Thursday, December 30, 2004

Auction signs, Swap Meet disguised as a "Market" and next the front lawn garage sale????

Another reason that residents want their Coto de Caza of yesteryear returned to them. The people that were elected into office are out to lunch when it comes to details and management.

Buzz writes.....
First Coto had the Farmer's Market sings. Today you can see the ugly
Auction jewelry signs (Coto Drive). Tomorrow, who knows.????


Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:01:08 -0800
From: "William A. Gast"
Subject: Re: Signage

I told Joe two weeks ago about the gaudy market signs on Coto Drive in the
middle of the week and there after the Thursday bargain sale. I agree with
his answer--they are there because Securitas does not take them down as they
do the other violation signs which means ,--obviously that they are
permitted by the BOD.
And (yes) we saw the jewelry auction signs and thought the same---where to
from here?? when do we get the adult video at the sports park??
Agreed that the "market" is nothing but a swap meet" all you have to do is
look at it which we did ONE TIME have not returned.
The sad part of all this is, most people and residents do not know that we
have CC&R's about these things that are being ignored. They think this is
the "new" Coto.
My fear is,....that it is!
Regards,
Bill Gast

"""**** Reporters note: Hey Bill, if you read the guy in Canyon Life's remarks about regulations, you will get an idea of the problem. He says in his article last week ( which evidently never goes across the editor's desk) "And it says that that is against our CC&R's---whatever those are?""""
From this you can tell that people of his age group are more concerned with the wine list at the club than they are with their neighborhood. You have some 35 year old teenagers to teach maners to in Coto de Caza. This guy is typical of the "trust Babies" that think Coto de Caza is their own little sandbox.
***********
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 21:01:08 -0800
From: "William A. Gast"
Subject: Re: Signage

I told Joe two weeks ago about the gaudy market signs on Coto Drive in the
middle of the week and there after the Thursday bargain sale. I agree with
his answer--they are there because Securitas does not take them down as they
do the other violation signs which means ,--obviously that they are
permitted by the BOD.
And (yes) we saw the jewelry auction signs and thought the same---where to
from here?? when do we get the adult video at the sports park??
Agreed that the "market" is nothing but a swap meet" all you have to do is
look at it which we did ONE TIME have not returned.
The sad part of all this is, most people and residents do not know that we
have CC&R's about these things that are being ignored. They think this is
the "new" Coto.
My fear is,....that it is!
Regards,
Bill Gast
___________________________________________
************
From: "PENNY YOTTER"
Subject: Re: Signage

Went to the Farmers Market before Christmas for Vegetables. None. Nada.
Zip. Zilch. But lots of CRAFT (read crap). Husband says why don't they just
call it a swap meet????????
****___________________________________________
I couldn't agree more with Bill. It is becoming an eyesore, like billboards
on the highways. I wonder how
much the Auction people are making, using the signs
as advertising.
Patti
----- Original Message -----

....


Monday, December 20, 2004

Time out for some Xmas parties ( we sure know how to do that in coto!!!!

Let the good times roll!!
This is the time of year that we all drop the community project planning and just actually enjoy each other's company. Believe it or not folks, all these people that jump on each other about what needs to be done in Coto get together this time of year and really have a party. Several parties actually. Then, comes January and we start at it all again for the following year.
WE WANT TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!!!!

Hello All: What is getting lost in this discussion is that HOA amenities add to property value. It is not at all uncommon for other master planned, gated communities to have community centers, swimming pools, tennis courts etc. included in the HOA dues. Over time, we should strive to build out our Sports Park on the remaining land and the Welcome Home Center property if we ever get hold of it to include other amenities. Though it would require a series of Special Assessments over several years, I believe we can make a swimming pool and tennis courts happen without much pain or significantly higher dues. A Community Center would require a major Special Assessment and vote of our Members; but that is ok. If Members see the value they will vote for it, if not, it won't happen. Most important, we need to understand that our Members have diverse interests that should be recognized. While it is great to cater to kids specific to the Sports Park, there are and will be many in Coto whose kids are grown and God willing gone one day. As such, we should have amenities as part of the HOA that work for all. Regards, Joe Morabito



P.S. The social membership at the country club is very expensive. CZ Members should not have to join the country club just to get tennis courts and a swimming pool.



-----Original Message-----
From: John Zarian [mailto:jzarian@fogzlaw.com]
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 6:41 AM
To: 'CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com'
Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



Bill,

I can't imagine what made you think we would have a lake, tennis court and pool as part of some "expansion." This was never a part of any proposal by the developer(s).

However, I share your concerns about the traffic situation. I hope and expect that the current Board is working diligently on solutions to present to the community.

My advice to you right now is that you join me in joining the apathetic majority for a week or two. Have a very Merry Christmas, Bill.

Regards,

John



-----Original Message-----
From: William A. Gast [mailto:editor@wesupportthevets.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 9:14 PM
To: CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



John:

You have an excellent recall and can remember the Coto that we all knew ten years ago as evidenced by your statement;

"Nevertheless, we all knew the "score" when we moved to Coto and, in particular, that we wouldn't be getting a lake, pool, tennis courts or a community center as part of our dues. Each of us weighed those factors and still decided to buy a home in Coto de Caza."

Actually the score I knew was one of slow graceful traffic, low noise level and beautiful green areas. Houses that were spaced according to a master plan of open space and wide streets.In addition, at one time I actually thought that we WOULD have a lake, a tennis court and pool as part of all this expansion. Then we became a community of apathy and discern.Much too busy with personal lives to get involved with our HOA.

Today, we have 70 MPH traffic at highest noise levels ( exceeding incidentally the db rating that the state uses for constructing sound), dead oaks and houses in the South area so close together that residents can actually hear conversations of the family next to them. Add to this the increased HOA dues and you can understand why Coto in a rear view mirror will be happiness for many present residents. Perhaps I was a bit of a Pollyanna thinking that we could keep Coto a place of great pride and beauty by preserving the starlight, by not using heinous steel streetlight posts and glaring traffic lights, observing our CC&R's by not parking onstreet overnight and not placing the trash out on the curb until after six PM the night before and many other aspects of appreciating where we live. This has all changed. Streets in the south area are so narrow as a result of uncontrolled planning that residents can barely pass the parked cars. Drive the south area at any night of the week and you will see hundreds, (yes hundreds) of cars parked on the streets overnight.
My point is that it surely is time that the people that truly care for the future of Coto ( and Joe is certainly one of them) step to the plate and say; "Enough! Hopefully, this will happen after the first of the year and we all see the results of the audit.I don't expect the directors to find it necessary to draw the bridge and hide behind the moat but I think it will attract the attention from some residents that have not been active in the past.

It would be interesting to have CotoBuzz open a contest asking residents to make a forecast- a projection- of what they think it will be like to live in Coto in the coming ten years? Maybe the majority of folks here are just happy as can be and have not a clue where we are headed with all the increased costs???

"Life never looked so good????"



----- Original Message -----

From: John Zarian

To: CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com

Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 5:50 PM

Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



Buzz,



If you are referring to the fields used by Tijeras Creek Elementary School, they are, in fact, HOA fields. Tijeras Creek has access to those fields under a shared use agreement. In fact, to my knowledge, all of the sports fields in RSM are maintained by the HOA. I believe that's pretty common in newer South County communities.



As to your willingness to pay $40 for all the RSM goodies, no offense, but perhaps you should consider moving to RSM? Sure, it's a pretty sweet deal out there, and $200 is a steep bill by comparison. Nevertheless, we all knew the "score" when we moved to Coto and, in particular, that we wouldn't be getting a lake, pool, tennis courts or a community center as part of our dues. Each of us weighed those factors and still decided to buy a home in Coto de Caza.



As a final matter, the board of directors on which I served actually conducted studies of the dues assessed by "comparable" communities. As of a few years ago, when I was on the Board, our dues were not at all "out of line." RSM is a great community, but I don't think comparing RSM's dues to Coto's is particularly helpful.



Regards,



John



-----Original Message-----
From: Morabito, Joe [mailto:JMorabito@paragongri.com]
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 5:31 PM
To: 'CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com'
Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



John: There are Sports Fields along Antonio in RSM that I believe are county or city fields. I doubt very much that there are very many if any major Sports Fields in Orange County that are paid for by HOA dues. We will have to check that out. And, I would be happy to pay $40 a month to get a lake, pool, tennis courts, community center etc. etc. even if it meant Sports Fields were included. Funny, we pay $200 a month and we don't have any of those things. You are really making my point. Our dues are too high for what we get because our expenses are out of control and as a result of all the subsidies for various groups. CZ is an all year Santa Claus and our current CZ Board members are like the elves handing out our money to rich people who don't need it. What we really have here is income redistribution. It is a Democrat plot to take from the rich and give to the other rich. There is something very wrong with this picture. Regards, Joe Morabito

Time out for some Xmas parties ( we sure know how to do that in coto!!!!

Let the good times roll!!
This is the time of year that we all drop the community project planning and just actually enjoy each other's company. Believe it or not folks, all these people that jump on each other about what needs to be done in Coto get together this time of year and really have a party. Several parties actually. Then, comes January and we start at it all again for the following year.
WE WANT TO WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!!!!

Hello All: What is getting lost in this discussion is that HOA amenities add to property value. It is not at all uncommon for other master planned, gated communities to have community centers, swimming pools, tennis courts etc. included in the HOA dues. Over time, we should strive to build out our Sports Park on the remaining land and the Welcome Home Center property if we ever get hold of it to include other amenities. Though it would require a series of Special Assessments over several years, I believe we can make a swimming pool and tennis courts happen without much pain or significantly higher dues. A Community Center would require a major Special Assessment and vote of our Members; but that is ok. If Members see the value they will vote for it, if not, it won't happen. Most important, we need to understand that our Members have diverse interests that should be recognized. While it is great to cater to kids specific to the Sports Park, there are and will be many in Coto whose kids are grown and God willing gone one day. As such, we should have amenities as part of the HOA that work for all. Regards, Joe Morabito



P.S. The social membership at the country club is very expensive. CZ Members should not have to join the country club just to get tennis courts and a swimming pool.



-----Original Message-----
From: John Zarian [mailto:jzarian@fogzlaw.com]
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 6:41 AM
To: 'CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com'
Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



Bill,

I can't imagine what made you think we would have a lake, tennis court and pool as part of some "expansion." This was never a part of any proposal by the developer(s).

However, I share your concerns about the traffic situation. I hope and expect that the current Board is working diligently on solutions to present to the community.

My advice to you right now is that you join me in joining the apathetic majority for a week or two. Have a very Merry Christmas, Bill.

Regards,

John



-----Original Message-----
From: William A. Gast [mailto:editor@wesupportthevets.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 18, 2004 9:14 PM
To: CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



John:

You have an excellent recall and can remember the Coto that we all knew ten years ago as evidenced by your statement;

"Nevertheless, we all knew the "score" when we moved to Coto and, in particular, that we wouldn't be getting a lake, pool, tennis courts or a community center as part of our dues. Each of us weighed those factors and still decided to buy a home in Coto de Caza."

Actually the score I knew was one of slow graceful traffic, low noise level and beautiful green areas. Houses that were spaced according to a master plan of open space and wide streets.In addition, at one time I actually thought that we WOULD have a lake, a tennis court and pool as part of all this expansion. Then we became a community of apathy and discern.Much too busy with personal lives to get involved with our HOA.

Today, we have 70 MPH traffic at highest noise levels ( exceeding incidentally the db rating that the state uses for constructing sound), dead oaks and houses in the South area so close together that residents can actually hear conversations of the family next to them. Add to this the increased HOA dues and you can understand why Coto in a rear view mirror will be happiness for many present residents. Perhaps I was a bit of a Pollyanna thinking that we could keep Coto a place of great pride and beauty by preserving the starlight, by not using heinous steel streetlight posts and glaring traffic lights, observing our CC&R's by not parking onstreet overnight and not placing the trash out on the curb until after six PM the night before and many other aspects of appreciating where we live. This has all changed. Streets in the south area are so narrow as a result of uncontrolled planning that residents can barely pass the parked cars. Drive the south area at any night of the week and you will see hundreds, (yes hundreds) of cars parked on the streets overnight.
My point is that it surely is time that the people that truly care for the future of Coto ( and Joe is certainly one of them) step to the plate and say; "Enough! Hopefully, this will happen after the first of the year and we all see the results of the audit.I don't expect the directors to find it necessary to draw the bridge and hide behind the moat but I think it will attract the attention from some residents that have not been active in the past.

It would be interesting to have CotoBuzz open a contest asking residents to make a forecast- a projection- of what they think it will be like to live in Coto in the coming ten years? Maybe the majority of folks here are just happy as can be and have not a clue where we are headed with all the increased costs???

"Life never looked so good????"



----- Original Message -----

From: John Zarian

To: CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com

Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 5:50 PM

Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



Buzz,



If you are referring to the fields used by Tijeras Creek Elementary School, they are, in fact, HOA fields. Tijeras Creek has access to those fields under a shared use agreement. In fact, to my knowledge, all of the sports fields in RSM are maintained by the HOA. I believe that's pretty common in newer South County communities.



As to your willingness to pay $40 for all the RSM goodies, no offense, but perhaps you should consider moving to RSM? Sure, it's a pretty sweet deal out there, and $200 is a steep bill by comparison. Nevertheless, we all knew the "score" when we moved to Coto and, in particular, that we wouldn't be getting a lake, pool, tennis courts or a community center as part of our dues. Each of us weighed those factors and still decided to buy a home in Coto de Caza.



As a final matter, the board of directors on which I served actually conducted studies of the dues assessed by "comparable" communities. As of a few years ago, when I was on the Board, our dues were not at all "out of line." RSM is a great community, but I don't think comparing RSM's dues to Coto's is particularly helpful.



Regards,



John



-----Original Message-----
From: Morabito, Joe [mailto:JMorabito@paragongri.com]
Sent: Friday, December 17, 2004 5:31 PM
To: 'CotoBuzz@yahoogroups.com'
Subject: RE: [COTO] Sports park and RSM HOA fees



John: There are Sports Fields along Antonio in RSM that I believe are county or city fields. I doubt very much that there are very many if any major Sports Fields in Orange County that are paid for by HOA dues. We will have to check that out. And, I would be happy to pay $40 a month to get a lake, pool, tennis courts, community center etc. etc. even if it meant Sports Fields were included. Funny, we pay $200 a month and we don't have any of those things. You are really making my point. Our dues are too high for what we get because our expenses are out of control and as a result of all the subsidies for various groups. CZ is an all year Santa Claus and our current CZ Board members are like the elves handing out our money to rich people who don't need it. What we really have here is income redistribution. It is a Democrat plot to take from the rich and give to the other rich. There is something very wrong with this picture. Regards, Joe Morabito

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Question of the Week "where will coto de Caza be as a community in ten years at this rate?"

"William A. Gast" wrote:
John:
You have an excellent recall and can remember the Coto that we all knew ten years ago as evidenced by your statement;
"Nevertheless, we all knew the “score” when we moved to Coto and, in particular, that we wouldn’t be getting a lake, pool, tennis courts or a community center as part of our dues. Each of us weighed those factors and still decided to buy a home in Coto de Caza."
Actually the score I knew was one of slow graceful traffic, low noise level and beautiful green areas. Houses that were spaced according to a master plan of open space and wide streets.In addition, at one time I actually thought that we WOULD have a lake, a tennis court and pool as part of all this expansion. Then we became a community of apathy and discern.Much too busy with personal lives to get involved with our HOA.
Today, we have 70 MPH traffic at highest noise levels ( exceeding incidentally the db rating that the state uses for constructing sound), dead oaks and houses in the South area so close together that residents can actually hear conversations of the family next to them. Add to this the increased HOA dues and you can understand why Coto in a rear view mirror will be happiness for many present residents. Perhaps I was a bit of a Pollyanna thinking that we could keep Coto a place of great pride and beauty by preserving the starlight, by not using heinous steel streetlight posts and glaring traffic lights, observing our CC&R's by not parking onstreet overnight and not placing the trash out on the curb until after six PM the night before and many other aspects of appreciating where we live. This has all changed. Streets in the south area are so narrow as a result of uncontrolled planning that residents can barely pass the parked cars. Drive the south area at any night of the week and you will see hundreds, (yes hundreds) of cars parked on the streets overnight.
My point is that it surely is time that the people that truly care for the future of Coto ( and Joe is certainly one of them) step to the plate and say; "Enough! Hopefully, this will happen after the first of the year and we all see the results of the audit.I don't expect the directors to find it necessary to draw the bridge and hide behind the moat but I think it will attract the attention from some residents that have not been active in the past.
It would be interesting to have CotoBuzz open a contest asking residents to make a forecast- a projection- of what they think it will be like to live in Coto in the coming ten years? Maybe the majority of folks here are just happy as can be and have not a clue where we are headed with all the increased costs???
"Life never looked so good????"
Trying to stay positive, Bill Gast

Bill:



Your idea of asking Coto to make projections as to where Coto is going to be in ten years is excellent!



The 70 MPH traffic you mention perhaps is the reason why traffic accidents increased 47% since the CHP contract was rescinded. Not to mention the higher crime rate in Coto, than any of its non-gated neighbors/



You can count CotoBuzz with those who are saying Enough!

Let us review the problem ONE MORE time

John: First, the dues increase passed while I served on the Board was to fund Reserves not to cover Operating Expenses. At the time, our Reserves were dangerously low at just above 40%. They should be at 70% or higher. We did the right thing. And, the funding of existing Reserves to cover many line items had nothing to do with taking on new tracts. We were funding repairs and replacement for assets that primarily already existed in Coto and were not in the new areas. And, if we had not raised dues; though we would have collected some monies from the new tracts to fund Reserves, it still would not have been enough because we also then took on the burden of their streets, parks etc. Second, it is true that the more homes we have to spread fixed Operating cost over, the lower the cost per unit. i.e. There is only one Sport Park such as it is. Obviously, the maintenance of the Sports Park on a per unit basis, assuming good management is in place which is questionable, is less if there is 3,500 homes to divide the cost rather than 3,000. It would be even better if the Estates and Villages were paying dues because then the costs, though they would remain the same, would be divided by roughly 4,000 homes. There are many expenses in the budget that meet this rule. Third, I have only gone back to 2002 to compare our expenses; not 1996 which is relevant. Certainly by 2002, we had taken over all the new tracts with their related expenses so in comparing 2002, 2003, and 2004 we should have apples to apples. And, finally as one Italian to another, let's not talk about the Mafia. It feeds stereo types. But, I will tell you that your Grandfather would never have been bothered if he had "friends" if you know what I mean. My grandfather, who had nothing to do with the Mafia, had the same threat of extortion only they were going to blow up his stores, but it went away. We can just leave it at that. Regards, Joe Morabito

P.S. I have never said that the cash register should be closed. All I am saying is that smart people need to manage the cash register so that we don't have unnecessary dues increases that will cost CZ Members an additional $400,000 in 2005 and thereafter if something is not done to fix the problem.

Bill gets the shaft from Keystone-again--on landscaping

Joe:

Absolutely right on that one. If my slope that I have been trying to get Keystone to at least PLANT ANYTHING on looked as good as any part of the sportsPark, I'd be a happy camper.

After six months of constant conversation, still no hedge replaced OR bare spot replanted.

Bill Gast

P.S. At last budget review, I think the number was.15/sqFT for slope. At that rate, Keystone could have planed Jacaranda trees and manicured dichoronda over the past three years that this blight has been a problem in this area.

Bill: Effective January 1, 2005, the current CZ Board has extracted approximately $400,000 more dollars from CZ Members based on a $10 per month dues increase. It doesn't sound like much when discussed as a $10 per month dues increase; but when viewed as an additional $400,000 that is coming out of our pockets, it starts to be real money. Most important, very little of that money is going into Reserves. Most of this money is going to fund additional operating expenses. I would think there should be enough to get the plants you have requested in the common area near your home. Not to make you feel bad, but Canyon Estates did get about $5,000 worth of plant replacement in 2004 thanks to Richard Liggitt and the Landscape Committee. We did follow the process. After I complained about bare spots, we did a landscape walk at 7:00 am one Saturday morning which required that our Delegate be present. The work was done. We got our plants. I guess it's who you know or how many e-mails you write that gets the grease in Coto. Regards, Joe Morabito

Last official count of CZ homes was 3,474 times $10.00 times 12 months = $416,880 JGB

JGB: Even worse. The sad thing is that this money is not going to primarily fund Reserves, buy the Welcome Home Center, if and when a deal ever comes together, serve as a down payment on a Community Center or for tennis courts at the Sports Park. Instead, nearly all of this additional $416,880 dues money is going to fund Operating Expenses that are out of control. No Competitive Bidding in Four Years or More. No Water Conservation Program to cut our Water Cost. Subsidizing various groups with our Dues Money. This $416,880 dues increase is just the beginning of the story, if current and future CZ Board Members don't start minding the store. Remember, this dues increase will be applied FOREVER and that is a long time if we don't elect CZ Board Members committed to dealing with all these issues. I don't know about any of you; but I don't want to pay for fiscal mismanagement compounded FOREVER or until death do us part. Regards, Joe Morabito

P.S. The good news is that a new CZ Board, that gets it, could appoint a Supplier Selection and Contract Management Committee that should survive all Boards to implement competitive bidding on a rotational basis and assist with supplier management. It is possible to roll back this unnecessary $416,880 dues increase with some hard work; but I don't think that current CZ Board Members who took the easy road and raised dues see the forest for the oak trees. It will take new, fiscally responsible Board Members to fix the problems that we face.

From three to two Landscapers-did we Save?

Hello All: My understanding is that we have gone from three landscaping
contractors to two. We are now using O'Connell, the largest landscaping
contractor in Orange County, and Wendt, a smaller company. Both firms are
good and were installed when I served on the Board. My hope is that in
going from three down to two contractors that the current CZ Board extracted
at least a 10% savings from the deal. It would be easy to compare by simply
computing the per square foot fee (which the Association has) before and
after the change. While the best way to reduce supplier expenses is
through formal competitive bidding, it should have been possible to extract
savings by providing a higher volume of business to each of the two
companies. I invite CZ Board Members to tell us that we did get savings by
going to two companies and the percentage on a per square foot basis. If we
don't hear from a CZ Board Member, I think we can assume that no additional
savings were derived. Also, the Sports Park is now being maintained by one
of the suppliers as part of the overall deal with that supplier. The fact
is that the Sports Park should be bid seperately since it requires more
regular maintanance and so that CZ Members can see precisely what it cost to
maintain the Sports Park primarily for the benefit of various user groups.
CZ dues are going up by $416,880 in January primarily to fund operating
expenses.
Landscaping maintenance makes up a significant portion of the
budget. CZ Board Members must be vigilant specific to all expenses; however
the cost of Landscaping maintenance, in particular, requires special
attention. Regards, Joe Morabito

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Securtas background and the reason we should go out for RFP ASAP on Security

Hello All: Securitas is the largest security company in the world. They
are publically traded on the Stockholm exchange as a Swedish company. They
will do more than six billion dollars in revenues in 2004. They have
200,000 employees world wide. Of that, $300,000,000 will be generated from
Southern California where they have 10,000 employees. CZ will pay Securitas
roughly $1.5 million dollars or more in 2005 if current trends continue.
While that is a large sum of money by any standard and probably higher than
it should be, it does not necessarily make CZ a very big fish in Securitas
pond.

To my knowledge, CZ has not formally gone out to bid for Security or any
other major services in more than four years. The last time it happened was
when I served on the Board. We should be going out to bid to test the
market for all major services at a minimum every three years. CZ expenses
are out of control largely because we have not imposed competitive pressure
on our major suppliers. It is impossible to get lower fees and charges
without competitive bidding.

I have no problem with Securitas or any of our suppliers in particular. I
was on the Boards that installed the current suppliers; but I also have no
loyalty to them. Given expenses that continue to go up and the recent
unnecessary dues increase that will hit in January, it is time to go to
formal bid for security, property management and landscaping services. This
process involves establishing a major Request For Proposal (RFP) for each
service, We probably should identify the top five players for each service
and then bid the business with them. From a weighted scoring process, we
should select the top three for presentations for each service. From that
grouping, we should enter into negotiations with the top two for each
service to get the lowest price. The presumuption is that either of the top
two suppliers can provide excellent service so at that point it really just
boils down to price. This process is the only way CZ can control expenses.

When I was first elected to the Board, our major suppliers had been in
place for 10 years or more with contracts in place that favored all of them,
not CZ. They were fat and happy. We went out to bid for all major
services, including legal, obtained lower pricing through the process and
installed all of our own contracts to favor CZ. I hope we are still using
those contracts. In any case, what should be happening is that each year
one major service should be bid to spread the work load. Since there has
been no bidding in four years, at a minimum we should bid Security and
Property Management in 2005 with Landscaping to follow in 2006. Yes, this
is a lot of hard work; but it is the key to making sure that we do not have
another dues increase in the near future. By the way, the $10 dues increase
coming in January is happening because we have not implemented competitive
bidding processes in so long. The current CZ Board has been asleep at the
wheel, or maybe driving floats in the July 4th parade.

Specific to Securitas, I am not sure that working with the largest security
firm in the world is in our interest. We have Securitas because they
acquired Burns, who we chose, not because we chose Securitas. First, we
could be a bigger fish in the Number Two or Three company's pond which might
be better. Second, Securitas has many layers of overhead that we are paying
for. Third, I own a company that regularly successfully competes with
companies that are huge like Securitas for Fortune 1000 business. Prior to
founding my firm, I have also have worked for companies as large or larger
than Securitas. I know that bigger is not always better from personal
experience. And, fourth, the profit from our business is going to Sweden
not to an American company. If it matters to red, white and blue Americans,
we are contributing to the trade deficit for whatever that is worth.

So, it is time for the Feel Good CZ Board to start minding the store and get
down to business. Current CZ Board Members took the easy road and voted for
a dues increase rather than going out to bid to find the $400,000 savings
(the amount of the dues increase) that could have been achieved through
competititve bidding. Keep in mind, this is just about 5% of our budget.
Blind, deaf and dumb CZ Board Members could have found that much just by the
threat to send out the Request For Proposals. My guess is that competitive
bidding and tough negotiations would achieve 10% savings or greater. And,
this does not necessarily mean changing suppliers. Please CZ Board Members
get serious. Pretend that all of the roughly $9,000,000 you are charged
with managing belongs to each of you, instead of all of us. Maybe then, you
will start doing the job properly in accordance with your fidiciary
responsibility.
Regards, Joe Morabito

P.S. Money does not grow on Oak Trees even in Coto.

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Estates to construct a gate--GREAT!!!

THE FIRST OF AN EXPLODING ISSUE**** COTO RESIDENTS NEED TO JUMP ON THIS IMMEDIATELY AND ASSIST THE ESTATES RESIDENTS IN GATE CONSTRUCTION. AFTER THAT COTO CAN MOVE THE ENTRANCE TO SOUTH OF PLANO TRBUCO AND WE WILL ALL BE MUCH BETTER FOR THE CHANGE!!!!!.
Hello All: The Estates want to gate their community. If they don't want to pay CZ dues, we absolutely should take them up on the deal and exclude them from Coto. The current CZ Board is the Feel Good Board. For smart guys, they are pretty dumb when it comes to protecting CZ Members interests. This is real simple. If CZ Members keep subsidizing all these other groups and we continue to give away revenues, lower fees, fail to control expenses all of which appears to be happening with the current CZ Board, our dues will go higher and we will get nothing for it. That is where the rubber hits the road. The current CZ Board often does not even see the road. If they did, they would see the speeders on our main streets and do something about it. Regards, Joe Morabito

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Yes, we need to have a pool and spa available just as much as a ballpark

Jan: The problem is that a CZ Member is forced to join the country club to get those facilities at very high fees. Though it would probably take a special assessment to build a pool and tennis complex and eventually a community center over time, if we manage our expenses properly, monthly CZ dues don't need to go up that much to support these amenities. I haven't kept up with the social membership cost at the country club; but I would bet it is the same or more than our CZ dues plus the initiation fee. Comparatively, that is just too much.

However, even if these facilities were never built by CZ, fair and balanced fees to cover more of the cost of maintaining the Sports Park instead of less as has occurred with the current CZ Board, would just must mean lower dues for all CZ Members. And, in view of the fact that we let the Sport leagues use our field with teams composed of non-Coto residents, why on earth should be let the county off the hook?. I see no reason why the county should not be making a contribution to support the maintenance of our Sports Park since we are contributing to the well being of the whole community. If nothing else, I would hope we can all agree that the county should be returning some of both our tax dollars and the tax dollars of non-residents to support public use of our Sports Park. It is just too easy to hit up CZ members for pretty much the whole tab which must be more than $100,000 a year fully loaded, rather than hit up users and the county for a fair share. This just is not fair to CZ Members most of whom never use the Sports Park and who have also been denied other uses for this property as well. Regards, Joe Morabito

What "works" Jan?? the club facilities or HOA?

There is some benefit to having golf, tennis and pool facilities within our gates which givesresidents the option to pay and play or not! Building additional, duplicate facilities belonging to the HOA would force everyone to pay whether they use the facilities or not. I think it works.

Jan Glisson

The Senior Plan and the Youth plan

John:
First of all, read Jan's reply which is a plan that would certainly work using the valley facility. I remember when this idea first surfaced but no action was taken. Jan and Martha could detail the obstacles confronted at that time in Coto history. We could go from there. It has everything we discussed. There is even room for expansion and updating at that location.
But I'd like to return to my proposal for the sports park at the present facility because of a very important difference in semantics of your reply.
which was;
Of course, I assume you are suggesting that we build such a facility IN ADDITION to the youth sports fields already in place, and NOT that the kids’ fields should be ripped out to build a pool and spa for the senior citizens in Coto.
My proposal never mentioned that the facilities should be converted for the exclusive use of senior citizens. I want to empathize here that there should never be a division between genders in any of these projects. No single group, senior citizens, youth or sports advocates should dominate the subject. This is a very dangerous position and I want to make clear that this can all work together. I do not want to be characterized as the grumpy ol guy that thinks seniors get the short end on community projects in Coto. We know each other well enough John that maybe that didn't need to be said but I want to make it clear for everyone.
The property at hand is not large enough for a building. That was my somewhat factious comment about the 20ftby 30ft building. As a matter of record, perhaps you can clear up one "fable" that has circulated for some time about that property. It was my understanding that Lenar donated that acreage for the specific use as open geenspace. This was not because Lenar was so magnanimous and thankful for the business obtained here but because it was a County requirement. The County "greenplan" requirements as you are probably aware requires that the builder provide so many parking spaces per building and also so much open greenspace as park or open area. This space is to remain open and no buildings constructed. This reasoning is why there were no buildings with the exception of the restroom facilities and storage area constructed on this property. The "storage" area is now a small office. If this is verified then of course there will never be anything at that location except sports fields. If not, I'd be interested in hearing the size building that could be constructed on what you refer to as "available property."

Bill says it like it is, John changes to what he thinks should be????

Bill,



You raise some valid points touching on complex issues. The original plans for Coto included common facilities, a school and a grocery store, among other things. All of these amenities were pulled out of the plans to build more homes. We have various developers and certain County officials to thank for the end result.



At any rate, I especially like your idea concerning the possibility of a meeting/senior center. Of course, I assume you are suggesting that we build such a facility IN ADDITION to the youth sports fields already in place, and NOT that the kids’ fields should be ripped out to build a pool and spa for the senior citizens in Coto.
********************************
No, John What he stated was not to ROP out the ball diamond, he wants to have a pool, spa and work out center for ALL the residents. your reply makes it sound like the seniors at Coto want to eliminate the kids entirely. Don't think that is what he said.
*********************************************
The Association still has an opportunity to do something with the undeveloped lot(s) at the Coto Sports Park. I think we should be having that dialogue. I also think the Association should continue to explore (and has explored) opportunities in connection with the Welcome Home Center, although we have far less (if any) control with respect to that property. We should explore other possibilities as well. As an example, when I was on the board, we explored the possibility of “leasing” the old club in the Village and making it available to our Association’s members. It was a legal thicket, but a prior owner/manager of the facility was very interested in making it work.



Best regards,



John



-----Original Message-----
From: TonerKing@aol.com [mailto:TonerKing@aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, December 16, 2004 3:54 PM
To: John Zarian; JMorabito@paragongri.com
Cc: cotobuzz@yahoo.com; ALDYMUK@aol.com; alex@lineindigo.com; schmeling@msn.com; barrington@iemsystems.com; chugwater1@cox.net; toddwm@ix.netcom.com; RWABellamy@aol.com; rcurran182@cox.net; BBBZ@aol.com; bobvaro@czmaster.org; coolmom1118@hotmail.com; ccorwin@stonecreekcompany.com; cjf@compuserve.com; domier@cox.net; starnesbld@cox.net; dvochelli@cox.net; dijennings@cox.net; drjoynt@cox.net; Dwgnr2@cs.com; dblasi2@cox.net; EMMasotti@aol.com; gallan@raslurry.com; jsbgkb@cox.net; georgethagard@czmaster.org; Hortenciaatcoto@aol.com; janglisson@cox.net; zenithg@sbcglobal.net; javiergaray425@hotmail.com; pindelegate@cox.net; jerrymezger@czmaster.org; StallScan@aol.com; jimjennings@cox.net; jlaguirre@atwebo.com; joenotaro@cox.net; jseitz@discounttirecenters.com; jbernards-iasc@cox.net; dyer@amazon.com; uclaw83@hotmail.com; JGuffre@aol.com; jdscal@cox.net; jtb@personalawyer.com; JWHIPPLE04@aol.com; urusaijoe@cox.net; therepkes1@cox.net; ckcnd@cox.net; kjanics@hjklawfirm.com; kdriscoll3@cox.net; lhillyer@ix.netcom.com; arow2222@aol.com; prancer234@cox.net; gasrebel2@cox.net; marcc10@cox.net; MAllerton7@aol.com; mary.galvin@cox.net; MGFader@aol.com; mlane@printmgt.com; soares12@cox.net; michael@thewagnerfamily.com; MBARNESM@cs.com; mcapotosto@sbcglobal.net; whishawpa@cox.net; mimi@acatech.com; mitchhill@czmaster.org; EdwardSnavely@aol.com; 1fembot@prodigy.net; deuster@cox.net; Blinas@aol.com; rjolicoeur@cox.net; rogerviers@cox.net; roncahill@cox.net; ronaldeger@cox.net; RFGRSF@aol.com; rgotts@cox.net; rallan@raslurry.com; sean.larkin@cox.net; srsickler@yahoo.com; susanbower@cox.net; terrycorwin@cox.net; The4tas@aol.com
Subject: Re: Sports Park



John:

I think the sports park revenue issue will go on so long as there is a total dedication of all that property to one activity.

The question that a lot of people living here and new residents ask is "why do we not have a community center for our youth as well as our senior citizens?"

It is almost to a point of embarrassment that a community this sizes does not have an activity center. I can think of no other gated community of this size in California with the demographics we have, that rents the golf clubhouse for its monthly meetings.

I have raised this question for almost ten years now and the usual rebuttal is, "We have property available in the sports park that could be used for a center."

Right--if you wanted to build a building that was fifteen feet wide and thirty feet long.

This community deserves to have a recreation area that serves the majority of the residents, not just a seasonal youth park. I think the time will come when we realize that the baseball diamond is costing the board more than just money. This is a gated private community. The property is of premium value and private. Those that feel that we have a "social obligation" to the surrounding communities to provide an exchange youth activities facility need to understand that the outside facilities are public and paid for from municipal funding. Maybe they can obtain County funds or State funds to build a facility by the 241 and Antonio Drive. This discussion of not raising facility fees for fear of losing the income indicates just how dependent we are on pleasing soccer and little league organizations. Its time the board started a project where we could have an activities center with a pool, spa and work out room and a meeting center. Paying $200 a month dues should provide something for everyone in return. Take a page from what the residents of Aliso Viejo accomplished. Before there was a charter for cityhood there were committees building facilities for their citizens. their youth park and meeting center is a showpiece of community teamwork. The community funded every single construction dollar by pancake breakfasts, concerts and 10,000 runs along with other functions. When Allis Vie became a city their recreation and parks department was well on its way to becoming and award winning example of forethought and planning.

The journey of a thousand miles,..........

Regards,

Bill Gast

Sports Park controversy again--use and profit

Joe,

We've been through this before but, to review:

1. Your argument concerning the 3,000 CZ Members who "don't use" the Sports
Park makes no sense. By that logic, I shouldn't have to pay for repairing
the sidewalks on your street, because I "don't use" those sidewalks.

2. If you think about it, we don't have a CHOICE except to maintain
(properly) the Coto Sports Park. To do otherwise would be a "breach of
fiduciary duty." It is an asset of the Association that MUST be maintained.


3. Since the basic costs of maintenance/upkeep are fixed ("sunk") costs,
there is no logical basis for shifting those costs to a particular group of
residents. Indeed, even if we wanted to, how would we do so? As a
practical matter, how would a resident "prove" that no member of his or her
family had "ever" used the Sports Park during a particular time frame?

4. Your next line of attack appears to be directed at "non-residents."
Again, as a practical matter, what percentage of players in a game would
have to be "residents" before a particular "use" would be permitted or free?


5. In view of the foregoing, and since the basic costs of maintenance are
"fixed," your only possible "beef" would be with the marginal increase in
costs, if any, attributable to some ill-defined set of activities or group
(e.g., non-residents?). How could we begin to measure that increase?

6. As you know, the various youth leagues do not draw boundaries around
Coto. Even if they did, however, is that a fight we want to pick? Would we
want to limit all of our families to using the one Sports Park facility in
Coto? Our residents (especially our kids) make VERY extensive use of the
sports facilities of other communities (including RSM and Mission Viejo).
If we declare "war" on non-residents, we will surely lose that battle.

7. Finally, your failure (or refusal) to defend the "50%" figure speaks
volumes. You can't tell me, and I don't understand, the factual basis for
your proposed "50/50 partnership." One simply cannot make the argument for
such a split without addressing the issue of what is a "reasonable" user
fee? Further, you must address the potential impact of a five-fold increase
in fees, including any unintended consequences. Until you address these
questions, it is impossible to consider the merits of your proposal.

Best regards,

John

Permission for signs? We don't need no stinkin Permission

Bill: CotoCAN is an extension of CZ based on current Board Actions. Who knows if CotoCAN was given permission to put signs up? They may not have even thought to ask for permission. What is obvious is that the CZ Board has not instructed Securitas to take them down. So, the signs are clearly approved by the Board whether they violate our CC & R's or not. Joe Morabito

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Topical for sure

Not a CC & R issue; but it could be a topical, secure library of information that would be available to all Board Members. J Morab

"I think Keystone is low price and high cost"

Bill, it was Joe's tough purchasing policies that resulted us getting rid of Merit and hiring Keystone in the first place.
From the onset, many felt Keystone did not have what it takes, but they were low bid, and they were supposed to save us money.
Maybe they had al lower price tag, , but I bet the long term cost is really much higher.
There is almost always a difference between price and cost. I think Keystone is low price and high cost.
John G

We tried that.....not that it didn't work, just no one attended

Hello All: I have encouraged current CZ Board Members to meet with former CZ Board Members for more than two years to gain knowledge transfer on many topics. To my knowledge, those meetings have never taken place and not because former Board Members have been unwilling to meet. That really is too bad. Regards, Joe Morabito

The Knowledge Board is formed

We are impressed with the wealth of knowledge and experience exhibited in this forum. Easily the Coto experience here exceeds 100 years! - this thread is a perfect example!



Sure would be nice to make this experience work for Coto by institutionalizing the knowledge base, regardless of which board one supports, this would assure that incoming boards do not re-invent the wheel, such as what he have now?


Perhaps a permanent Coto Knowledge Council could be formed, responsible for swearing in incoming boards and provide the correct training – as compared to relying on legal counsel and/or the incumbent property manager (the fox guarding the hen house)

"William A. Gast" wrote:
I feel this needs to be injected here because of the subjects and issues involved with my personal experience recently. Working with Keystone getting landscape problems resolved of is like herding cats. I contacted and started working with Keystone ( We do not need to use names here) eight months ago. This was contact by email, phone and personal contact to get plants replaced in the hedge between Coto drive and association property. A truck made a spill there years back and the area slope plants and hedge has never survived. Keystone sent out a soils engineer and made tests. Three months later I was contacted that plants were ordered and would be replaced. Five months after initial contact I again started the email and phone calls. No action. Two months ago a landscape crew replaced two plants about ten inches tall/ ( The hedgeline is over three feet and plays a part in cushioning the traffic noise from Coto Drive) and they lasted about three weeks before dying. We now have thirty five foot open area with dead plants and a bare slope as a result of eight months of working diligently with Keystone. If that is not mismanagement I need a new definition of the term. What Joe is saying in part is, that situations like this should be put in a file at Keystone and when the contract is renegotiated with landscaping, it is reviewed. It has been stated several times but to no avail that Coto is just too large a property for Keystone. This community should be split between the north and south residences and two property management companies assigned and the responsibilities divided. That is another subject and issue but one that will reoccur I'm confident in the not so distant future. In respect to the fuel modification changes, at one time, CZ Master was very strict on the use of any plants not indigenous to the canyon. Then, In 1996 J.M. Peters built the Canyon Estates and used palms in every one of the models. The board did nothing to my knowledge and so now we have palms,Cypress,Willow and even avocado trees in front yards. ( Once "the Camel's nose is inside the tent".....)
How to correct this?Delegates elect the BOD. Delegates do not show up at BOD meetings and are not even close to these issues. ( Count the signatures on any sign-in sheet and see how many are Delegates)To be a Delegate is more of a popularity contest than a community dedication. Joe's "concerned citizens" need to start now interviewing and educating a select number of residents that share these concerns and will run for Delegates in their respective areas. This is the most expedient avenue to change. I remember not so many years back---- and many that read this forum will also-- a gathering of dedicated residents meeting in a garage and starting a mail campaign. It snowballed into a movement that kept this community moving in the direction that has resulted in continued growth, not stagnation. These are the kinds of actions that will bring change and correct these problems. the only problem is, Coto no longer seems to be comprised of residents that care what goes on down the street or beyond their doorstep. I remember the prophetic words of John Zarian in an article in the OC Register following the school issue. John gave the interviewer a running account of both sides position in the school within the gates of Coto and concluded with " Eventually, the residents of Coto will get what they deserve ."
I didn't really understand what that meant at the time. It certainly has a new meaning today.
Bill Gast

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Landscape Issues and water

Bill: I don't think the problem is with Keystone. In fact, as far as I know there is no longer a Keystone employee managing the Landscape contractors. Mitz who used to do it was terminated. I believe the current CZ Board outsourced this task to a Consultant. I don't have the numbers with me on the road this week; but if I recall correctly as of October YTD about $77,000 was paid to this Consultant. And, Richard Liggitt used to focus on Landscaping. With him gone; not sure who is running the show. Ultimately, the buck must stops with the CZ Board. Board Members are responsible for making sure that all functions of the Association are managed properly presumably through our suppliers. It is a big job which is the reason we divided up functions when I served on the Board. Can't remember which; but either Karen or Jan owned the Landscapers when I was on the Board. Ownership of functions brings focus. It worked pretty well.
WHERE DID THIS PLAN GO WRONG?? LOOKS LIKE QUITE A CHANGE WHEN THE EXISTING BOARD CAME IN.Specific to Coto de Caza Concerned Citizens, we will issue a Call For Candidates in January in preparation for Board Elections in May. I would like to get the CZ Master Audit completed as well in January to issue to the community. We have to get the facts out there so everyone can see the big picture. The numbers do not look good. Regards, Joe Morabito
-----Original Message-----
From: William A. Gast [mailto:editor@wesupportthevets.com]
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 4:32 PM
Coto de Caza Homeowners association.
ToSubject: Re: [COTO] The Current CZ Board Needs to Work The Plan If Only Th ey Had One


I feel this needs to be injected here because of the subjects and issues involved with my personal experience recently. Working with Keystone getting landscape problems resolved of is like herding cats. I contacted and started working with Keystone ( We do not need to use names here) eight months ago. This was contact by email, phone and personal contact to get plants replaced in the hedge between Coto drive and association property. A truck made a spill there years back and the area slope plants and hedge has never survived. Keystone sent out a soils engineer and made tests. Three months later I was contacted that plants were ordered and would be replaced. Five months after initial contact I again started the email and phone calls. No action. Two months ago a landscape crew replaced two plants about ten inches tall/ ( The hedgeline is over three feet and plays a part in cushioning the traffic noise from Coto Drive) and they lasted about three weeks before dying. We now have thirty five foot open area with dead plants and a bare slope as a result of eight months of working diligently with Keystone. If that is not mismanagement I need a new definition of the term. What Joe is saying in part is, that situations like this should be put in a file at Keystone and when the contract is renegotiated with landscaping, it is reviewed. It has been stated several times but to no avail that Coto is just too large a property for Keystone. This community should be split between the north and south residences and two property management companies assigned and the responsibilities divided. That is another subject and issue but one that will reoccur I'm confident in the not so distant future. In respect to the fuel modification changes, at one time, CZ Master was very strict on the use of any plants not indigenous to the canyon. Then, In 1996 J.M. Peters built the Canyon Estates and used palms in every one of the models. The board did nothing to my knowledge and so now we have palms,Cypress,Willow and even avocado trees in front yards. ( Once "the Camel's nose is inside the tent".....)
How to correct this?Delegates elect the BOD. Delegates do not show up at BOD meetings and are not even close to these issues. ( Count the signatures on any sign-in sheet and see how many are Delegates)To be a Delegate is more of a popularity contest than a community dedication. Joe's "concerned citizens" need to start now interviewing and educating a select number of residents that share these concerns and will run for Delegates in their respective areas. This is the most expedient avenue to change. I remember not so many years back---- and many that read this forum will also-- a gathering of dedicated residents meeting in a garage and starting a mail campaign. It snowballed into a movement that kept this community moving in the direction that has resulted in continued growth, not stagnation. These are the kinds of actions that will bring change and correct these problems. the only problem is, Coto no longer seems to be comprised of residents that care what goes on down the street or beyond their doorstep. I remember the prophetic words of John Zarian in an article in the OC Register following the school issue. John gave the interviewer a running account of both sides position in the school within the gates of Coto and concluded with " Eventually, the residents of Coto will get what they deserve ."
I didn't really understand what that meant at the time. It certainly has a new meaning today.
Bill Gast


About:
Coto de Caza Homeowners association

"But this is my well!!" Okay, your Well--OUR METER!!

Residents of the estates have water rights. Most of Coto does not. There are instances of residents drilling for water on their property only to have the water district come out and place a meter on their pump!
Jan


Rancho Santa Margarita Water company is who we are talking about here people. those are the "elected" corporation that gave the contract on OSO RESERVOIR--our best fishing hole in the county--to the Boy Scouts for 20K a year and then when the scouts could not perform, they let the place sit and degrade. GREAT MANAGEMENT!!
Meeanwhile some of the best bass fishing within 10 minutes of Coto gates goes unused by the public.

It water under the bridge, Patti,

I agree with the premise that water should be conserved. The sprinklers all
over Coto were going during each rain storm. Many of them were watering the
street and not the plants. I thought the sprinklers were on a monitored
system, where they could be turned off or adjusted for weather conditions.
In so far as Drought Tolerant plants, they might assist with water
conservation, but they are a poor choice for fire hazard areas. True
Drought Tolerant plants are known for their ability to ignite and sustain
fire, because they contain flammable oils. Many of the Native or Drought
Tolerant plants require fire for the soot it leaves in the soil, for
fertility and reseeding purposes. It
is best to use expendable plants in Fire Hazard areas. One should use
softer species that look like Native Plants that do not have the fuel
capacity of true Natives.
Patti

Mismanagement or Ignoringggggggg?

feel this needs to be injected here because of the subjects and issues involved with my personal experience recently. Working with Keystone getting landscape problems resolved of is like herding cats. I contacted and started working with Keystone ( We do not need to use names here) eight months ago. This was contact by email, phone and personal contact to get plants replaced in the hedge between Coto drive and association property. A truck made a spill there years back and the area slope plants and hedge has never survived. Keystone sent out a soils engineer and made tests. Three months later I was contacted that plants were ordered and would be replaced. Five months after initial contact I again started the email and phone calls. No action. Two months ago a landscape crew replaced two plants about ten inches tall/ ( The hedgeline is over three feet and plays a part in cushioning the traffic noise from Coto Drive) and they lasted about three weeks before dying. We now have thirty five foot open area with dead plants and a bare slope as a result of eight months of working diligently with Keystone. If that is not mismanagement I need a new definition of the term. What Joe is saying in part is, that situations like this should be put in a file at Keystone and when the contract is renegotiated with landscaping, it is reviewed. It has been stated several times but to no avail that Coto is just too large a property for Keystone. This community should be split between the north and south residences and two property management companies assigned and the responsibilities divided. That is another subject and issue but one that will reoccur I'm confident in the not so distant future. In respect to the fuel modification changes, at one time, CZ Master was very strict on the use of any plants not indigenous to the canyon. Then, In 1996 J.M. Peters built the Canyon Estates and used palms in every one of the models. The board did nothing to my knowledge and so now we have palms,Cypress,Willow and even avocado trees in front yards. ( Once "the Camel's nose is inside the tent".....)
How to correct this?Delegates elect the BOD. Delegates do not show up at BOD meetings and are not even close to these issues. ( Count the signatures on any sign-in sheet and see how many are Delegates)To be a Delegate is more of a popularity contest than a community dedication. Joe's "concerned citizens" need to start now interviewing and educating a select number of residents that share these concerns and will run for Delegates in their respective areas. This is the most expedient avenue to change. I remember not so many years back---- and many that read this forum will also-- a gathering of dedicated residents meeting in a garage and starting a mail campaign. It snowballed into a movement that kept this community moving in the direction that has resulted in continued growth, not stagnation. These are the kinds of actions that will bring change and correct these problems. the only problem is, Coto no longer seems to be comprised of residents that care what goes on down the street or beyond their doorstep. I remember the prophetic words of John Zarian in an article in the OC Register following the school issue. John gave the interviewer a running account of both sides position in the school within the gates of Coto and concluded with " Eventually, the residents of Coto will get what they deserve ."
I didn't really understand what that meant at the time. It certainly has a new meaning today.
Bill Gast
----- Original Message -----
From: Morabito, Joe


John: In my business, we deal with Purchasing Department types all the time. They are nice people; but tough, non-emotional negotiators. We need to differentiate between managing people and managing suppliers. In running my company, I wear many hats. When I am managing our employees, I react very differently than when I am involved in managing our hundreds of suppliers world wide. In dealing with CZ suppliers while I served on the Board, I was always nice; but tough when it came to protecting our member's interests. At least one Board member needs to fill this role. A Board member with experience, needs to focus on Supplier Selection and Contract Management since it is the key to controlling our expenses. The current Board wants to hire an Executive Director to do the job because clearly they have not been doing it. That might be ok; but it depends on that person's experience. We cannot depend on the Property Management Company or the Association Attorney, who ever they may be, to fully protect our member's interest because they all belong to the HOA industry and relationships are cozy. Only a tough minding Board Member can fill this role. When I stepped on to the Board, I found contracts, presumably reviewed by the Association attorney, that were a mess; missing all sorts of language that we needed. It was not good.



Finally, I have never suggested that current CZ Board Members are stupid. After all, they do live in Coto. They did not get here by accident. I just don't believe they have done a good job while serving on the Board. I don't think they fully understand their fiduciary responsibility to protect the interests of our members as paramount. They have never developed comprehensive goals and objectives to manage the Association which in my opinion is sloppy management. There has been no strategic thinking that I can see. Since I understand the workings of the Association, I know what should be happening to properly manage it and I just don't see those things happening. It really is pretty simple. Regards, Joe Morabito

Monday, December 13, 2004

Minimum quals for the Board Of directors to manage 9 mil a year

All good points Joe.
I really agree with the concept of a "business plan", it is certainly what you and I are accustomed to with regard to fiscal management of a business.
I think I have a little more patience and understanding than you, however, with regard to making exceptions with a community board of directors.
There is no requirement for specific business experience to run for a board position, nor any requirement for management experience.
It is therefore hard for me to hold someone accountable to my personal standards, when there is no defined community standard for a board member.
Board members often have entrepreneurial ways of earning a living, and are accustomed to running their businesses in ways that you and I might find horrifying.
What would a professional artist or a private landscape architect really be expected to know about writing a business plan, or managing people and multimillion dollar budgets?
Unless and until there are specific minimum requirements for being a board member, it will be really hard to have a standard to hold them to.
You acted like a person running a tight business ship when you were on the board, and that is a refection of your background and profession. You wanted to keep expenses down, get the best deal on every contract, and keep potential liabilities in check. AND you knew how to do those very things.
But what would be the reasonable expectation of someone who was a public school teacher for 20 years, cares greatly about people and the community, but has absolutely no relative experience, doesn't know how to balance a budget, doesn't know how to read or write a contract, and has no knowledge whatsoever about business risks and lawsuits? (Such a person, however, would be very good at talking to children, which might actually be an asset when addressing the audience at board meetings LOL)
My points are these:
Should such a person be prohibited from being a board member???
If elected, should such a person be held to the same standard as a person with many years of business and management experience, such as yourself??
Perhaps this explains my "tolerance" regarding certain board actions, and my criticisms of others.
Joe, I would personally hold you to a much higher standard, based on your background, than I would many others.
Unless and until their is a "job description" written that clearly outlines the qualifications necessary to be a board member (besides residency), I don't think it is appropriate to set a standard higher than hard work and honesty.
Again Joe, you may look at it as mismanagement from your perspective, but I have a hard time coming to the same conclusion.
I was once told that the secret to happiness is to minimize your wants. I am perfectly happy living in an imperfect world, populated by imperfect people. I EXPECT mistakes and I don't get shocked and disappointed when they occur, at least on a small scale.
I am not mocking your quest for high standards Joe, it is an admirable ambition, but I think your personal standards may be a bit too stringent for a community board that does not require a minimum resume for candidates.
John G
John: Ideally, a Board is made up of a mix of people. And, I would not assume that just because a Board Member does not have significant business experience that they can't be tough. Jan Glisson is a great case in point. I don't think that Jan has ever run a company; but she was as tough as any business man or woman I have ever encountered when dealing with our suppliers, developers, the county etc. Jan walks softly; but carries a big stick. And, as far as I know, all of our current CZ Board Members have business experience; they just are not using it very effectively. There really is no excuse. Most important, as dues payers, we can't give any Board managing our Association, with nearly $9,000,000 of our money a PASS. I expect sound business management each and every year. The end result of the mismanagement of the past few years is an unnecessary dues increase that could have been avoided. Obviously, the extra $10 a month is not going to break any one in Coto; but it is just dumb. Further, with aggressive Supplier Selection and Contract Management processes in place and comprehensive annual goals and objectives and some longer term strategic planning, this current CZ Board might have been able to actually lower dues. I know this is possible; but it requires focus, discipline and a sound annual business plan as demonstrated by comprehensive goals and objectives. This is just good business sense. It is baffling why five smart guys currently serving on the Board just can't see it. Regards, Joe Morabito

Get the committee staarted to research the well--let's move on this!!

Do you have any information about the common property in Coto? Any such wells would not be for residential use or on residential property.
They would be for irrigation of common areas with wells in common area locations.
If the older portions of Coto, such as the estates, have retained water rights, it is possible that land that was never subdivided has retained those rights.
There is also the possibility of a negotiated agreement with the water district.
This is best accomplished during times of drought when they don't have enough supply.
At those times, public opinion can be used to hammer out a favorable arrangement.
There is also the fact that a reservoir is maintained within the gates. Depending on the details and life of that agreement, there may be leverage available at some time in the future.
Of course, no one will ever really know the feasibility of this concept until someone takes the time to really dig into all the details, the body of law that controls it, and the entities that must be dealt with.
I understand that the current General Manager of the Water District is the former General Manager of the Coto Golf Club. He might be willing to supply information and advice on the subject.
John G


Water management--go dig a well?

HEY GUYS--THAT WILL WORK--LOOK AT ALL THOSE LAKES AND PONDS YOU HAVE OVER THERE. PLUS--THAT REALLY BIG ONE BY THE ANTONIO GATE!!!
Bill:
I don't pretend to even begin to understand the water rights issue in California. Entire books (such as "Water Wars") have been written on the subject, and there is even a movie (Chinatown with Jack Nicholson), whose plot centers around water rights in California.
However, there is a lot of available water, and it is not very deep.
I can't say with certainty if this water is part of any water district aquifer, and, since the Santa Margarita Water district does not "replenish" their aquifers, there may be no restrictions in place at all, even if it is on the same aquifer.
I can tell you that near my property in the desert near Palm Springs, many people have personal wells, and they are very close to the water district wells.
These people have found that even after investing the money to drill a well, it is still much cheaper to pump water from 2000 feet down than it is to continually pay the water company.
I cannot recall for sure, but I believe the water under Coto is only around 200 feet down.
Again, this is just a thought. With a water bill of $1,000,000 a year, it just might be a viable alternative, and probably someone should spend a little time on a preliminary investigation.
John G
John: I have been pushing the current CZ Board to develop comprehensive goals and objectives every year since I served on the Board as the Board's I served on always did. I never did this just to be wise guy; but rather to make the point that every well run organization needs a plan of operations. For some reason which I will never understand, Board Members Varo, Mezger, Hill, Thagard and now Larkin, who presumably are smart guys, just refused to implement what is just a normal aspect of running any business.

Yes, they have dropped the ball specific to both a long term strategy to deal with Landscaping in Coto which ties directly to the water conservation issue. There is no plan that I can see that represents any strategic thinking. The Boards I served on had a plan over a five year period to change out plants to more drought resistant landscaping. We also saw the cost of water as a real problem that would explode on us as is happening now. We hired an outside consultant to monitor the system we have in Coto to get better water utilization. As far as I know, all of that stopped with this current CZ Board. Why do you think I keep pushing the Board to stop focusing on feel good stuff and start focusing on the business of the Associaiton.

Let's face it. Most people in Coto can write a check for $200 a month without much pain. Some probably spend that on Starbucks every month. But, we don't get much for our dues money. We have no community, pool or tennis center for our dues which is rather common in other master planned communities. If we work smarter, by keeping and even enhancing our revenue sources and controlling expenses, we could add these facilities to CZ without much of a dues increase. This would not only be good for the community, it would be very good for property values. CZ residents should not have to join the country club at very high fees to have these amenties. If the current CZ Board would just focus on our business instead of the July 4th parade, they could make it happen. Regards, Joe Morabito

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Bill gets up a tree about Oaks and water and Joe is always right?????? well, maybe

Joe:
I'm well aware of the settlement from Toll because of the grading contractor error. My comment was in respect to the manner that the problem was handled by the (then) board. It would have been much less confrontational to have made a resolution for a "One-time" variance for these residents and make it known to the rest of the community that this was not setting presidence, it was not to be "grandfathered" it was a one time resolution to be adhered to in the Future. The fire marshal got involved because the sprinklers were not operating properly on that slope and that was an association problem -not the residents. The area we are talkBill: Your facts are half right at best. First, the Pinnacles case was four years in the making. Legal action only took place as a last resort. Second, those slopes are a fuel modification zone. The fire department would not deal with individual homeowners. CZ was on the hook specific to maintaining those slopes which would have been much harder if they were encumbered by fences. And, third at the very time we were dealing with the Pinnacles mess, there were other cases in Atherton and Weatherly. If we had allowed that "varience" a precendent would have been set. There is no way we could have said no to other residents asking for the very same right to move their fences. Remember, Coto is full of attorneys ready to take advantage of any opening. I saw the letters. Please trust that 10 or more Board Members and ultimately a judge reviewed this case from all angles and came to the very same conclusion. This case was never about those 24 homeowners or the fact that they moved their fences; but rather about protecting Association easements all over Coto. It was about protecting the very character of Coto and preventing a barrage of lawsuits that would have otherwise occurred if we had not taken the action that we did. We did not incur all the attacks from Pinnacles homeowners, one of whom is currently on the Board, and one of the worst divisive issues in Coto's history just for the fun of it. There we big issues at stake. Regards, Joe Morabito
ing about is part of the ridgeline Cordellia agreement and probably less than eight feet wide. This is at the top of the hill and will never be used for anything that would have been an imposition to whatever the association wanted to do up there. The money spent on that litigation could have obtained a professional arborist to oversee the movement of the oak trees by Toll and perhaps we would not presently be removing scores of the same trees that have died from neglect. Speaking of the Pinnacles and Oaks, Will those residents ever see a replacement of that majestic Lady that graced their entrance? The sight there now is pitiful in comparison. If you have not seen it was you exit the Oso gate, look where the Pinnacles entrance sign is and where the oak was removed. Is this the typical image of a Coto residential area of two million dollar plus homes or the result of urban renewal and HUD housing?
Bill Gast

Bill: Your facts are half right at best. First, the Pinnacles case was four years in the making. Legal action only took place as a last resort. Second, those slopes are a fuel modification zone. The fire department would not deal with individual homeowners. CZ was on the hook specific to maintaining those slopes which would have been much harder if they were encumbered by fences. And, third at the very time we were dealing with the Pinnacles mess, there were other cases in Atherton and Weatherly. If we had allowed that "varience" a precendent would have been set. There is no way we could have said no to other residents asking for the very same right to move their fences. Remember, Coto is full of attorneys ready to take advantage of any opening. I saw the letters. Please trust that 10 or more Board Members and ultimately a judge reviewed this case from all angles and came to the very same conclusion. This case was never about those 24 homeowners or the fact that they moved their fences; but rather about protecting Association easements all over Coto. It was about protecting the very character of Coto and preventing a barrage of lawsuits that would have otherwise occurred if we had not taken the action that we did. We did not incur all the attacks from Pinnacles homeowners, one of whom is currently on the Board, and one of the worst divisive issues in Coto's history just for the fun of it. There we big issues at stake. Regards, Joe Morabito

Bill,
I agree with you on the importance of the oak trees to the Coto experience. At one time Lennar was committed to having an arborist oversee the health of the transplanted mature oak trees and the association was specifically excluding these trees from areas accepted for maintenance as we could see the decline of some and struggle of others to adapt to their transplanted locations. I don't know what became of that committment the past 4 years. Unfortunately trees were transplanted a year after being dug and boxed when a 4-5 year process is most successful.

-Jan G


John:
The idea of using the subterrain water for irrigation is an excellent idea but methinks that tapping into the Santa Margarita aquifers would bring problems. I know that on my property in Texas, the first thing I wanted to do was drill for a source for some waterfalls and a small stream running on the property. I had the plan already and complete with solar power for the pumps and then was shot down by the Edwards aquifers agency. No drilling. We have two large ecology ponds in the south ranch that may be a viable source for that purpose if investigated. We of course would only use runoff water that is now sent on down the Chiquita valley.
Regards,
Bill Gast
HEY BILL--DOES THE "CHIQUITA VALLEY" go all the way to San Juan Cap?? cotoreporter

The Dragon Lady slaps their hands with her ruler for misquotes

Scribe's notes to the reader: When you get two exschoolteachers, three lawyers and one nice guy trying to tell the same story, here is what you get. The Dragon Lady ( so-named by her committee chairs when she was Bored Pres. ( no misspel there) years ago) corrects them and gives them a "c"minus.
SHE SAID:
While there may have been extraneous issues regarding the fences in The Pinnacle, the overriding issue was whether the association could allow a homeowner to construct a fence within association property. Association property extends to the top of slopes. The lots in The Pinnacle were apparently incorrectly graded leaving many lots shallower than the depths depicted on homeowners documents. The homeowners believed they were entitled to the depth depicted by the builder even though those depths frequently encroached on the slope and association property. It is important to note the many areas within the community where homeowner property abuts association property at the top of slope. The board had a duty to protect association property abuting the Pinnacle.
The decision by the board to call for a specified action(vote) on the public school issue was costly and time consuming. Once a month board meetings make it pretty difficult to complete much in a timely fashion as it is.

Jan Glisson
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: [COTO] Volunteer Board and Incompetent Board?
About:
Coto de Caza Homeowners association.
and then, only then, does John see the need to explain ---in detail----his opinion. All Coto residents should have access to these conversations...........especially before they buy behind the gates.Joe:
You may be 100% right about mixing apples and watermelons when comparing current events with the Pinnacles case, BUT, how would anyone not on the board at the time or directly involved in the suit have any way of knowing that?
The comparison lies in the secrecy surrounding the dispute and the refusal of the board to discuss the issue in open session or to disseminate any information based on the advice given to them by the lawyers.
The secrecy led to suspicion and skepticism and all sorts of wild accusations.
That is the heart of the comparison I made.
As for cost, there were many people, including myself, who thought the appearance of the Pinnacles ridge line was actually improved when the homeowners moved their fences and never could fully understand why the association was eating up time and money fighting an issue like that and were justifying it by saying the slopes were too geologically unstable to sustain the weight of a wrought iron fence, while all the while, swimming pools and estates are being built on less stable slopes in Laguna, Newport, and Irvine, and possibly even within some parts of Coto as well.
Are geological slope studies required of all residents by the ACC when installing swimming pools? I can point out multiple swimming pools built right to the edge of severe slopes with houses right below.
I just don't buy the argument Joe, never did and perhaps never will. Perhaps if I was privy to what the lawyers were saying, I might have thought differently, but to me, it sounded too much like Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam war, never bought it, never will.
You guys just never SOLD the community on the concept.

It still seems to me that you are complaining about secrecy by the current board and its attorneys in exactly the same way people complained about secrecy and hiding behind lawyers when you were on the board. How does the saying go? different clowns, same circus.

The Pinnacle suit, was, I am sure, well intended at its onset and a positive outcome was expected. The actual result was a lot of suspicion and a lot of bad feelings. One can say the exact same thing about Coto CAN. Well intentioned with positive expectations, but subsequent suspicion and bad feelings overshadow any positive results. To me the parallels are quite striking. What the boards (past and present) really have lacked is the ability to SELL their ideas to the community and to give the community some confidence in their ideas and direction. Forcing decisions down peoples throats or telling people they lack competency if they disagree with a position are not effective ways to sell ideas and gain support It is, after all, a community of equals, and community support for ideas should be earned, before the board implements them. How about floating a few trial balloons before changes are voted on.
The only time I can remember this being done was when the board supported building a public school in Coto, but needed a public vote (of Coto residents only) before it could happen. Was not the vote something like 87% against and 12% in favor? It shows just how wrong a board can be when they assume they know what the community wants.
John

I am a Paralegal! I am a paralegal!!You men never listen to me-FEMBOT

The Lady tries soooo hard to be recognized by the "guys" and they treat her like their little sister. Why do you think she calls herself "Fembot?"??? look that one up on Google.
she said;
"Thanks for your legal insight. I realize there was no threat per se, and
that the clock would be ticking on a
valid threat. I just object to the tone of the letter and the fact that
the Board spent Association money on such pettiness.
I do understand attorney "talk" and laches as I have
completed two years of law school. I am, additionally, a certified
Paralegal.
Patti

Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2004 1:17 PM
Subject: [COTO] Digest Number 109
Because THEY SAID;Patti:
There is a legal principle called "latches" to handle long standing
threats.
Basically from the Latin it translates to "don't sit on your hands" or "get
off your hands"
This gives anyone who is actually "threatened" with a lawsuit the right to
demand that the other party "stop sitting on their hands" and either sue
them
immediately or lose forever the right to bring suit later, or alternately
claim that enough time has passed since the initial "threat" to the point
of
actually filing suit that time has now run out.
ALL lawyers know this and that is why it is extremely unusual to see a
letter with an actual threat to sue someone. A threat starts the clock
ticking
which no lawyer on the offensive wants to do. The letter to Joe does not
contain
a threat.
I would be shocked if ANY attorney read into the letter to Joe a threat to
sue him. His letter is just standard attorney "talk".
Here is my layman's interpretation of the letter sent to Joe.
Hey Joe, we do NOT want to get in a legal battle with you, we want to
settle
our differences in a neighborly way. Here is our legal opinion on the
issues
we raised the way we see them and why we believe their is nothing illegal
going on. Since we believe there is nothing illegal going on, we think your
claims of fraud are wrong . Now that you know that WE believe charges of
fraud
are wrong, you need to be careful how you phrase things. Please don't call
my
clients criminals unless and until you are prepared to back up your
claims.
If you continue to make statements that you now have good reason to believe
are FALSE (we are not talking criticism here, just knowingly false
statements)
then YOU will become the bad guy and we THEN will have the ability to use
legal recourse to prevent your "targets" from FALSE AND derogatory
statements.
By the way, please note the use of the word AND. The statements must be
BOTH
knowingly false AND derogatory. In other words, you can fling all the
criticism you want, but if your intention is to defame someone by lying
about
them, you just may be stepping in some dog poop. While some may be
skeptical that
the use of a simple word like AND can dramatically change the meaning of a
phrase, please remember that "legalese" involves the precise use of words
to
prevent confusion, not cause it.
For those who like details from the law dictionary:

Laches:
A legal doctrine whereby those who take too long to assert a legal right,
lose their entitlement to compensation. When you claim that a person's legal
suit against you is not valid because of this, you would call it "estoppel
by
laches".

Saturday, December 11, 2004

No support, no support I get no support don't you EVER forget???

oops, Joe, lets re-visit that one a bit.
"It was never about 24 homeowners fences; but rather about the precedent involved and the implications for all of Coto. "
That may have been the Board's position but the entire community wanted to give these people a variance and move on. As for the "secret meetings" of the BOD at the time, think back --I was the delegate for the Pinnacles and was "rejected" from the meeting because I was not a homeowner there.I'd start promoting a new image in Coto if you want support for some of these cost reduction- by- analysis- programs you are promoting. I see a vision here of the Swift boat vets coming back to haunt you for past actions.and your track record. (( swiftboats return to action in Coto de Caza??)You have a great, hard charging concern for the betterment of Coto Joe and if we can get you to direct that energy in a more proactive attitude, I'm confident things will happen IMHO
Bill Gast

Hold on Joe, we'll draw you a map

Joe, please don't take my illustrations so literally. I am just pointing out that we all make decisions based on our backgrounds and preferences, and not everyone makes decisions based on lowest cost or best overall cost effectiveness, nor should we.
If we did, most people would be driving Volkswagens, and we wouldn't see any Jags or Mazzarattis at all. What I call waste, you may call efficiency. People can look at the same situation and draw different conclusions based on their own paradigms.
There should be at least a little latitude given in the decision making process.
If there were three board members who were allergic to pollen, would they be right in saying that the association should not be planting flowers because it is a waste of the associations money and flowers are offensive to some people? Of course not. But in their own minds, that may be the conclusions that they draw. What's bad for the goose must be bad for the gander.
You call the lack of a water conservation plan mismanagement.
I might call the lack of a plan for Coto to develop its own water source mismanagement.
Geologists have told me there is an abundant water supply beneath Coto, that is quite suitable for irrigation, but perhaps not quite adequate for drinking. I have brought this up years ago at board meetings. Was it ever looked into? And how about all the potential revenue lost by not selling water to the golf club for their irrigation?
Joe, I am only pointing out that a variety of differing ideas can have merit, I am not necessarily advocating wells, even though they may potentially represent huge savings.
Back when you were on the board, I remember Karen Rose informing us of a plan to have the landscapers check and adjust all of the irrigation timers to save as much water as possible, and people were encouraged to report broken sprinklers. Was that a water management plan?. If so, isn't it still in effect? if not, why are you criticizing this board when your board knew of the problem and did nothing about it?
Again Joe, I am not trying to take shots, I am just trying to point out how different people can perceive the same set of circumstances quite differently. If everything that could be done was done, perhaps dues could be cut by 30%. But I just consider that waste the cost of doing business. There is only so much one board can take on using part time volunteers and limited resources. The big rush to make fast decisions in the interest of saving money just has not produced a lot of smiling faces. There is a value to continuity that rarely gets factored in to accountant based decisions. For example, I do not believe the disruption to the community was adequately factored in when the switch was made from Merit to Keystone based on low bid. They didn't even know the general area, much less the community when they first came on board. Was the discontinuity really worth the cost savings?
Have you forgotten all the obnoxious warning letters they sent to hundreds of households when they first came on board and drove through Coto looking for nit picking infractions, and so many people complained that the warnings were later withdrawn? I have not forgotten that episode.
Different strokes Joe
John
.

Joe misses the point, slides to the past and is covered by intelligent responses

John: At least 10 different, very independent minded Board Members and maybe more, upon review of the facts, decided that the Pinnacles matter had to be pursued to seek compliance after four years of debate and many discusions at open session Board Meetings. It was never about 24 homeowners fences; but rather about the precedent involved and the implications for all of Coto. The Pinnacles people never understood the bigger picture; but all Board Members faced with the facts saw it the same way. There is no point in re-fighting that battle. All that matters is that a judge agreed with successive Boards and the rest is history. Specific to secrecy, as soon as any litigation begins, all discussion in Open Session stops. That would be true no matter who sits on the CZ Board.

And there was the time Joe, that you.....

Joe:
You may be 100% right about mixing apples and watermelons when comparing current events with the Pinnacles case, BUT, how would anyone not on the board at the time or directly involved in the suit have any way of knowing that?
The comparison lies in the secrecy surrounding the dispute and the refusal of the board to discuss the issue in open session or to disseminate any information based on the advice given to them by the lawyers.
The secrecy led to suspicion and skepticism and all sorts of wild accusations.
That is the heart of the comparison I made.
As for cost, there were many people, including myself, who thought the appearance of the Pinnacles ridge line was actually improved when the homeowners moved their fences and never could fully understand why the association was eating up time and money fighting an issue like that and were justifying it by saying the slopes were too geologically unstable to sustain the weight of a wrought iron fence, while all the while, swimming pools and estates are being built on less stable slopes in Laguna, Newport, and Irvine, and possibly even within some parts of Coto as well.
Are geological slope studies required of all residents by the ACC when installing swimming pools? I can point out multiple swimming pools built right to the edge of severe slopes with houses right below.
I just don't buy the argument Joe, never did and perhaps never will. Perhaps if I was privy to what the lawyers were saying, I might have thought differently, but to me, it sounded too much like Nixon's secret plan to end the Vietnam war, never bought it, never will.
You guys just never SOLD the community on the concept.

It still seems to me that you are complaining about secrecy by the current board and its attorneys in exactly the same way people complained about secrecy and hiding behind lawyers when you were on the board. How does the saying go? different clowns, same circus.

The Pinnacle suit, was, I am sure, well intended at its onset and a positive outcome was expected. The actual result was a lot of suspicion and a lot of bad feelings. One can say the exact same thing about Coto CAN. Well intentioned with positive expectations, but subsequent suspicion and bad feelings overshadow any positive results. To me the parallels are quite striking. What the boards (past and present) really have lacked is the ability to SELL their ideas to the community and to give the community some confidence in their ideas and direction. Forcing decisions down peoples throats or telling people they lack competency if they disagree with a position are not effective ways to sell ideas and gain support It is, after all, a community of equals, and community support for ideas should be earned, before the board implements them. How about floating a few trial balloons before changes are voted on.
The only time I can remember this being done was when the board supported building a public school in Coto, but needed a public vote (of Coto residents only) before it could happen. Was not the vote something like 87% against and 12% in favor? It shows just how wrong a board can be when they assume they know what the community wants.
John