Dear Governor:

My message to the governor of California about one of the 806 bills awaiting his signature or veto.

These days almost everybody seems to be lobbying the governor of California to sign or veto an item of legislation. Governor Brown’s website lists 806 bills that he invites the public to comment for or against before he makes his decisions.

I have decided that I would not be left out of the lobbying process, so I chose a bill and wrote a message. The bill is AB1738. I wrote:

This bill corrects an unconscionable flaw in current law. In negotiations between a unit owner and a board of directors over a dispute, the board can present a proposed settlement, enforceable in court, to the owner, which the owner has not seen before, and threaten to fine, evict, or foreclose if the owner does not sign it during that very meeting. The owner may have cognitive impairments, limited English, or inadequate understanding of the proposed terms. Currently, the owner must face this choice without any right to counsel. This bill grants the owner the right to bring another person into this negotiation. That provides a measure of protection against coerced inequitable agreements.

Since a common interest development is a quasi-municipality, and since internal-dispute-resolution sessions are quasi-judicial transactions (producing enforceable settlements of legal claims), the practice of some common interest developments of denying the right to counsel during such sessions is an abuse of a universally recognized right, and its correction by this bill is overdue.

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