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Updated Jun 20, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signs community association bill

PHOENIX -- Homeowner associations were dealt a kick in the face Thursday when Gov. Jan Brewer signed a sweeping campaign finance bill that became a catch-all vehicle for a number of stalled measures in the Senate and House in the final hours of the legislative session and pitted real estate agents against planned communities.

Senate Bill 1454 has a little something for everyone to applaud and criticize.

The bill technically addresses campaign finance. It provides new rules on candidate disclosures in broadcast and print ads. It defines the use of company logos, trademarks and trade names as in-kind contributions to candidates and prevents candidates from using public campaign dollars to promote a business, among other provisions. Opponents said that provision would discourage candidates from running for public office.

At the last minute, lawmakers added a slew of provisions that will change how homeowner associations do business, drawing complaints from those groups who said the amendments were illegal because they had nothing to do with campaign finance. Bill amendments must be germane.

The bill prohibits homeowner associations from limiting the number of political signs someone can display, forbids local governments from requiring developers to establish a homeowner association and bans homeowner associations from performing background checks on tenants. Homeowner association officials opposed the rental property provision backed by real estate organizations and had asked Brewer to veto the bill.

``This is a horrible, horrible bill,'' said David Russell, manager of the Circle Tree Owners Association in Mesa. ``It's not a Nazi control thing. It's about safety... How am I supposed to know who is supposed to be on my property or who is not?''

Russell said associations should be able to weed out unwanted tenants who might drive down property values for homeowners.

``The minute I get a sex offender notice in this property, every single tenant who lives here with children is going to leave,'' he said.

Angela Potts, a lawyer in Tempe who represents community associations, said lobbyists representing a myriad of interests rushed to revive their stalled pet projects and amend the bill in the final hours of the session that ended June 14.

``All of a sudden, everyone who wanted to get anything done had to do it in four days,'' Potts said. ``We obviously have to take what we got here and make the best of it.''

The Arizona League of Cities and Towns supported the measure because it did not prohibit developers from establishing homeowner associations.

``We wanted to be able to have the HOAs continue to exist to maintain common areas,'' said Ken Strobeck, the league's executive director. ``Cities and town don't want to be responsible for maintaining trees and parks in HOA communities.''

Under the measure, local governments can no longer base zoning decisions on whether or not the property will include a community association.

People will still demand community rules from developers to ensure, say, a neighbor doesn't use purple paint or park eight cars on the lawn, said Scott Carpenter, a lawyer representing the Community Associations Institute in Arizona.

``Planned communities are market driven. Consumers want them,'' he said. ``They want the protection.''

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