So, I think you know a lot about me already if you’ve been reading my articles the last three years in the RSF Post. And my abbreviated bio is in my flyer. In this article I’d like to answer some questions that I keep getting asked. If you have further questions after reading this article, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Elected, Are You Going To Keep Writing For The Post?
If elected, my priority will be to be an effective Director. Which requires communications (much of it in confidence), diplomacy, research, negotiating skill and persuasion. All of which takes time. Just from a purely hours of the day perspective, I won’t have much time left over to write the kind of articles I’ve been writing.
Moreover, the Post is a big megaphone, so I have to be careful not to upset the apple cart when discussing sensitive issues (cough, restaurant deficits). The only way to be effective is to be trusted and if people get their nose out of joint due to something I wrote, then I won’t be effective.
In a perfect world, I’d find my replacement for Post editor and article writer. That way I could devote 100% of my energies to being an effective director, while the Post continues to inform and gather input from members. If anyone is interested in the job of Post editor/writer, please let me know!
Alas, the world is unlikely to be perfect. If I can’t find my replacement, the Post will still be there for (Board approved) polls, and (Board approved) information dissemination and for community provided articles.
However, if I’m elected, hopefully there will be less need for the RSF Post’s information dissemination because one of my goals is to push the Association towards better transparency.
What Do You Mean By Transparency?
It’s a great sound bite, but what does this actually mean? I actually loathe talking in generalities since what I mean by “transparency” and what you think it means, and then how that concept is applied in practice can easily be three different things. So let me give an example.
Member input was given back in February imploring the need for more recreation field space. And that’s the last we heard about it at the Board level. Rumor is that a little bit of exploratory work was done by staff – really, a small amount of time. But, and here’s the governance issue, why didn’t we members hear the Board say they were going to devote staff resources to this issue? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled some time, no matter how minor, was spent on this. But the Board should have brought it up as an agenda item on the very next meeting and given their blessing to either spending exploratory staff resources on it, or at least noting that it was done.
Why? Not because “staff resources equals board action”, that’s way too granular. It’s because this is a policy decision that hadn’t come up in the last few years of Board discussion. The Board should make a considered decision that spending some resources investigating sports fields is something the Association wants and then informing us of it.
Over the years, I’ve seen the Board spring fait accompli resolutions on us with no prior warning, for example the Hardie Board prohibition and the restaurant deficit cost sharing. The Board should have debated these resolutions in open session well before resolutions were drafted.
So, one of the things I’ll be bird dogging will be to ensure that nothing is discussed in closed session that should be discussed in open session. Members deserve to know everything that the Board and Association are working on at least at a big picture level.
What’s the #1 Overall Issue?
The discussion whether or not we spend money and/or staff time and resources on sports fields should be subsumed in a much bigger picture discussion about the overall direction the Board has decided for the Association.
What do we want the Association to be? Do we want it to change, and if so, change into what? I’ll give you opposite visions.
On the one hand, the Association could act as a simple HOA which would maintain common areas, ensure architectural standards are met in remodels and new buildings, and run existing clubs as independent profit/loss entities and that’s about it.
On the other extreme, the Association could operate with a “private club” mentality meaning it would look to constantly add new amenities to compete with other local “club communities”. Have a world class private restaurant, provide dry cleaning pickup/drop off services, offer pilates/yoga/wellness classes, don’t just have a dedicated piece of land like the Arroyo, but offer services that use the land like fishing classes or whatever (I’m reaching). But you get the idea, it’s a different mentality.
Today, the Association, in my opinion, bumbles along without a clear big picture direction it wants to go in. Luckily, we do make the occasional big investment that is absolutely necessary just to stay moderately competitive, like the fiber Internet network. But absent an overarching goal, we also do things like buying Osuna Ranch with no clear idea what to do with it.
I touched on this issue in my Making Rancho World Class article almost two years ago.
By the way, another way to look at the big picture is that Board should do things that increase the value of our properties. That should be a bedrock principle … and then the above debate needs to be undertaken to figure out how we’re going to achieve that.
What’s Your View On The Clubhouse Restaurant?
I suspect the clubhouse restaurant will be the substantive concrete issue the Board will wrestle with this coming year. There are many questions that need answers. What level of food service/ingredient/menu quality do we want to have? Ambiance? What should a remodel look like and what goals are we trying to achieve with it? It operates at a loss as it is (which is normal, and not surprising for a restaurant that has a restricted clientele), so how much of a loss can we tolerate/want? Who shoulders the deficits – it used to be 100% shouldered by golf club members, now it is more or less split 50/50 between golf club members and all Association members (which still means each individual golf member pays approximately 5 times what each individual non golf member pays for the restaurant deficit, yeah I was surprised too when I did the math).
Here’s another complex question about the restaurant: who does it serve? In the past year, we’ve had a huge influx of around 150 new families with kids into our community. While the restaurant has of late tried to accommodate family dining, it really doesn’t have the facilities for it. Other local restaurants have things like dedicated outdoor play area for kids to run around in, or a kid’s lounge. Alternatively, the snack bar could be remodeled to actually be a nice place to have dinner and it could be the family annex for dinner.
My point is that if our dining operations are supposed to serve the community at large, then it must serve golfers, tennis club members, families, and couples. No easy task, but doable with the right vision.
Why Are You Running?
Because I think I’ve learned enough about how the Association functions (and doesn’t function) to be able to help. It’s the same reason I joined the high speed Internet committees, I knew a lot about computer networking so I knew I could add a lot of value. Same this time – I’ve gotten to the point where I’m confident I can add value.
Enough for now. Got a question for me? Please email me directly at email@example.com. I really would love to hear from you, I’m not just saying that. Your input is the only way I can better understand the needs and concerns of the community.