What The CWPOA Isn’t Telling You

Updating 3/12/2014

My Creds to be Talking About the CWPOA, CMWC & MAC

I’ve lived in Cascadel since 1981. That was before CSA 21 was formed. The county land was privately owned, but accessible to all of Cascadel Ranch. Why? A lawsuit that resulted in a 1975 stipulated judgement. That judgement still stands and all of Cascadel Ranch still has recreational access to the forty acres of central property.

I went from ignoring the shenanigans of the local “board” to finally investigating. I was supportive of them. I was critical of them. I try not to criticize without being willing to step up. I stepped up in 2002.

I lost election, but me and a friend who also lost, were appointed to the old board. The old board had seven members.

The first thing we did was make a simple modification to the bylaws to eliminate road fees. They weren’t being used for roads only, in fact, at the time 50/50 was doing well. We eliminated paying for membership. If you lived up here, you could vote. The bylaws were put to a vote of all residents. 91 of 172 voted yes.

I served six years on the old board of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association. This is an “association” in name only, not to be confused with a legal mandatory membership association. A “legal” association generally has authority of some kind. A voluntary association does not.

I learned the primary purpose of the association in practical terms was to make payroll for its employees. Most of its employees are members of a single family.

The history of the association is really interesting and disturbing for some. I will cover the history of the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association later.

Permits Requirements for Road Construction Work are Now Being Enforced

This has been known and expected since 2008. This is not arbitrary. This is not personal. This is rule of law being enforced to protect public safety, just like building a house.

Facts Paint a Picture

During my time on the old board, and after, I did a lot of research. I called the county road dept many times. I studied the public record.

The road dept told me that any routine day-to-day maintenance work on roads, public or private, would not require permits at that time. The road dept told me that any dedicated public road could require encroachment permits even for routine maintenance, but that was not being enforced at the time.

The public record told me that all roads in Cascadel are public dedicated roads. So I would call them on occasion to check if encroachment permits were being enforced or not. They were not at that time.

Quick example: every fence or other object in county right of way requires an encroachment permit. That’s virtually every property in rural Madera County. They are not enforced.

But if a complaint is made, they may be enforced. My fence was reported to the county. I had to get an encroachment permit. The permit requirement is not personal. Reporting me, however, is personal. I can guess who did.

Houstons versus Madera County

In 2007, while still president of the old board, I wound up in court criminally charged because of a dispute brought by two new residents. A road the old CWPOA was working on splits their property. In 2005, they personally sued me, a CWPOA employee, another old CWPOA board member, their neighbors, and the county.  They did not sue the old CWPOA directly.

They made a deal with the county. They dismissed everyone without trial.

Criminal Charges

For reasons unknown, the county counsel had me charged personally for them. Personally. No red tag. No CWPOA stop work notice. Nothing. Just personal charges brought within ten hours of the alleged 2007 acts. The charges alleged 5 misdemeanors punishable by up to a total of 30 months in jail and /or $2,500 in fines.

The charges alleged road construction activities without a permit. There was no road construction. I performed no road work of any kind. The allegedly illegal work was performed by a contractor for the CWPOA.

I was dismissed before trial in May of 2008. Though there was no construction, the takeaway outcome: all construction permit requirements would be enforced moving forward. The contractor at the time made note. The contractor at the time was fired by the new board for reasons unexplained.

That Was Then, This Is Now

The new board now complains of being targeted by the county.

No one has been charged. No one has received arraignment letters from the court. No one has been personally fined. No one has been sued.

However, according to the agenda letter the new board president sent out, the new board has just sued the county in small claims court.

Snow Removal

After the new board president and his employee invited the county up for a tour of operations, the  new board was sent a cease and desist letter for snow removal in 2012. The timing wasn’t good. The RMD outreach and education was underway. The new board mailed the county letter out to all complaining about the county.

As a courtesy, the county issued the new board a temporary permit for snow removal with the understanding that for 2013 / 2014 the new board would have to meet the higher requirements. This wasn’t mailed out to all.

At the March 8 meeting, the new board said the county arbitrarily changed the standards.

Substandard Illegal Culvert Construction

For reasons unknown, the general engineering contractor previously used by the old CWPOA was let go by the new board. Another contractor was hired, not a general engineering contractor but a paving contractor.

The new board proceeded to construct two culvert replacements, without contacting the road dept, without permits, without engineering. Whether a road is public or private doesn’t matter. Construction permits are required. Just like a house.

During the RMD effort, the new board president and his employee reported the substandard work to the county road dept. Not surprisingly, and again with bad timing, the new board was mailed a 90 day correction notice for substandard and failing culvert construction work.

During the RMD effort, the new board mailed that notice out to all, complaining about the county. Did the new board and its “road” employee report that work to the county to bring on a notice they could use?

That ninety day notice is now over a year and half past due. No one has been charged. The work has not been corrected. The county is remiss. This isn’t targeting. This looks more like favoritism.

Be that as it may, the new board now alleges that the substandard work was reported by a resident.

Point Being This Was All Expected

 The outcome of all this is that none of the requirements being enforced is a surprise. The enforcement is not arbitrary. Assemble enough facts and a picture emerges.

The picture that emerges shows a new CWPOA that feels sorry for itself and put upon. Rather than getting the job done, they are spending tens of thousands on legal fees to “defend” our “rights” by trying to prohibit rule of law.

The Current “CWPOA” Crew

First, this isn’t the CWPOA any more. It’s been completely overhauled under the current president starting in 2009. You’ll note the use of “new” and “old” to differentiate.

Four of the years I was on the old board the new board president was also on the old board. The new board president quit the old board in 2008, only to come back and take over in 2009. The new board then overhauled the old CWPOA into something completely different, at great expense.

The new CWPOA board is not ignorant of the events of 2007 involving roads and permit requirements moving forward. Why the sour grapes now?

The Latest from Stamas

My name keeps coming up at their meetings. Negatively. Disparagingly. The new board and their loud supporters keep putting words in my mouth when I’m absent, picking on my wife, demonizing, speculating. I’ve decided to make an effort to share the facts.

I will do more regular updates and I’m going to call them “The Latest from Stamas”, in honor of a phrase coined by a local resident.

What Is The Real Goal of the New CWPOA?

Assemble enough facts and a picture emerges. And the picture that emerges is confusing and alarming. There seems to be no point. The law is the law. This is the United States of America. Why waste money and energy trying to do the impossible?

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.

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. The requirement that permits and engineering would be imposed has been known since at least 2008.

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 paid employees needed to preserve their “road” income. And they went door to door to get them to change their minds, and spent hundreds of dollars on spin mailings.

At the meeting March 8, the new board president said “we represent the majority”. Even if the NO votes were a yes vote on the new board, 46 percent isn’t a majority.

The last statement “proposed by the County of Madera” is patently false. The district was proposed by me and dozens of excited residents who also wanted to see road improvements. Cascadel Heights has a very successful road district and have 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.

The vote was a simple YES or NO on the question of funding road improvements through a funding district like Cascadel Heights does. The vote was note to “reject” “the interference by the county”. The vote was not to “keep local control” of the roads, control that does not, in fact, exist. The county collecting funds for us to improve the roads in Cascadel at the request of residents is hardly “interference”.

The current CWPOA “belief” that improving our roads is “interference” reveals that their goal must not be to improve roads. That’s all a YES vote said. Please improve our roads. Please use our road money on roads through a funding district.

The new CWPOA goal appears to be to preserve and perpetuate the CWPOA, and its employees paychecks for services indiscernible, at road expense, without telling us where the road money really goes, overhead, attorneys, employees, rent, utilities, all of the things prohibited by law. Doing so constitutes fraud.

The new board once said we couldn’t have a road district and a CWPOA. The issue for them, is them, always has been about them, and their paid employees, not the people, not safety, not safe roads, not what’s best for everyone.

As for local control, a road maintenance district IS local control by design.

So if the secret activity of the new CWPOA board is what real “local control” looks like, spending tens of thousands on attorneys, meetings 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. See Cascadel Heights RMD 97. Better roads, better safety, better value since 1995.

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.

“Opening move”? This is just silly.

“Manage the affairs of Cascadel Woods”? What “affairs”? These statements indicate an inflated sense of self importance. The CWPOA was formed for social purposes. The old CWPOA that is. The new one seems to be operating under the misconception that the do anything of value other than remove snow. And that could be so easily attained by the county plow that is already here it’s moot.

The only affairs to “manage” for the new CWPOA are making payroll, paying insurance, paying utilities, paying rent, so the CWPOA can make payroll, pay insurance, pay attorneys, pay rent, rinse, repeat.

This wasn’t always the case, but times change. And so must circumstances. The new CWPOA needs to admit the facts. They need to admit that a local bake sale group is not the appropriate group to manage roads. The professionals at the road dept are.

Now, it costs ~$25,000 per year for the CWPOA to do absolutely nothing according to the new CWPOA documents. They’ve increased expenses to the point that now the goal and purpose is first and foremost survival of the organization, not providing service of value. Because if providing service of value was ever the goal, then the new board would have endorsed the road district when I initially approached them seeking endorsement.

The road district will not harm the new CWPOA. The only thing the new CWPOA has to do, is be honest about where the money goes, what it costs to operate, and how they raise that funding.

The County is a Public Servant

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. Cascadel Ranch is in Madera County, California, the United States of America.

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.

  1. 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?
  2. The CWPOA billed the County Service Area and was rejected. Okay, got it. They must not have been legitimate charges.
  3. 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. At the March 8 meeting the new board did not disclose they have sued Madera County.
  4. 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 $60,000 total, and rising. This beats all past CWPOA boards legal fees COMBINED.
  5. 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? And the point is what? The county has the authority to interpret and enforce. The CWPOA does not.
  6. 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 County has imposed new requirements on the CWPOA that do not seem to have ever been imposed on anyone else in Madera County:

  1. First snowplow inspection in history
  2. The first ever requirement for a snowplow encroachment permit
  3. First ever requirement for Class A Contractor’s License to operate our privately owned snowplow
  4. 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 the old CWPOA board back then discovered the CWPOA had no standing or authority to do roads anyway, and announced as much to everyone in writing. So the CWPOA is pushing it to be trying to do roads at all. The CWPOA was not created for road maintenance.

Back in 2008, the new CWPOA board president proposed county road maintenance. So what happened? Now it’s sue the county to “prohibit” the county from enforcing law. It’s a wholesale reversal.

Okay, so to respond to each of those four points:

  1. First snowplow inspection in history: Dubious statement. 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. Talley Oil had to have an inspection. They plow for the county. They plow Cascadel Heights.
  2. The first ever requirement for a snowplow encroachment permit: How can they know that? 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?
  3. 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, remember? Obviously, they cannot.
  4. 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. Their purpose is 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. Talley Oil used shoes. They wore out too quickly. So they switched to a titanium blade. Is the new CWPOA using a titanium blade? Should be no problem getting that waived.

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 correctly. Shoes are installed to protect the road surface and the operator. They do not create dangerous conditions.

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.

“Cooperate”? Now the county is supposed to “cooperate” with the nation of Cascadel. Perhaps we can have a world summit.

The first subdivision was created in 1957. Fifty seven years and counting with no signs.

The CWPOA was let go from operating the district, and removed from the decaying unsafe clubhouse due to zoning rules. Maybe this is all just sour grapes?

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.

These statements reveal that in practical terms the new CWPOA has no purpose whatsoever. The Heights’ roads are repaired and plowed nicely. We can’t drive out until the main road is done anyway. Why not just have the county do it all?

  1. The County appears to be focused on driving the CWPOA out of existence: Enforcing the rules isn’t personal, it’s the law. Welcome to reality CWPOA.
  2. The County has increasingly assumed control over our roads: This 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.
  3. The County undercut the CWPOA’s authority by issuing a permit for road maintenance: The CWPOA has no authority for the county to undercut. They are a voluntary club. They are self appointed and self involved. The road authority here is the Madera County Road Dept. The road dept and engineering dept has the authority to authorize any work, anywhere, within rule of law, they desire.
  4. 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 is doing great, and costs zero. We might actually get some decent furniture soon.

Well, the rest of the 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 structures, 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.

The CWPOA doesn’t “represent” anyone. Even if you join the club, they don’t “represent” you. They represent an idea, a social club, a property rights advocate.

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 they won’t disclose for pretty obvious reasons, 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?

4. Adjourn

5. Closed Session

About what? We’ll never know.

6. Adjourn
7. Reconvene open session
8. Report from closed session; action if needed
9. Adjourn

This much is clear. The new CWPOA has sued the county, on your dime, and will reap what they have sown.

Any group that actually cares about Cascadel supports getting our roads permanently fixed right, viably, permanently, through a road district. Nothing is stopping the new CWPOA from telling the truth: they are collecting “road” fees to pay their overhead, utilities and employees. Remeber, the old CWPOA eliminated road fees because it simply did not reflect practical reality. The new board put them back. Why?

In the words of one of their supporters in a statement made at an RMD meeting “if people knew where their money really went, no one would pay”. Perhaps. But perhaps the new CWPOA can simply be honest and charge membership dues that reflect the true cost of overhead. Then maybe no one would pay, but no one would be the victim of fraud.

Cascadel Roads One Year Later

Cascadel Roads continue to degrade and remain dangerous and unsafe. The Whisky Creek bridge remains faulty and failing. The low water ford is fracturing. The dirt roads are eroding away even in this drought.

Happy Anniversary Prop 218 Vote!

One year after the proposed road improvement funding mechanism for the remaining Cascadel Ranch wasn’t approved by residents, there have been no road improvements performed by the local club that swore they were the better way. This group is known as the Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association (CWPOA), a voluntary group with no binding authority currently funded off of “road” fees.

Side Note: The CWPOA is voluntary, a “property owners association” in name only, not a legal mandatory HOA authorized by deed restrictions. There are no covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) benefiting the CWPOA. Their funding is solely voluntary, despite their bills implying otherwise.

For “road maintenance” the CWPOA is self-appointed, originally to fill potholes and remove snow, now to fund its ~$25,000 per year of overhead for employees, insurance, rent and utilities. According to CWPOA records the 2013 collection for “roads” barely covers overhead.

This author served as president of the former CWPOA before its overhaul by the current president, and was on the board for six years total. Over that six years of learning and legal research, we learned there is no binding authority of any kind authorizing the CWPOA to do anything. It’s a voluntary club wearing POA clothing. The CWPOA board reported this to the residents in 2008 preparing to cease road maintenance and begin looking for alternatives such as a road maintenance district. A district had been pursued over and over again through the years. The current administration of the club, took over in 2009.

Seeing dangerous conditions only getting worse, the Eastern Madera County Fire Safe Council Inc created a road fund and filled 8-1/2 tons worth of potholes to get us by, using all volunteer labor and donations from residents. The Fire Safe Council proposes to continue doing road surface and shoulder maintenance for improved ingress egress using contractors funded through donations in 2014 and 2015 until the county gets in here and fixes things.

Under its current directors, the CWPOA now appears to be claiming exclusive authority to perform road maintenance in Cascadel Ranch (notwithstanding Cascadel Heights evidently) spending tens of thousands in legal fees in what an employee indicated is an effort to establish a defensible legal theory supporting this view, to eventually lead to suing residents to force them to pay the CWPOA. The CWPOA and its supporters very vocally opposed funding county road improvements, and promised the residents they could do roads better and cheaper, despite a fifty-year track record demonstrating the opposite, despite MD 97 showing how well districts work. They have clearly broken that promise.

CWPOA Broken Promises

During the proposed maintenance district preparation period, during the initial steering committee and county’s outreach and education, the CWPOA made multiple mailings. They made more mailings, more frequently than the CWPOA has ever made. This was after the current board had canceled all informational mailings “to save money” previously.

The CWPOA mailings on the proposed road maintenance district purported to be “neutral” and stated there could be no CWPOA and a road maintenance district together, that costs would balloon, that the true costs were being hidden, that the road dept costs way more, that the CWPOA can deliver better, and did all this without mentioning once that Cascadel Heights MD 97 residents are happy with a district right up the street. They promised they could do roads better, faster, cheaper.

They can’t, and don’t, and never have. That’s the strange thing about human nature. 50 years of inferior “road maintenance” doesn’t register. The successful district up the street doesn’t register. But to the voters credit, they were being misled by the CWPOA, in writing. Only 20 voters had to change their minds to defeat the funding approval.

CWPOA more efficient than the Madera County Road Dept?

The CWPOA treasurer went so far as to compare the CWPOA budget to the entire county road dept budget, claiming the CWPOA is leaner, meaner and more efficient. 12 months later, they have demonstrated the exact opposite. No road improvements have been made, local, state and federal violations remain, no permits to perform improvements have been obtained. The CWPOA continues to “tax” residents for road maintenance for which they have no permit to perform.

Why Knock Yourself Out?

That’s what past boards had been asking over and over, isn’t there a better way? Past boards revisited getting the county to do roads like Cascadel Heights for many years, with employees always saying “that can’t be done”. Turns out, what can’t be done is a social club playing ball with the big boys. Times have changed. Codes are being enforced. Public safety is being improved. County right of way is being monitored. In fact, the CWPOA had a run in with the county in 2007 and 2008 regarding just such road maintenance.

CWPOA 2008 Wake-Up Call: Permits Required from Now On

The result of that 2008 run-in with the county? This author was president at the time. The work being done was routine maintenance. That debate has been laid to rest. However, what was clear, then and now, is that permits and engineering are required for any road work “exceeding routine maintenance”. If the work is in dedicated county right of way, then encroachment permits are required as well.

Nevertheless, the current board, the president of which was on the board with this author in 2008 during those events, proceeded with major culvert replacement altering sensitive stream beds without any of the above. This major work was supervised and directed by a paid employee, formerly employed by the US Forest Service handling special use permits. That is correct.

The employee overseeing and directing the substandard work, involving dumping in riparian areas, involving major stream-bed alteration, all carried out without permits or engineering at any level despite the 2008 wake-up-call, used to work for the federal government, um, issuing permits.

Times Have Changed

What is now very very clear is that the road maintenance district initial steering committee was right. Past CWPOA boards seeking county road maintenance were right. The residents of Cascadel Heights are right. And the 2008 CWPOA board that discovered the CWPOA was out of its element and must stop doing maintenance was right. As was shared with all residents in writing in 2008 by that former board, the CWPOA simply doesn’t have the authority, capacity or expertise to viably perform road maintenance. In fact, residents have been trying to get the county to take over maintenance of the roads for decades.

The current CWPOA is completely over theirs head even trying to rectify the substandard and illegal culvert replacements involving major stream bed alteration and illegal dumping they performed in 2010. This group can’t replace a culvert.

Cascadel Heights MD 97

There is a viable and successful road maintenance district right next door in Cascadel Heights, MD 97. This is why a road maintenance district like Cascadel Heights was pursued by residents for many many years. Districts simply work, fairly, viably, openly, transparently and with all funds dedicated to roads, not legal fees, insurance, rent, utilities, employees, and so on. The funds can’t be spent any other way, unlike private corporations that are not held accountable.

12 Months and Counting

It’s been one year since 46 percent of the eligible voters in Cascadel turned down road improvements that would have improved fire life safety and increased property values. (24 percent voted yes, 29 percent didn’t vote.) Nothing has changed for roads except the Fire Safe Council stepping in, but plenty of CWPOA “road” money has been spent.

The CWPOA has spent more money, most of it “road” money, on legal fees in the last five years than has ever been spent. While the pros at the county can viably improve Cascadel roads for $151-per-year (with CPI) forever, the CWPOA can only perpetuate itself on the $200 per year it demands from residents, under threat of legal action if they don’t pay. That $200 demand is likely to increase radically in the very near future.

Empty Promises

Not to put too fine a point on it, everything that was promised by the self-appointed “road authority” CWPOA has turned out to be false. On the other side of that, everything that the Initial Steering Committee shared, the fact that codes and regulations and permit requirements will make road maintenance by a club extremely expensive and difficult, has proven to be, in fact, totally true.  Again, the CWPOA can’t even replace a culvert.

Fire Life Safety Doesn’t Matter? Only Making Overhead & Payroll?

So a full year has passed since the Cascadel Road Maintenance District (RMD) did not fund. The CWPOA has been continued to “tax” residents to cover its operating expenses, but as we’ve seen, provide no road improvements. An RMD would have improved ingress egress, fire life safety and viably maintained the roads in Cascadel increasing everyone’s property values, just like Cascadel Heights MD 97.

The CWPOA and its employees are funded off of “road” fees. The disinformation effort by paid employees and directors to turn the 20 people necessary to kill approval of the funding, was unlike anything ever seen up here. The result was not the will of the people, but rather the will of the paid employees.

Don’t Worry, We’re “Very Happy”

In the Sierra Star dated February 20, 2013, the CWPOA president Stan Eggink said “We are very happy with the results of the Prop 218 vote on the Road Maintenance District…” revealing just how selfish the CWPOA is. The CWPOA claims road authority, and the capacity to deliver more work, better, faster, more efficiently, and cheaper, than an RMD. Now we have proof it can’t. Now we know why road money actually going to roads was opposed by the CWPOA.

The Danger Remains

Cascadel is a very dangerous, very high-density, almost completely built-out 200 parcel subdivision packed onto a rugged 480 forested acres with poor ingress egress and blocked secondary access. Half of the community is located east of a perennial creek that floods occasionally and has no adequate year-round crossing. Cascadel is the number one at-risk community for catastrophic wildfire in the County’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The Whisky Creek bridge remains faulty and failing, the low water crossing is fracturing, the roads continue to degrade, the substandard unauthorized CWPA culvert installations continue to deteriorate.

The CWPOA & Water Company are Not the Same Anymore

Understand that both the CWPOA and the Water Company are no longer the same organizations. Since 2009, they have been taken over by one couple, both entities have the same paid employees, and both entities have been completely changed in how they operate. They don’t resemble anything like the former entities this author served. It’s about money, and power. They operate, and misuse our money, completely in a vacuum.

What Is The Way Forward?

The County of Madera can protect us, their constituents, just like they have the folks in Bass Lake. They can create a funding mechanism similar to Assessment District 89-1, Bass Lake, to allow the Road Department to repair at least the bridge. With this type of funding mechanism, we can continue to fund more than just the bridge if we want, but at least the major fire life safety issue would get addressed in a timely and viable way. We have a real opportunity to save lives and property that is being endangered by an extreme and selfish minority.

Cascadel Mutual Water Company CMWC

Unfortunately the trend established at the CWPOA appears to have spread to the water company. According to CMWC documents, grants and loans have been obtained without any community meetings. Included in these proposals is committing the residents up here to potentially decades of federal obligation, again. The details simply aren’t known because they are not actively disseminated.

There are also indications in documents obtained from both the local club and the water company that misuse of funds may be occurring, such as water ratepayer funds being used for permits for road work unrelated to water delivery or facilities (ironic that, considering no improvements are being made), and other indications of inappropriate use of funds. There is also now a cryptic “closed session” to discuss “legal issues” on the water company agenda.

Cascadel County Road Maintenance District


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Meetings

Marie Iden’s neighbors’ meeting for parcel owners on Vista Drive, Loma Linda and Hillcrest a week from Saturday, October 20th, 3:00 PM at Simon Elman’s home on Vista Drive West. RSVP Marie Iden 877-4740 marieiden@gmail.com

Roger Tucker  has reserved the clubhouse for October 25th at 7.00 PM and October 28th at 1.00 PM for meetings to gather parcel owner’s input from Cascadel Drive, North and Cascadel Drive, South.  However, ALL PARCEL OWNERS are welcome to attend, even if they live elsewhere in Cascadel. RSVP Roger Tucker 877-4000 rtucker@sbcglobal.net

Mark Stamas will be meeting in person and by phone with each parcel owner on Autumn Ridge Way, Cascadel Road, Cascadel Drive, Waterfall Way, Gertrude Creek Drive. Tentative: Engineer’s Report review meeting 10 AM Clubhouse Sat 11/3/12 ALL PARCEL OWNERS invited. RSVP Mark Stamas 877-4689 markstamas@offmedia.net

10/14/12 RMD Formation Status -We are on Step 2, Preparation of the County Engineer’s Analysis

The County Road Dept Engineer’s “Analysis” or “Report” for our Cascadel County Road Maintenance District will be gone over at the RMA on November 2nd, 2012, 10 to 12 pm at 2037 W. Cleveland Ave, Madera, see the letter below. 

The Engineer’s Report is the document that becomes the district “initial report”, the recorded document that describes our district and has “what we pay for what we get”. This boils down to the assessment we choose for the county road maintenance “level” we desire. The report and 11/2 meeting results should be mailed to all affected parcel owners as has every other county communication, but might be big enough to require sending a summary and a link to a pdf download. If it’s only a few pages, we can mail it.

The US Mail is the only reliable way to get all materials to all parcel owners. This web site, and emails notwithstanding, there is only one way to be sure we get everything to everyone, the US Mail, just like county elections and other county communications.

County Nov 2 Meeting Letter

Note: Mailing was ordered on 10/9 at www.click2mail.com and went out on 10/10. All parcels should have a copy by 10/15 if it takes 4 days.

 

Flowchart

Cascadel Road Maintenance District Formation Flowchart

In case it’s not clear, we are at Step 2, the “Engineer’s Analysis” or report step, which, despite the big name, for a road district really means what we get for what we pay. For example, ongoing maintenance and snowplowing could cost us $100 per parcel per year but we’d probably not get very much paving very quickly at that rate.So after we see how much work we can get for how much assessment in the report delivered on 11/2/12, we choose the level of service we want. $160 per year per parcel ($28,960 assuming we have 181 APNs) is probably a good example of a decent amount to work with allowing for some paving over time in addition to ongoing maintenance. That ~29k could be doubled to ~58k with Measure T as well. All roads can be maintained the way they are, dirt stays dirt, paved stays paved and gets repaved as budgets allow. 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Will the county make us expand our roads?

A. No. All of our roads can be maintained with “as is” dimensions and road surfaces.

Q. Will our RMD have to upgrade roads for residents doing new construction?

A. No. Any road improvements required for new construction are the sole responsibility of the owner doing the construction.

Q. Can we choose the snowplow service?

A. Yes. After we have a district the county or their contractor plows. We can choose the contractor.

Q. How does Measure T work?

A. Both maintenance and operations (ops) and capital improvements are eligible for Measure T funds matched dollar for dollar. (Double our money.) While there is no sign or indication of this stopping, the risk of a system change/modification is always present. Measure T is dependent on sales tax, the more goods people purchase the more Measure T grows. At the same time the more Maintenance Districts that apply for Measure T monies, the more competition there will be for funding. In the meantime, the Districts with adequate assessment and funding are taking advantage of the program right now, today. We can too.

Q. What will our assessment be?

A. We can viably fund at our current assessment or less. We choose the “level of service” we desire which basically boils down to how fast we want to repair and repave our roads. REMEMBER 100% OF OUR ROAD MONEY GOES TO ON THE GROUND MAINTENANCE AND OPS. Only “Capital Improvement Projects” (CIPs mean construction of new stuff, so we probably won’t have any except maybe new culverts somewhere if needed) incur an administration fee, and then typically only 1% or less, usually around 1/2%. This means that we can assess at substantially less and have the same amount of dollars available, BEFORE Measure T potentially doubles our money. Let’s wait for some numbers from the county before we set ourselves on a dollar amount.

Q. How can I get more information and express my views?

A. Contact with parcel owners to provide information and updates and to gather parcel owner input continues. Mark Stamas (markstamas@offmedia.net) is handling parcel owners on Autumn Ridge Way, Cascadel Road, Cascadel Drive, Waterfall Way, Gertrude Creek Drive; Marie Iden (marieiden@gmail.com) for Loma Linda, Vista Drive, Hillcrest Road; Roger Tucker (rtucker@sbcglobal.net) for Cascadel Drive North, Cascadel Lane and Cascadel Drive South. Of course, you may contact any committee member you like as well as the county’s Phil Toler at 675-7811 <philip.toler@madera-county.com>.

 

 

Click Here for General Info on the Cascadel County Road Maintenance District.

October County Update
* We Are Moving Forward! *

9/29/12 Cascadel County Road Maintenance District County Update Letter

County Road Maintenance for Cascadel Moves Forward!

Supervisor Tom Wheeler and Road Commissioner Hoevertsz have announced “overwhelming” support for the creation of a Cascadel road maintenance district for a county maintained road system. Next step is the formation of an informal “steering” committee. Supervisor Wheeler and the Road Commissioner will announce how they will be doing this shortly.

Click Here for More Road Maintenance District Information

August Road Meeting a Huge Success

August 25th Meeting a HUGE SUCCESS!

 

We CAN Get * Better Roads * Better Value * Better Safety * END ALL LIABILITY *

 

 

IMPORTANT: Your Questionnaire Still Counts After Sept 15th

Road Commissioner Hoevertsz wants to hear from you! (559) 675-7811
Johannes Hoevertsz <jhoevertsz2@madera-county.com>

Key Points:

  • WE THE PEOPLE in the district, control the district, what it does, what it costs (yes, $200 per year each is OK). ALL OF US by parcel number through OUR steering committee, NO DISENFRANCHISEMENT! No more “pay more to vote” or taxation without representation.
  • THE COUNTY ASSUMES ALL ROAD LIABILITY! This is huge. No more risk taking, no more bridge liability, no road liability at all.
  • NEAR ZERO OVERHEAD Road money really will only go to roads. Cuts waste by thousands of dollars all going to roads instead.
  • DOUBLE THAT MONEY! Yes, this too was verified. Measure T funds are in fact doubling project budgets in districts as we speak.
  • The County WILL NOT require ANY road upgrades. Everything can remain dimensionally exactly the same if we want.
  • Cascadel’s road aesthetics will be completely controlled by WE THE PEOPLE. For example, we could require NO MORE DUMPING of old asphalt all over everywhere. Just one example.
  • The CWPOA is NOT AFFECTED AT ALL other than being freed of volunteering to do road maintenance. The CWPOA can continue doing whatever else it does. The social club has nothing to do with a road maintenance district. WE CAN HAVE AN ASSOCIATION AND A ROAD DISTRICT There are examples of this in Madera County already. A district and a local club are not connected. Any road function the CWPOA had taken upon itself previously would simply end. The expenses and fees associated with that function would end. No expense, no loss. A road district has NO EFFECT on the CWPOA.
  • COUNTY PROJECTS ARE DONE RIGHT THE FIRST TIME – No more failed jobs three weeks later having to be repaired “under warranty” yet somehow expanded to include thousands more in “new” work on the same job. No more base failures paved over or ignored so they just come back. No more “expanded” projects that wind up costing tens of thousands.
  • INSURANCE COMPANIES FAVOR COUNTY ROAD MAINTENANCE – As more and more of us face homeowners insurance policy problems this could be huge. County road maintenance is considered a HUGE plus by insurance companies regarding access issues in these high fire danger areas. It’s considered a hazard removal. The local club doing it themselves simply can’t compare.
  • BOTTOM LINE We Really Can Get County Road Maintenance AT LAST!

 

Next step, come to the meeting November 2nd, 2012 at the RMA. Contact Road Commissioner Hoevertsz (or call 559-675-7811 or email jhoevertsz2@madera-county.com)

Click Here for a Copy of the September Mailing Including a Letter from Road Commissioner Hoevertsz, Simple Questionnaire and Flowchart. You should have gotten one in the mail. If not, you can print out and return to the county.

The Cascadel Woods Property Owners Association Has No Binding Road Authority

After a ton of research assembling facts gleaned from the public record a picture has emerged. The bottom line is that the CWPOA Board has no road authority or responsibility. The CWPOA is a voluntary corporation with a board that volunteers to do roads at its own personal risk, potentially putting any member at risk as well. As a voluntary corporation the CWPOA Board has no binding authority over parcel owners, or anyone else. “Voluntary” is the key word. At one time there were binding Convenants, Conditions and Restrictions “protected” by the CWPOA Board, fence height, paint color, stuff like that, and they had absolutely nothing to do with roads. Those CCRs are long gone in any case. The CWPOA really boils down to a corporate “club” of sorts and according to its charter is organized for “social and beneficial activities” for the three subdivisions only. So collecting membership fees to hold barbecues and parties fits perfectly.

So What IS the CWPOA Board Authorized To Do?

The word “authorized” tends to imply with binding force, so technically, the CWPOA Board isn’t authorized to do anything. But, any group can collect and spend voluntary membership fees from willing joiners according to the common practice. Legal theories abound regarding the CWPOA Board doing road maintenance, “precedent” “equitable relief” “acting as agent of” and so on, but legal theories are theories only. They are meaningless unless and until proven in a court of law with an attached judgement, and then only really useful if they withstand an appeal and become part of the body of case law. The only judgments of record do not support the CWPOA Board having any binding road authority. Civil Code 845 has been applied in one judgment. The CWPOA owns no land so really, even CC845 is a reach.

Suffice to say, the CWPOA Board evidently has NO binding authority over us parcel owners of any kind, none. The CWPOA Board has no “tax power” as they call it, no property “rights”, no binding authority to maintain roads, owns no fee land, owns no easements and probably doesn’t need to be a corporation at all. That isn’t to say we parcel owners don’t have a responsibility to pay our way for our roads fairly, through some mechanism, and most of us do pay our fair share since there was no alternative presented in the past. It’s just that the CWPOA Board is forced into a very tough and high risk position taking on great personal liability. Why should they do that any more with the alternative available now? This is caused by being essentially forced to tax without tax power and to perform road work without express written permission of the easement holders and without authority of the county. In 2008  the CWPOA Board asked all parcel owners if they wanted to seek adjudication by petitioning the court for some sort of direction or opinion on a prudent course of action for the CWPOA. That never happened. The current CWPOA Board continues to collect road fees and has declared them “mandatory” on their bills. That’s a very risky position to take, and unsupportable according to the judgments of record. Why take that risk at all now?

The CWPOA Board is Without Property Rights

There are many facts surrounding the bigger fact that the CWPOA Board has no binding authority. The CWPOA Board owns no easements or land with the attached property rights that includes. Cascadel has no Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CCRs) for roads, and never has. (The only CCRs were cosmetic and expired decades ago.) The court documents of record only say outlying parcel owners should bear reasonable road costs, under Civil Code 845, with one document saying we all pay equally. (State law theoretically trumps this court order, and indeed that last judgement ruled the parcel owner must pay only their proportionate share of actual road work already performed.) CC845 is strictly to collect for reimbursement for road improvements that have already occurred. There is no CWPOA Board related court ruling empowering the CWPOA Board to actually do road improvements. There are also no written agreements of record between parcel owners and the CWPOA Board in the form of CCRs or otherwise. Again, Civil Code 845 applies, only easement owners may collect for already completed road work. So the CWPOA Board is reaching, taking big risks. Who pays if there is an issue? We do.

Civil Code 845

Regarding each easement owners share under Civil Code 845, the code says that easement owners, and owners of land subject to easements, must maintain them in repair. The costs must be shared by easement owners proportionate to their use of the easement. This code is a tool for neighbors to be able to collect from other neighbors their share of completed easement repair, in the case of road easements, road maintenance. But that only covers reimbursement for actual already performed road work as mentioned above. So only road work that has already occurred may be reimbursed. Even if the CWPOA Board were an easement owner, or empowered by agreements with easements owners, the CWPOA Board can’t collect for “planned” projects or overhead costs, only for reimbursement for already completed projects and only for direct costs. One judgment of record supports this and specifically cites Civil Code 845.

The CWPOA is Voluntary

So the CWPOA is a voluntary sort of “club” funded solely by voluntary voter fees for social and beneficial activities. The CWPOA Board is put in the unenviable position of having to take great risks by collecting road fees without authority and entering high risk contracts for road repairs, some of which turned out to be highly illegal, faulty, and have already failed. That doesn’t have to be the case any more, there is a better way, a much better way. Click Here for the Solution to this Quandary. Form a County road maintenance district!

Cascadel Information

Cascadel information from the source. Cascadel Ranch was a small ranch in Eastern Madera County originally patented in the 1800s. 480 acres of narrow valley in a watershed half way between South Fork and the Hogue Ranch.

This site is intended to provide historical and contemporary information about the ranch and how it was subdivided. There will be information about the various organizations and clubs that exist in the area.