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Town Hall Meetings Can Trigger Sunshine Law

493958387Question: Our community holds monthly “informational” meetings, held right before the board’s regular meeting. All members are encouraged to attend, and the manager is there as well. Board members do not “run” the meeting, but participate in the audience like everyone else. One of our owners wants to videotape these meetings, and some people object. Is there a right to videotape informal gatherings of this nature? T.F. (via e-mail)

Answer: I will give you a lawyer’s answer, it depends. Section 720.306(10) of the Florida Homeowners’ Association Act permits members to audio or video record “meetings” of the board. The statute goes on to define a “meeting” of the board as any gathering of a quorum of the board where association business is conducted.

I assume that a quorum of the board participates in your “informational” meetings as audience members. However, this does not necessarily make the gathering a “board meeting”, since it is not the board that is gathering, but rather the membership. Certainly, board members do not give up their rights as members by serving on the board.

In this instance, it would be my opinion that this gathering is not a “meeting” of the board. Also, I would say it is not a “meeting” of the membership, because it presumably has not been called pursuant to statutory and documentary notice procedures. Therefore, while perhaps debatable, I would think that there is no legal right to record these gatherings.

A different answer would apply if the board sits “as a board” (for example, at a head table) and allows members in a “town hall” setting to give input to the board on pending association issues, informally discusses these issues amongst the board members at such a gathering, and the like. This would constitute “conducting business” by a quorum of the board and would constitute a “board meeting”, and the recording rights contained in the statute would apply.

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1 Comment
  • John Apolzan
    March 14, 2015

    Here at our condo we do something similar. After the board has adjourned there is a notice that says “wishes to be heard” at that time owners can address any issues not on the agenda but they feel are important enough to raise.