Members Only. For a petition to be valid, it must contain signatures representing at least 5% of the association's total voting power. (Corp. Code §7510(e).) Petitions submitted to a board of directors to call special meetings of the membership must be signed by members only. Signatures by spouses not on title and by tenants are not valid.
Verifying Signatures. Since only members can sign petitions, associations have the right to verify signatures. With paper-and-ink petitions, members sign their names in their own distinctive handwriting styles. As such, signatures cannot easily be forged and associations can readily verify them.
Fax/Scanned Signatures. Faxed petitions that have been signed as well as scanned petitions with original signatures are generally acceptable since the signatures can be verified.
Signature Privacy. There is disagreement about whether or not privacy rights exist for petition signers and whether petitions may be published to the membership.
Multiple Owners of One Unit. Any person on title to a property can sign on behalf of the property but it counts only once. If there are ten owners on title for one unit, all of whom sign a petition, it counts as one signature not ten. Accordingly, husbands and wives (or any co-owners of a property) get only one signature on petitions and one ballot on election issues. It is the number of units (or lots) that count, not the number of owners. If multiple owners of a property sign a petition, it does not invalidate the petition--it means that only one signature is counted.
One Owner of Multiple Units. If an owner of five properties lists all five properties and signs a petition, the signature counts five times, one for each property.
Withdrawing a Petition. There is no statute regarding the withdrawal of a homeowner association special meeting petition. However, the courts have addressed the issue and there is an analogous provision in California's Election Code that can provide guidance on the issue. In La Jolla Mesa Vista v. La Jolla Mesa Vista HOA, the court decided a person can rescind their signature from a recall petition for good cause such as fraud, mistake or undue influence in the collection of signatures. In addition, California Elections Code §9602 allows a person to unilaterally withdraw their signature from a state initiative or referendum petition prior to it being filed, upon providing the election’s official a notice of rescission that includes their name, address, and signature. Accordingly, members should be allowed to withdraw their signatures from a petition calling for a special meeting of the membership.
CC&R Petition. While signatures on a recall petition can be withdrawn, CC&R petition signatures cannot. Prior to the 2006 change in the Davis-Stirling Act's election requirements, CC&Rs could be amended by petition. In a 1990 case, a court ruled that signatures on a petition to extend CC&Rs were irrevocable. (La Jolla Mesa v. La Jolla Mesa Vista.) This issue is now moot since CC&R amendments and restatements now require secret ballots. (Civ. Code §5100(a).)
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