Condo Adopts Gag Rule To Block YouTube Videos

Article Courtesy of  The Key News

By Tony Winton   

Published June 12, 2019

Residents of Key Biscayne’s largest condominium complex now face fines and other penalties if they videotape board meetings of their own association and then post them to YouTube, part of sweeping new rules adopted at the urging of Key Colony President Antonio Camejo. Other rules make it more difficult to request condominium records and impose strict time limits for owner participation.

A condominium law expert and an owner’s rights activist questioned the video rule, saying publication bans in Florida do not appear to have ever been tested in court.

Condominiums have a “wide berth” to make reasonable rules, said Dana Goldman, a condominium law attorney and also a member of the Sunny Isles Beach City Commission. Goldman has been conducting a series of seminars in Miami-Dade County to educate condo residents about their rights, but sees Key Colony’s rule as breaking new ground.

“I think the rule is a little restrictive,” she said.

But, she said could not opine about how a court would rule. “It’s a clash of the policy interest of the board versus a First Amendment right to publish,” she said.

Jan Bergemann, who heads the property rights advocacy group Cyber Citizens For Justice, blasted the Key Colony rule. “These are dictatorial board members who don’t want the public to see the underhanded measures they are using,” he said.

He predicted the rules would prove unenforceable.

In this image from video, Key Colony Homeowners’ Association Directors Matt Bramson and Luisa Conway, left, listen to President Antonio Camejo, right, during debate over rule prohbiting owners from posting board meetings on social media, June 5, 2019.

The rule, adopted Wednesday, allows owners to record meetings, a right granted by Florida law. But sharing the recording to social media or perhaps even making a copy and handing it to a friend is now prohibited.

“Dissemination of any such recording is not permitted,” the rule states.

Camejo said publication of a recording would transform a private meeting into a public meeting. “You put it on the internet, it becomes a public meeting,” he said.

He said there are many reasons why condominium board meetings should not be considered public sessions, such as negotiations with vendors.

Matt Bramson, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said he was troubled that unit owners had no prior notice of the 13-page rules package. Camejo initially told the small number of owners present — who all spoke against the rule — that Wednesday’s meeting would be a discussion only, but changed his position as the meeting wore on.

Bramson said he saw little cause for the rules. “I don’t like creating rules when there is not a necessity for them,” Bramson said.

Association attorney Rosa de la Camara said detailed notice was not required because the rule did not affect unit use, even though violations of the rule could lead to denial of amenity privileges at Key Colony’s beach, pool, tennis courts, saunas or child playground. One board member, Rene Vela, even suggested violators could have their electronic access fobs deactivated at Key Colony’s front gate, raising the possibility that owners defying the rule could have to wait in line to enter the 1,179-unit complex.

Owner Maria Bueno, who has been threatened with a lawsuit if she did not remove earlier recordings, said she would continue to record meetings. She said her objective is to keep more owners informed, noting most meetings are poorly attended.

“I don’t edit the videos. I just post the whole thing,” she said.

She noted many other associations have meetings professionally recorded, a practice she wants Key Colony to adopt.

It may be some time before there is a resolution. Before it can attempt to impose penalties, Key Colony would need to create an appeals tribunal that would rule on alleged violations, something the association has never done in its four decades of existence.

For her part, Goldman says the effect of social media on condominium life will be fodder for her next condominium seminar.

“It’s fascinating,” she said.