Residents of Murieta Village who gathered signatures on a petition approach the RMA Building to drop off the petition Wednesday. (Click photos for larger images)
They joked they're the “Caine Mutiny” – raising their canes to the sky – but a group of Murieta Village residents were deadly serious Wednesday about the petition they circulated among their neighbors, objecting to the Rancho Murieta Association’s proposal to begin charging Village residents $62 a month to access RMA amenities.
The petition, with 173 signatures of Village residents, was delivered to RMA staff at midday. The petition includes a cover letter that details the 45-year history of Murieta Village and the larger Rancho Murieta development. The Village was the first residential construction in the community.
The petition was accepted by Danise Hetland, the RMA’s assistant general manager, who exchanged pleasantries with the group and certified that they’d submitted their petition in time for it to be considered at next week’s RMA board meeting. She promised to find out whether Village residents would be allowed to attend the meeting and to speak.
The RMA sent the Murieta Village Association a letter last month detailing proposed charges that the RMA board will address at its meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
In an interview last month, Greg Vorster, the RMA’s general manager, said the proposed $62.40 monthly fee anticipates future development, trying to give the RMA a coherent policy for Murietans outside the gates who want to use facilities paid for by those inside the gates.
The RMA first floated the issue publicly in October 2015, when RMA directors and staff held a public meeting with Village residents that didn’t go well.
The RMA’s letter last month asked the Murieta Village Association to offer any response by Thursday, so the response could be factored into next week’s RMA board meeting.
Lew Parkinson, president of the Village association, said this week that his association would have no comment on the RMA’s letter or any possible response. The Village board has a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, but this topic isn’t on the agenda.
Despite the Village Association’s decision not to talk, a handful of Villagers who went door to door to get the petition signed were happy to talk in the Village Clubhouse after delivering their petition Wednesday. Here’s what they had to say.
Garland Alcorn, Village resident for three years
“I was told when I moved here that we would have full access to all of the amenities on the other side of the street. The Realtors were very, very adamant about that, and they took me around. I saw the lakes, I toured the North and South, and then they brought me over here to the Village and they said, ‘You might be interested in that.' ...
“It was presented in a way that it was a very friendly community. ... In October 2015, all of this broke loose. I’m wondering, ‘What in the world is going on here?’ I didn’t expect that. I came here to live in a friendly, contented way, and it blew up.
“Now, two years later, it’s back. ... We are not in agreement with anything (the RMA) has said in their letters. We feel like we have ample documentation that we do not have to do what they want us to do, and I would like to see it put to bed. I want it ended. I don’t want to have to go through this again. I’m 80 years old, and I don’t want to face this every two years.”
His granddaughter and her husband live on the South, and he worries that his golf cart wouldn’t be allowed through the North Gate, which means he couldn’t take the cart to see his great-grandchildren play baseball at Stonehouse Park. “That chaps my hide, to put it politely. I don’t want them taking that away from me and my grandkids.”
Linda Priseler, Murieta resident for 32 years, the last 16 in the Village
“What’s happening now is ridiculous, ludicrous. I’m embarrassed at their board, that they would do such a thing, because there’s so many parents of residents from there who live here, and parents who live here whose children brought them here to be close to them. It’s ridiculous. It needs to be stopped. ... Someday, they’re going to be on fixed income, just like us.”
Jon Nickles, Village resident for 13 years
“I was here before ‘here’ was here. Before there was a Rancho Murieta, back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, as a kid, me and my buddies used to camp right around here, frog and fish the ponds, fish the river, and so when I retired, I decided I’d come back to where I’d had the most fun in my life.
“And I bought the place here in the Village, knowing that I would be able to go and walk the hills that I walked as a kid, fish the river and fish the ponds. Now they’re trying to take that away. So, I figure it’s worth the energy to try to stop them from doing that. I don’t think they have the right to do what they’re doing. And I don’t think they have the right because of what their lawyer has said to them about our rights to access to the common ground and what the district compliance report says about whether we would owe any money to do that. And the compliance report, in 2013, said that the Village is not obligated to pay a fee for that privilege and said that our impact is negligible. ... Based on that, I don’t know why they keep trying to stick it to us.
“I have an idea that it’s because of the other people that are moving here, outside the RMA. RMA is under the illusion that they are all there is to Rancho Murieta. And that’s not true. It’s a community, and it isn’t just RMA. Hopefully, this time they’ll get the message to drop this. If they don’t, then we’ve got a fight on our hands. ...
“The real impact on us is our property values. We bought with the understanding that this was our estate also. And it’s so wonderful. ... So they are really messing with our property values.”
Tom Viner, Village resident for two years
“We moved into this area because, like Garland, the Realtors showed us the whole complex – across the street and everything. ... We don’t access the amenities over there very much, but we do go over there once in a while. It’s a community. And a neighborhood. Now I feel like they’re trying to drive a wedge between one neighborhood and the other. I truly don’t understand all that. ...
“They’re concerned with people who haven’t moved into houses that aren’t built yet, but that’s a simple fix. Just put it in their CC&Rs that they don’t have rights to the other side of the street, and it’s done. We’ve had the right for 46 years. Now they want to stop us from going over there, which is our right.
“What’s on the surface of this (RMA) letter isn’t necessarily what they’re aiming at. They’re aiming at something else. I don’t think this is the whole issue right here. ... They could be aiming to getting water rights, or excluding us.... I don’t know exactly what it is, but there’s something more to this. ...
“If we were to open this door by paying one dime, we would never, ever close that door.”
Lawry Yerby, Village resident for 21 years
“I lived in downtown Sacramento. My wife was from the country, I was from the city. We thought (this) was a compromise. ... I found this to be just a wonderful place to live.
“We have kayaks; we’ve used the lakes. We use a golf cart over there. We’ve had no problems. We enjoy the facilities. And I really, really like the trails and everything over there, and support the SOLOS group.
“I really think that is just the wrong approach to us altogether. Yes, I think by rights we have vested interests. We are the beginning of Rancho Murieta right here, along with the Operating Engineers. There doesn’t need to be this strife all the time with RMA. ... (The Community Services District) thinks of us as one community, and we are. We just simply are.”