Candidates discuss greatest challenges facing Association


Tom Nathan, Phil Hawgood, Paul Chenette and Michael Harris have announced their candidacy run for a seat on the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association Board of Directors. The seats currently held by Bruce Yarbrough, Eric Spitzer and Edward “Ed” Horton are up for election on May 11.

The Friday Flyer invited the four candidates to answer a series of questions. Last week, the candidates provided their background and why they wish to serve on the Board. In this week’s Q&A, The Friday Flyer asked the candidates to answer in 400 or fewer words what they believe is the greatest challenge(s) facing the Association at this time and how being elected will make a difference? The candidates are listed in order drawn by official lottery as they will appear on the ballot.


What do you believe is the greatest challenge(s) facing the Association at this time and how will you being elected will make a difference?

Tom Nathan

Tom Nathan

What is the greatest challenge facing the Association today?  Coming out of the Lake Lease litigation?  Upcoming road litigation?  Main gate completion? I believe those are all important items that will be addressed in the coming months, but one of the greatest challenges facing the Association at all times is to have effective financial planning.

It’s common sense that any organization needs to have an annual operating budget. The operating budget is much like a checking account which pays for the services that help carry out the organization’s everyday functions.

In a Property Owners Association, it’s also crucial that reserve budgets are being properly planned for as well. The reserve budget is like a savings account and is used for larger scale projects that don’t occur on an annual basis. Our Association currently funds three of these savings accounts: Repair and Replacement Reserve for all existing POA assets, Road Reserve for all existing POA roads and parking lots and Capital Improvement Project for new development of POA amenities and/or facilities.

It’s important that a reserve study be conducted every few years to assess the current and future funding recommendations as well as forecasted expenditures from each of these funds.

So what is an effective financial plan?  It’s one that supports the overall goals and objectives for Association members as a whole. As you might imagine, 4,800 POA members have widely differing goals or objectives for our Association – which is why I believe effective financial planning to be one of the greatest challenges. Some members would like to see less annual spending and lower dues; others are content with current Association practices; and still others would welcome increases in spending and/or reserve funding to further improve our Canyon Lake community today and in the future.

It’s easy to understand that no matter what financial planning decisions the Board may make, there will always be a group of members who disagree with those decisions. My goal is to minimize the number of members who disagree with all Board decisions. As Director, I will support effective financial planning decisions that are consistent with the interests of what the greatest number of POA members support.

Phil Hawgood

Phil Hawgood

Institution of competitive bidding — For years, when the Board wants to construct a new amenity, the Board creates a sub-committee to broadly define the preferred outcome of the project. From there, the Board then selects a company to prepare a single bid, which is then voted on without alternatives. Instead, I propose that the Board institute a few changes.

First, it is critical that the Board hire an expert to do the research to understand, in detail, the plan of the development and location of the proposed development. Second, once that plan is in place we must find multiple developers to submit bids for the proposed project, so that we can use the competitive process to obtain the best result at the best price.

These bids should be particularly detailed about the cost at every step so that there is complete transparency and accountability. This is the process that I used with great success throughout my real estate development career for the last 30 years and it is generally standard practice in private development industry.

Construction of solar facilities — The Board should adopt a plan to construct solar panel technology across the amenities of the community, such as at the parking lots of the golf course, country club, camp grounds, and maintenance facility. This is important, under one plan, because it could freeze utility rates at today’s rates for up to 20 years, which leads to significant compound savings over years.

Bureau of Land Management’s land — We need to save our open space by monitoring it. Different proposed developments of land owned by the BLM that are occurring outside of the current secure boundaries for the Canyon Lake Property Owners Association. Proper management is essential because a mistake might jeopardize our Property Owners Association status under the Davis Sterling Act, which risks the private status of our community.

Improvement of community amenities — Many of the greatest parts of our community are the amenities that we provide to our residents; however, many of these amenities are useful only part of the year. For example, there is dog park and multiple children’s playgrounds that have almost no shade. As a result, during a typically very hot summer, it is very uncomfortable to use these parks and potentially unsafe.

Paul Chenette

Paul Chenette

I believe the greatest challenge facing the association is the same challenge we have faced for years. Simply put, it is communication. Not being a current member of the board, I believe this question takes getting out and asking members what they think about the state of their community. Many members I have spoken with feel they are not being heard. While listening to these members, they spoke of a wide range issues they would like to see improved. The areas they expressed the most concern with are: security, the front gate and 3 legal costs.

The POA is currently interviewing 12 security companies. The concerns I’ve heard the most by members are gate entry, guard appearance and interaction at the gate. The guards are the first impression visitors get when they enter the community. That interaction must always be cordial and professional. If elected I will have input and a vote on which company gets chosen.

The front gate is a big concern for many members I have spoken with. Appearance was at the top of the list. If elected I will look into what it is going to take to beautify our main entrance.

The lake lease issue was a large part of our escalating costs. It is also my understanding that members were contacting our legal firm. This also increased costs. If elected I will support direct contact to our legal team be done only by or through our general manager and our board of directors.

In an association as large as ours, there will always be issues of some sort. My goal if elected is do everything I can do to support what is best for our Association as a whole.

Michael Harris

Michael Harris

We live in a gated private community and have a higher expectation for the safety of our loved ones. Our most challenging issue is security, not just someone who monitors a switch to open the gates.  One would think that we have “security”, well, we don’t.

Community Patrol is hired to observe and report. Their primary job is to enforce our rules and regulations. The majority of members obey the laws and rules and regulations, but we need to enforce compliance on the few that do not. The criminal element has been increasing almost everywhere. We are a private gated community that needs to secure our homes for our own safety.

There were five people arrested recently for alleged vehicle theft and contents. One individual involved was a resident of Canyon Lake; however not a homeowner. Riverside Sheriff Department suspects this individual arranged entrance for his accomplices. This can be remedied by tighter control when issuing passes. We need to enlist Canyon Lake residents that have the experience in law, fire, and security, to advise us on identifying the loopholes in our current system and how to accomplish closing them.

The second most challenging issue is budgets. We have spent far too much on recent projects. I know that we need oversight on all projects, whether new or upgrading. Our last major project had too many cost overruns and still is not completed; affecting the bottom line and resulting in increased dues. We need to scrutinize each project including the phased billing. When a project is undertaken there is a chance of uncovering an unknown. A contingency should be included with each bid.

I firmly believe a reserve for projects must be established. Raising the dues is not the solution to cover the overages. Where is our plan room with adequate as-builts, (plans documenting every step of the building process)? With accurate plans we can determine what the hidden pitfalls are and prepare for a solution.

I have the experience with over thirty years as a contractor, and eight years as an HVAC and building inspector. I will diligently seek cost savings before we are committed to change orders from contractors.

The POA Board must work as a team to find what is best for the community. I am not claiming to have all the solutions. Together we can work to make our “little bit of paradise” even greater.