Attorney offers info on lake, meetings, gate

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Tuesday’s CLPOA Board meeting was short on Board business (only one action item) but long on information, with Corporate Counsel Scott Levine providing information on three topics. The first presentation was an update on the Lake Lease. The second presentation was on Board Meeting Protocol (or a lesson in good manners at Board meetings). And in his third presentation, Levine explained the process the Board plans to undergo with regard to the Main Gate Project.

In his presentation on the Lake Lease, Levine mentioned two other California lawsuits that (so far successfully) are arguing cases similar to Canyon Lake’s claim against the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District based on Proposition 26.

He also provided a brief reminder of the two lawsuits Canyon Lake has against EVMWD. The first seeks to answer the question of who owns the lakefront improvements at the termination of the lease: CLPOA homeowners or EVMWD? There is not a simple answer, he explains, because while EVMWD technically owns the shore zone, Canyon Lake property owners have obtained access and title to build in the shore zone.

The second lawsuit argues that EVMWD is illegally charging Canyon Lake property owners to use government property in a way that violates the California Constitution, specifically Proposition 26 passed in 2010.

Also in this presentation, Levine discussed the recent finding that EVMWD’s attorneys – Best, Best and Krieger – once served as attorneys for Canyon Lake and were involved in negotiating the second amendment of the Lake Lease, a document Levine says is directly at issue in the current litigation. Canyon Lake’s Legal Counsel believes this should disqualify Best, Best and Krieger from representing EVMWD in the lawsuit, a claim that is scheduled to be heard in court on November 5.

Corporate Counsel has had two meetings with the Lake Lease Litigation Committee, made up of 10 community members who have signed confidentiality agreements. At the first meeting Corporate Counsel explained details of the lawsuits. At the second meeting, there was discussion about keeping the community better informed. One way to do that is via a special website due to launch in the near future.

Finally, in his Lake Lease presentation, Levine disputed “five facts” he says have been put forth by EVMWD to scare Canyon Lake residents.

Board Meeting Protocol

In light of what took place at the August 4 Board meeting and what he has seen take place at Board meetings since he began working for Canyon Lake, Corporate Counsel Levine provided a formal presentation on “Board Meeting Protocol.” He went over the four types of meetings held by homeowner associations and answered the following questions:

Who attends the meetings?

Who gets to vote at the meetings?

What can be discussed at the meetings?

How are issues/items added to the agenda?

Who gets to debate issues/items on the agenda?

What role does the General Manager play at meetings?

What role does General Counsel play at meetings?

He answered the above questions for each of the four types of meetings: Executive Session, Board Meeting, Membership Meeting and Town Hall Meeting. In his own professional way, Levine made it clear that there has been a pattern of inappropriate behavior on the part of community members at regular session Board meetings since he began attending four or five years ago. “There needs to be civility,” he said.

As defined by Civil Code 4090, a board meeting is “a congregation of the board to hear, discuss or deliberate upon any item of business that is within the authority of the board.” In other words, Levine explained, Canyon Lake’s Board meetings are for the Board to conduct the business of the Association. They are not for the members to direct the Board members.

Levine further explained how members are invited to participate. Civil Code 4930 allows members to talk about non-agenda items, but it forbids a Director to make decisions about non-agenda items. He says, “If you raise an issue not on the agenda, the Board and its agents cannot answer it with action! That is the law. They are not being rude. They are not ignoring you. They cannot respond – that is the law.”

(Levine did not make reference to the August 4 Board meeting; however, the implication was there that it was inappropriate for members at that meeting to demand that Directors put the Main Gate Project to a vote of the members.)

Main Gate Project

With regard to the Main Gate Project, Levine gave a brief summary of the Board’s decision to take the matter to a judge for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In this way, it will be determined through arbitration whether or not the Board’s decision to approve the project violates Canyon Lake Bylaws. The Board contends the project falls within the limit of $800,000 that can be spent on a project without taking it to a vote of the people. Opponents say the cost of the project exceeds what is allowed in the Bylaws.

The Board agrees to abide by the judge’s decision. Members who opposed the project on monetary grounds may contact General Manager Christopher Mitchell to learn how to get involved in the ADR.

Other Business

In other business at the September 8 Board of Directors meeting, the meeting opened with a presentation of certificates to the coaches and players of the Canyon Lake Little League Double A and Junior teams who won the Tournament of Champions and All Star Tournament.

Following this presentation, Director Ted Horton read a letter of apology on behalf of the Board for its inadequate response in light of improper remarks made by President Dave Eilers at the August 4 Board meeting. Ted reminded listeners that Dave had relinquished his position as president, made a public apology in The Friday Flyer and paid a fine. “The penalty was proper; it’s time to move on. We hope the community agrees,” Ted said.

Next up, Mark Norton, Administrator of the Lake Elsinore and San Jacinto Watershed Authority (LESJWA), gave a presentation on the alum treatments. He provided an overview of how the alum works and observable results thus far. The information was not as in-depth as what was expected to be presented at the public outreach meeting this past Wednesday at City Hall.

The fifth and final alum treatment in this series is scheduled to take place September 21 to 24 and will involve 18 tanker trucks of liquid alum: 13 for the Main Lake and five for the East Bay. The fourth alum treatment in April focused entirely on the East Bay.

Corporate Counsel Scott Levine was next with the presentations mentioned above.

The Board then passed its Consent Agenda and moved on to its one Board Agenda Item (BAI): election of officers. The results are as follows: President Bruce Yarbrough, Vice-President Doug Gordon, Treasurer Dave Eilers, Secretary Ted Horton and Director Eric Spitzer.

From that point forward, the new President took over and the Board listened to Architectural Appeals, followed by Member Comments, Public Official Comments, Staff Comments and, finally, at about 10 p.m., Board comments.

Although the hour was late, President Bruce Yarbrough did take a few moments to express the Board’s disappointment that it would have to put construction of the Tennis Building on hold. He said the Association had already spent $113,000 on plans, survey, engineering, potholing, etc. and that the lowest bid for construction was $620,000. (Just $350,000 has been budgeted.)

He said the construction portion of the bid was normal, but the site preparation put the overall project at more than $700,000, which isn’t acceptable for the small building. He said the Board now is looking at other alternatives.

Bruce also reported that there is a “golf outreach group” that is working on a marketing plan to sell outside memberships at the Golf Course. “A lot of people are working hard on this,” he said.

In his comments, Director Eilers thanked member Doug Schultz, a professional concert promoter, for volunteering his time to bring about the recent Johnny Lee and David Cook Concerts. Dave says the concerts were “a huge success and great for the community.”

Director Horton thanked attendees for their support and civility at the meeting. He thanked Scott Levine and Chris Mitchell for their guidance. And he invited members to contact Recreation Committee Chair Dale Welty if they have suggestions for parks and recreation.

At the late hour, Director Eric Spitzer said his comment would be a motion to adjourn.

Due to technical difficulties, the September 8 meeting wasn’t available for viewing as of press time; however, it’s expected it will be available soon (if not already) at www.canyonlakepoa.com.

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Sharon Rice