Some Changes, Some Prompt, “What Are They Thinking?”

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Some Changes, Some Prompt, “What Are They Thinking?”

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  • #6689
    Rana Goodman
    Keymaster

    Let’s start with a change over at the Real Estate Division:

    Nevada Real Estate Division (NRED) for anyone that has issues with the way their HOA is run, and/or needing information of Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 116) laws which apply to HOA’s.  Charvez Foger, the Ombudsman for the last four years, now has been promoted to Deputy Administrator. Our new Ombudsman for all of Clark County is Jason O. Wyatt. He will be leading the charge of assisting homeowners and board members of HOA’s (common interest communities) to better understand their rights and obligations.


    I’m sure most of you are now aware of Anthem Council:

    The Council has raised the “contribution” amount for each of the communities in Anthem that share the expense of maintaining the landscape in the Anthem loop. SCA pays the largest portion since the share is based on the amount of homes in each community.

    I have always liked 90% of the look of both Sun City Anthem Drive as well as the route I normally drive, Anthem Parkway. However I have to ask “what are the members of the Council thinking when they start permitting the new landscape company to rip out dozens of healthy trees and plants in the center median, thus leaving nothing but barren rocks in their stead. This is the new look you can “enjoy” as you pass the fire station and reach Atchley Drive all the way up to Merrimack Valley drive going into Black Mountain Village.

    Continuing on Anthem Parkway towards Albertson’s,  you will notice many, many, MANY weeds among the landscape. Perhaps the new landscape company thinks they are just desert tolerant plants. Some might say that the trees and many plants were deemed dead and dying, but this was NOT the case with what was removed, I pass that area many times a week and once upon a time, I loved the look of our community….. not so much these days! I don’t know about you, but I would like to see two things completed, shake-up the way the council operates and change the members of  Anthem Council board entirely, and obtain input from the communities that pay the bills.

    ____________________________________________________

    Next let’s talk a little about the legal counsel for SCA.

    I have made no secret of my disdain for the current attorney,  Adam Clarkson, so I was thrilled to learn that request for a new counsel ad been sent out. In reading the board book I noticed that Adam Clarkson came in third place out of the proposals received, and yet in spite of that, it seems he will be retained over number one and two, John Leach and Michael Schulman, an HOA specialist with 40 years experience.

    As a point of interest, when I was on the board, I asked why SCA paid Adam Clarkson for board training since NRED provided it free of charge. The president at that time, Candace Karrow, told me that he didn’t charge for the training but I later discovered that he most assuredly does. There are many other reasons I was thrilled to learn a search for new counsel was under way and sufficed to say, thank you to Forrest Quinn for voting not to retain Clarkson.  To the rest of the board, I hope as the year progresses, you WILL RETHINK THAT POOR DECISION.

    #6694
    Dick
    Participant

     

    How does  #3 get the job as Adam Clarkson did?

    Just another example of group who refuses to acknowledge past mistakes, accepts them as “that’s the way it has always has been done”,  and is afraid of change.

    The Board owes the community a full explain of the reason why the #3 was chosen over the other two?

    Next up will be Seddon’s contract.

    What’s that going to cost us? $350,000 per year?

    Are bids going to be prepared for this position that only a few years ago, was brought to the attention of the community that her income FAR EXCEEDED any comparable individual?

    Perhaps a visit from a 2018 might be in order:

     

    #6695
    MARCIA KOSTERKA
    Keymaster

    The old adage consistently comes to mind: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. Let us look at the composition of the current board.

    1. NEW BOARD MEMBERS.

    The onus is on them to become familiar with the questionable financial history of our community which has had more than its fair share of mistakes and wasteful spending.

    2. COMPOSITION OF THE BOARD MEMBERS.

    a. Some members ignore the homeowners and make decisions solely based on selfishness laced with the selfish belief “I want what I want when I want it”.

    b. Some members make decisions based on “going along to get along” and due to their lack of relevant experience, are afraid to express how they really feel from fear of being ostracized by fellow board members.

    c. Some board members fully accept the legal counsel’s opinions without question, believing that
    he is the epitome of knowledge, disregarding the fact that these opinions may well be flawed.

    Some time ago, I suggested they any board should investigate placing legal counsel on a retainer.
    This will enable them to control expenses, not have that person there all the time and charge for
    each and every opinion that comes from them.

    3. WHAT RECOURSE DO HOMEOWNERS HAVE?

    Since the board tends to ignore the fact that WE pay for all their decisions, residents should not
    be forced to financially support another restaurant if the deal is not a fair one for the largest
    segment of the community.

    It is my belief that the overwhelming number of owners who signed the “no restaurant” petitions
    (1400) did so after a complete analysis of the low percentage of success was fully explained.

    The time is long past due to acknowledge that homeowners rights and opinions should also count.

    #6701
    Stephen Anderson
    Participant

    Several comments.  A number of people have commented on the removal of center median plants extending from Atchley and then south past Merrimack Valley on Anthem Parkway.  The removal of the center median plants were done by an order from the City of Henderson to improve line of sight for those trying to turn off or on Anthem Parkway from Red Valley and Merrimack Valley.  For the few areas that SCA was notified about, the work was quickly done.  It has taken Anthem Community Council far longer to do the work and while they have removed a great deal of plant material, it is unclear what they intend to put in its place.  Anything in the center median cannot be more than a maximum of 24 inches in height.

    The second comment pertains to the continuation of the Clarkson Law Group as the SCA general counsel.  While Clarkson did appear as #3 in the Board Book the number does not imply any ranking.  The listing of the law firms that were interviewed were done randomly.  The three groups interviewed were seen as being equal with some different strengths and weaknesses.  The Board interviewed each firm twice and took almost three months of gathering information and discussing the pros and cons of each.

    Several other points.

    Legal opinions, advice and other work are not accepted without any discussion.  There is a great deal of discussion and often we will ask that what has been provided be changed.  Further the board is meeting monthly in person with the general counsel to better communicate.

    Speaking only for myself, I make decisions based upon what I believe will create value for the Association and to minimize legal liability for the Association.  I love living in this community and want to focus on where we need to be going today and in the future.  I value talking and listening to all points of view from residents.  Sometimes I will agree and sometimes not but I will always listen to what people have to say.

     

    #6702
    Dick
    Participant

    My sincere thanks to Steve Anderson for taking the time to respond to this article.   That in itself, is quite rare for a Board President to do; and for that alone, he should be commended.

    I wish he would have gone into greater detail as to the reason he favored The Clarkson Law Group over the other candidates.  His explanation was vague and unfortunately did not cover the relevant points on which any decision was made.

    Just what were the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate on which the final decision was based?

    With that in mind, I would enjoy the opinions of the other Board members on which that voted to retain Clarkson.

    To know the strengths of the Clarkson Law Group on which the decision was made would allow the community to judge for itself if the right decision was made over the length of the agreement.

    Also, how long does the agreement with Clarkson remain in effect?  Was there a contact and will it be published on the Sun City Anthem web site for the community to view?

    Once again, a thanks to Mr. Anderson with  the  hope other members of the Sun City Anthem Board will provide their reasons as well.

     

     

     

    #6704
    Rana Goodman
    Keymaster

    This response is basically for Steve Anderson and the rest of the SCA board of directors:

    I confirmed with the city of Henderson that they mandated the removal of plants/trees that were “blocking “line of sight.” What I don’t know is if the city actually sent someone to Anthem to check the “line of sight” from the center medians themselves.

    The ground cover plants were NOT in excess of the 24 inches high, as “decreed” and the trees were not sufficiently mature as to block line of sight at all.. The ground cover plants were not dead or dying, as are the dandelion like plants that were planted at the corner of Wild Iris and Anthem Parkway… and YES, I have complained about those to every board since Jim Long held the president position. If you don’t believe me when I say the look of that area, and on down Anthem Parkway to Bicentennial is a total mess, take a drive and check it out Tumbleweeds and all.

    I have to ask why, considering the amount of money SCA pays to Anthem Council and our own landscapers we seem to have little or NO oversight to the work they do. If this community were run more like a business perhaps a committee would be assigned that task.

    I would also like to point out that a community like ours, especially in the price range our homes are reselling at, the upkeep of our common grounds would be more in the the forefront. I find it hard to take landscape compliance of our homes seriously when the same is not applied to the landscape companies taking our $$$$ in large amounts.

    With regards to the Adam Clarkson comments, I only know of one other HOA attorney who seems to feel his hire as also a path to “board control”….. Maybe the idea of legal advice and manipulation have become somehow welded together. Personally, were I still on the board my vote would have gone to Michael Schulman.

    #6707
    Stephen Anderson
    Participant

    Hi Rana:

    Sometime, I believe in June representatives from the CoH (police, traffic engineering, and a representative of the Mayor) met with management at SCA.  I sat in as a representative of the Board.  At that time we had a broad discussion regarding a growing concern among residents about traffic and pedestrian safety.  Prior to the meeting, the City of Henderson has conducted a traffic speed study on Anthem Parkway and also did a pedestrian safety enforcement action at Atchely and Anthem Parkway.  At the meeting the CoH representatives said that basically the average traffic speed on Anthem Parkway was less than the posted speed limit and also stated how the parkway had been engineered for a 45 mph speed and that none of our roads coming onto the parkway merited a stop light.  At that meeting I spoke to the line of sight issues at Merrimack Valley and Anthem Parkway and noted an accident the previous week at Red Valley and Anthem Parkway. At that meeting the two representatives from traffic agreed to go out and look at line of sight issues.  In a follow-up email the City Traffic Engineer stated that they were working on maps to provide to SCA and Anthem Council to improve line of sight issues.  Maps were later sent out.  Thus, the city did have staff view the intersections which then lead to a formal study that resulted in maps being prepared indicating where foliage needed to be removed.

    SCA immediately remediated the small sections that we were responsible for.  Anthem Council had the most work to do and after a month from receiving the maps they removed the first section of foliage from the median.  Last week they removed a good bit of it from Merrimack Valley and Anthem Parkway southward.

    While I cannot speak to the height of all of the foliage, I do know (I measured) that much of the growth southward from Merrimack Valley was in excess of 24 inches and even at that point if it still constitutes a line of sight problem according to the city it must be removed.  The trees are fine as long as they do not block the line of sight.  I suspect that to mitigate the liability of Anthem Council after receiving the notice from the city that a decision was made to first remove all of the foliage constituting a line of sight issue.  Without doing so, if someone did have an accident ACC could be sued for negligence in not having removed the growth after being told to do so.  I suspect that more removal will take place on down to Somersworth.

    I certainly agree with you that it looks bad at present and I do not know what the plans are now for those areas.  I would hope that while the plantings are gone, they can replace the aging irrigation lines and controllers.  I am not sure exactly what is taking place with ACC right now as I have heard that their long time staff person from FSR is no longer working with ACC.

    I will ask that our ACC representative have a report at our next SCA Board meeting that will address this issue.  Further please attend the next ACC Board meeting on November 17 at 3 pm in the Solera Clubhouse and make your voices heard.

    Tomorrow, I will make more substantive comments regarding the hiring of Adam Clarkson.  For now I am off to two doctors appointments and then on to UNLV to teach a class.

    #6709
    Stephen Anderson
    Participant

    As I stated yesterday, I would be back today to more fully explain at least my reasons for voting to retain the Clarkson Law Group as the Association’s general counsel.  The Board issued an RFP for a general legal counsel last spring, because a number of board members were not that happy with CLG (I was one of those individuals) and wanted to see if we could find a general counsel more to our liking.  One of the primary issues that I had with CLG was due to what I would describe as poor communication. The RFP went out and from the list of those who submitted proposals, CLG, John Leach, and Michael Shulman were the three firms the Board decided to interview.

    As this process was going on, we had a number of issues arise that required the involvement of our general counsel.  The Board requested that we begin to meet with CLG in person as the Board needed to be clear about the issues.  After meeting with CLG in person, I began to slowly change my mind and began to feel that our relationship had suffered in the past due to unclear communications.  It was the Board not being clear with CLG and also the reverse.  As we met in person and Adam Clarkson began to attend our Executive Sessions, an overall satisfaction began to grow and an appreciation of the depth and documentation of his legal opinions.  What were some of these issues:

    1. Villa issues around the repair of damage done to property by Common Area trees.  We became aware that tree roots were cracking garage floors, patios, driveways and other damage to property.  The Association needed to have legal clarity as to what the owners of the villas are responsible for and what the Association is responsible for.  Since there was no established case law in Nevada about tree root damage, Adam provided a legally well reasoned and researched legal opinion stating that the Association was responsible for the damage from the trees in the Common Areas.
    2. Common Area Block Walls – this is an ongoing issue.  However, with 54 miles of common walls of which some are showing cracks and other damage, it is important that the Association get this issue right.  The first step is to do a thorough inspection of the walls and all of the villages. This will be a multiple year project.  At our next Board meeting, there will be an agenda item to hire a forensic engineering company to complete the inspection of the walls in Black Mountain Village. The next step will be to move forward with a repair of the damaged walls as a test project as to what will guide us forward in the other villages. The legal work here will be to develop a form giving access to residents private property to inspect the walls.  Once the walls are inspected and damaged assessed, the Board then will need to have legal backing for a policy of how payment for the walls will be assessed.
    3. CLG is carrying out a major project regarding the legal structure of service groups, clubs, and committees.  For example, our CC&R’s make no mention of service groups.  This is just one example of where we need to develop a uniform structure that adheres to our CC&R’s and to NRS 116.  Part of this project is to review the proposed club structure developed by CLC.
    4. There also arise on a weekly basis issues that range from HR issues, ADA, and Fair Housing Act questions as well as how we comply with new NRS 116 provisions.

    As time progress on, I began to change my views about CLG and was viewed favorably by other members of the Board.  I also began to see that CLG is a leader in the HOA industry in the state and has taken a leadership role in HOA lobbying and as an appointed industry representative on a state board.  The importance of this leadership was evident in his being proactive for his clients in asking NRED to delay implementation and provide greater clarity about a new provision in NRS 1116 requiring that all Association notices be sent both my USPS mail and by email.  Thus, would we have to stop all eBlasts as it would be cost prohibited to also mail them each week and further the content would be out of date by the time people got them in the mail.

    Thus as time went on I changed my mind and looked at CLG in a favorable light due to satisfaction with his work, vastly improved work, and his leadership at the state level with NRED and HOA regulation.  In fairness to the other companies, John Leach is another leader at the state level and provides sound legal opinions.  Michael Shulman also fits into that mold.  In part all three companies were in their basic manner of doing business fairly equal.  No one firm clear stood out head and shoulders above the other.  So what provided the basis for my vote to retain CLG.

    1. My unfavorable opinions had change over time based on improved communication.  If fact I learned that I had errored in not asking for our legal counsel to meet with us on a monthly basis.  In our interviews with all of the firms this was cited as being usual and customary in working with their clients.  All of the firms interviewed made allowances for the time and rates charged to encourage having them at meetings.
    2. With both John Leach and Michael Shulman, the firms they represent are much bigger firms.  While this can have benefits at times, a concern is who is really doing our work and do those doing the work know all of the bits and pieces of the work being done? How well do the people doing the work know SCA?  With CLG we know who is doing the work, and that those doing the work have great knowledge of SCA.
    3. Conflicts.  One of the issues that was openly discussed especially with John Leach was the potential conflicts as his firm also represented Anthem Country Club and Anthem Community Council.  Certainly he provided clarity that in any dispute between SCA and these entities he would not be able to represent either.  This was not a big issue, but more of a small one but yet moving the needle.
    4. Why change?  A major question for me was that with the improved communication, satisfaction with the legal work, and the amount of issues that we have assigned to CLG with some requiring an ongoing presence, was the cost of moving to another firm. For ongoing projects such as the Villas and the Common Area block walls, this would have necessitated revisiting the work done to date and then confusion if the new firm felt we should go in a different direction. Last, one of the biggest challenges any Board faces is instability and what takes place with the Board electing half of the directors each year.  In my opinion if there were no overwhelming reasons to choose a new firm, then why do so.  Doing so only would result in another change and adjustment that just is not needed now.

    While I realize that CLG is not the favorite of every resident, I see what he does as a result of being directed to do so by the Board.  It is the Board that gives the general counsel his direction or instructions of what the Board wants done.  That can change from Board to Board.  I further find no evidence for the claim that CLG directs the Board on what to do.  When the Board is faced with a decision the Board may ask for a legal opinion.  We will get it, discuss it, perhaps revise it, and change our instructions.  It is then each Director’s fiduciary responsibility to make their decision as to what is then in the best interests of the Association.

    I hope that this helps for readers to better understand at least the basis for my decision to vote to retain CLG as the Association’s general counsel.  The term of the agreement is 5 years.  It is the same as the one we had with him previously.  There is no penalty for terminating the agreement early and either he or the Association can terminate without penalty if notice is given.  We actually issued the RFP with several years left on his existing agreement.

    #6710
    Rana Goodman
    Keymaster

    Good morning Steve,

    First of all I would like to thank you for your in-depth reply to questions we have had here on Anthem Today. It is a first for board interaction with a private blog and it is sincerely appreciated ever if our view points are quite different.

    Let me rebut the Adam Clarkson issue first;  You felt he didn’t try to control the board… Let us hope then that he no longer tells the board to “distance themselves” from another board member because they have the gall to disagree with him, in the not so distant past the board followed that edict like sheep.

    On to the barren median and weed issue. Why do some of the trees now have a red or green band ties around them. If the reason is “line of sight” rather than remove them, they should be regularly pruned from the bottom up. No one looks to the top of a tree to see on-coming traffic. The blossoming trees as one enters MY village has a green ribbon on it, I hope removal is not planned, as it is always beautiful come spring. Where as the pine trees have red ribbons in the median of Anthem Parkway look sick and might need to be replaced.

    You don’t seem to think we have any leverage over Anthem Council using a snail’s pace to replace the ground cover. Since SCA pays more than 50% of the upkeep dollars, I believe we have a lot of clout. The law allows a tenant to withhold rent if the landlord doesn’t repair issues… I see a similar thing between AC and SCA. Taking care of the many weeds and replacing or trimming tall ground cover with low lying vegetation should be quick, low cost and simple. One does not expect to see such un-cared for areas of landscape in a community like ours, frankly I personally find it appalling, more so after returning from the Sun City Summerlin areas.

    I will be taking photographs of the weeds, empty areas of landscape etc. and forwarding them to the board and our AC reps in the next few days, it will be interesting to see if anything is done to correct it. Heck it has only been about ten years that I personally have been ranting about this issue only to have the complaints fall totally on deaf ears. I think it is high time that we elect rather than appoint our two representatives to Anthem Council, maybe then we might see a little change.

    #6712
    Stephen Anderson
    Participant

    One of the major projects for Anthem Council this year has been tree trimming and removal.  The red ribbons on trees mean that they are dying, dead, or severely diseased and are scheduled for removal.  The green ribbons on trees mean that they are healthy trees, but are needing to be trimmed.  Trees with no ribbon mean that they are fine.

    Art Schuetz is the board appointed representative to Anthem Community Council.  Art is viewed as an individual who has moved to chart a path forward in carrying out what needs to be done and has the support of the board.  Larry Orlov is the member-at-large on the ACC.  The member-at-large is selected by the ACC Board.  The individual must be a homeowner of one of the 6 associations making up the ACC.  Larry is a resident of Sun City Anthem, but that position can come from any of the associations.  The Sun City Anthem BoD has nothing to do with his appointment.

    Personally I am very unhappy with the appearance of the medians and the word that little is planned for them in the immediate future.  I believe that the ACC needs to reassess their long term plan for renovation and follow a plan to renovate those areas where all growth has been removed and to reprioritize how they have planned to do the work.  I personally plan on being at the ACC meeting at 3 pm on November 17 at the Solera Clubhouse to express my dismay at their current plan.

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