For months, the Rancho Murieta Association board has struggled to comply with a new law for granting exclusive use of common area. Now it appears the moratorium on accepting new applications for exclusive use is about to end.
"The board recommended that we continue the current policy of granting exclusive uses based upon the guidance that we have received from our corporate attorney," Rancho Murieta Association General Manager David Stiffler reported at Tuesday's board meeting.
"It's my opinion that we are obliged as a board to pay close attention to our legal counsel's advice. ... If we ignored the advice of legal counsel and denied exclusive uses, we put ourselves in a much deeper place of liability," said President Jack Cooper.
The latest legal opinion from RMA counsel Berding & Weil "clearly says that we can issue exclusive use permits, and it gives the rationale, and cases of reference for that opinion," Cooper said.
Formal board action was delayed until December when newly elected director Dick Cox takes his seat on the board. Cox came to the podium at the Nov. 20 board meeting to speak in opposition to granting exclusive uses and maintained the law requires a vote of the membership.
Director Mike Martel suggested postponing the board action so Cox could review the legal opinion and vote on accepting it.
Under the RMA CC&Rs, owners of cottage, townhouse and circle lots can lease up to 1,200 square feet of common area immediately adjacent to their homes for heating and air conditioning equipment, propane tanks, decking, unroofed patios, landscaping and swimming pools.
Previous coverage of this issue is available here and here.
County presents plans for communications tower
President Jack Cooper reported the board received a closed-session presentation from county representatives about placing a 140-foot tower on the community's antenna site on Stonehouse Road to improve communications coverage for law enforcement, fire and other public service personnel.
Cooper said the county would build the tower and retain ownership.
Existing towers on the site were put up by cellular communications companies, with ownership and leasing rights reverting to RMA. Anticipated income from leasing space on the towers is an $81,600 item in the 2008 RMA budget.
Saying the three- legged tower would be "very valuable," resident John Weatherford asked the board, "Why don't we build it and lease it to them?"
Director Mike Martel said the board told the county "they could not profit or rent space on this tower. It's strictly for public safety."
The antenna tower site is currently leased to RMA by Rancho North Properties, the development entity of the Pension Trust Fund for Operating Engineers. Under the terms of the Mutual Benefit Agreement, the RMA can become the owner of the property.
Ad hoc security committee formed
The board approved formation of an ad hoc security committee with Directors Mike Martel, Paul Gumbinger and Chris Pedersen as members. Martel said the committee would meet to discuss issues like vandalism and suggestions for dealing with them, then return to the board with an outline.
Earlier this year Martel proposed forming a youth council to share ideas and collaborate on solutions to problems in the community, including vandalism.
This summer, residents' concerns about drug use among teenagers produced suggestions for establishing an RMA curfew rule, and installing additional cameras and lighting at the parks. County Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Zdobnikow suggested looking into civil remedies along the lines of homeowner association rules, with penalties that would "hit parents in the pocket."
- The board approved spending $43,000 for projects identified as numbers 5 through 8 in a plan to improve RMA cable TV services. The board approved using funds from reserves to pay for the multi-year plan last year. Martel voted against the latest expenditure, saying he wanted to see "the big picture" instead of approving projects on a piecemeal basis.
- The Maintenance Department received approval to purchase a replacement truck at a cost not to exceed $95,250. The truck will be equipped with a 60-foot lift, an improvement over the old truck's 24-foot lift. With the new truck, the department will be able to prune the community's taller trees and put up holiday decorations without having to rent a truck at a cost of $600 a day plus delivery, Maintenance Manager Rod Hart told the board. The new truck has a 12-year life in the reserves and is likely to last 16 years, Hart said.
- The board accepted $24,000 from the Kiwanis Club to install a second bus shelter on Murieta South. The club solicited $44,000 from South developer Reynen & Bardis and contributed $4,000 to construct both shelters. The first shelter cost $26,000 and was installed at the South Gate in April with RMA assistance. The new shelter will be located at Riverview Park on Reynosa Drive.