RSJ Reflections

Ellen's Corner • February 15, 2019
Posted on February 8, 2019 1:54 PM by Admin
Categories: Ellen's Corner
You may have read the recent comments on Facebook regarding the issue of parents blocking our entrances/exits when picking up their high school students. 
I would be the first one to agree on how annoying, frustrating and upsetting the situation is.  However, I also find it frustrating that Facebook continues to be used when the board has been clear that we cannot communicate on that platform (see my September 16, 2018 blogpost.)
When I ran for the board last spring, one of my commitments was to try to increase communication - and I believe strongly that I have achieved that goal.  All prior boards also did NOT respond via Facebook, and I felt it was important to have some form of communication - as not everyone can attend board meetings.  There was, however, HOA ownership of a web address, but it had never gotten off the ground, so I made it a goal to get it up and running as soon as possible.  WHY?  So that homeowners could easily contact board members and, if the questions were for the benefit of the community, we could post information on the email blasts and newsletters.  During the four-month development period, I did answer questions on Facebook, but did a final "sign off" when the website went live.
Our website has now been up for about six months now and, to date, I have received a grand total of three emails, of which I have responded to each homeowner.  I also used the push emails to include information that was for the benefit of the entire community.  I am sorry that there are some people who continue to use the Facebook platform to complain and, honestly, it frustrates me greatly not to just chime in to set the record straight - but I agree with the prior boards that Facebook is NOT the appropriate platform for HOA business.  
So now, without further adieu, the official answers to what was posted:
(Facebook posting)
"The board is aware of the safety concerns, and is not doing anything to address it."
(in regards to parents using our entrances/exits for student drop and pick up)
I was elected to the board in March 2018.  In April's 2018 newsletter, within one month of being on the board, I wrote that I had contacted the San Juan Police Services agency who liaises with the Sheriff's department regarding the ingress/egress safety issues.  After several phone conversations, I made a formal written request for a Sheriff's Department representative to attend an HOA meeting to answer questions regarding our safety concerns.  That request was denied due to lack of personnel.  
In regard to the blocking of entrances, the sheriff responded that they: 
"Spoke to our traffic units about parking enforcement during school pick up.  They will do their best to come out regularly to enforce traffic laws.  Just be aware there are only two (2) traffic units in the City.  Between 17 schools and handling traffic accidents, they will do their best to be present during those pick up times."
In the May 2018 newsletter there was a full page article on a meeting with SJHHS Principal and Vice Principal regarding these same issues that was attended by myself, Frank Bianchini and Alex Hart.  I also had a second meeting in December and we have our next meeting scheduled for next week.  The school administration feels as much frustration as we do as the school district and the city just continually point the finger at one another.  The school was successful in several changes affecting traffic exiting the school, however, this doesn't address our issues on our private property (use of entrances/exits).
In October 2018 the Principal and Vice Principal attended our HOA meeting to address these issues (plus a general school update) noting the guidelines that they are required to adhere to along with their communication efforts with parents especially on using our entrances for dropping and picking up.  This meeting was only attended by roughly six more residents than normally attend a meeting. 
I personally made a pitch for the only solution that I think will change things - getting political - however it requires a strong, organized campaign with both the City Council and School District.  I asked for volunteers but, truthfully, this is a big ask and no takers so far.  Stacey Santley has done a tremendous job trying to influence our local politicians, but you can see even her frustration on her updates. 
THIS IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE SOLUTION that I think is reasonable or has ANY chance of long-term success - Stallion Ridge MUST be built out (extended) COMPLETELY as it was ORIGINALLY planned and intended.
I even met with a SJHHS newspaper staffer regarding the traffic issues caused by their parents and wrote an Opinion-Editorial titled "View from Across the Street".  In addition, the newspaper editor wrote a student-based article regarding the havoc created by parents that was published in the October edition (click here to view page 5) of the school's newspaper.
(Facebook posting)
In regard to the posting about a resident "volunteering" at the gate:
By definition, the property at our entrances/exits is known as "common area" and is owned by the RSJ Community Association. 
The Board has never authorized any resident to monitor (or be stationed at) the gates to either assess their residency or to deny their access.  In fact, many residents did complain on Facebook regarding their students being questioned or attempts at denying access.  In addition, there is too much risk to an individual trying to do this without appropriate training, vehicles or authority.  No Board member has ever contacted the sheriff in regards to a resident in this situation ... period.  
(Facebook posting)
"Not to mention the speeding issues and parking violations that occur every day"
There have been numerous newsletter articles on these topics during the last nine months.  We absolutely have residents that drive too fast in our community.  We have relocated our electronic sign from Via Salamanca to Via Granada so that residents can actually see their speed.  We have purchased a solar battery and are now looking to compile data.  
However, our community is PRIVATE property.  Additionally we have posted 20 mph speed signs throughout the community.  The general speed limit on public residential streets in California is 25 mph unless posted otherwise.  Both myself and Frank Bianchini had a personal conversation with sheriff officers responding to a vehicle accident within our community and were informed that they would not enforce speed issues within our community and, EVEN if they did, they would NOT write tickets unless they were over 10 mph above the California minimum limit ... or roughly 35 mph.  The sheriff is also trying to balance their department's critical needs vs. assets - and our community speed issues are NOT one of them.  
In regards to parking violations, the law has changed on this subject and we cannot immediately tow a vehicle, even if we are 100% sure it is a high school student - or a non-resident's vehicle.  Sorry, but that's the law.  We do keep track of vehicles and after an initial warning and a 96-hour elapsed time frame, we can THEN tow.  
(Facebook posting)
"There is more emphasis on beautifying our drought tolerant neighborhood than the safety of the people that live in that neighborhood"; "it (safety) is not a priority"
The Board juggles many different issues and must balance the entirety of them, including their impact on our budget and our available financial resources.  All of us have issues that are more or less important to each of us and it is usually based on what impacts our lives the most.
Yes, we receive many comments, requests and complaints on many different issues, including landscaping, planting and the appearance of our community.  However, the safety of our community is paramount and the board continually tries to do the best job possible within the means that we have control over and/or our financial resources, but to compare safety to what we also need to do regarding landscape maintenance and upkeep, or other required tasks and projects, is not a fair or accurate statement to make.
(Facebook posting)
"The meetings are rescheduled on a regular basis"
The current board has not rescheduled or canceled any meeting this past year (since elections in March) except for the November meeting as it was during Thanksgiving week and the school was closed.  
(Facebook posting)
"The board does not own this page (Facebook) and if they have an issue with me asking questions that's an issue in my eyes"
That is correct, the HOA does not have any ownership of the Facebook group and any postings by residents are certainly up to them.  However, to post statements and comments knowing that we cannot (and should not) be responding to them on that platform is not the way that we would hope our neighbors would want to communicate.  We encourage questions, appreciate the fact that not everyone can attend board meetings and welcome the opportunity to give out accurate information - via our official website. 
Again, I commit to answering every email that I receive via the website as soon as I possibly can and will post copies of questions and answers that are general in nature (apply to the community) on the blog postings.
Comment By: Janet Little/Carone
Posted on February 27, 2019 5:51 PM
I am just so impressed with the professionalism of our Board. We have an amazing President. I hope the community realizes all the great work Ellen and her Boatd does for our community. Please support them and vote so they can continue their great work.
Comment By: Mario Soto
Posted on March 20, 2019 8:59 AM
Having attended last nights meeting, I'm thrilled people are getting involved w/committees to lessen the exec. load, grateful to those who have volunteered to keep our community safe, beautiful, and disseminate information that is important to all of us. The work Ellen and other volunteers have done is immeasurable and if you aren't aware then I suggest coming to a meeting or getting involved.

Last Edited: 03/20/2019 at 10:45 AM
Comment By: Mario Soto
Posted on March 20, 2019 9:00 AM
Having attended last nights meeting, I'm thrilled people are getting involved w/committees to lessen the exec. load, grateful to those who have volunteered to keep our community safe, beautiful, and disseminate information that is important to all of us. The work Ellen and other volunteers have done is immeasurable and if you aren't aware then I suggest coming to a meeting or getting involved.