.
Well, then

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Re: HOA's and free speech

#4 Post by Beebs52 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:16 pm

Just checked State of Texas bans limitations on signage. It does resttict on size etc
Well, then

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Re: HOA's and free speech

#5 Post by Bob Juch » Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:24 pm

Beebs52 wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 12:14 pm
Our area used to limit to only one sign per candidate, but since we're a special purpose district now don't believe that still goes.
Texas is one of the states that bans the ban.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
- Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to drive in New Jersey.

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bazodee
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Re: HOA's and free speech

#6 Post by bazodee » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:10 pm

Boilerplate CC&Rs often give the HOA Board very broad rights to ban anything. I've served as HOA President a few times and we didn't ban political advertising. We do limit the size of For Sale signs. We don't ban flags, though we've never really been tested on anything particularly offensive or ridiculously large.

I guess my point is that just because an HOA can legally do something, doesn't mean that they should.
There are also some areas where HOAs think they have unlimited power, but don't. I'm thinking specifically of a ban on satellite dishes. (HOA can regulate where they are placed, but cannot ban them, per FCC).

Perhaps a discussion with your neighbors and then your Board might yield reasons why this ban is in place, or generate some sentiment to disregard it.

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Re: HOA's and free speech

#7 Post by Bob78164 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:13 pm

Buffacuse wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 11:26 am
OK, just got a note from our HOA that frosted my cookies...said that there is a ban in our development on political yard signs.

Huh? 1st Amendment? Freedom of speech and expression?

Apparently not. An HOA is a private association able to set its own rules (so they say.) When we bought here, we agreed to those rules--no one made us move here. So, even though it was buried in the fine print--no political yard signs are allowed here.

OK, so let's say the HOA bans door-to-door political canvassing--legal? Let's say they mandate that only white residents can be on the Board...legal? At what point does their right to limit conduct as a voluntary association cross an unacceptable legal, in this case constitutional, threshold?

Man I'd like to lawyer up on this one.
Which state are you in? --Bob
"Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear." Thomas Jefferson

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Buffacuse
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Re: HOA's and free speech

#8 Post by Buffacuse » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:18 pm

Should have mentioned it in the post--Virginia. In their note, the HOA specifically referenced the "mistaken belief" that HOA's in Virginia cannot ban signs...

...wonder if they're bluffing?

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Appa23
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Re: HOA's and free speech

#9 Post by Appa23 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:33 pm

Buffacuse wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 1:18 pm
Should have mentioned it in the post--Virginia. In their note, the HOA specifically referenced the "mistaken belief" that HOA's in Virginia cannot ban signs...

...wonder if they're bluffing?
In that you said that the sign prohibition was in the "fine print" when you bought, which sounds like a covenant, and not that the HOA Board created a rule, it looks like they can enforce. Covenant restrictions in Virginia do not have to meet a reasonableness test like rules created by a Board, after the fact, would.

https://www.vahoalaw.com/covenant-enfor ... s-virginia

In any event, as noted by others, this is not a 1st Amendment issue.

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Re: HOA's and free speech

#10 Post by mrkelley23 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:06 pm

I don't know what kind of subdivision you live in, but ours is a series of three cul-de-sacs, so there are maybe 6-8 houses (out of 44) whose yards are visible from cross streets where other traffic may go by. If you accept the notion that yard signs are political speech, then my question is who are you (not you specifically, Buff, but people in general) speaking to, unless you're one of those 6-8 houses? The yard signs (and now flags) down at my end of the cul-de-sac are not only in that blind alley, but also down a hill from the nearest cross street. So the only people who see these displays are the neighbors. If you live on a cross street, I support your right to have signs in your yard. If you live at the end of a dead end road and do it, you're just an asshole.

My HOA bans all signs except for sale signs, by the way. And above ground swimming pools. And all lot improvements such as yard barns or storage sheds must be approved by a building committee.

We also just had our annual meeting, where I volunteered to chair a committee to review the by-laws and covenants, which haven't been amended for 25 years. I intend to pick at those scabs...
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. -- Richard Feynman

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Buffacuse
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Re: HOA's and free speech

#11 Post by Buffacuse » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:20 am

mrkelley23 wrote:
Tue Oct 06, 2020 5:06 pm
I don't know what kind of subdivision you live in, but ours is a series of three cul-de-sacs, so there are maybe 6-8 houses (out of 44) whose yards are visible from cross streets where other traffic may go by. If you accept the notion that yard signs are political speech, then my question is who are you (not you specifically, Buff, but people in general) speaking to, unless you're one of those 6-8 houses? The yard signs (and now flags) down at my end of the cul-de-sac are not only in that blind alley, but also down a hill from the nearest cross street. So the only people who see these displays are the neighbors. If you live on a cross street, I support your right to have signs in your yard. If you live at the end of a dead end road and do it, you're just an asshole.

My HOA bans all signs except for sale signs, by the way. And above ground swimming pools. And all lot improvements such as yard barns or storage sheds must be approved by a building committee.

We also just had our annual meeting, where I volunteered to chair a committee to review the by-laws and covenants, which haven't been amended for 25 years. I intend to pick at those scabs... of this threa
MRK: Vaya con Dios. One too many "Cynthias" from the recent Geico ad in ours. And, I'm sure you know this, strongly consider getting liability insurance...not surprisingly, our Board gets sued all the time.

I hear what you're saying about yard placement in the community. Mine is kind of unique--yes, on a semi-private pipestem so no real traffic except for my neighbors. But, I'm on the second hole of a golf course and any sign would be seen by hundreds of golfers each day. That was my target audience.

I'm not totally down on HOA's, they have a purpose. My favorite story comes from the sale of our first house back in the 90s. Couple came to look at the house and while the wife was very talkative, the husband said nothing. Finally, as they were leaving, he pulled me aside and asked one question: "Do y'all have an HOA here?" I replied no.

Three months later, after they bought the house, I learned why he asked: on a trip back to the neighborhood, we swung by and discovered he had three cars on cinder blocks in the front yard. We never had the nerve to go back and risk seeing our old neighbors.

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