Recent Preliminary Injunction re: HOA and Free Speech (CA)

On December 23, 2016, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard B. Ulmer, Jr. issued a preliminary injunction barring Gramercy Towers Condominium Association (“GTCA”) from enforcing a “Rule Regarding Communications with the Board of Directors, Residents and Contractors” (the “Rule”) on the basis that it may chill protected speech. The Rule purports to bar homeowner’s association members from directing disparaging comments against other members or members of the Board. The Rule is enforced by a fine or suspension of voting rights. Case law in California generally recognizes common interest homeowner’s associations as being quasi-government in nature. Plaintiff argued this caused California constitution free speech protections to attach to homeowner’s associations members. Judge Ulmer’s order granting the preliminary injunction recognized the Rule to be “substantially overbroad and encompasses protected speech”. GTCA has over 200 residential units and is located in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.


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