Author Archives: mfkaplan

Coffee and Conversation: Land Use and Development in Santa Fe County and How It Affects Rancho Viejo

 

Rancho Viejo South Association Invites the Entire Rancho Viejo Community to:

~ Coffee and Conversation 

Date:    Saturday, August 5th – 2017

Time:   Presentation Begins 10AM Sharp – 12 Noon, Doors open at 9:30AM

                                    Coffee and refreshments will be available

Location:   IAIA Campus @ The HOGAN Building

 83 Avan Nu Po Road 

                               Please save parking spaces at the building for Disabled Parking

                                    Park along driveway to the building or park in main lot and walk.

                                    (Per request from IAIA, no pets at this event. Thank you)

                                   

THIS PRESENTATION IS A GENERAL OVERVIEW OF THE DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT IN THE COUNTY.

(This is not a discussion on Flying J)

Presenter:       Marcia Kaplan, Urban Planner

Marcia Kaplan is a resident of Rancho Viejo South and worked as an Urban Planner for several cities and counties in California and Oregon. In New Mexico she has worked as a consultant to the Interstate Stream Commission in updating New Mexico’s regional water plans.   

 

 

Please Don’t Put Glass in Recyling Bins, It Costs Us Money

Glass is not recycled in Santa Fe County. If you put it in your bin it taints the entire load, which then has to be taken to the landfill instead of being recycled. Additionally, we are fined $250 for each tainted load. So please, to avoid even higher recycling fees, please remember not to put glass in your recycling bin.

 

 

Transparency and the RVS Community Manager

Our HOA community manager Vincent Montoya became an owner and resident of RVS in April 2016. We previously had a community manager — Jessica Pfeiffer — who was also a resident and this was publicly known. There are certainly advantages to having a manager who lives in the community but some potential drawbacks and potential conflicts of interest also exist.

The previous Board of Directors chose to keep secret the fact that Mr. Montoya and his family moved to RVS. That secret started to unravel when the Montoyas’ house was broken into and Mr. Montoya’s wife Tina posted about the incident on the NextDoor Windmill Ridge website. Several days later she posted a critical comment about the new Board (which had not yet appointed officers or had an official meeting), not doing anything about the spate of thefts in RVS. However Ms. Montoya posted her comments using an assumed name, Roland Alarid, who I believe is a relative.

At the Annual Meeting when the issue of security was discussed, President Paiz referred to “something that cannot be revealed,” presumably the fact that the Montoyas’ home was entered. Publicly available information on the Internet shows that the Montoyas live on Madre Mountain. As a resident, Ms. Montoya is entitled to criticize the Board, but she should use her own name and not pose as someone else. Both posts have since been removed and the name Roland Alarid has been changed to TL Alarid on the Windmill Ridge NextDoor site.

By trying to keep it a secret that the Montoyas live here, both the previous Board and Mr. Montoya created an unnecessary problem. To avoid any other difficulties in future, I suggest that Mr. Montoya publicly reveal to RVS residents — perhaps via an email blast — that he and his family live here.

I also suggest that the new Board speak with Mr. Montoya about transparency and possible conflicts of interest, particularly regarding the election process. The Board should clearly set forth his different roles as an employee community manager and a resident.

 

REMINDER—ANNUAL MEETING, TUESDAY NOV. 15th 6 p.m.

Please attend the annual meeting next Tuesday. If you cannot be there, please vote by filling out the blue proxy form in your annual meeting packet. If you do not assign an individual to be your proxy, your form will be used only for establishing a quorum and your vote will not count. Remember to sign the form and give it to the person you have assigned as your proxy or send it to the HOA office.

You must be in good standing (not in arrears on your assessment) to be able to vote.

 

Why I’m A Candidate for the HOA Board

First, I would like to thank the residents who turned out for the Candidate Forum last Saturday. Some very thoughtful questions were asked. I also want to reach out to residents who did not attend.

I am running because we currently have a Board that is totally dysfunctional. Between December 2015 and September 2016, three of the seven Board members resigned. The Board has spent at least $6,000 of our money on legal fees related to internal disputes among Board members. The HOA attorney is representing some Board members against others. That is not what our legal budget was meant for.

Residents of RVS deserve better. You deserve rational, sane individuals who commit to representing your best interests. My objective is to have an honest, competent Board that is receptive to resident input.

Several residents have told me that they don’t get involved in politics and therefore are not interested in the activities of the HOA or voting for Board members. This isn’t about politics; it’s about money. Your money.

Your HOA Board gets to spend the money from your assessments and if you are not interested in how they spend it, there is opportunity for abuse — like the $6,000 mentioned above. Our assessments are increasing in 2017, mainly because of the County implementing a curbside recycling program. We should be looking for ways to cut costs to offset the increase, not wasting money.

For the third year in a row I have asked the Board to furnish residents with year-to-date expenditures for 2016 in the Annual Meeting packet, not just the budget for 2017. For the third year in a row they have not complied although they said would do so. Despite giving lip service to transparency, members of the current Board do not want residents to receive certain information, including how your money is spent. I want to know why. Don’t you?

Apathy is the greatest threat to an honest and accountable Board of Directors.  If residents show no interest in how the Board operates and how it spends your money, the Board can make decisions not in your best interest and waste your money as well.

We’ve had too much discord in our community over the past three years; we need Board members who can create a more harmonious environment to better serve the people who live here. I can help accomplish that.

It would be helpful if all candidates for the Board would post their views on the issues facing RVS on this blog. And I urge all residents to vote, either in person at the Annual Meeting on November 15, or by appointing a proxy.

 

 

Clarification about Election Letter From RVS Resident

Vince Montoya, the HOA Community Manager, sent out an e-mail blast today about a letter that was sent by a resident of RVS to other residents regarding the upcoming election. The letter was actually very straightforward and the author, Glen Smerage, identified himself as a resident and never said that he represented the HOA. Mr. Smerage provided his address, telephone number, and e-mail address and anyone that wants to can contact him directly.

Some people had questions as to how their addresses were obtained. One possible way is from a mailing list broker. Names and addresses are public information and brokers obtain them and segment them by zip code and many other criteria. Anyone who wishes can purchase a mailing list from a broker.

Surely, like me, many of you receive several postcards a month from real estate agents describing house sales and listings in Rancho Viejo. How did they get your name and address? From a mailing list broker or from County records.

Regarding Mr. Smerage’s offer to act as a proxy for those who do not want to attend the Annual Meeting, this practice has been going on in RVS on an informal basis for years. If you don’t attend the meeting in person but still want to vote, you have to designate a proxy.

In his e-mail Mr. Montoya positions himself as the source of “direct accurate information.” I have statements from residents who reported that prior to the 2014 election Mr. Montoya called them and said that their proxies were not filled out correctly and that he would be more than happy to come to their homes, help them fill out the forms correctly and act as their proxy. That solicitation is no different from what Mr. Smerage did. And Mr. Smerage actually lives here. Mr. Montoya does not.

There is nothing underhanded or nefarious going on.

I should note that I am a candidate for the Board and Mr. Smerage endorsed me. I did not ask for his endorsement, and did not see the letter before it was sent.

At Least Two Board Members Forget What Country They Are Living In

At the September 29th Board meeting, member Laura Corbin brought up the topic of having a Board sponsored candidate forum prior to the election this year. She had previously asked that the subject be put on the agenda but it had been left off. President Bernie Paiz said it was his error.

He then stated that anyone in RVS could sponsor a candidate forum, it was within residents’ rights to hold one and it was possible that the Board would sponsor it. Discussion within the Nominating Committee was suggested. Board member Carol Thompson objected to any candidate forum.

I reminded the Board that residents had held such a forum two years ago and it was well attended although none of the sitting Board members participated.

Within three days Mr. Paiz changed his mind. He stated, “This Candidate Forum is not required by our Governing Documents and is not a sanctioned activity of the Board of Directors. This is a tactic to usurp the elected BOD and override the governing Documents and therefore participation will be discouraged. The only Election requirement is the formation of a Nominating Committee. Candidates are encouraged to supply bios and have the opportunity to address the attendees at the Annual Meeting. I will not be participating in this attempt of coup and strongly recommend that members of the BOD and Nominating Committee not participate.”

What happened in those three days? Carol Thompson — who Mr. Paiz seems unable to stand up to — set him straight about what could occur in RVS according to her rules. The tip-off is the phrase “non-sanctioned,” a favorite of hers. Every time residents have held any meeting not specifically sponsored by the Board she has labeled it illegal and non-sanctioned. To Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, communication in our community is a one-way process. The Board tells us what to do and residents have to abide. Why are Ms. Thompson and Mr. Paiz, whose terms are up, so afraid of interacting with residents and fielding questions from us?

Most people vote by proxy and having candidates present their views at the annual meeting is laughable. Less than 10 percent of residents attend and most people have already voted by proxy. We need to hear the views of prospective Board members before the voting, not afterward. We need to know what kind of people they are and if they have the best interests of residents as a core value. This is especially true this year because:

  • In the first nine months of 2016 three Board members resigned. They were ill prepared for serving on the Board.
  • We are grappling with several complex and costly issues — irrigation, road and trail repair, and the County’s new solid waste recycling program. Our assessments are increasing substantially this year and may do so again because of these issues.
  • We need Board members who have an opinion as to how we can maintain our infrastructure and prevent home values from declining while avoiding frivolous expenditures.

According to Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson, having a candidate forum where candidates can present their views on governance and answer questions from residents is considered a usurpation of Board prerogative. Presentation of views and questioning of candidates is part of any election process. A coup Mr. Paiz? You and Ms. Thompson were not paying attention during civics class in high school.

I have been told several times by Ms. Thompson and her followers that if I don’t like how things are run in RVS, I should move. Rancho Viejo is in the United States, which is still a democracy. Mr. Paiz and Ms. Thompson prefer dictatorship. Perhaps they should move; there are a multitude of countries that could accommodate their views.

There will be a candidate forum this month held by concerned residents of our community. A date and time will be provided shortly and all candidates are encouraged to participate. Six positions are open on the Board this year although there is some behind the scenes manipulation by the Board to reduce that to five.

RVS suffers from enormous apathy. I’ve heard from several residents that they don’t get involved in politics. It isn’t all politics; it is also a pocketbook issue and it’s your money that the Board is playing with. Look at my recent post about out-of-control legal expenditures. Despite my requests for the past two years, the Board has refused to furnish residents year to date expenditures in the annual meeting package, claiming they only have to provide the following year’s budget.

We need to get rid of the dysfunctional, dictatorial Board we have now and infuse it with some new blood. We need to end the tyranny. Please, if you care about your community, your assessments, and your property values, consider running for the Board. If you wish, you can post your bio here on the blog.

Board of Directors’ Squabbling Results in Over Budget, Out of Control Legal Expenses

The 2017 budget was presented and approved at the September 28 Board of Directors meeting. Our assessments will be increasing, attributable mainly to the County mandating curbside recycling which will increase our costs by $8 a month per household.

The allocation for legal expenses was increased by 300 percent — from $3,000 in 2016 to $9,000 in 2017. Why? Because that is about what the Board has already spent in 2016 and in their wisdom they want to continue wasting our money on unnecessary expenditures rather than finding ways to cut back. One of the major causes of the runaway legal expenditures is the dysfunction of the Board. Three members have resigned mid-term. A very expensive dispute resolution involving Jim Bailey and the other Board members occurred in July. All attendees signed a non-disclosure agreement. In mid-September Jim Bailey resigned.

At the September Board meeting I asked if the legal costs of the dispute resolution were the cause of the legal budget being overspent so drastically. President Paiz said it was. I asked how much that unsuccessful dispute resolution cost and Paiz said he could not tell me because it was confidential. He said he would have to ask Lynn Krupnik, who received payment for the dispute resolution, if it was “OK to release the information.” He stated that it would cost $250 to get an answer, Ms. Krupnik’s hourly rate. Apparently she does not bill in anything less than hourly increments. All RVS residents pay for the attorney’s services and we have the right to know the amount paid to her. While the content of the dispute may be confidential, the cost is not.

Rancho Viejo North has a legal budget of $2,000 and it usually goes unspent. Why does Rancho Viejo South spend so much more? The North has a Board composed of rational people who solve disagreements without involving an attorney. Our Board likes to waste residents’ money on their internal disputes and asking for legal advice from Ms. Krupnik on ridiculous things. Our Board does not represent the interests of residents. They are a disgrace.

RVS Board Insults the Intelligence of Residents

Last week RVS residents received a “landscaping newsletter” from Vince Montoya. A newsletter usually provides information. This “newsletter” from Heads Up, our landscaping contractor, was nothing more than a free advertisement for their services. I assume the RVS Board approved this. The ad is apparently going to be a monthly occurrence. If Heads Up wants to advertise its services it can do so in our quarterly newsletter and pay for the ad, just like any other business. Does the Board think residents are so stupid that we can’t see this is a blatant subsidy of Heads Up?

There are many cases of HOAs across the country having too cozy a relationship with their vendors and service providers. Sometimes kickbacks are involved. I hope that is not happening here but I can’t be sure based on the past behavior of our Board.

If you object to this clumsy attempt to fool us and want it to stop, notify the Board president, Bernie Paiz: bernardpaiz@msn.com

March Board of Directors Meeting Degenerates into a Shouting Match Among Board Members

Simmering tensions exploded at Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting and unless you were there, I doubt you will ever find out about the sheer nastiness of the evening. The minutes will never reflect what actually happened.

The tone was set at the beginning when, in his president’s report, Jim Bailey stated that he thought conflict was a positive thing and then highlighted the changes he had made to make the Board more open and enhance communications between the Board and homeowners. He compared his approach to that of former Board president Carol Thompson and criticized her style of Board leadership. Carol — who was recently appointed to the Board —objected, saying that his remarks in a public setting were inappropriate. The two of them had a sharp exchange and Carol’s supporters in the audience started shouting at Jim, all identifying themselves as “friends of Carol.”

Remarkably, after that the Board went back to regular business until at the end of the meeting, under new business Board member Barbara Boyd introduced a motion to remove Jim Bailey as president. The motion was immediately seconded and Mr. Bailey ruled it out of order according to the Bylaws, stated that it would not be acted upon and tried to adjourn the meeting. Total chaos erupted. Jim, who was sitting next to Bernie Paiz, touched Bernie’s arm and Bernie shouted at Jim not to touch him. Bernie then said he was taking over the meeting and called for a vote on the motion. Jim shouted that a vote was out of order and would not take place. Residents were also shouting; some spoke in favor of Jim, others against him. Bernie repeatedly shouted at Jim to shut up. Jim threatened a lawsuit and Bernie told him to “bring it on; I’ll see you in court.”

The meeting was adjourned without a vote. If there is a lawsuit, legal fees will be paid by residents, at least for one side of the dispute.

Board members seem more interested in plotting against each other than representing the interests of homeowners. We deserve better. I hope more residents will show an interest in running for the Board when the next election comes around.

RVS Board Appoints Carol Thompson to Vacancy

In a special meeting on February 23, Carol Thompson was appointed to fill the vacancy on the Board in a unanimous vote of the four members present. Board president Jim Bailey and member Laura Corbin did not attend. Vice President Bernie Paiz presided over the meeting. He said that the Board had waited over 72 hours from the resignation to fill the vacancy, as if there were some great urgency to the matter. In the past vacancies have remained open for months. Paiz stated that in the Board’s new efforts to foster transparency, an email had been sent to solicit residents who wished to submit their names for consideration for the post. Here is the email message that was sent.

Dear Rancho Viejo South Residents,



This message shall serve as notice of a

Special Meeting called by the Board of Directors.

Below please find the details of the meeting:

Date:            Tuesday, February, 23rd

        

Time:            3:00 PM

        

Location:      Rancho Viejo South Association Office
                                                          

55 Canada Del Rancho
  Suite E
         

Purpose of Meeting:     Board Vacancy/Appointment.


Per the Associations By-Laws no other business shall be discussed.

If you have any questions and or concerns please contact me at vmontoya@hoamco.com.

Thank you,

Vince Montoya
 Community Manager 
Rancho Viejo South

Do you see an invitation in this message? Me neither.

In my previous post I suggested residents submit their names if interested. One person did actually apply and two minutes before the meeting started people in the audience were asked if they wished to submit their name for consideration and two of us did. That’s what the Board considered a fair and open process.In reality nobody other than Carol Thompson was ever considered.

Ms. Thompson was nominated by Jonalynn Grover who stated her reasoning for nominating her was that Ms.Thompson had received the next highest number of votes in the last election. Community Manager Montoya said her reference to the election would be stricken from the motion so as not to” set a precedent” of filling vacancies according to vote tallies.  That’s because if there is another Board opening and they follow this process the next person in line would be someone they really don’t want to be on the Board – me.

 

 

The Board’s Latest Antics

RVS residents received an email from community manager Vince Montoya on Friday about a special Board meeting February 23 to fill a Board vacancy. Eric Sanders, who was elected to the Board in November, has resigned.

I have no doubt that Carol Thompson will be appointed to his seat. The stated rationale will be that she received the next highest number of votes during the November election. Ordinarily that would make sense. But in the last two years when there were vacancies, individuals who did not run in the elections were appointed and those next in line based on votes in the previous election were passed over.

This is the second year in a row that Carol Thompson did not receive enough votes to gain a seat on the Board and yet will likely again be serving. In the 2014 election the community manager, Mr. Montoya, altered proxies that were eligible for quorum purposes only, appointed himself proxy, and voted for Carol. That allowed her to edge out Dave Pfeiffer by about 13 votes. In early 2015 when a vacancy occurred, the Board refused to appoint Dave who should have been given a seat based on the rationale that is now being employed. It took over two months for these appointments to be made. Mr. Sanders was one of the individuals appointed. Now he appears to be stepping aside to allow Carol to assume what some Board members believe to be her right — to serve on the Board as long as she wants, even if that is not the preference of residents.

In both 2014 and 2015, residents via their votes made it clear that they did not want Carol Thompson on the Board. The next Board meeting is in March and the right thing to do is advertise the opening and solicit residents who may wish to serve. A replacement should be appointed at the March meeting. There is certainly no reason to rush to hold a special meeting next Tuesday to fill the vacancy as there is no Board business until then.

The special meeting is being held during the day when fewer residents can attend the meeting. The regular March meeting will be held in the evening when attendance might be greater. The Board is clearly trying to thwart the wishes of voting residents. All the lip service about being more transparent is a lie. This is an example of the same secret backroom shenanigans that have been going on for years.

I suggest the Board establish a clear policy regarding how vacancies should be filled. The process should not be left to the whim of Board members who take different approaches based on who they like.

If you are interested in being appointed or wish to voice your views about this appointment and process, contact the Board through Jim Bailey, the president, jbailey777@mac.com before Tuesday.