The Davis-Stirling Act allows boards of directors to set a reasonable time limit for members to speak to the board at open board meetings and membership meetings. (Civ. Code §4925.) Time limits set by the board must be reasonable. A 15-second limit is not sufficient for a person to say anything meaningful. A 10-minute limit means the business portion of the meeting might never start. Three minutes per person is fairly standard for associations.
Informal & Fluid. It is not uncommon for the president to adjust time limits from meeting to meeting. If only a few people attend and the board wants a robust discussion on a particular topic, the president might allow members to speak for more than three minutes. If the meeting has a large attendance and everyone wants to speak, the president might limit speakers to two minutes so as to allow as many people as possible to speak.
Publishing Guidelines. Guidelines should include a time limit for the open forum itself. Thirty minutes in large associations is common. This sets an upper limit. Obviously, the open forum portion of the meeting will end sooner if only a few people address the board. Additional guidelines should include things such as (i) speakers may not give their time to other people, (ii) no audio or video recording by attendees, and (iii) no rude or threatening comments.
Recommendation: Boards should adopt meeting guidelines and print them on each open meeting agenda. This gives attendees notice on how open forums will be conducted.
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