Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Apology and Last Thoughts

Survey Confusion:  At the HOA meeting tonight, it dawned on me that the crux of all of the dissension for the past several months has circled around one major point of confusion:  what the survey is actually about.  I apologize for not recognizing this sooner and trying to make the purpose of the survey clearer.

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. 

Joyce Wycoff 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

HOA Wins; Residents Lose

Sometimes the workings of democracy aren't pretty.  Sometimes the good guys lose.  But it's always hard to watch a contest that's fixed going in.  And, that's what it looked like yesterday as the Board of Supervisors devoted almost five hours to listening to the voices of both sides of the conversion survey issue and then made a decision that was pretty much a forgone conclusion.


If you would like to watch yesterday's proceedings, go to:



What was won; What was lost.

The Win:  The Mesa Dunes HOA Board has been fighting conversion since the results of the survey of support were known.  They won by convincing the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors that they never actually approved of the survey form.  The fact that the HOA Board showed every sign of approving the survey … including approving of it and asking for an additional week to complete it in a meeting of about 150 residents … didn't seem to matter much.  There was a lot of dancing on the head of a legal pin in an effort to get to the outcome that both the HOA Board and the Board of Supervisors seemed to be trying to get to from the beginning.

Tom Casparian, Gilchrist & Rutter's litigation attorney, laid out the timeline of the early days of the conversion process in a step-by-step, day-by-day way that made a compelling case showing that it was not the form of the survey that the HOA Board objected to … it was the results.  Why they were so determined to use the survey to sink the conversion is a question that will be explored a little later.

The Loss:  Residents who would like to stop their ever-increasing space rents and enjoy the full benefits of owning California coastal real estate probably will not be able to do so anytime in the foreseeable future.

Lower income residents will not have the benefit of lower rates of space rent increases that would have been offered by conversion.

Seniors over-80 have lost a space rent cap that would have allowed them to live out their days in the park with only a 1% per year rent increase (capped at no more than $100 more than their current rent).

The goodwill actions of park owners who were motivated by pride as well as money and have historically not raised rents by the maximum allowed in leases, paid for water as part of space rent and did not charge for capital improvements such as the $100K (approximately) recently spent on redoing the streets in the park.

Bottom line:  Before yesterday's ruling, the park had the opportunity to gradually, over time, convert to a resident-owned park where, instead of ever-escalating space rents, owner-residents would benefit from the rising real estate market.  Think about this … zillow.com predicts a 6.9% market increase for zip code 93420 for the coming year.  If conversion had gone through and a resident paid $175,000 for his or her lot … within one year that lot would be worth $187,075.  California coastal real estate is always a good bet … but let's say that the rate of market increase drops to 5% a year … in 5 years, that lot could be worth $227,000. (We'll look at the other side of that equation below in the "And, What Now?" section.

What Happened? And, What Now?

In spite of the fact that 166 residents cast their vote in the original survey (56% of the park) and 99 of those responses supported the conversion (59% of responses, 1/3 of total park), the Board of Supervisors decided that the survey did not meet the legal requirement of having been done "in agreement" with the HOA and thus deemed the conversion application "incomplete."  Since the conversion cannot proceed until the application is deemed complete, this action effectively shut down the conversion.

Quantity over Quality:  One extremely disappointing action taken by Supervisor Caren Ray early in the meeting was a count of support.  The people supporting the HOA position had yellow tags that said "HOA" while the people supporting the conversion wore a yellow tag that said "No Survey Redo."  Supervisor Ray asked people who wore the yellow "HOA" tag to raise their hands and did a mental count and they asked the people who wore the yellow "No Survey Redo" tags to raise their hands.

That may sound sort of fair and logical … but there was a problem.  The HOA Board, supported by GSMOL had invited residents from other parks to come and pack the room.  It's an old tactic and it worked perfectly.  I didn't do a count but my guess is that there were probably 50 "HOA" tags and 20 "No Survey Redo" tags.  However, it looked like at least half of the HOA tags were worn by non-residents.

What was even more disappointing about this action was that we had asked before the meeting started to have the non-residents identified because it was obvious that the room was packed.  This was a resident issue and packing the room was just another display of the bullying mindset that seems to drive the HOA Board.

A note about the lawyers:  Tom Casparian is Gilchrist & Rutter's litigation attorney. He doesn't look or act like the stereotype of a litigation attorney … more like someone you'd want for your best friend (or lawyer)… smart, funny, kind and extremely organized.  His presentation was factual, detailed and arbitrarily condensed by the Board of Supervisors' decision to give each presenting lawyer only 10 minutes to make their cases, while leaving almost two hours for comments from the public.  This didn't make a whole lot of sense since most of us who constituted the public comment section didn't fully grasp the intricacies of the laws involved.  I would have much rather had our public comment time more strictly limited and given to the two lawyers.  Politically this probably made sense … especially if the Board of Supervisors had already made up their minds and did not need to be reminded of pesky facts.

Will Constantine, who was hired by the HOA Board about the time that they realized the survey results weren't what they wanted, is a tall, attractive man with a compelling presence.  However, he was nervous, bumbling and disorganized in his presentation.  He didn't make a case, he rambled around a lot, messed up some names and dates and, generally, did not impress. I've read his rambling, redundant letters to the lawyers and to the Board of Supervisors and his presentation style is similar to his writing style.

And, What Now?

We don't know what the owners' will decide.  However, there seems to be four main possibilities:

1.  Litigation.  Tom Casparian is a litigation attorney  he presented the owners' side of the case in a way meant to convince the Board of Supervisors  if they could be persuaded  and in a way that set the case up for the possibility of future litigation if need be.
Possible effect on residents.  I wanted to know what happens if this case goes to court and, unfortunately, there is a lot of history to guide future predictions.  Had the conversion been approved, it would still be a good 2-3 years before the actual conversion happened.  With litigation now a strong possibility, you could tack on another 3 years to that easily … some cases have dragged on for 8-10 years. Using the numbers generated above and taking a conservative estimate of 5-6 years, yesterday's decision could cost the average resident who wants to buy their lot $50,000 (instead of lot prices being an average of $175,000, they could start at $225,000 because of the market fluctuation in all the time spent litigating this pin-prick issue of how the survey was done.) 
Interestingly, in all the past litigations between Will Constantine and Gilchrist & Rutter, the winning track record belongs to Gilchrist & Rutter.  The courts listen to facts and case law rather than counting the number of yellow tags in a room.  So this option will most likely waste a lot of taxpayer money … and HOA member money … and, eventually get to the result that should have been reached yesterday:  that the survey was indeed approved by the HOA Board and the form of the survey followed the law.  I hate waste.
2.  New Survey.  The owners could decide to do a new survey and some of the Supervisors seemingly ingenuously asked, "Why not just do a new survey?"  It sounds like an innocent and simple step.  Just send out a new survey, get the new results and mush on.  However, you have to go back to the fact that the HOA Board has to approve the survey.  If you keep in mind that the intent of the HOA Board is to stop this conversion so that they can negotiate a new conversion more like Sunrise Terrace (Jeff McAllister has been saying this for months in many different forms and specifically at the last HOA Meeting), you get a glimpse of how hard it might be to get an agreement for the form and method of a new survey.
Possible effect on residents:  Back in the beginning of the conversion process, just a few days after the first public meetings held by Susy Forbath, Jeff McAllister showed up at my door wanting me to sign a petition.  I thought it strange since the process as described by Susy seemed like a slow winding through the legal processes with a multitude of protections and hoops that the owners had to follow in order to be able to sell lots.  I didn't know why Jeff McAllister seemed so excited about the process although I now have a conclusion which I will discuss later. 
That petition launched a series of door-to-door canvassing, which some residents have described as intimidating and harassing, hostile meetings featuring misinformation and documentable lies.  If a new survey is launched, I cannot imagine that the HOA Board will simply allow the new survey to be taken in a peaceful, hands-off fashion.  It is their right to lobby for their side of the case and I believe they will use that right extensively.  However, if history is indicator, they will also use it as an opportunity to make up whatever lies they need to convince people that the sky is falling.
Unless a survey could be done in a "no-canvassing" zone (for all sides), I think hostility in the park will only go up.
3.  New Owner. The owners could decide to sell the park as a whole to a new park owner.  Hedge funds are getting into this area … especially now that real estate prices are on the rise.  However, hedge funds have one objective:  profit. And, how do park owners raise their profits … maximize income (increase space rents, pass along utilities and capital improvement assessments), minimize expenses (reduce maintenance and capital improvements).
Possible effects on residents: Most of us are on leases.  I was surprised to read in my lease that the owner has the right to assess me for capital improvements.  My guess is that your lease might say the same thing.  However, our present owners have not passed along assessments for capital improvements.  A new owner might not even make the improvements … or would likely pass along the assessments for them. 
My lease calls for a 4% annual rent increase but the owners did not take the full increase this year and apparently haven't for several years.  A new owner most likely would maximize the legal increase rates. In ten years, my $950 space rent will be $1,406 and in twenty years it will be $2,081. Instead of having the opportunity to own an appreciating piece of real estate, I am now stuck with escalating space rent and since my Social Security will not go up as fast as my space rent, the writing on the wall says I need to start thinking about moving.
4.  Same Owners; Different Mindset.  The owners could decide to keep the park and change the way they run it, implementing all the changes made in #3 and just maximizing their own profits.  This would be an excellent strategy on their part.  In a rising real estate market, they would not only make more operating income, they would have a appreciating real estate asset.  The longer they keep it, the more it's worth.
Thank you, Board of Supervisors, for protecting us so well!
Why, HOA Board? … What drove you to lead us here?

Many of us have talked endlessly about this question of the Board's motivation and it's the question that has driven me to write way too many words and spend way too much of my time on this issue.

I understand some of the past issues that have caused many people to dislike park conversions.  There are bad examples of park owners trying to break rent control.  There are conversions that went bad because they were launched in the midst of one of the most significant economic crises in decades … where jobs evaporated, banks failed, credit dried up, the real estate market tanked, the stock market was decimated and confidence plummeted.  I understand being cautious about this change.  

However, to me, that means looking at the facts and discovering what it would take to make all the residents safe.  The park owners handed us a conversion offer that went above and beyond the legal requirements.  As I delved deeper and deeper into the legal and financial aspects of conversion, I found a few things that would make it better and safer and began to talk to Susy Forbath about possibilities.  It quickly became apparent that they were willing to talk about options.

What I also found along the way were conversions that are giving residents exactly what they want … the opportunity to get out of ever-escalating space rents and gain the benefits of market appreciation in their homes. It became clear that conversion can be safe and beneficial.  So, where did the Mesa Dunes conversion go so wrong?

It takes a leader.

Jeff McAllister is a leader.  He is a big, strong guy with passion and energy.  He and his wife Cathy own a lovely home with a garage on a prime, ocean-view lot.  As Board directors began resigning with the increasing hostility of conversion, Jeff got himself appointed to the board and began to be the face of the HOA Board.

From the beginning he has talked about wanting to "stop *this* conversion" which didn't make a lot of sense to me because *this* conversion was the only one being offered to us.  We might be able to negotiate some better terms, but I didn't see the owners saying that if we didn't like this conversion, we could opt for a different one.

It wasn't until the last HOA meeting that I began to get a glimmer of what might be driving him. At that meeting, he stated that he wanted to get a new survey so he could better negotiate with the owners and create a new conversion more like the co-op form of Sunrise Terrace.  Now, Sunrise Terrace is similar to Mesa Dunes in size and amenities and their share prices (the equivalent of lots) are $200,000.  This seemed strange to me because I've been using Sunrise Terrace as the prime basis for estimating what our lot prices would most likely be for months and Jeff has said that they are not a comparable park and has indicated that he will be able to negotiate a much better lot price (mentioning the figure $65,000 in some of his small group meetings).

Why all of a sudden is Sunrise Terrace the model?  It is true that it was a "resident-led" conversion, a term that is repeated frequently as if it is the most important aspect of the conversion, when actually Sunrise Terrace is a more complicated form of co-operative, that does not create separate pieces of real-estate that are treated like regular, single-family homes by bankers.

The light dawns … finally.  One major difference between Sunrise Terrace and the proposed Mesa Dunes conversion is in how lot prices are fixed.  In the Mesa Dunes conversion process, each lot would be assessed individually and priced according to size, location, views, and so on.  In the Sunrise Terrace model, every resident pays the same price regardless of differences in lots.

In the Sunrise Terrace model, ocean view lots are the same price as back-of-the park lots.  What might this mean in Jeff and Cathy's situation?  They have a large lot because of their garage and also have that prime, ocean view.  They could easily have the most expensive lot in the park.  If the average lot price turned out to be $175,000, the McAllisters would pay a higher price … perhaps as much as $225,000. (This all pure speculation, of course.) Could that difference of tens of thousands of dollars really be what drives Jeff?  

I sure hate to think so, but I can't find any other rational reason why he has fought this so hard, why he has been so willing to lie … even spreading lies that can be easily documented and refuted.  (For a brief list of lies, see the post: Stop the Lies … Please! 

I'm sure Jeff is now planning his new conversion with cheap lot prices … cheap lot prices that are all the same, view or no view … and celebrating the win.  I only have one remaining question … has he forgotten that the park owners still own the property?  Well, actually a second remaining question … what makes him think that the owners would ever talk to him about this fairy-tale, "resident-led" conversion?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stop the Lies ... Please!

Tuesday, February 4th, the SLO County Board of Supervisors will make a major decision regarding conversion … they will decide whether the original survey of support  was valid or a new one should be done.  This decision will dramatically impact the future of the conversion.

ATTEND THE MEETING: If you want the choices conversion offers, 
the Board of Supervisors needs to hear about YOUR voice. 
Come to the meeting on February 4th at 1:00 pm and speak up 
or at least let them know that you want the option 
and do not believe a new survey would solve any problems (which it won't).

YOUR VOICE COUNTS: Right now, the irrational voices are shouting loudly 
and the Supervisors think they represent everyone in the park.  They don't.

RIDES AVAILABLE: If you want a ride or more information, please call 
Joanne Mancarella to join us for lunch at 11:00 am Tuesday.

EMAIL IF YOU CAN'T ATTEND: If you can't go to the meeting, you can still 
send an email stating your position but it must be received by Monday, Feb 1.
Email me at jwycoff@me.com and I'll send you the format
preferred by the Supervisors.

******* Just as a refresher *******

The Survey: 166 people responded to the original survey and 99 said they supported the process.  And, regardless of what the HOA Board now says, they approved the survey.  A lot of us were in the meeting room when Susy asked if there was a Board quorum present and if the Board approved the format of the survey.  The Board said yes and asked for an extra week so people could respond. No objections were registered.

This is NOT a "forced conversion."  The HOA Board loves to use the words "forced conversion" as if there were a gun at someone's head forcing them to buy their lots.  Purchasing your lot is completely optional!  It gives those who want to buy the option and leaves everyone else in basically the same position they are now … with some lower income folks and over-80 residents actually in a better rent condition.

What happens if a new survey is NOT needed?  This doesn't mean that the conversion is approved … it means the process moves to the next step and we have the opportunity to negotiate better terms. (There are two more things I want to ask for that would make this conversion truly attractive to all. It is far less likely that we will get these additional benefits if the owners are forced to go to court or do a new survey.)

What happens if new survey IS required? We don't know what the owners might decide … they could take the issue to court and spend a ton of money in legal fees … they could delay the conversion for a number of years (at which time real estate prices would undoubtedly be even higher than they are now) … they could decide to sell to a hedge fund that would run the park in a way that would maximize their profits … they might even decide to do the new survey (however, with the flood of misinformation that has been poured into the park by the HOA Board, this is not likely.)

                                           ******* STOP THE BULLIES *******

In any important change, there are differences of opinions.  Discussing those differences leads to better outcomes for everyone.

That is not what has happened here in the park.  The HOA Board has been hijacked by some very loud and self-interested individuals who have proceeded to bully anyone who disagreed with them.  Their record is almost incredible …
  • They have refused to meet in any sort of open forum when invited by Supervisor Caren Ray.
  • They have sabotaged one public meeting through hostile calls to invited experts.
  • They have lied about their ability to get a "fair" price for the lots and claimed they could get a ridiculous price that has no relationship to the actual market or what any expert or professional would say is fair.
  • They have lied about my role in this process, calling me a "plant" of the lawyers and saying that I was being paid or getting my lot for free. (Not true.)
  • They have lied about what Richard Laxton at Murphy Bank said.
  • They have lied about the space rent benefit for seniors over-80 being "age discrimination."
  • They have lied about the impact of conversion on the value of our homes. (Look at Knollwood or any other area park that has converted.) They actually put this lie in print saying that "everyone would lose an average of $100,000 or more on their homes."
  • They have lied on television about people "fleeing the park." (Sales numbers and prices have changed little over the past 3 years and one unit just sold in 3 days for full price.)
  • They have lied about what would happen to rents, waving scary "market rate" rent numbers in the air like a red flag when few … if any … residents would be effected by "market rate," which over half the park is already at.
  • They have attacked and lied about Susy Forbath, Richard Close, the owners,  John Wallace, me, the office staff, the park maintenance people, the bankers, the area real estate professionals and probably others I don't know about.
How many "they lieds" does it take before we realize these people 
are bullies and not worthy of our trust???

There's only one way to stop bullies … stand up to them, join forces in rejecting lies, find out the truth … and speak up to the Board of Supervisors who are being led to believe these same lies … and thinking they represent everyone in the park.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What Are the Facts? #3 "They're Giving them Away!"

Decision Tree
Once more the HOA Board is playing fast and loose with numbers and facts.  At last night's meeting, they said that there have been "40 home sales in the past year … more than ever before."  That part is almost true -- there were 25 sales in 2013, however there were 23 in 2012 (I guess that takes it out of the realm of even "almost true."  Do they ever bother to even look at actual reports?)

Fallacy: Residents are "giving their units away."

Where the HOA Board's message really went off base, however, was when they said that the reason there are so many sales is because the conversion has scared the residents so badly that they are "giving their units away." 

I have been following park sales closely to try to determine what effect, if any, conversion is having on sales and sales prices.  I knew what the HOA Board was saying wasn't true as of October, 2013, but I wanted to make sure nothing had changed since then so I asked for a new set of official sales reports*.  I'll update this post as the 2014 sales are available.

Here's an interesting breakdown:

Year          Total Sales          High          Low       Average
2012                  23               200,000     22,500       82,124
2013                  25               142,000     30,000       75,722     
2013 AC*          16               142,000     30,000       82,950                                      

AC* - After Conversion - In other words 16 of the 25 sales made in 2013 were made after 7/1/2013 when buyers were informed of conversion.  Those sales had the low for the year as well as the high but the average sale price was actually somewhat higher than pre-conversion and the difference between 2012 and 2013 was minimal. 

At this point, I don't see that conversion is having much of an impact at all on sales, quantity or price.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, for a sale to take place, there is a seller and a buyer.  I've talked to a lot of the residents who purchased after the conversion was announced and they seem to be quite excited about the possibility of buying their lots, and for some it was a major consideration in making their purchase decision.

* Thanks Connie Winstead who reminds me that the numbers do not reflect "Sale by Owners" but says those are very rare.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Meetings

Last sunset of 2013
HOA Meeting Tuesday, 1/14/2014, 6:30 pm, upper clubhouse.  Maybe we'll hear some of the results of the committee meetings Jeff McAllister was hosting in December. 

Board of Supervisors Meeting, Tuesday, February 4, 9:00 a.m., 1055 Monterey St., Room #D170.  This is a public meeting focused on the conversion survey.

The question I've asked for months is:  what would a new survey accomplish? 

The only answer I can come up with is that it's just a way to stop the conversion.  However, since 166 of us seemed to understand the survey well enough to complete it, I don't understand why our votes are going to be tossed aside. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Are the Facts #2: The Space Rent Limit for Over-80 Residents Is Real! … or Was!

Just another January day at the beach.
I've had a number of residents ask me about the space rent limit for over-80 residents.  They report being told that it's "not real because it's not in writing." Or it's "not real because it's age discrimination so it would never hold up in court."

Balderdash!

#1.  Susy Forbath put this policy in writing in a green sheet she put out to all residents in the tubes on November 19, 2013.  (See below for verbatim wordage.)

#2.  If this is age discrimination, the same goes for McDonalds, the movies and every other business that offers senior discounts. (Some start at 55, some at 62, 65 or some other threshold determined by the business.)

#3.  In order for this not to "stand up in court," someone would have to sue.  What kind of a person would try to take away a benefit such as this from a senior citizen?  It would have to be a resident of this park to have any hopes of claiming "damages."  I don't think so … to at least I sure hope this isn't something that one of our neighbors would do.

Here's the statement that came out from Susy on  Gilchrist & Rutter stationery, November 19, 2013:
If approved by SLO County before January 1, 2014 and no appeal to the County is filed, starting the month after County approval, space rent for any resident homeowner 80 years of age or older at the time at the time of conversion will be increased by no more than 1% per year, not to ever exceed a compounded increase of more than $100 during the length of tenancy.
Officially … since the HOA and their lawyer appealed the conversion and succeeded in convincing the County to deem the application incomplete because of questions about the survey of support … this benefit to seniors is off the table.

However, conversations with Susy Forbath indicate that, if the application is deemed complete by the County, it will be reinstated.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Let Us Remember

Remembering
On this day, chosen to celebrate the birth of a child of wisdom, a day that grew big enough to include people of all lands and all faiths into a universal embrace of peace and goodwill, let us remember.

Let us remember the lonely who are far from loved ones; let us remember those who are no longer with us but touched us with their love and spirit; let us remember the sick and injured and those who sacrifice this day of celebration to care for them; let us remember all who left a piece of themselves on a foreign battlefield; let us remember those who have no homes filled with lights and ribbons and bows tied around bright bits of love and joy; let us remember the hungry and hopeless; let us remember all who stand just outside the warmth of all Hallmark moments.

Today I celebrate with a woman who spent last year alone in a wheel chair, wondering if she would walk again, wondering if life was worth the effort, and a man who recently lost his wife and finds this time more bitter than sweet.  Together we will watch the story of a man who lost himself in fantasy and remind ourselves to remember sweet times and be grateful for the beauty of this day and the gift of living it.

Let us take this time to remember ... and re-member our spirits, our bodies, our communities and our world.