|Here is an update since our last email on November 3, 2019.
After First Ballot Returns, only 341 (6%) of Ballots Accepted
(and another 94 Ballots Rejected for Lack of Signature)
— Well Short of the Quorum Requirement to Have a Valid Election
SO PLEASE SIGN ENVELOPE AND VOTE!
Vote “Yes” on Lowering the Quorum to 35% from 50%
Vote for the ROBE candidates:
Spread the word
Call or send emails to your friends and neighbors
Urge them to vote
Download the ROBE Flyer (here) and email it to your friends
For suggested text you can use/adapt in your email click here
Without all our votes, this will be just another invalid election and the Board will just keep re-appointing themselves
…For the details, read on…
Early Returns and Problem with Unsigned Ballots
As of November 12, 2019, PVHA logged in 435 ballots received, 94 of which were not accepted as valid because there was no signature on the external envelope returned. I have been told that the PVHA sent a letter last week to those 94 members pointing out the problem and encouraging these members to return a new ballot (from the separate second mailing) and signing it this time. Apparently, the second mailing went out before this explanatory letter was sent, thus contributing some additional confusion. It didn’t help that the instructions on the original ballot made no reference to the signature requirement and the font size was small. If your returned ballot was one of the 341 received and accepted before 11/12/19, you should not be getting these follow-up mailings. Therefore, if you got the second mailing, you either missed that cutoff or you still need to send one in that is properly signed. For perspective, even if the reduced quorum ballot measure passes, it will take 1900 valid returns to reach 35% — so we are long way from having the results of this election mean anything. Therefore, if you’d like a democratic outcome, PLEASE VOTE! For info on what the envelope and ballot each look like, click here. If you haven’t received a ballot, or have just thrown it away or misplaced it, you can call 877-324-7655 to request a replacement ballot. Ballots are due by January 13, 2020.
League of Women Voters Candidate Forum on December 11 at 6:30pm
The League of Women Voters will host a PVHA Board Candidate Forum on December 11th from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at PVE City Council Chambers (340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PVE). Please come and plan to hand in questions. After the event, PVrrg (Palos Verdes Residents for Responsible Government) will be posting a full video of the event on their website (click here for more info)
Ballots and Instructions – Please sign & vote!
If you have not yet done so, please return the Ballot ASAP. To help you spot it in your mail, click here for an image of the envelope and instructions for filling it in. Make sure you sign where indicated or your vote won’t count. If you lose or misplace the ballot, call 877-324-7655 to request a replacement. ROBE recommends you vote “Yes” on the ballot initiative to lower the quorum to 35%, and for the four ROBE candidates (Marlene Breene, Dick Fay, John Harbison, Ried Schott). You can vote for any number of the six candidates between 0 and 5, so you don’t need to cast votes for five directors.
How Can You Help?
Here is how you can help:
- Vote! The ballots are due January 13, 2020, but by voting early you will be saving expenditures against PVHA’s precious reserves (now down to $56k from over $1 million in 2013) because the Board has committed this year to sending up to three ballot mailings; once a ballot is returned, the expense of further mailings to that member is avoided.
- Email your friends and encourage them to Vote: Download the ROBE Flyer (here) and email it to your friends. Click here for suggested text you can use in your email.
- Put up a Yard Sign: You can pick up yard signs at the front door of 916 Via Panorama; here is what they look like
- Learn about the Candidates: PVrrg (Palos Verdes Residents for Responsible Government) has posed ten questions to each of the six candidates and the answers are here.
- Come to the Candidates Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on December 11th from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at PVE City Council Chambers (340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PVE). PVrrg (Palos Verdes Residents for Responsible Government) will be posting a full video of the event on their website (click here for more info)
- Learn about the issues: Click here.
- Host a Gathering of Friends at your house (and invite the Candidates)
- Knock on Neighbors’ doors and encourage them to vote: If you’d like copies of the two-sided one-page flyer, you can download here and print it yourself, or contact John Harbison to pick them up at his house.
Why is This Election Important?
This election is special for two reasons:
REASON #1: For the first time you will be asked whether you support lowering the quorum from 50% to 35%
This will be an important election because the California Superior Court required that PVHA members be asked if they support lowering the quorum from 50% to 35%. If the majority says “no”, then the quorum stays at 50% and probably will not be revisited by the Court in the future. ROBE has been fighting for a lower quorum because a 50% (+1) quorum was achieved only 29% of the time since 1941, and only three times in the last 25 years. There have been no valid elections in the past ten years, and none of the current Board members have been elected. We need to bring democracy to PVHA. In the last three contested elections, the vote count only reached 35% once — 32.5% in 2016, 29.2% in 2017 and 39.5% in 2018, so even a 35% quorum goal will be a challenge and voter participation is critical. But since a goal of 35% is more attainable than 50%, it is very important to vote “yes” on this question.
Once new members are elected to the board, there is a chance that a future board may advocate for a lower threshold (but it is unclear whether the Court will revisit the issue even with Board advocacy) so this election is very important. The ROBE candidates support lowering the quorum to 25% because that would have meant that the PVHA would have had a valid election 65% of the time since 1941, compared to 56% at 30% quorum level, 51% at 35% and 29% at 50%. Moreover, in the past 20 years, lowering the quorum to 25% would have meant a valid election 100% of the time, compared to 85% at 30% quorum level, 70% at 35% and 15% at 50%.
If a majority of members say “yes” to lowering the quorum to 35%, then the Judge has indicated that 35% will govern the current election (January 2020) as well as all future elections. If the majority says “no”, then the quorum stays at 50%.
REASON #2. Progress has been made with two new board members, but more new leadership is needed
Beginning in February 2019, two of ROBE’s past candidates (Dick Fay and Marlene Breene) joined the five-member PVHA Board when the Board replaced current members (Carolbeth Cozen — subsequent to her Art Jury appointment — and Phil Frengs — when he resigned from the Board). This brought significant, fresh perspectives to the Board; however, there were several subsequent decisions where the two new ROBE directors were in the minority (2-3). One of those decisions related to proposed changes to the PVHA View Policy; this resulted in restricting roughly half of PVE homes from bringing tree/view disputes to the PVHA. Unfortunately, the new/more restrictive policy was approved by the Board (with Fay and Breene voting against the new more restrictive policy.) Since then, Marlene Breene has been working diligently on a new more comprehensive policy and we are hopeful that a version of that will replace the current flawed policy; but the outcome is not known. Thus, we have concluded that ROBE must stay active this year to promote additional changes to the composition of the Board.
In July 2019, long-time PVHA Board member Ed Fountain resigned. Ed had approved the original sale of parkland in 2012 as well as the appeal of the CEPC Judgment that ordered the sale reversed, so ROBE views his resignation as a positive development. The resulting four-person Board solicited applications to serve as his replacement and interviewed eight members who applied; Charles Tang was appointed to serve.
Why do we need strong new leadership?
STOP THE BAD DECISIONS
PVHA’s mission is to be an effective steward by:
- Defending the CC&Rs and underlying Deed restrictions, including maintaining parkland forever for public recreational use as stated in the Deeds
- Providing a streamlined, transparent and fair process for architectural and landscape approvals, including resolution of view disputes over vegetation on privately owned land
- Exercising fiscal prudence and responsibility
The sad part is that the Board in recent years has failed on all three of these dimensions through a series of bad decisions:
- Actively violated the Deed Restrictions by selling 1.7 acres of parkland to a private resident who had built extensive encroachments on parkland for over forty years, and then wasting over $900,000 defending that bad decision in court
- Failed to be proactive and intercede when those restrictions were being ignored – such as the new ADU ordinance and a proposed $450,000 Turnaround at the end of Lower Paseo Del Sol on deed restricted parklands
- Wrote an advocacy letter to support closure of a section of the Paseo Del Sol Fire Road through parkland which would have eliminated public use of and access to about six acres of parkland
- Process: Continued an opaque, frustrating and at times unfair process of approving architecture and mediating tree/view disputes
- Fiscal: Wasted over $900,000 on legal fees by pursuing an ill-conceived sale of parkland that was ultimately reversed in a decision by the California Superior Court
We need new leadership – people who embrace the core mission and who are responsive to the needs and interests of PVHA’s members. Marlene Breene and Dick Fay have begun the reform process, but they need more reform-minded Board Members to join them.
What are the future issues, and what are your ROBE candidates’ positions on those issues?
Your ROBE candidates pledge to tackle these future issues with integrity and clarity – in coordination with PVE City Council:
- View Policy: Replace Resolution 185 (passed in 2019) which took away rights for about half the residents to pursue view blockage concerns
- Art Jury Approval Process: Streamline and make more transparent
- Fiscal Responsibility: Rebuild PVHA’s finances after the previous PVHA Board burned through over $1M in reserves defending their right to sell parkland. Reserves now only $56k
- 5G implementation: Minimize the aesthetic impact of more antennae towers
- ADU: Respond to state usurpation of local authority and attack on our CC&Rs’ single family residency
- Governance reforms: Reduce quorum, set term limits, implement online voting, update By-Laws and seek member approval
- Communications and transparency with members: Improve PVHA website, collect emails, post Board meeting agendas in advance, etc.
- Maintenance of Parklands: Demand that City of PVE enforces removal of Parkland encroachments and better maintain parkland and existing trails
- Fire Prevention and Evacuation: Address risk from climate change and inadequate maintenance
- Digitization of records: Mitigate risk of compromise to PVHA function from fire/earthquake
For specifics on these issues and the positions of ROBE’s candidates, click here.
Thank you for your interest and support.
All the best,
For more information, see www.pvegoodgov.org and www.pveopenspace.com.
For the archive of past updates to supporters, click here.