Here we go again in Alta Sierra
February 21, 2014
The residents of Alta Sierra have watched our Highway 49 entrance deteriorate for months. I learned this week that volunteers actively sought to preserve the once-manicured landscaping that had been neglected. This neglect stemmed from the budget constraints of the ASPOA board, firing the paid landscaper and a two-week-old irrigation pipe failure.
For the record, I was against last year's lawsuit against the volunteer board members, but I supported the recall.
Why? Because prior to learning about their legal expenditures to convert ASPOA into a mandatory HOA, I had contacted a now resigned board member twice. My first inquiry was regarding the board's elimination of the dead deer removal benefit, which is one of three benefits members received. In my email, I was appreciative of their volunteer services and accepted the reply that the benefit was removed due to the rising costs of producing the Alta Sierran newsletter. When another benefit was reduced — they no longer would accept pine needles or leaves at the yard-waste event — I contacted the same board member. I expressed concern that it may affect membership if the only benefit was the propane discount. Again, I was told the production costs of the newsletter were the sole reason.
Not once was I made aware that mandatory HOA legal investigation expenses were contributing to budgetary constraints. I accepted the board's reasoning and even offered suggestions on perhaps using an electronic newsletter.
It was several weeks later that I learned of the brewing recall effort over ASPOA's desire to convert our membership into a mandatory HOA. I felt betrayed after nearly 14 years of supporting and volunteering for this organization.
I recently contacted the ASPOA board through the proper channels after reading it was going to remove the planters from the median strip. They have served as a good traffic barrier for many years and were approved by the county. Yes, they have been hit, but better them than cars hitting each other. I felt the decision to remove them was hasty and thought the board should query the residents. I had called many of my immediate neighbors to ask them if they knew of this development. They responded with their despair over the condition of the entrance and also did not want the planters removed. They told me they would also call the ASPOA and voice their opinions.
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Both my email and voice message to the ASPOA were ignored, as well as a subsequent email to a board member in charge of the landscaping. I then called the president and introduced myself.
Instead of acknowledging my concerns, I was greeted with "I know who you are" and that I "was the sole person in Alta Sierra who complained." When I objected, saying that my neighbors felt the same, I was hung up on.
The president has responded to another person's email inquiry that I insinuated that board members would take the planters for themselves. I inquired as to what they were going to do with the planters and asked why they didn't first get resident feedback. It was my understanding that the median landscaping, including the deer, cost a couple of thousand dollars to put in place.
I was also accused of harassment and with working with Kathy Monteiro, who led the recall effort last year. The truth is, I called Ms. Monteiro, a neighbor I rarely see, to ask if she was aware of the planters being removed. It was after I called her that I learned that she and a group of volunteers had been trying to work with ASPOA to maintain the landscape.
The bottom line is that the leadership of ASPOA decided not to respond to my phone call or emails. They chose to ignore my concerns because they knew who I was — someone who supported their recall.
One would think that after all that transpired last year, board members would be proactive in calling back their members instead of letting bad feelings fester.
I do hope they will take up the offer of volunteers to maintain the landscaping and perhaps install reflectors at the base of the median. If not, maybe now they can hire a licensed landscaper since their newsletter has gone electronic.
Sadly, when our dues come up for renewal this year, our family feels that the reduction of benefits and the unfair treatment from the ASPOA board make it no longer worth our participation.
Valentina Parkman lives in Alta Sierra.