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The Rancho Murieta Association board of directors moved closer to finding a way to allow exclusive use of common area and developing non-architectural rules for curfew, vandalism and skateboarding Tuesday night. But there was more discussion and debate than action at the four-hour meeting.

Several speakers who came to the podium expressed concerns about vandalism, and there was support on the board for establishing a Neighborhood Watch program. The board approved a motion to have Sheriff's Department personnel make a presentation on the program at a town hall meeting.

"We have a severe vandalism problem in this community and it's running into thousands of dollars in repairs," President Dick Cox said. "If we had a hundred policemen out here it wouldn't solve the problem. ... But I believe if you get people involved who are willing to keep an eye out and call and identify suspicious characters in the neighborhood that we have a chance to cut down on the vandalism. You're never going to eliminate it entirely. ... We need to give our Security Department help in that area."

Cox said there was good news concerning the recent vandalism of construction equipment at Bass Lake. He said the Sheriff's Department is expected to apprehend a 17-year-old resident in connection with the crime, and the Operating Engineers training center intends to press charges. Cox said damage to the construction equipment was estimated at $15,000. Coverage of the incident is here.

Director Mike Martel said portable cameras will be used in the community's efforts against crime, and Cox said there is $30,000 for the cameras in the preliminary 2009 budget.

Director Jim Moore summarized rules the Compliance Committee reviewed and approved for curfew, vandalism and skateboarding. The curfew rule states that a person under the age of 18 must not be in RMA common area between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., although there are exceptions for school, recreational and other activities.

The committee proposed a warning for the first curfew violation, a fine of $150 for the second offense, and $250 fine for the third within a year. Vandalism would carry a fine of $100 and an obligation to clean or make restitution for damage to property. "The fine is really secondary to the restitution," Moore said.

The skateboarding rule prohibits unsafe behavior like being towed by a vehicle, and no skateboarding is allowed in areas where there is signage prohibiting it. Standard compliance fines would apply.

The rules got a mixed response. Martel objected to the magnitude of the fines for curfew violations.

"Walking from one house to another house to me is not a crime," he said. Cox wanted skateboarding disallowed on the streets, but Director Candice Koropp pointed out skateboards are to children today what bicycles were to another generation. "They have every right to ride their skateboards on the street," Moore said. Director Paul Gumbinger wanted to add a prohibition against skateboarding at night for safety reasons.

Director Mel Standart described the rules as "a start in the right direction," when he made the motion to approve them. The board's approval sends the rules on to the Governing Documents Committee for review. The rules will come back to the board for consideration before being sent out to the membership for a 30-day comment period. After that, the board will vote on the measures.

First-time fine for stop sign, speed violations gains support

A proposal to eliminate a warning for the first violation of an RMA rule was discussed at length. Although President Dick Cox favored eliminating the warning for all violations, he found support among board members for eliminating the warning for traffic rule violations. "I don't feel we need to warn somebody for running a stop sign. I don't feel we need to warn someone for speeding," he said.

Director Jim Moore said the Compliance Committee has not dismissed or held in abeyance violations for speeding and stop sign running during the three-plus years he's been on the committee. "I personally would not have a problem with the elimination of warnings for those two violations," he said.

The rule proposal will go to the Compliance Committee and to the Governing Documents Committee for review before coming back to the board next month. The rule will go out to the membership for a 30-day comment period before the board votes on adopting it.

Exclusive use revisited

The board considered ways to comply with current law and end the moratorium on granting leases to owners of townhouses, circle and cottage lots for exclusive use of common area.

Realtor Karen Hoberg spoke on behalf of clients, and said the moratorium imposed last year has hurt property values.

Under the planned development ordinance the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors enacted in 1977 and current RMA CC&Rs, owners of cottage, townhouse and circle lots can lease up to 1,200 square feet of common area immediately adjacent to their homes for heating and air conditioning equipment, propane tanks, decking, unroofed patios, landscaping and swimming pools.

A legislative change that took effect in 2006 restricts granting of common area leases and requires approval by two-thirds of the membership in most cases, unless a lesser percentage is specified in the governing documents.
The RMA's interpretation, supported by legal opinion, is that the board is able to vote to approve exclusive uses because the community voted to approve the CC&Rs, but the board has been reluctant to act on the legal opinion.
Several directors maintained it's illegal to grant the leases and referred to a decision and an appeal in Small Claims Court earlier this year that rejected the RMA position.

Resident Wilbur Haines, who brought the Small Claims Court action, spoke in support of proposals by Directors Paul Gumbinger and Mel Standart. Gumbinger said exclusive use requests for underground propane tanks, garbage can enclosures and air conditioning equipment can be accommodated under the exceptions permitted in the law. Standart proposed a lower affirmative vote percentage for other requests. Cox said he opposed allowing swimming pools on common area, but Gumbinger said planned increases in RMA fees for pools and the vote requirement will discourage pool construction.

The matter was referred to the Architectural Review Committee for review.

Candice Koropp appointed to empty board seat

At the start of the open session, the board voted to approve Candice Koropp as director. President Dick Cox said the board selected Koropp to take Chris Pedersen's place because she received the second-highest number of votes from board members when she applied for Jack Cooper's seat in June. The board selected Jim Moore to succeed Cooper.

Candice Koropp

Candice Koropp is a retired high school counselor.

In her candidate's application, Koropp, a retired high school counselor, listed numerous committees and experience as vice president of a homeowners association. She wrote that her goal would be "for the board to come to a quicker consensus and to resolve community concerns in a more timely manner" and listed "escalating crime, code or ordinance infractions" as the biggest issue now facing RMA.

Koropp took her seat on the board immediately after she was sworn in by Cox.

In brief

  • The perennial issue of townhouse landscape maintenance will be revisited at Director Bonita Jones' request. The RMA maintains the townhouse common areas with twice-yearly pruning and maintenance. "We do know this involves money," said Jones, a townhouse owner. She said she hopes to present information at the September board meeting. Other board members and speakers pointed out problems with maintaining common area trees and landscape that are unrelated to townhouses. Jones will work on the project with Director Mel Standart and members who volunteer.
  • The board voted Bonita Jones to replace Chris Pedersen as vice president, and Mike Martel replaced him as chairman of the Compliance Committee. Director Mel Standart took Pedersen's place on the Ad Hoc Security Committee, which is made up of representatives of the community's governing organizations and the Country Club.
  • Cox announced that the board had selected Jim Moore to head the Nominating Committee and the board approved Moore's choices for committee members - Judith Embree, Cate Murphy and Nancy Pohll. The seats now held by Candice Koropp, Paul Gumbinger and Bonita Jones will be up for election at the annual meeting in November. A director's term is three years.
  • Cox reported the results of a meeting about providing cable television service held with the developers of the Retreat and Residences of Murieta Hills projects. "We went into it with great anticipation that they would see our point of view," said Cox. Instead, the developers brought up the Cable Agreement, which makes RMA responsible for providing cable television service to the area within the Community Services District boundaries, he said. Cox added that the RMA attorney's advice on allowing members to opt out of paying for cable means "we disavow ... anything with the Freedom of Choice ... Committee because of the legal obligations of the Mutual Benefit Agreement." The independent committee has collected proxies for a vote to amend the bylaws and end the use of dues for the cable system.
  • The association's insurance cost declined 6 percent, Assistant General Manager Danise Hetland said. The association's broker got four bids for the renewal of the policies, and the total cost is $91,340, she said. The board ratified the expenditure, but accepted Director Mike Martel's suggestion to have staff seek out other brokers to see if further savings could be realized.
  • After considerable discussion, the board approved the purchase of a new vehicle for the general manager at a cost not to exceed $23,000, and decided to trade in both the 2002 Ford Explorer he now uses and the 1997 Explorer now being used by Compliance. A lower-mileage Maintenance Department truck will replace the Compliance vehicle. The board approved the purchase of four turf and all-terrain vehicles to replace two Maintenance trucks at a cost not to exceed $31,500. The vehicle purchases total less than the amount that's been reserved for them.

Ryan Fogleman's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 125
Post rating: 0

Punish , punish, punish

God help those of you who are so intently focused on punishment, when those you wish to punish return your brand of justice back upon you <head shaking> tisk tisk. Cry

Mike Simas's picture
Joined: 03/21/2008
Posts: 50
Post rating: 49

Bicycles vs. Skateboards

Skateboarding vs. Bicycles....... do skateboards now come equipped with a braking device?

Pat Reeves's picture
Joined: 04/17/2008
Posts: 17
Post rating: 15

Consequence, Consequence, Consequence

Sorry Ryan, but given the escalation in offenses (especially vandalism) I view it more as a consequence than punishment, even though I disagree of the scaling of the fines.  Life’s choices come with a consequence, answerable through either positive or negative repercussions.  It’s part of the societal learning process.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

Priorities

It's appropriate that the rush to "get tough" has narrowed down toward focusing on deliberate acts which cause actual harm or the risk of actual harm to others. In its new iteration the suspension of the first-offense warning is said to be limited to traffic offenses like speeding and stop signs, which one knows you are doing, and vandalism, which is also quite deliberate and undeserving of "the first one's free."

The curfew proposal will need a little refinement. Although it was stated at the BOD meeting that the exceptions were intended to include a kid walking home from a friend's hous, the draft verbiage is not entirely clear on that point. Amd Mike Martel made a good point re: the fines for curfew being more severe than those for vandalism. That too should be looked at.

Al Dolata's picture
Joined: 08/09/2007
Posts: 94
Post rating: 129

The developers didn't see our point of view? INCREDIBLE!

I  smiled a while back when the FOC advised the BOD that there ought to be  little trouble getting the developers to agree to waive their rights re cable as allegedly set out in the MBA, and implying that the the BOD's failure to secure that waiver was due to  sloth.  Do I correctly recall an FOC spokesperson saying in effect, "hand me the phone, I'll take care ot it right now"?

It's a credit to the FOC's  power of persuasion that the BOD  bought into this,  and expected the developers to roll over in their recent negotiation.   I guess not, so unless the BOD is prepared to make concessions to bring the developers around, we are at stalemate.

Al Dolata

Mike Burnett's picture
Joined: 07/31/2007
Posts: 183
Post rating: 0

What is your point!

Al,

What is your point.  The Develops simply stated the obvious, which members of the FOC have stated all along as well....The charter the RMA is working under is the Cable Agreement!  Doh!

So what does that mean?  Read the agreement!!!!!  It means that RMA is the Manager of the Cable Television Services throughout the RMCSD serving area.  It doesn't say that RMA members must all subsidize the cost, it doesn't say the cable television system is RMA's common property, it doesn't say that RMA must continue to operate and maintain the system if it can't afford to or retain subscribers!!!

The FOC committee is saying that mandatory subscription is not a requirement in the Cable Television Agreement, the MBA or RMA's governing documents.  We will move forward with the process to make the subscription voluntary as the majority of members are voting.  The RMA BOD and staff can decide how it wants to mange and operate the cable system independent of the action by the FOC on behlf of the membership.

If the BOD is so inept that they can't see the forest thru the trees, then they will lose.  The RMA attorney is only responding as they have been instructed to by the RMA General Manager and Board President.

Wilbur Haines's picture
Joined: 08/07/2007
Posts: 474
Post rating: 470

What DID the developers say?

It was not revealed in much detail what the developers said. President Cox did not say that they said FOC would breach the contract. he instead spoke of the revelation that there is a Cable Agreement which binds RMA to serve the surrounding properties. And that RMA is not free to unilaterally go sell the system to somebody.

Gee, several of us have been trying to explain that to RMA for about four years now, whenever we were told that if only RMA pumped all this money into the system it could then be sold at a windfall. NO, the developer has always held an option to snatch it back. For free.

But none of that is a legal reason why the members may be denied their right to vote. RMA continues to be in violation of the law by refusing to permit an election. I for one remain hopeful that a peaceful, inexpensive resolution of that stalemate can be reached.

I would not be so quick to lay the blame for this at the Board's feet. Their counsel is leading them around by a ring in their noses. Once again the attorneys and not the Board are running the association. There are directors who would like to let the vote proceed, let the members' voice be heard. But counsel won't let them. Personally I believe this dates back to input to counsel given quite some time ago which now has them all, again, painted in a corner by bad advice which is now difficult to back away from.

John Dekker's picture
Joined: 08/30/2007
Posts: 46
Post rating: 51

Vandalism

I was astonished to read that Dick Cox said "If we had a hundred policemen out here it wouldn't solve the problem." Even allowing for some hyperbole here, surely he can't be serious. Does he really think that some number of policemen (or security) , a lot closer to one or two than to one hundred, couldn't catch eight scofflaws roaming the lower north streets in the middle of the night? Mr. Cox must think that these hoodlums are so incredibly clever that they can elude detection from a  security force specifically on the look out for them. I would point out that vandalism is a high risk, zero reward crime that is unlikely to be perpetrated by our best and brightest. It is also likely that the majority of vandalism is being committed by a relatively small core group. Catch and prosecute a couple of them, and the vandalism will probably cease. To actually think that an unlimited number of policemen could not solve the problem is to give up enforcing our laws. The purpose of our security department is to protect our residents and our property. It's time that they do their job, or be held accountable if they don't.

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

Vandalism

.

On August 22, 2008 John Dekker wrote:..... The purpose of our security department is to protect our residents and our property. It's time that they do their job, or be held accountable if they don't.

 

John,

May I ask, what would you like them to be able to do? What do you consider their job to be? I think that there are a number of residents that may feel the way that you do.

Lisa Taylor's picture
Joined: 01/09/2008
Posts: 365
Post rating: 30

Their jobs?

Sam, I saw your comment after the Summerfest article. Hopefully we will get a report on that incident.

I guess what I am asking, from both you and John now, is what do you expect security to be able to do? What, as a member of this commmunity, are your specific expectations? This is an important question.

RM.com's picture
Joined: 06/19/2007
Posts: 27727
Post rating: 1387

Comments questioned

Lisa's comment is in response to two postings, one in this thread, that the RM.com member says weren't his.  The postings have been removed.  See a further explanation here.

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