Lawsuit alleges hostile takeover of SLO Grange Hall

As with a Grover Beach church that had been slated to be replaced with a homeless facility, allegations of a hostile takeover have arisen over the San Luis Obispo Grange Hall, the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this month. [New Times]

The nonprofit California State Grange and its local chapter SLO Grange No. 639 allege in the lawsuit that the organization SLO Guild Hall took over the property and hall located at 2880 Broad Street without consent. SLO Guild Hall is an organization that reportedly formed in the aftermath of the revocation of the California State Grange’s charter, a move that has since been reversed.

SLO Guild Hall took control of the Broad Street property and funds from Grange-owned bank accounts, as well as items inside the hall, including chairs and kitchenware, according to the lawsuit. The suit also alleges repeated trespassing on Grange property.

The charter of the California State Grange was revoked in April 2013 and restored in July 2014, the lawsuit states. After the revocation of the State Grange’s charter, former officers and members of the nonprofit formed the California Guild, improperly retained control of the State Grange’s property and tried to convince Grange members to leave the organization, according to the suit.

In Nov. 2015, the California Superior Court for Sacramento County declared the State Grange was properly reorganized. The ruling also stated the State Grange is the only entity allowed to use and control its property, and the California Guild must return all Grange property in its possession, according to the suit.

The lawsuit alleges members of some local divisions of the State Grange disaffiliated and became members of the newly formed California Guild. In July 2016, members of the SLO Grange submitted paperwork with the California Secretary of State to change the name of the local corporation to the SLO Guild Hall.

SLO Grange did not report to the State Grange its intention to change its name, nor did the state-level organization approve of the change, which is required in the organization’s bylaws. A 2016 deed recorded with the SLO County Clerk-Recorder’s Office transferred the title of the property from SLO Grange to SLO Guild Hall without the permission of the state-level organization, according to the suit.

Last week, a representative of SLO Grange and the state-level organization contacted SLO Guild to demand the return of all property it took control of and to stop trespassing.