The bid to recall eight of the nine Alta Sierra Property Owners Association board members was ruled invalid by an arbitrator agreed to by both parties, meaning the current board continues as the board of record.
Arbitrator James E. Simon said the recall election held Oct. 19 was invalid because it was not properly noticed.
“The fact that the recall committee held a meeting at which there was a quorum present does not mean that the meeting itself was necessarily valid,” Simon wrote in a 30-page ruling. “The obvious purpose of proper notice is to give all members the opportunity to attend and vote. This is a fundamental right of due process …”
The ruling means that Monday’s ASPOA election will decide the composition of the board moving forward.
The results of the election show that 496 ASPOA members cast votes in the election.
George Horrigan received the most votes (372), Diane Coelho received the second most (339) and Enid Powell came in third (315).
Gerald Gates, Laura Rose McLeod, Powell, Coelho and Horrigan ran for three seats vacated by former board members Paul Hoefler, Kathleen Cary and Jim Barrileaux.
Hoefler was the former board president.
Gates and McLeod were elected to the replacement board in the Nov. 2 election. That election and the board that ensued were also rendered moot in the arbitration process. Gates received 261 votes, and McLeod received 141.
“It’s good to have so many members participate in a vote,” said Julie Siegenthaler, a member of the board of directors.
Powell, Coelho and Horrigan will join Siegenthaler, Lee French, Don Bessee, David Johnson, John Keefe and Gene Jovich to comprise the board of directors.
“It means we can move the association forward,” Siegenthaler said. “We can put the recall behind us and focus on the programs for the association.”
Kathy Monteiro, who emerged as the leader of the recall effort and established the unincorporated association Alta Sierra Neighbors, conceded the ruling was a defeat but said she and her supporters have accomplished the most critical goal — to prevent the board from making the property owners association a mandatory homeowner’s association.
“We won the most important decision,” Monteiro said. “Our attorney argued and won that the ASPOA has no authority to enforce the CC&Rs and that Alta Sierra does not nor ever will qualify for the Davis-Stirling Act, which means that no board can try to convert Alta Sierra into a mandatory HOA with mandatory dues.”
Monteiro said it was important to note her group was awarded $25,000 in attorney fees as part of mediation.
In his ruling, Simon made it clear that his decision does not exonerate or endorse the behavior of the board.
“It bears repeating that the arbitrator does not sanction the board’s refusal to provide the membership list to Neighbors or the interpretation advanced by the Association that the entire board could not be removed in a single election, as legitimate ground for refusing to notice a meeting,” Simon writes. “Each of these reasons is flawed.”
Although the ruling issued several rebukes to the former board’s arguments, it ultimately stated the recall committee should have exhausted sanctioned means to bring a recall vote to fruition.
“The recall committee had other alternatives to address what it considered the unreasonable positions taken by the board,” Simon wrote. “While these remedies might not be perfect in the face of a recalcitrant or even hostile board, the fact does not warrant or justify the holding of a special members meeting without proper notice in violation of the bylaws and corporations code.”
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
“Our attorney argued and won that the ASPOA has no authority to enforce the CC&Rs and that Alta Sierra does not nor ever will qualify for the Davis-Stirling Act, which means that no board can try to convert Alta Sierra into a mandatory HOA with mandatory dues.”