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If you live on a circle, townhouse, cottage or McKim lot and you want a fenced yard, pool or other backyard amenity that won’t fit entirely within the property line, you could be out of luck after Tuesday. That’s when the Rancho Murieta Association board of directors will act on rules that require the approval of 67 percent of the membership for new exclusive use leases.

“Obviously 67 percent of the number of lots would be very, very difficult to achieve. We have a hard time getting 40 percent out to get a quorum,” said Paul Gumbinger, chairman of the Architectural Review Committee, when asked about the proposed committee rules Sunday.

“For somebody looking for an exclusive use for a pool or a deck extension into the common area, it would be difficult if not impossible to obtain. … That needs to be looked at. … I would hope there would be those who would want to challenge that, especially those that have circle or cottage lots or McKim homes.”

Exclusive useThe Architectural Review Committee proposed the rules the board is now considering more than a year ago, bringing them to the board in September 2008. A 25 percent approval vote was discussed at that time, although the committee didn’t specify a percentage.

“The committee left that percentage open. That was left to the board to determine,” Gumbinger recalled Sunday. “I don’t know if (the board) ever addressed that or not. I don’t think they did.”

Realtor Karen Hoberg of Rancho Murieta Homes and Land has spoken about exclusive use issues at board meetings. “The sad thing is they actually told me that they would have conversations about it, I’d be able to talk to committee people, I’d be able to do this and that before they made any decisions about it,” she said, referring to the board. “It’s hurting us. … It really does affect everybody, including the values of all the properties.”

At a meeting last year, Hoberg, who lives in the community, said there are 925 lots in categories covered by exclusive use, which doesn’t apply to estate lots. "It is imperative that the board protect the rights and the privileges of the homeowners as set forth in the CC&Rs," she said then.  

Realtor Ina Semrau of Town and Country Real Estate said people bought lots covered by provisions for exclusive use with the understanding they could apply for exclusive use for a pool or other amenity. As the owner of a circle lot, she includes herself in that category. 

The board voted to put the rules out for a 30-day comment period in April, but the rules weren’t sent to the membership until early September.

A new state law concerning exclusive use took effect in January 2006. The board declared a moratorium on exclusive uses in July 2007 because of conflicting views about how the law should be implemented.

According to RMA legal counsel, the board is able to vote to approve exclusive uses because 60 percent of the community approved CC&Rs and gave it that right a decade ago. Community activist Wilbur Haines argued in Small Claims Court that the law requires 67 percent approval of the membership to issue new exclusive uses unless the CC&Rs specify a different percentage.      

Haines won a suit he brought against the RMA in Small Claims Court and the appeal of the case in 2008. Since the arena was Small Claims Court, neither decision established a precedent.

The RMA meeting begins 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the RMA Building. The agenda is here.

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