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Alta Sierra home to growing dispute

Matthew Renda
Staff Writer

An Alta Sierra resident is demanding a recall of the 9-person board of the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, claiming members of the governing body are power hungry, while the board president said he is simply attempting to add enforcement to existing regulations and make support for the association more equitable.

Kathy Monteiro, an Alta Sierra resident, said the ASPOA has operated as a “casual organization” since its inception in the early 1970s, and the currently configured board wants to change that “into an organization filled with rules and regulations that has the ability to fine people.”

Monteiro, who noted the ASPOA was one of the initial driving forces behind proposing and eventually passing Nevada County’s marijuana medical nuisance ordinance, said board members, such as Lee French and Don Bessee, got a taste of political influence, and the power has gone to their heads.

“They want to rewrite CC&R’s (covenants, conditions and restrictions that are placed on a group of homes by a developer) to give themselves the authority to fine, levy liens against properties and turn it into an HOA,” Monteiro said. “They want to turn it into Lake of the Pines or Lake Wildwood.”

Paul Hoefler, president of the ASPOA board, said some of what Monteiro claims is true but said she is portraying it improperly.

Instead of a tyrannical board interested in expanding its influence, the board simply wants to give teeth to some of the regulations already on the books.

“We want to be able to enforce the deed restrictions,” Hoefler said.

He pointed to a recent instance where a property owner cut down a swathe of trees within his property, contrary to regulations put forth in the neighborhood regulations.

ASPOA asked the person to desist from the project but was repeatedly rebuffed, and without the ability to levy fines, the regulations are not enforceable, Hoefler said.

Another problem exists with residents keeping derelict vehicles on their front lawn or neglecting properties to a point where it detrimentally impacts neighboring property values, Hoefler said.

“I talked to one owner who received a $30,000 deduction on the value of a home because of the condition of the property next to them,” he said.

Alta Sierra is a neighborhood directly south of Grass Valley comprised of about 3,000 different properties. Of those properties, about 1,600 currently pay voluntary dues to the neighborhood association, meaning the organization has about a $65,000 annual budget.

Hoefler said the residents who are not paying the annual dues continue to benefit from some of the beautification programs, social activities and the neighborhood watch programs.

Those who are paying voluntary dues are unfairly subsidizing initiatives that benefit the entire community, Hoefler said.

For Monteiro, the mandatory fees levied against every household are just a symptom of a board drunk with power in its small slice of dominion.

“The board is out of control,” she said. “They are not serving the best interest of the homeowner, but they just want the power. They want more rules and regulations.”

Monteiro said the board has used a segment of ASPOA’s budget to retain the services of an attorney tasked with studying the changes to the CC&R’s necessary to bring about the level of enforcement desired by the board.

Hoefler does not dispute the charge, although the two parties disagree on how much was spent (Monteiro said $11,000 while Hoefler maintains its closer to $6,000).

Hoefler said the board is going to be very transparent about the changes it is contemplating and will look to build consensus in the neighborhood and incorporate input from the residents. After a series of open meetings, the board will put the proposed changes to a vote in the neighborhood.

The board is set to make its second presentation of its intentions at the Alta Sierra Country Club 10 a.m. today, Hoefler said.

Bessee and French deferred comment on this story to Hoefler.

For information on the recall and its process, visit http://recallaspoa.com or call 530-575-7984.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.

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