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John Merchant's picture
Joined: 08/30/2007
Posts: 122

This week you should have received a request from the RMA soliciting your comments concerning the annexation of the first 22 homes being built by Retreats West (hereinafter RW). The RMA Board of Directors will vote to approve or disapprove this annexation on October 20, 2015. They have allowed only 22 days for the entire membership to respond to their request for comment. When our board votes, only 4 of their 7 votes will be required to annex Mr. Sullivan’s project. The request for comment states (more than once) that the Board of Directors intends to view a “non-response” as an endorsement of the RW plan of development by the members who cannot be contacted or fail to respond (and physically return their comments) to the RMA. We are being rushed, and there is a reason for that. Even though the developers are responsible to pay the costs of any annexation, we were not provided with a return envelope, further encumbering the process. For some reason, RMA has made it very easy to minimize participation in this exercise.

The Request For Comment solicits an opinion ONLY on the remaining variances from the CC&R’s of the first 22 homes. The real issue is not those variances themselves, but the basic fact that we intend to reward RW with annexation. RW has always intended to build non-custom homes. The homes under construction repeat themselves numerous times and in no way represent custom home development.

In 2003, RMA signed and recorded a Mutual Benefit Agreement with the developer, then called Rancho North. We did this because we understood that development would occur exactly as is happening now. We have no legal right to prevent non-custom homes, and we assumed that we would not annex these subdivisions to the RMA. The negotiators understood that developers would not want to annex into the RMA, and, until now, that appeared to be the case.

The developers have applied to annex because it is to their advantage to do so. Our MBA requires them to pay ALL of the same dues to the RMA as you and I now pay, with the exception of cable and some miscellaneous charges. If RW is allowed to annex, RMA will have to pay to maintain the developers’ roads, and we will provide all the administrative services to them that are now provided to us. It is almost a sure bet that the developers will ask RMA to manage this development, just like it manages the association for us. The developers will have to pay a fee for those services. If they annex, they become just a part of the dues, and this saves the developers a considerable sum of money.

The developers must inform the Department of Real Estate of their intentions to annex or begin their own homeowners association BEFORE they builds the first 22 homes; RW is in a hurry to have the RMA make this decision. Hence, the “rush” to have residents respond to this request for comment and to have the RMA Board quickly vote in the developers’ favor. Once again, it is all about what the developers need. It is not about giving the membership the time to digest this complex problem and properly discuss with and inform the community.

The Mutual Benefit Agreement thoroughly addresses the issue of non-annexation and how RMA and developers will work together in the transition. Rancho North established a homeowners’ association that is ALREADY IN PLACE. This homeowners’ association is designed to govern the new development.


Rancho North’s CC&R’s are widely recognized to be equal to or even BETTER than the CC&R’s that we as a community currently enforce. These CC&R’s are to be used to govern the new RW subdivision in conjunction with the MBA to ensure we have SEAMLESS governance while development continues in Rancho Murieta. This development period may exceed ten or more years. It prevents the annexing in of some development “subdivisions” and the non-annexing of other subdivisions. More importantly, it avoids having three, four or even six homeowner associations. If we deviate from the MBA, we begin to establish precedents that will make this unfavorable hodgepodge of associations VERY possible.

The best way to play on the fears of the RMA membership (while the lobbying occurs to annex the developer) is to make statements such as, “This will allow them to have motorcycles on our streets,” or, “We won’t be able to enforce speeding CC&R’s for the residents of un-annexed properties.” THIS IS SIMPLY FALSE! You can easily verify this protection for yourself by reading Exhibit F or the MBA. It addresses all of these issues.


RW will come back to us at least two more times asking us to annex in more and more units. When Village A is mapped and ready for development, Mr. Sullivan and his legal experts will challenge us and make the case that we have “established precedent” and should annex in this next 170 units of development. The variances in that project may be much more dramatic than what is presently on the table. There may be condominiums, non- standard fences, casitas, and height limit variances. What this simply means is: WE ARE GOING TO GET A SECOND HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION ANY WAY WE DO THIS. Why not start from a position of strength with this developer and do what the MBA was intended to do for us?

Ironically, the developers want us to accommodate them at the same time they continue to ignore the agreement that governs them and us. Last week, at the County Planning Department, the developers applied for a rezoning of the R2 property they own so that it could be converted to 827 residential units (RW is an extra 84 units above this number). Using the 827 figure, the developers continue to ignore Exhibit H of our agreement, which “caps” development to a specific number of units in each of the proposed “villages”. I keep asking why we should continue to make this easy. Why should we treat the developer with favor when all we get is an “in your face “response that it is my property, and I will do with it as I choose; EVEN IF IT IGNORES MY LEGAL AGREEMENT WITH YOU?

Please vote “DISAGREE - DO NOT ANNEX” on your form and send it back or drop it off at the RMA. If you cannot return it, call me at 916-761-2765 and I will be sure it gets picked up and deposited at the RMA on your behalf. Please email me at merchant30@gmail.com, or call me if I can answer your questions.

We are looking at legal ways to insist the entire membership be allowed to vote for or against RW annexation. We may also ask you to attend a meeting to review this important topic and to discuss a petition to the RMA. We will get back to you with that information ASAP.


John Merchant

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Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Thank You John

I really appreciate all the work, and information you gave us in this commentary about the requested variances by the Developers. I tried to raise the issue to the board, however they barely responded to my inquiry about the letter..that they counted on low response..isn't the RMA board supposed to be working for us, not the Developers??

Myrna Solomon

Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Three ways to get signed letter to RMA!!

I spoke to Barbara at RMA, and I found out there are THREE ways to get the variance letter back to the RMA. Besides dropping it off at the office, you can drop the signed letter in the RMA lockbox where you drop your dues, and you can also scan the signed letter and email to; barbaraz@rma-hoa.org. Please vote!!!

Myrna Solomon

Brenda Sizemore's picture
Joined: 02/16/2008
Posts: 40

HI John,

As of today, i have not recieved the letter from the RMA, nor has a few other residents that I have sent the SOLOS email to this morning.  I am concerned that some of us residents are not recieving the letter to ensure everyone that is a resident owner of a property in RMA may envoke their right to vote.  Do you know what day they were mailed out on?  Do you know if there are any blank copies we can obtain and go door to door in our neighborhoods as a member of SOLOS to ensure they did recieve and did vote.  If not, then would obtain their decision and signature and return to the RMA.

Question, the last time we voted for the motorcycle matter, the RMA said if no one returned their ballot letters they would consider their answer to be NO.  Why is now this process being changed to if the letters are not returned it will be considered a YES vote?  Is this process part of the RMA BYLAWS? Who changes the procedure on no return letters between a YES or a NO vote? 



Myrna Solomon's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 427
Brenda, I'd contact the RMA!

If you didn't receive your variance letter, I'd contact the RMA to find out why, and ask to have another one mailed to you.

Myrna Solomon

Brenda Sizemore's picture
Joined: 02/16/2008
Posts: 40
Thank you!!!

Thanks Myrna!
I sure will!!  I will tell my neighbors and friend on the North to do the same.  Hopefully by spreading the word, others who didnt receive a letter will find out before its too late.


Bobbi Belton's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 275
Variance Letter

Ours arrived Saturday. My husband dropped it in the RMA mail slot this morning. Question: Will RMA keep a total record of all ballots received; i.e., total number, total yes responses, total noes? We never ever get a quorum without offering goodies so I doubt everyone will send a comment. If you read it carefully, it is clear each homeowner does NOT vote; we just submit our opinions;  it is the board who will vote. Can the BOD provide us with "x" ballots received; "y" okays, and "z" noes? It is clear they will have those numbers.

Bobbi Belton

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Don't be nickled and dimed - oppose the variances

For the sake of my mental health I've tried real hard to stay out of RMA dramas for a few years now, but this is far too important to ignore.

This is only the beginning of a stream of concessions the developer will try to wring out of RMA.  These matters are already covered by binding legal documents hashed out at great length and great expense, but the developer hopes to escape their clear obligations under both.  The CC&Rs govern annexed properties, the MBA governs non-annexed properties.  They seek the benefits of annexation - including RMA-provided landscape water and landscaping services most RMA members don't receive - but without meeting their architectural obligations under the CC&Rs.  And instead of proposing an integrated annexation of their proposed projects, they seek to piecemeal the process, nickel-and-diming us at each stage.

The houses aren't built.  The foundations aren't poured.  No construction plans have been filed with the building department.  Heck, the individual PARCELS don't even EXIST because the developer can't get subdivision approval until it is nailed down whether they will be annexed.  There is plenty of time to reconfigure floorplans to meet their obligations under the CC&Rs just as the rest of us have to.

But no, they're in a hurry and can't be bothered and somehow that is OUR problem and WE have to grant variances and agree to a hurry-up drill.

Well. NO.  We have no incentive to submit to such gaming of the system.  I urge my neighbors to send back that form OPPOSING the variances on the ground that the rest of us have to comply with the CC&Rs and developers must too.  Send them back to the drawing board.  If they want the benefits of annexation, they can toe the line.  If they don't want it badly enough to reconfigure some unbuilt garages on some still-nonexistent parcels, we'll know they just wanted to dump these landscaping-maintenance-burden homes on RMA and intend to keep their other projects unannexed under a new Rancho North Association.  The truth is, the net revenues from unannexed properties under the MBA are better than from annexed properties anyway.

PLEASE do send in the form noting your opposition, or drop it off.  As it states, they will treat every one tossed into the trash as an 'approval."  Yes, that's crazy, but that's how RMA rolls.

To quote a former First Lady, JUST SAY NO.

Linda Klein's picture
Joined: 07/05/2008
Posts: 23
Say NO on Variance

We strongly object to the procedure that the RMA is using to solicit opinions on the variance for the developers in Rancho Murieta.  If residents don’t return their responses in 22 days, their opinions are counted as approvals.  RMA is also requiring residents to drop off the responses at the RMA building or lock box in the parking lot (no return envelope provided), or scan and email them back to barbaraz@rma-hoa.org, or email your opinion only to barbaraz@rma-hoa.org.  In other words, it requires the resident to make an extra effort beyond the normal requirements of a vote. If the effort is not made, that’s considered approval. This is a completely undemocratic method and is entirely slanted to provide the developers with the advantage; if a variance is allowed now, it will set a precedent for future requests and make it easier for developers to ignore the Mutual Benefit Agreement. We question why there is such a rush to approve this variance. Imagine if CA proposition votes were done using this procedure.  Every proposition would pass no matter what it said.  This “voting” procedure is reminiscent of a third world country dictatorship and should not exist in a democratic society. 


A better procedure would have been for the RMA to hold a series of town hall meetings where residents could ask questions and express their concerns, and then RMA could take an actual referendum.  We call on the RMA to have a real soliciting of opinions using the procedures of an actual election, including NOT counting a non-response as a yes. 


At this juncture, voting NO on the variance request is important since the request does not follow the existing requirements of the Mutual Benefit Agreement signed by RMA and the developers.  The procedure being used is undemocratic, and the variance request is contrary to the Mutual Benefit Agreement, which is a legally binding document.   


Say NO!!!


Respectfully Submitted

Executive Committee

PAFT (Progressive Americans for Truth)

Dave Thomas

Jay Solomon

Myrna Solomon

Billye Ericksen

Mike Garrett

Linda Klein

Alex Bauer



Brenda Sizemore's picture
Joined: 02/16/2008
Posts: 40
NO on Variance

Thank you LInda for providing exactly what our thoughts are about this voting process!  My husband and myself both feel the same way. 

I wrote a few days ago about the voting process about the motorcycle issue.  At that time if the letters were not returned that meant a NO vote and now it is a YES vote if they are not returned?  This is voting process is very skewed and I would ask fellow Murietians speak out about this and I would like members of the board to answer these questions about the voting process.  I believe Bobbi Belton said the final vote is up to the board?  Our letters from the residents dont matter? 

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
RMA ensuring a Swing Vote?

A few of us have been talking and things smell rather fishy about this voting issue. 

The RMA knows the community is really bad about voting, they've had to extend deadlines because they can't reach a quorum needed. Yet this Annexation issue, they are letting the non-voters sway the vote to the outcome they must really want...

How many residents are just going to toss this mailing regardless of the nice big red URGENT stamp on the envelope!

Brenda Sizemore's picture
Joined: 02/16/2008
Posts: 40
Pass the Word On

We have been talking with our friends and neighbors about the variance letter and how important it is to have their voice heard and get those forms filled out and drop off at the RMA building ASAP.  If everyone went out and discussed with their neighbors their might be a decent turn out. However, I am concerned that our vote will not even count.

Martha Glunt's picture
Joined: 07/29/2007
Posts: 192
For what it's worth...

My understanding is that this isn't a "vote".  It's the RM BOD requesting input from the membership.  THEY will vote on if The Retreats should be annexed.  While the BOD will be reviewing community input and comments, the fact still remains that the whole deal DOES NOT conform to the CC&Rs. Don't let the stuff about the garages fool you into thinking this is the only part that is non-compliant.  These are 'production homes'.  CC&Rs states production homes aren't allowed.


Last week Roger Brandt was made to follow the rules.  We have rules and they need to be followed.  Not just the ones we want to pick and choose depending upon our mood.

Jacque Villa's picture
Joined: 07/11/2009
Posts: 539
CC&R's and Production Homes

Thank you Martha..you are absolutely correct....when we bought and built our home, we were told that ONLY custom homes could be built here.....we had to follow the rules and RMA went over our plans to be sure we complied!!!!  Now, they are going to allow production homes ?????  So, they are going to break the rules to satisfy the developers.....I don't think so......!!!!  This whole thing stinks to high heaven.....and they beat up on Roger for improving this community !!!!!!! 

No confidence in this board and the administration.

Martha Glunt's picture
Joined: 07/29/2007
Posts: 192
I disagree about Roger...

He violated the rules.  His trails are lovely.  I don't dispute that.  However, all of that work has been done on someone else's property, without permission.  Trespassing.  He put up a table that doesn't conform to the other tables and benches around the community.  Without permission.  He violated the rules.  He was asked to cease and desist.  He did not.  He violated the rules.  A group of generous people rallied and donated money to pay his fine, what was left after the Board put some of those fees in abeyance.  Now THAT precedent has been set.  Who knows if those donated funds went to pay the fine?  Not my business.  There are consequences to everything.  If one can't follow the rules, there are consequences.  Sometimes the cost is monetary.  Sometimes it's hard to measure the cost.  But we have Governing Docs for a reason, and we are all expected to obey them.  

Joanne Brandt's picture
Joined: 06/12/2014
Posts: 33
Two sides to every story

Hi Martha,

PTF was fully aware of Roger’s trails and didn’t consider it trespassing when he kept the property clean and removed safety and fire hazards for them. 

There were three fines assessed by RMA.  The first $1000  fine was to Cease & Desist work on the picnic table area.  The second fine ($1000) was for failing to abide by the original Cease & Desist Order and that fine was waived. The third fine was for $1500 and was to be assessed if Roger didn’t take the picnic table out and return the property to the original state within two weeks.  At the last minute during the RMA meeting, the RMA board decided to have Roger only remove the table and not return the property to the original state. That was the fine left in abeyance.  Roger took the table the next morning.

We make sure to keep our accounts in good standing and always return votes to RMA and CSD.  On the latest letter from RMA regarding annexation, if you don't respond back by October 15th, RMA will consider your lot number as a "Yes" for annexation and it says so on the letter. Please send your reply back to RMA and let them know if you are for or against annexation.

Joanne Brandt

Beth Buderus's picture
Joined: 08/03/2007
Posts: 926
Picnic table

Besides that Joanne, didn't you say that RMA never did write you a letter/give you notice not to put a picnic table.  The letter was only regarding no more trails.  So Martha, he did not technically go against the RMA in this case.

Joanne Brandt's picture
Joined: 06/12/2014
Posts: 33

At the RMA meeting, one of the board members brought up a letter that was sent to us in June 2014. It wasn't about no more trails, it was about who did maintenance. It had nothing to do with the picnic table area. The property around the lakes belong to RMA so the picnic table area falls under the ARC.

Joanne Brandt

Scott Adams's picture
Joined: 03/24/2009
Posts: 63
The Threshold Question

In 1998, the First Amendment to the Second Restated CC&Rs (1998) amended Art. XV, Section 4(a) of our CC&Rs. That section allows property owners to annex to RMA subject to prior approval of the BOD. “Such approval is to be based solely upon the Board’s determination that the Subdivider’s proposed plan of annexation complies with Rancho Murieta Association Governing Documents.” This is a threshold question which, in this context means that before the Board can take any other action, they must first determine the plans comply with RMA governing documents.

The Board has already determined the current plans do not comply with RMA governing documents. The RMA Variance Letter sent to residents states on page 2 that “garage depths are not in compliance.” The letter also states that three of “models” have tandem garages. These are production homes, which violate Art. VI, Section 9(i) that restricts “tract or production housing” on the North. In my opinion, the BOD cannot consider a variance when the plans do not comply with RMA governing docs.

Art. VI, Section 12 of the CC&Rs  states that reasonable variances may be allowed “to overcome practical difficulties, avoid unnecessary expense or to prevent unnecessary hardship.” Here a variance would be granted for an entire subdivision of homes even before the foundations are laid. Variances are designed to be practical “one-offs” - almost always for a single home - and not a means by which entire subdivisions may be built in violation of our governing docs. Mr. Sullivan should not be allowed to go joy-riding around our current documents, including the MBA.

These homes will be very visible in the community and visitors. They will be built along the 11th North fairway and by the entrance to the club. If he truly wishes to annex, Mr. Sullivan should go back, redesign and build custom homes that comply with our current governing docs. This is the best RMA Board we had had since I moved to RM in 1998. I am sure they are working through these issues and will arrive at the right decision.

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