Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Board Meeting October 16 2007


Another productive board meeting last night. But a long one so bear with me. I will try to weed out some of the non controversial items.

1) ARC HEARINGS: There was yet another appeal to allow a sport court on a property that is surrounded by homes with sport courts, and despite the approval of his neighbors, the Board again turned down his appeal leading to a probable lawsuit that could potentially threaten our future control of development in open space. Dr. Bettey, and speakers Deirdre Spaulding (or was that Marlene Sandler?) said we should change the CC&Rs to allow sport courts on open spaces if the community wants them. Cindy said she didn't like the sounds of basketballs and wanted peace and quiet and people should take their children to playgrounds so as not to disturb their neighbors. (The eternal struggle between older neighbors and young families that is common in many places.)

2) COMMUNICATIONS: - There was a request from a new resident that the HOA provide horse trailer parking.
- Marlene Sandler asked that the Board revive the Equestrian Trails committee so they can oversee the trails and track issues of concern. (I am told by others after the meeting that it was Marlene who asked that the committee be disbanded before. A change of heart I presume.)

- POOL AND TENNIS DUES INCREASE PROPOSED -There was a proposal to raise the tennis and swim dues on residents and non residents. Despite the fact that this was voted down two meetings ago, the issue was brought back for reconsideration. I pointed out that while costs may have gone up, Bob was suggesting we raise dues on members but not raise the amount of money we get from him for his monopoly on tennis instruction and tournaments. I said that since HOA dues went up for residents who pay for the facility already, the increase should only be on non-residents. Bill felt there should be no increase at all without looking at the broader context of the contracts and business of the centers. The motion to raise the dues 3% on non-residents only passed 4-1 with Bill opposing.

Note: Non-residents make up 58% of all Tennis and Swim memberships. Also, later in Exec session it was agreed that we will review the Tennis and Swim contracts to address the concerns that we have people serving as staff and overseeing their own contracts creating (in my humble opinion) a potential conflict of interest. We also will be getting information on how much money Bob and Louis receive from us to determine that state of the deals we have with them. before anyone goes bonkers, we're not trying to drive them out, we just want to be sure we are getting the best deal from them. The fact that they proposed raising YOUR dues but not the amount of money we make from their contracts concerns me greatly.

- MIDDLE ARENA FOOTING - Glen reported back that neither contractor who looked at the middle arena footing thought it was unsafe, but both said it needs to be completely redone down to the base. Another contractor is coming tomorrow and then Glen (The GM) will prepare an RFP to put out for bids.

- DAPPLE GREY ARENA -There were comments about the problems in Dapple Grey where jumpers have set up jumps that prevent other disciplines from working out there for what they need. The others think the jumpers should put everything away each time, the jumpers say that is not feasible as it takes so much time and with Day Light Savings coming there would not be time to do so. A meeting is being held November 27th at 6pm at the Clubhouse, moderated by Bill Enholm to work out a solution. I noted that I hope this addresses the larger picture of facilities usage. It would appear to me that the unintended consequence of the Trainer Policy adopted last year was to drive jumpers out of the Equestrian Center. So they went to Dapple Grey and now the same folks who worked to pass the Trainer Policy are unhappy that the jumpers are there now. The jumpers and all other disciplines all need accommodated. Let's hope the meeting on the 27th will find some solution.

- Adopted a motion to have the playground equipment inspected as required by law
Passed 5-0

- Adopted a resolution to limit the overall homeowner comments period to 30 minutes of the total meeting unless the Board thinks more time is needed for an issue. This requires 4 votes to allow. Glen noted that if necessary we could always call a special meeting to address issues that generate that much interest. Bill suggested we not allow the back and forth with residents that become debates. I noted that I think residents will feel more respected and listened to if we reply back then. Glen asked that he be allowed to respond first after comments and that if we have a follow up question or comment that we be allowed to do so. Passed 5-0

-CODE OF ETHICS/CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY- Drafts of these were introduced. See the posts below. Dr. Bettey said these were a waste of paper and time because there were laws in place already. Cindy said they are useless unless there is some enforcement provision. Bill said he'd sign it if it was even just voluntary. I noted the policy was for residents and they should have the chance to weigh in. Our attorney noted that most HOAs are adopting them and that having a conflict of interest policy to give to residents who had questions was a good idea. Jan didn't say much about the topic. Cindy and Dr. Bettey indicated they thought we had more important things to do. This issue will come back at the next meeting. Please weigh in with your thoughts and comments. Don't just reply here, send them to the HOA as an official communication so that it is part of the HOA record. Also, tell the Board you want them to adopt a Code of Ethics. Write to: The Board needs to know this is to be taken seriously.

- EQUESTRIAN CENTER CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT (CUP) - We have 8 more stalls than our current permit will allow so we are in violation. The recommendation is to look into getting those stalls approved either by a new CUP or getting them grandfathered. Cindy will talk to the city about our options. Dr. Bettey wants to make sure we don't endanger the whole operation by opening us up to new requirements on waste water disposal for example. Ozzie built two new stalls for his horses. With his leaving, that should open up at least one. But we have to check to see what the deal on approval of building those stalls was.

- MEETING DATES FOR NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER -There will be no meeting in November. The Nov/Dec meetings are combined into one meeting in December on the 11th.

-OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST -it was noted that the Board does not follow Robert's Rules of Order. Glen has been asked to come back to suggest a set of rules for the board to follow. Cindy and Dr. Bettey think this is a waste of time, but I noted that having clear rules will make things go smoother and address the concerns raised by previous board members and others that the rules seem to be changed at will. Hopefully this will give everyone something to refer to to avoid any confusion or conflict.

- EXECUTIVE SESSION - While I can't share details, I will share what I can because I think these issues impact all of us. We received some updates on litigation on three properties in Nellie Gail. Look for some positive changes to the ARC coming up in the next few months. It was noted by our attorney that we are in violation of the CC&R by having five members on the ARC instead of three as is called for in the CC&R. The ARC noted that two were alternates, but the lawyer said that there is no provision for alternates. And we all know that the watchword these days is to adhere to the CC&Rs... We received more information on the departure of Carole Huss. Law prevents me from discussing the reasons for her departure, but Glen feels the situation was handled in the right way for the best reasons. Other staff issues were discussed and since you wouldn't want your salary etc discussed in public I won't share that here either. In addition we discussed in more detail the contracts on the centers. Cindy noted we should be discussing this in open session, but we will be looking closer at those as noted above. I have asked that business plans be developed and that once wew have those, that willhelp drive what we need to do as far as contracts and the like.

We met from 6-11pm. A long meeting with no real break. There is lots to do and everyone has their priorities. Most issues are related one way or the other to equestrian issues, so hopefully we can get some broad resolution to the bigger issues and then we can look to the needs of the other residents of the community with the same amount of attention and engagement as we have done for them. (Not a slam at the equestrians, more a note of encouragement to the non equestrians who have expressed needs as well). That's it for this week. Please post any additions, corrections, deletions, commentary. I capture things the best as I can, but have been wrong before. (Linda Mudd burst into laughter last night when I noted I was wrong about something. I guess I'm not one of her favorites...) Also, as a note on decorum, Jan Curtis noted that she had trouble hearing what was going on because of talking and laughing from the back of the room. That was happening on my side of the room as well, but I guess I was better able to block that out. As a courtesy, please try to keep the distractions down. You can leave whenever you want, but we have to stay until everything is done. ; )

See ya around the Ranch.

james vaughn


Anonymous said...

Thank God, James, for your candor and insights into this crazy place we call Nellie Gail Ranch. You are starting to expose all of the backroom, sweet heart deals that have been forged in years past and the bi-polar behavior of the most chronic offenders. I can only imagine the pressure you feel, but keep probing and doing the right thing and don't be intimidated by the backroom snickers of, and videotaping by, the old guard.

The need to completely redo the middle arena, yet again, is inexcusable. It was negligent for the contract to have been let. This gross error was made with full knowledge that other qualified bidders that would stand behind their work were available, but Jan insisted that Ozzie get the work. Has Ozzie refused to do the repairs at his cost? Was the job bonded? Is that why Ozzie is leaving? Penny-wise, pound-foolish again. You should put the Board's insurance carrier on notice -- the insurance should pay or Jan should personally, but not the homeowners who were trying desperately to have the right decision made. How much money will the Board continue to throw away at the Equestrian Center? The upper arena got screwed up; the "hot walker" turned out to be equestrian and rider electro-shock therapy -- what next?

Anonymous said...

I want to leave a comment for the board regarding the equestrian center arena footing issue since it appears that the work must be redone.

We, in the neighborhood, having just been reassured by President Greengold in the Pony Express that the facility is 100% self-supporting, are confident that the total cost of the "re-do" will be borne by the equestrian center's customers and licensed trainers.

Please, whatever you do, make sure that the source of the funding for the "re-do" is clearly explained to the homeowners so we may explore the veracity of the self-supporting claim.

Anonymous said...

I also take exception to the constant claim that the centers are self funding.

Our - READ, NELLI GAIL RANCH OWNERS - reserves that we cover with our dues have paid for the majoprity of the capital improvements at our centers.

We have people running businesses at the center who are not contributing as much to the reserves as the homeowners are. One of the 'Trainers - or - Instructors" there pays only $175 a year. In my opinon, this is where the problem lies. We need those that are running businesses to contribute a fair share.

We as homeowners should NOT be subsidizing people who make a financial gain from the center.

Particularly when some of these people who are benefiting financially from our centers are not very accommodating to homeowners. Or when they have exclusive use of capital improvements all homeowners have paid for.

I do wish that those that keep spouting we are self sustaining would look at things more closely.

Anonymous said...

Another comment to "throw away at the Equestrian Center?"

My problem is not the money being spent, it is how, why and by whom that bothers me.

The people who have been making these decisions are not educated enough to do so, otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess AGAIN!

Let the experts decide - or send it out to a committee to educate themselves and make a good decision.

At lead our new GM is doing that. It seems he is educating himself on what needs to be done and going about it in a responsible way. I say kudos to him. That is the type of Manager we have needed for the longest time.

Anonymous said...

The homeowners have been paying, collectively, $18,000 per year to the Equestrian Center as rent for the land where Ozzie ran his private business from. It's also been called a "reimubursement" and a "storage fee" in the last several budgets (see Line 4111 and 5241). To be accurate, it should have been budgeted as a gift to the EC.

Now that he is leaving, will this questionable $18,000 arrangement be terminated?

Rebecca said...

Congratulations to our own James Vaughn! We are proud to have you serve on our board!

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the following appointments:

James Vaughn, 42, of Laguna Hills, has been appointed to the California State Bar Board of Governors Examining Committee. He has served as a consultant to Knowlegis since 2005, an online advocacy technology company. Additionally, he has served as consultant to the California Log Cabin Republicans since 2006. He previously served as deputy director of the President’s E-Gov Initiative USA Services for the U.S. General Services Administration from 2004 to 2005 and was the director of government and political programming for America Online from 1999 to 2004. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Vaughn is a Republican.

For the entire press release go here:

Anonymous said...

What about the swim club? The swim club needs some renovation. I don't personally feel like the renovation done in the past really did much to make it more appealing. There are serious safety issues with the restrooms. They are just lawsuits waiting to happen. Those green mats used to prevent people from slipping are not only unappealing, but also breeding grounds for all kinds of awful germs.

Anonymous said...

Any news on the middle arena?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anyone is still reading this far back. Now Ozzie is back and being paid more than before. When will this madness stop?