Sparks Fly As Board Prez Appoints New Art Juror in Special Meeting

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What an interesting meeting.

The Association called a special meeting Thursday July 16th so that an Art Juror could be appointed to the Art Jury. As you may know, we’ve had two resignations recently, Jack Queen (see his story here), and Tim Parillo who is moving out of RSF. 

The meeting started with the announcement that an IDR had been filed by a member. As these are considered confidential proceedings, that’s the last we will hear of that unless one of the members involved tells us something.

Member Input

During member input, Linda Hahn, former Art Juror, read a letter that she and nine other former Art Jurors had sent to the Board. Here is what she read:

Our Concerns as Former Art Jurors Relating to the Protective Covenant

Recent actions by the last few Board of Directors have attempted, and to some extent been successful, in taking much of the authority and decision making capability, granted by our Protective Covenant, away from the Art Jury.
The Dolan King court decision was precise in defining the latitude and responsibilities of our Art Jury, don’t let this Board or others take decisions out of their hands.

 Examples of this are:
1. The prohibition of the construction of Ranch Type houses. Those low, rambling, usually one story homes were at one point approximately 40% of the homes in the Covenant.  Previous Board and Art juries have all accepted ranch type homes as fitting the broader definitions in the PC. They are part of our “ranch“ and are still widely proposed today.

2. Wood siding will no longer be permitted or homes that have a predominance of wood siding, board and batten, etc. The PC does not list wood as a “preferred finish“, however it is not prohibited and has been used here for approximately 90 years, until now.

3. The inclusion of tennis courts and swimming pools in measuring the coverage of structures or buildings on the property. The PC clearly states that “buildings and structures” should not exceed 20% of lot coverage. Pools and tennis courts have never been considered as either structures or buildings, but left to the AJ on an individual basis.  This new rule greatly hinders the Art Jury’s ability to make reasonable decisions on a case to case basis. The argument that it will help keep house sizes smaller is unrealistic.

4. The insertion of two board members as “liaison“ to the Art Jury. The PC does call for liaison for committees of the association, however, the Art Jury is not a committee as defined carefully in the PC. The recent, two individuals, so named, have been intrusive in Art Jury meetings, but most importantly, have no standing to be on the Art Jury at all.

The Reaction

Board President Rick Sapp stated that the Board does not normally reply to member input, but that he would give his philosophical thoughts.

Sapp said that CA law and the Davis Stirling Act that governs HOAs supersedes what is written in the Covenant. In particular he said this gives Boards the responsibility to oversee all aspects of the Association including supervision and oversight of the Art Jury.

Sapp stated that the Board put liaisons on the Art Jury several years ago when the Association had an extended period without a Building Commissioner. The liaisons are there to make sure the Art Jury follows procedures.

Sapp stated that the power to interpret the Covenant rests with the Board regardless of what the Covenant says.

Sapp then gave an overview of the process that the Association uses to create new regulations. He stated the reason for the recent new regulations is to make Art Jury decisions more consistent. He gave an example where a paint color that is approved one day should remain approved during a different day. 

Art Jury Appointment

After all that, Sapp appointed Ken Markstein as a new Art Juror to take over Jack Queen’s position which lasts for another 1 1/2 years. Sapp pointed out that Markstein has been both a previous Art Juror and Art Jury President, and also a past Board member and past Board president and thus has unique qualifications. Sapp said Markstein would be able to hit the ground running on the Art Jury and would also understand the Board point of view.

With Markstein’s appointment, the Art Jury is still short one person. The Association is still soliciting members to volunteer for the remaining open position. In addition, two more Art Jurors term off at the end of the year.

Ruhnau’s Response

Subsequent to this meeting, Board director Sharon Ruhnau sent me a letter offering a point by point critique of the above letter that was read at the Board meeting. You can view it here

I showed it to Linda Hahn and she declined to reply to Ruhnau’s letter. I give my high level thoughts on this situation in a separate op-ed.