RSJ Reflections

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.
Posted on September 16, 2018 9:05 PM by Admin
Categories: Ellen's Corner
Thanks to all the residents that have provided such great feedback on our new website.  Our goal will be to continue to add documents, information and a one-stop for all things HOA.  Please be patient as Bert and Jim work diligently on this project.
I wanted to speak directly to the reason why the HOA will not respond directly to Facebook.  First off, the intent of that group, even from the beginning, was social in nature.  Unfortunately, for many years, we did not have the ability to communicate and it became a surrogate communication forum. 
When I became President, I decided to try to respond as much as possible because I shared the frustration of not having an alternative form of communication.  Now that the website is available, we will send out pertinent info as it becomes available and we will also answer questions sent via the website.  Bert, Jim and I are trying to figure out the best way to do that so bear with us and we will answer them and post on the website ASAP. 
Secondly, and more importantly, we need to keep our HOA info, including our questions and comments, on a secure site.  If you have an urgent question or issue that you feel can't wait, just call or text me at 949-899-4984.  I will give you an honest accurate answer as soon as possible.  Please remember that I do NOT have authority to make decisions that may require board approval. 
In that vein, the first email I received via the website was regarding ramp access to the park.  This issue has apparently been discussed in the past, but there is an interesting twist to it.  I think we all agree that a ramp is needed (I huff and puff just trying to get my grandchildren up the hill in a wagon much less over the curb) and we must make our park accessible to all, especially anyone with wheelchair requirements for themselves or their family.  This issue was posted on Facebook, but then referred to me via the website.  It is on our agenda for the next meeting on Tuesday.  So, what is the twist?  Even though we all probably agree that the builder should've installed one, since our community is private property, the ADA requirements don't apply, as they are for "public access sites" only.  The better question is not why we don't need to comply, but why wouldn't we comply??
Regarding the hot topic of parking - the fact is that other than our CC&R's, there were no existing parking rules for our community other than a reference following California Vehicle Code Section 22658.2 (see recap below), which does give us the right to tow (vehicles) based on the signs posted at the entrance to our gates.  However, the difficulty is determining that a vehicle IS, IN FACT, NOT OWNED BY OR A GUEST OF A RESIDENT.
This certainly doesn't address the issue of people coming into the community to park during SJHHS football games.  It's unfortunate that bad behavior exists and there are always a few people who seem to ruin things for everyone.  The game this Friday (9/21) is away; but next week (9/28) is Homecoming and the issue of security guards will be discussed at the HOA meeting this week.
Unfortunately, other priorities had taken away the time we needed to work on proposed rules, which by law, must be sent out to homeowners for a 30-day review and comment period, with an additional 15-day advance notice requirement (45 days total).  However, that work is now ongoing and these rules will now clearly define the process that we will take for unauthorized student parking, for instance, warnings, etc. 
I think we can all agree that unauthorized parking is more than an annoyance; it invades our community and our privacy, but towing should always be the last resort for those that won't heed warnings.  So, please, the real answer is NOT THAT THE HOA WON'T ENFORCE RULES, but rather, we need a process along with legal, approved written rules to follow.  If anyone would like to volunteer for the Community Access Committee, please contact either Alex Hart or myself.  We would love to have you.
CVCS 22658.2 (as excerpted from
Circumstances for Towing of Vehicles: 
When a vehicle is improperly parked upon an association’s common areas, the association may have the vehicle towed under any of the following circumstances:
  • Where “there is displayed, in plain view at all entrances to the property, a sign not less than 17 inches by 22 inches in size, with lettering not less than one inch in height, prohibiting public parking and indicating that vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense, and containing the telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency and the name and telephone number of each towing company that is a party to a written general towing authorization agreement with the owner or person in lawful possession of the property” (CVC § 22658(a)(1)); or
  • Where “the vehicle has been issued a notice of parking violation, and 96 hours have elapsed since the issuance of the notice” (CVC § 22658(a)(2)); or
  • Where “the vehicle is on private property and lacks an engine, transmission, wheels, tires, or other equipment necessary to operate safely on the highways, the owner or person in lawful possession of the private property has notified the local traffic law enforcement agency, and 24 hours have elapsed since that notification” (CVC § 22658(a)(3)); or
  • Where “the lot upon which the vehicle is parked is improved with a single family dwelling.” (CVC § 22658(a)(4)).
Posted on August 16, 2018 4:39 PM by Admin
Categories: Ellen's Corner
I am very excited to see the launch of our new Rancho San Juan Community website!!  The capabilities built into this portal are a critical link in our desire for improved communication between the HOA Board, management company and our residents.  
A big "thank you" goes out to our two residents who stepped up to get this committee going:  Jim Williams (chair) and Bert Chiu.  They have been a pleasure to work with, and considering they have completed this initial roll out within four months of committee formation is a testament to their dedication to this effort.  Not only did the committee get a big "wish list" of capabilities, they never said "no".  Work will continue to improve, add, modify and adjust as our needs change, but the portal will enable us to:
  1. To ELIMINATE Facebook as a form of communication for our HOA and have it solely for social messaging as it was originally intended
  2. To DELIVER "push" email communications to residents, including meeting agendas, minutes, newsletters and event notices along with any emergency notifications deemed necessary
  3. To ELIMINATE mailings (unless required to be mailed by law) to save on copying charges, printing and postage
  4. The ABILITY to take informal polls on issues involving our neighborhood
  5. To PROVIDE all HOA-related documents online and in one place along with being able to contact the management company with the ease of a "click"
  6. To ORGANIZE a library of FAQs for quick answers to frequently asked questions along with a listing of neighbor recommended vendors (landscape; handyman, etc.)
  7. Lastly, to PROVIDE a forum for residents to ask questions and get quick answers from the HOA
In my mere six months on the Board, I have found every single resident that I've spoken to about an issue to be respectful and considerate.  Yes, we do have neighborhood issues, but I think we can all use a Q&A forum to our advantage and keep it polite and courteous.  So, I promise to try not to "over" communicate, which can be just as bad as "under" communicating, but again, THANK YOU to Jim Williams and Bert Chiu for this huge step forward for our little community.
In closing, I would kindly ask that EVERY family in our beautiful community to REGISTER on this website platform.  It's going to be a win/win situation for all, and we look forward to using it a lot in the immediate future!