[Full story published March 18] The Rancho Murieta Association board of directors Tuesday night unanimously approved a contract to rebuild the community’s cable system and discussed the general manager’s suggestion to simplify driveway parking procedures.
The RMA received five bids for the cable work. Communications Manager Paul Venturella described the project as “a major upgrade” when he reviewed the bids with the Finance Committee last week. The work includes replacing components with ones that have a higher bandwidth and removing bad cable.
Venturella said the design will accommodate “the next generation of equipment, so if five or 10 years down the road when we do the next upgrade, it’s literally just dropping in a few amplifiers in the same locations and not doing this again.”
The board did not give the amount of the cable contract, but at the committee meeting there were references to the contract fitting within the amount reserved for the system repairs -- $450,000.
The bid proposals had two components, the design work and the actual upgrade. “In reviewing them, we believe that all the companies are qualified,” Venturella said when Finance Committee members studied a spreadsheet of the bids last Thursday.
Peregrine Systems Inc., the company that prepared a report on the cable system last year, was one of the bidders. “Peregrine bid only the design, and they were the third highest bid on the design, so I set them aside,” Venturella said at the committee meeting. “... They’re also a management company and not a construction company, and we structured the RFP to say we’re going to manage it.” Another company bid the build and not the design. “You could bid one, the other or both. Our preference is to have a company that does both,” he said.
Of the three companies bidding on the entire project, one exceeded the reserve amount, and the remaining two came within about $1,000 of each other. Both were out-of-state companies that would bring their own people in and also hire locally, and both offered a timeframe of two to three months to complete the work, Venturella said.
Since the bidders were so close, the Finance Committee supported a Communications Committee recommendation to have staff “drill down” more before choosing between the two.
By Tuesday, the choice was made and the board unanimously approved a contract with Truevance, a Florida firm.
“That’s a big step for our cable system,” said Jim Moore, board president, following the vote. “It’s going to finally come into the 21st century.”
Calling the present procedures for parking a vehicle in the driveway cumbersome, General Manager Nick Arther suggested discontinuing the permit process for parking one car. Instead, the permit process would be used to grant “a blanket variance to those wishing to park two vehicles in the driveway.” A request for three or more vehicles in the driveway would go to the Architectural Review Committee for consideration.
Director Vicky Lentz said she was “very troubled” by the recommendation. “You cannot just disregard the CC&Rs,” she said. “You’d have to amend the CC&Rs. ... Our variance process is in the CC&Rs, is it not? And you cannot grant a blanket variance for two cars in the driveway. ... This recommendation is problematic. It’s not that the idea is bad. The procedures need to be followed and we have procedures.”
Both Arther and Lentz referred to the failed vote in 2005 that would have allowed two cars to be parked in the driveway if 60 percent of the membership had approved the CC&R amendment. Arther pointed out that although quorum wasn’t achieved, 769 members voted, and of these, 78 percent supported the amendment.
Director Andy Keyes agreed that a CC&R change seemed to be required, something Director Randy Jenco termed “a monumental task.” Director Dick Cox suggested taking a lesson from townhouse owners belonging to Murieta Townhouses Inc. who just passed a “massive” CC&R change.
“Our CC&Rs clearly specify that we can park one car in the driveway, period. We’ve been here before,” Cox said. The permit requirement for parking one car in the driveway was about “control,” he said. “That’s what they use a permit for, and they can do that.” It can easily be eliminated, he said.
Lentz said the permit process verified that the requirements in the CC&Rs for being able to park a car in the driveway are met.
“You can leave it to the honesty of the individual member,” Cox replied. “If we get a complaint, we can send our compliance officer out to investigate it.”
“I’m just saying we have to be able to enforce it,” Lentz said.
Cox said the Architectural Review Committee continues to be frustrated by guidelines the committee is supposed to follow for issuing variances to park two or more cars in the driveway. The board recently overruled an ARC denial based on the number of cars in the household exceeding the number of licensed drivers after some directors asserted that cars used for commuting should be accommodated.
Cox and Jenco considered having ARC make the final determination on driveway parking variances, which would only go to the board in the event of an appeal.
Arther and President Jim Moore suggested getting committees involved in ways to approach the issue, and Lentz suggested getting member input as well.
- The board approved combining two lots to create an estate lot, citing a dozen examples of similar actions in the past.
- The board discussed its North Gate and Escuela gate progress with the Pension Trust Fund. The RMA has submitted plans to the PTF.
- The board unanimously approved a proposal by RanchoMurieta.com to begin streaming RMA meetings live on the Internet.
- The board voted to renew Showtime directly with the premium channel’s owner by April 15 after National Cable Television Cooperative Inc., a programming cooperative that includes RMA among its members, was unable to reach agreement on a contract. NCTC is asking members not to sign with Showtime and instead to to notify Showtime that they will drop the channel on May 1 unless the company negotiates a contract with NCTC, Communications Manager Paul Venturella told the Communications Committee earlier this month. According to Venturella, about 95 percent of RMA TV programming comes through the co-op. “NCTC does great at getting low prices for small systems,” he said.
- The board approved dropping the cost of HBO by a dime to make an additional 50 cents on the premium channel from subscribers after staff discovered a pricing anomaly. “HBO sets price levels to control your price, so the more you charge, the more they take,” Venturella explained at a committee meeting this month.
- In other premium channel changes, cable TV customers will be able to get HBO without also taking Cinemax (and vice versa) and to subscribe to Starz/Encore without first subscribing to another premium package.
- The Maintenance Committee is considering possible sites for a community center, and General Manager Nick Arther presented four funding options to the committee, according to committee chair Randy Jenco. He said residents will be surveyed about possible locations. The committee meets the first Monday of the month at 7 a.m. at the RMA Building.
- The board voted to drop two high-definition channels that are now part of the expanded digital package because the provider was relocating one of the channels, HD Net, to the basic tier. Replacement programming will be added to the expanded digital tier.