Let's, for the moment, put aside how the survey was done and the "he said/she said" and just look at why it is a requirement in the first place.
At the beginning of a conversion process, the owner has no idea whether or not the residents are interested in the possibility of owning their lots. The survey is the mechanism for letting residents indicate their interest in the POSSIBILITY of buying and the POSSIBLE rent protections offered by conversion. If the survey shows that the residents do not like the general offer that proceeds the survey, the owner moves on to a different way of selling the park … or changes the offer. If he feels like there is sufficient interest, he proceeds with a lengthy and expensive process of mapping, appraising and assessing the health of the park.
The owners believed that the original survey here indicated sufficient interest, so they proceeded to assemble the application and information required to go forward. Then they hit the snag at the planning commission and you know the rest.
One resident tonight summarized it well … the owners will either decide to do a new survey, go to court or find a different way to sell the park. Only they know what they will do. However, consenting to do a survey with an HOA Board that has fought them every step of the way looks like a rocky road to no where. The courts have ruled on issues like this before and generally rule in favor of the park owners. Who knows whether they will do so again.
The Board wants a new survey with a Yes/No question. That's fine.
However, YES does NOT mean you want to buy your lot. You can't want to buy your lot, you don't know the price … plus it's not for sale. It can't be for sale until is is mapped, appraised and goes through all the bureaucratic rigamarole.
What YES does mean is that you support the lengthy, highly-regulated process of developing a reasonable lot price, determining the health of the park, making sure that rent protections are in place to protect the people who are not interested in buying their lots. YES means that you think in the long-run, conversion would be a good option for the park … even if you never buy your lot.
NO, of course means you do not support that process. NO, also means that … if there are enough of you … that there will be no conversion, no residents buying their lots, no seniors over-80 getting their rent capped, no lower-income residents enjoying a lower rate of increase on their space rent, no resident control of their own individual situations and the overall control of the park. With conversion, eventually this would have been a resident-owned and resident-controlled park.
As long as this confusion exists, a new survey has little chance of succeeding and I highly doubt that the owners would offer another survey when people still don't understand what YES or NO means in this context. And, in the general tone of the past few meetings I've attended, I would not expect the HOA Board to take leadership in helping to relieve this confusion.
Here's what I still don't understand. Tonight a lot of board members and the audience said they wanted to buy their lots and yet by fighting so diligently … and successfully … they may have sunk the chance they said they wanted.
Negotiation. Had the application been deemed complete, the owners were ready to listen to the thoughts that came out of the ideas committee … as well as the list that the Residents for a Collaborative Conversion had come up with. Between all of us, I think we could have created a revised conversion offer that would have made everyone happy. I don't know what all the committee came up with but I do know that the RCC had developed a plan addressing the two main fear points: the range of prices and the necessity to sell the lot with units after conversion. We could have done so much that it almost breaks my heart that we didn't get a chance.
Deeming the application incomplete because of the survey has put the owners between a rock and a hard place and they only have one ally … the rising local real estate market over time. The longer the conversion is stalled, the more their property is worth. These same factors are the enemy of all of us residents as it means that we will pay even more for our lots if conversion ever does take place and continue to pay escalating space rents in the meantime … and maybe forever if conversion never happens.
If litigation goes 5 years (and often does), the value of the owners' property could easily be worth 25-30% more than it is today (individual lot prices will go up accordingly); at the same time space rent will be at least 20% higher. With conversion you might have had an option to control your financial destiny; without it you're living in a beautiful park with an escalating space rent, period.
Leaving the park. There has been talk of people fleeing the park because of the fear of conversion. The official real estate records do not support that allegation. However, since last Tuesday, 3 residents have told me that they will have to leave the park… I know that is a fact since I am one of them and I listed my home today. Sign will be up soon.
Mesa Dunes is a great, well-maintained park and I did not want to leave. I feel like I have failed the park in not clarifying the issues well enough to relieve the fear. For that I am truly sorry. What I wanted when I started this blog was to help calm the fear and confusion over the issues and provide a common area space for the facts.
I've enjoyed delving into the intricacies and laws of this complex process and making so many good friends in the park. I wish I had understood the depth of the confusion about the survey sooner ... since 166 people completed it and 99 said "yes," I, like the owners, thought that meant enough residents wanted the benefits that the process of conversion would bring to the park. I did not expect the backlash that followed.
I think a resident-owned park could have been a good thing; however, life will go on … we will return to normal … walk our dogs … play with our grandchildren … watch the beautiful sunsets. But a lot has been lost in these past few months. Perhaps the interim between now and when the owners decide what path they will follow will give us time to regain our peace and equilibrium.