The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Board Biz: Petitions and Procedures

Before our last Board meeting, the Board received a petition from members, requesting that an item be put on the agenda for our April 7th meeting. When some of the petitioners realized the item was not on the agenda, several of those members voiced their dissatisfaction during the meeting. Although I attempted to explain why the item was not on the agenda, some confusion still exists that I will try to clear up here.

It is important to understand that items do not automatically get put on a board agenda because there is a petition or any particular request from members. The president and the board, with input from staff, set agendas, not members. 

The Davis-Stirling Act (California law governing HOAs) sets forth the legal requirements for putting proposed items on the agenda. It also sets forth other considerations such as privacy, confidentiality, the potential for litigation, and issues concerning the human resources department that we must consider before any matter is placed on the open agenda and open for discussion between the members and the Board.

That an agenda item has been proposed by members, whether by petition or otherwise, does not require that the item be put on the public agenda for that reason. In this case, after consulting with legal counsel, we concluded that until we have had an opportunity to fully understand and investigate the cause and scope of what we believe is simply a procedural misstep, such countervailing considerations outweigh the prudence of rushing to a public discussion. 

Thus, the members who submitted the petition were interested in public discussion of a particular issue. The Board appreciated their interest but, after further consultation with counsel, we determined that the item concerns issues that, currently, should only be fully discussed in Executive Session.

Therefore, with counsel’s assistance, we prepared an update on the issue for the Board and the public, which I read in the open session. Members who wanted to speak were allowed to speak in open session but no discussion was held so as to avoid mention of any individual employee.

I hope that clears up questions about petitions and agenda items.

To summarize the particular item briefly here, the issue in question relates to applications submitted in the spring of 2015 by the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe for a boundary change and subdivision. The Association was recently alerted to a possible procedural problem with the applications and staff immediately began researching the issue.

The CDRC apparently did consider both projects, but the identifying information for the affected parcels was not consistent and the documentary evidence in RSFA files is unclear or incomplete. Most importantly, there is incomplete evidence of neighbor notification for the subdivision application. Because of this, RSFA staff has reached out to the owners of the Inn, explained the problem, and secured their very willing agreement to turn the clock back and re-start the process. Notices to neighbors have already been mailed out and the new process is underway.

We want to emphasize that we believe that the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe is not at fault here and we very much appreciate their cooperation and willingness to re-set the clock on the project. Instead, this is likely a matter of Association record keeping. In addition to resolving this specific issue, staff is reviewing all applications processed during that same time period in 2015 to see if other problems exist.

The Board and staff are learning from the errors made in the process last year and are already taking steps to improve, streamline and safeguard our systems so that we don’t run into these issues in the future.

In order to ensure that we are providing the Covenant members with good governance, this Board is committed to adhering to the California Corporate Code in general and the Davis Stirling Act in particular. We diligently educate ourselves and regularly consult with counsel who is highly experienced in this area of the law.

Our next regular Board meeting is May 5, 2016. On May 12, 2016, we will be holding our Annual Meeting of Members. This will be your opportunity to meet the six candidates running for the three open positions on the Board. 

Check out our website at rsfassociation.org or call the Association office at 858-756-1174 to make sure you are registered to vote.