After serving for six years on the so called “board” of the so called “property owners association” winding up in court sued, winding up in court criminally charged, taking it to Federal court after being abandoned by the current crew now “defending” the “community” this author has learned most, if not all, of the facts about this place. There are very few meaningful facts contained in the latest disinformation effort by the CWPOA.
Four of those years this author was on the board, were served with the current “president”who cannot claim ignorance of many of these facts, the most important of which is that all of this, all of the requirements to perform road improvements, were known, and expected, since at least 2008. The current president took over in 2009 and completely reinvented the corporation in a vacuum, although it still has no binding authority of any kind because saying it is so, doesn’t make it so. Why the sour grapes now?
Six Years Worth of Facts
This author can’t sit on his hands and watch the propaganda any longer, without at least an effort to share the facts. After all, assemble enough facts and a picture emerges. And the picture that emerges is confusing, and alarming. There seems to be no point but a mean-spirited attempt to do what the original developers could not, extinguish public access and institute draconian rules that a small group can enforce on others. Well, it failed then, and it will fail again. This evident effort is mystifying and sad.
IMPORTANT PROPERTY OWNERS MEETING Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association
Received this opinion piece in the mail today. An “agenda” for the regular meeting of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association CWPOA for March 8, 2014 not posted on their web site.
Here’s the agenda part:
1. Call to order; establish quorum
2. Approve agenda
3. Current CWPOA issues for discussion and action
There appears to be only one agenda item “issues” for “discussion” and “action”. Following is a line by line rebuttal of sorts, corrections, of the opinions express by the CWPOA in their agenda “letter”.
It has been a tumultuous year since the community voted by a 2 to 1 margin to reject the Road Maintenance District that was proposed by the County of Madera.
One may accept the year as being “tumultuous”, if you count the predicted inability of the CWPOA to get any meaningful road improvements done as “tumultuous”. However, the year has been anything but tumultuous. The year has shown only what the CWPOA board knew unequivocally in 2008, that the CWPOA is ill equipped to handle road improvements after the events of 2008, that thereafter the requirement for permits and engineering would be imposed.
The “2 to 1″ margin is correct for those who voted. What isn’t mentioned is that only 46 percent of those eligible actually voted no, that 53 percent didn’t vote, and that only 20 votes needed to change their mind from “yes” to “no” to swing the vote. That’s all the employees needed. And they went door to door to get them to change their minds.
The last statement “proposed by the County of Madera” is patently false. The district was proposed by this author and dozens of residents who also wanted to see road improvements just like we see next door at Cascadel Heights, and have seen since 1995. A road district is drop dead simple and works. The CWPOA doesn’t.
Your Board of Directors believes that your votes, to overwhelmingly reject the interference by the County, was a vote to keep local control of our roads.
Can’t argue with their “belief”, and it’s a sad discourse on their mindset, but the county improving roads at the request of residents is hardly “interference”. The current CWPOA “belief” that improving our roads is “interference” reveals that the goal isn’t to improve roads, the goal appears to be to preserve and perpetuate the CWPOA, and its employees, at our expense without telling us that is what the road money is really for. They keep going on about their survival. They even said we couldn’t have a road district and a CWPOA, kept saying “what CWPOA” if a district was created. It’s always been about them and their paid employees, not the people here, not safety, not safe roads, not what’s best for everyone.
The last bit about “was a vote to keep local control of our roads” is flawed at a minimum, and false otherwise. A road maintenance district by design is local control. So if the autonomous secret activity of the current CWPOA board is what real “local control” looks like, spending tens of thousands on attorneys, meeting by email, doing whatever the heck they want without disclosure, then, in fact, a district is blindingly open local control. A district by comparison would be exceedingly transparent and open, the ultimate local control.
Unfortunately, the Proposition 218 vote appears to have been the opening move in the County’s strategic effort to eliminate our ability to manage the affairs of Cascadel Woods.
This is just silly. “Opening move”? Really? “Manage the affairs of Cascadel Woods”? Seriously? The only affairs to “manage” in the CWPOA are making payroll, paying insurance, paying utilities, paying rent, so the CWPOA can make payroll. This wasn’t always the case, but now, it costs ~$25,000 per year for the CWPOA to do absolutely nothing according to CWPOA documents.
The county has no desire to do anything but obey the law and carry out their public service. Unfortunately for them, the CWPOA is violating multiple laws. They have no choice but to enforce. The whole “opening move” statement exhibits a complete lack of reality, like a megalomaniac that believes Cascadel Woods is an autonomous nation. We live in Madera County, California, the United States of America. Hellooooo.
In the last year, the Board has been required to actively defend against questionable interpretations of State Law and County Code and imposition of arbitrary regulatory requirements:
- The CWPOA invoiced the County for reimbursement of CSA-21 expenses for $ 8152.40. The County rejected all claims. The CWPOA was forced to file in Small Claims court.
- The CWPOA was presented a claim by the county for $18,000
- Due to the delays in satisfying the application requirements to complete the culvert repairs, the County is threatening to sue the CWPOA, its directors and individual members for alleged violations of Streets and Highways Section 1487. Section 1487 applies to persons who “by means of ditches or dams, obstructs or injures any county highway, diverts any watercourse into any county highway, drains water from his or her land upon any county highway, to the injury of the county highway …” Section 1487 is clearly not applicable to the activities of the CWPOA.
- To defend the community the Board has had to have the advice of an attorney
Okay. Let’s see. Roundup time.
- The CWPOA has been “required” to defend itself against rule of law. Required by who? Couldn’t they just comply with law like the rest of the world?
- The CWPOA billed the County Service Area and was rejected. Okay, got it. They must not have been legitimate charges.
- The CWPOA has sued Madera County. Whoa! That’s big. Hadn’t heard about that. Did the CWPOA tell anyone they were suing the county? Could a district sue the county without voter approval? Nope. But the CWPOA can do whatever the heck it wants with your money, by email, behind closed doors, and does, constantly.
- The county claims the CWPOA owes it $18,000. Well, that sort of shows why they aren’t paying the 8 grand right? If the 8 grand wasn’t legit, it appears that past payments already made weren’t legit either. So how much in legal fees using your money is the CWPOA willing to spend to not pay $18,000? $50,000? $100,000? Just how much have they spent on legal fees anyway? According to CWPOA documents, legal fees have been an annual expense in the thousands every year without fail under the current president, rising steadily, and have now reached record highs, around $50,000 total, and rising. This beats all past CWPOA boards legal fees COMBINED.
- Delays in “satisfying” requirements? Real pros get it done in a matter of weeks. We’re at four years and counting for the current motley crew. Isn’t this just what we predicted would happen if a social club tried to construct road facilities? Yes, it is. And this is also what the CWPOA promised would never happen. That they could do everything better, cheaper, faster, stronger. Now they make excuses? Now they are giving legal opinions? Really? Oh yeah, Section 1487 is “clearly’ not applicable? Huh? The 2007 CWPOA president (this author) was brought up on 5 misdemeanor counts back in 2007 allegedly for road improvement without permits or engineering. The case was dismissed. The current CWPOA president was Secretary at the time. Making excuses and giving legal opinions wasn’t the tune the current president was singing back then. In fact, back then the current president more or less walked away.
- Which brings us to the statement “To defend the community” the CWPOA has had to squandor tens of thousand of dollars in legal fees.
Defend against what? The sun rising in the east? If one wants to build a house, you get a permit, engineering, go through planning, and follow the rules. Same for roads. Same for culverts. Even more so for culverts in sensitive watersheds. The same for any construction.
Public works, private, whatever. Makes no difference. There are codes that must be followed because we live in the United States of America. The application of these codes to the public roads up here has been known since 2008 and, in fact, the current president of the CWPOA resigned the board rather than pursue a determination of rights in court back in 2008.
Why then now this fight with the county? It’s behavior like a megalomaniac who believes Cascadel Woods is an autonomous nation above the law, in fact not even under rule of law.
The County has imposed new requirements on the CWPOA that do not seem to have ever been imposed on anyone else in Madera County:
- First snowplow inspection in history
- The first ever requirement for a snowplow encroachment permit
- First ever requirement for Class A Contractor’s License to operate our privately owned snowplow
- The only snowplow in the County (including the County’s) which must use skids. Using skids can result in ice build up on our roads making driving and/or walking hazardous
Where does one start with this? New requirements? They wrote new laws? Come on. The county decides to enforce existing law and we are supposed to be outraged? This begs the question, so? Just comply like the rest of the world does.
And please remember that in 2008, the county put the CWPOA on notice that any and all road work “beyond routine maintenance” would require permits and engineering. Any work in county right of way would require encroachment permits. And the CWPOA board back then discovered the CWPOA had no standing or authority to do roads anyway, and announced as much to everyone in writing.
Then the current CWPOA board president came riding into a board meeting and shouted the president at the time right out of the room for daring to report the fact that the CWPOA could no longer do roads. His proposed solution back then? Why county road maintenance. So what happened? Now it’s sue the county to “prohibit” the county from enforcing law. It’s a wholesale reversal the likes of which are rare indeed.
Okay, so to respond to each of those four points:
- First snowplow inspection in history: Dubious statement but who can argue with it. Clearly your road dollars are being put to good use researching whether or not anyone else has ever had to have a piece of snow removal equipment inspected to protect public safety, particularly small children pedestrians who like to play in the snow.
- The first ever requirement for a snowplow encroachment permit: Ditto. These are county right of ways accepted for use by the public long ago. If the county decides to require encroachment permits deal with it. More wasted dollars. How often has the CWPOA attorney been paid to go sift through county records? Does that really provide any meaningful value to us?
- First ever requirement for Class A Contractor’s License to operate our privately owned snowplow: Sour grapes. Do you have to register your car and have working taillights? Come on CWPOA. Get over it. Talley Oil is under contract to operate their “private snowplow” on county right of way too, with the same requirements for public safety. This too begs the question: So? Comply like a man. The CWPOA promised they could do it cheaper, better, faster, stronger. Obviously, they cannot.
- The only snowplow in the County (including the County’s) which must use skids: Is this supposed be outrageous? What’s next? A back up beeper is an outrage? Requiring headlights that work? Skids or “shoes” are designed into every snowplow for optional use for a reason. Why? They have a purpose, and that purpose appears to be to keep the plow from ripping up the roads, like ours get ripped up over and over. You may have noticed that the roads in Cascadel get torn to shreds in the rough areas by the incessant over plowing round and round and round. Heard the popping sound of the plow ripping up asphalt? Yeah, all too often.
Perhaps the county professionals at the road dept know something we don’t about preserving roads and making them last? Perhaps the operator of the plow doesn’t know how to operate the plow so these are installed to protect the road surface and the operator? Again, so what if this is required. If you wanna do roads, comply. Rain causes ice. Is rain outrageous? So does snow. Maybe we should sue the sky.
Since October of 2013, the RMA Department has received several requests to post signage at the entrance of the subdivision to prevent additional illegal shootings from our roadways and has yet to cooperate.
Wow. “Cooperate”? Really? Seriously? What other response to that besides really and seriously can one say to such a crazy idea? Now the county is supposed to “cooperate” with the nation of Cascadelistan. Bizarre. Like a megalomaniac would do.
The RMA probably doesn’t want to put up signs unless codified and reasonably useful. Trying to stop something that isn’t happening with a sign is stupid. But let’s say it is happening, and after 32 years this author has never seen “illegal” shooting, but signs won’t stop it anyway. Puullease. The idea that a sign can stop anything is silly. The first subdivision was created in 1957. Fifty seven years and counting with no signs. And loving it.
Why do folks move to a forested rural area and then want signs posted everywhere? This is just a way to harass the county because the CWPOA got fired and evicted. That’s right, let’s not forget the CWPOA was let go from operating the district, and removed from the decaying unsafe clubhouse due to zoning rules. Ah the pesky law. If only we could “prohibit” rule of law in Cascadel! Not.
It is the belief of the CWPOA Board:
- The County appears to be focused on driving the CWPOA out of existence
- The County has increasingly assumed control over our roads in spite of the fact that it never accepted offers of dedication for these roads and has previously recognized the legal effect of court decisions granting authority and responsibility for road maintenance to the property owners in Cascadel Woods.
- The County undercut the CWPOA’s authority by issuing a permit for road maintenance work on our roads to the Fire Safe Council, and refusing to issue a permit in 2013 to the CWPOA.
- There should have been elections as promised for the Municipal Advisory Committee (the MAC); instead, there were appointments made by our County Supervisors. The MAC provides input to the Supervisors about the maintenance and operations of the Cascadel Woods Common Areas, but as a community, we have no input on who serves on the MAC.
This author is growing weary of the whining of the CWPOA and responding to it is even more wearying. Again, this is all just so crazy and paranoid on the CWPOA’s part. The club is truly now a completely different entity with no purpose whatsoever. Tens of thousands per year for what? Snow removal? The county is up here at the Heights already. We can’t leave until the main road is done anyway. Why not just have the county do it all?
- The County appears to be focused on driving the CWPOA out of existence: Paranoid Hogwash. Enforcing the rules isn’t personal, it’s the law. Welcome to reality CWPOA.
- The County has increasingly assumed control over our roads: One of this authors areas of expertise, trial by fire. This CWPOA statement is false. First, the county has now, has had, and always will have, control over the roads in Madera County. It’s part of living in what is known as a country, in our case, the United States of America. Second, they aren’t the CWPOA’s roads, and never will be. Been tried and failed starting in 1953 or thereabouts. And really, why would the CWPOA want them anyway? Never have before.
- The County undercut the CWPOA’s authority by issuing a permit for road maintenance: La La Land. The CWPOA has no authority for the county to undercut. They are a voluntary club. They are self appointed, self involved and suffer from delusions of grandeur now. The road authority here is the Madera County Road Dept. Get over it. They have the authority to authorize any work, anywhere, within rule of law, they desire, particularly useful pothole filling that was needed bad.
- There should have been elections as promised for the Municipal Advisory Committee (the MAC): This statement is half true in that an election has been promised. No time frame was given. So technically, the statement is false, but, yes, the county did promise an election. The MAC has admittedly been lax in doing any meaningful outreach choosing instead to stick with the past status quo and moving forward with personal agendas. This author would love to serve on the MAC and share all the facts about the district. They are keenly interesting, and not at all what you’d expect.
Well, the rest of the whining agenda is alleged “complaints” the “CWPOA Board” has received.
Complaints and Issues presented to the CWPOA Board include:
- Under the direction of the MAC, there has been a considerable lack in mowing, clearinq and/or watering. The Clubhouse facility and grounds’ condition and appearance are deteriorating with increased fire danger. Check the current conditions of the Common Areas and judge for yourself.
- Removal of signage from the entrance of Cascadel Woods
This reaches the County Service Area firing because the CWPOA was practicing what appeared to be price gouging. For four years straight, the four years under the current president, CSA 21 was charged an average of $18,500 per year, well over the total assessment of ~$15,000. This during a time the Fire Safe Council carried out a $200,000 project here. Where did all that money go?
Our resident fire consultant, and CAL Fire, have both determined that meadow mowing is not needed for fire safety. Clearly, meadow mowing was used as a means of enriching individuals and the CWPOA. That’s over now. There is no increased fire danger. Those kinds of statements coming form self-appointed “elected officials” are reckless and irresponsible. There is no greater fire danger here due to the county property than there ever was. The danger here is heavy vegetation around houses, not the clubhouse, not the open space. This is sensational propaganda and fear mongering.
The Directors of the CWPOA Board are your elected representatives who are dedicated to protecting your ability to make decisions in matters related to Cascadel’s roads and your enjoyment of your property rights in Cascadel Woods. There are more facts to share with the community.
If you would like to know more, there will be handouts, additional information and discussion at the meeting.
We urge you to attend. Your Board of Directors wants to hear from you on these issues, or other matters of concern regarding Cascadel Woods. If you cannot attend, we would hope you would contact one of the Board members and authorize that director to speak on your behalf.
Really appreciate that the CWPOA has suddenly discovered they care about our property rights. How about the right to living free of fraud and imposition? The CWPOA keeps sending bills for which they have no right to collect. Sure they have a theory, and paid dearly for it with your money. But that theory has been tested in court, and lost, already. At best, the CWPOA can collect for actual road work performed or planned to be performed. Actual road work. Even if the CWPOA had standing to be doing road work, they cannot levy fees for insurance, utilities, rent, employees or any other cost of operation.
Would but that the CWPOA knew what a fact looked like. And they don’t “represent” anyone. Even if you join the club, they don’t “represent” you. They represent an idea, a social club. For example, if one joins the NRA, the NRA doesn’t become your “representative” regarding guns. They represent an idea. It’s absurd for a club with a declining membership, maybe half the properties up here, to claim they are some kind of authority. And again, it always comes down to why? Why do they need the ego stroking?
5. Closed Session
About what? We’ll never know.
7. Reconvene open session
8. Report from closed session; action if needed
Well, it’s been a long sad journey and we are reduced to a social club board hoping that the masses will rise up and demand protracted litigation. That much is clear. The CWPOA wants to go to court with the county, on your dime, to establish, um, to prohibit, um, what now? If the current CWPOA actually cared about Cascadel they would have endorsed getting our roads fixed right, viably, permanently, through a road district and kept to doing what they do best, collecting donations to pay their overhead, utilities and employees to provide, well, to provide…