As a member of the now-disbanded Bylaws Revision Committee (BRC), I voiced concern about the current proposal to reduce the quorum requirement for amending the Bylaws.  Other options for voting percentage requirements were raised and discussed during our work on this particular revision.  However, the option that is now being put forth by the OVA BOD is the most extreme option we discussed for reducing the voting percentage to approve Bylaws changes.

WHAT WOULD SUCH A CHANGE, IF APPROVED, MEAN FOR THE OAKMONT COMMUNITY?

 It will allow a future Board to propose and guarantee a special interest agenda, because a minority vote of 401 (12.5% of Oakmont residents – based on eligible voting power of 3200) can vote to approve any new or amended bylaws.

 If the currently discussed provision is put to a OVA membership vote, I urge a NO VOTE on the proposed Article XI revision.

 A NO VOTE will keep the current bylaw requirement of 50% + 1 of Oakmont’s eligible voting power.  This MAJORITY requirement preserves the rights of Oakmont’s voting power.

 AND A FINAL NOTE:

 I SINCERELY HOPE THAT THE BOARD WILL FEATURE A POINT AND COUNTERPOINT ARTICLE IN THE OAKMONT NEWS FOR THIS BYLAW QUORUM PROPOSAL. OUR HOA COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER REACHES EVERY OAKMONT HOUSEHOLD. THE COUNTERPOINT MUST BE AN UNEDITED COUNTER ARGUMENT TO THE OVA BOARD POSITION.

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11 Comments

  1. Brenda Steele on September 14, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Thank you, Lynda, for your posting. I appreciate your candor. I agree that a point-counter point article must appear in the Oakmont News. I would add that it should appear not once, but several times, to ensure that all residents read it again, and even again, so they know what is at stake here.

  2. Bruce Bon on September 14, 2020 at 9:04 am

    I agree completely with Lynda’s opinion, as expressed here. It is important for everyone to understand that the proposal for a radically low quorum for amending the Bylaws was NOT unanimous within the BRC.

    We do need to lessen the hurdle to amending the Bylaws, but not by so much that it becomes easy to do. It would be better to defeat this proposal and thus block other amendments that might be proposed by this board, than to pass it. If it is defeated, it will be up to some future, more democratic board to propose a more reasonable standard.

  3. Donna Hopley on September 14, 2020 at 9:46 am

    To counter the recommendation of the OVA board & the OVA attorney to lower the percent to make bylaw changes; I contacted a corporate attorney with over 40 years experience and still practicing corporate law.
    His response in a nutshell is:
    “Should a mere 25% of the Oakmont
    residents be able to dictate to remaining
    75% the amount of HOA fees to be paid?”

  4. Shirley Phillps on September 14, 2020 at 9:51 am

    Here’s something interesting that needs to be looked at more carefully:
    We were told at the last town hall meeting that the By Laws need to be changed:
    Instead of the current 50% plus 1 required to change the By Laws and vote on issues (out of a total
    of 3,200 voting members of Oakmont) the proposal is to allow only
    25% of membership (or 401 Oakmonters) to effect change. Why is this necessary?
    We are told that not enough Oakmonters ever vote. Yet, take a look at the
    statistics that were mentioned at this town hall–that’s hardly the case.
    The dues increase/golf course issue: 2702 voted out of 3,200–or 84% of Oakmont voted.
    The 2018 Board election: 1865 Oakmonters voted–or 58%
    The 2019 Board election: 1446 Oakmonters voted–or 45%
    The 2020 Board election: 1475 Oakmonters voted–or 46%
    So we can clearly see that nearly 50% of all Oakmonters DO vote on issues
    and in elections. Frankly, I don’t see the need to lower the threshold to 25%
    To increase voter turn out we need better community outreach and better
    communication on pro/con sides of each issue–
    and we could easily have 50% of Oakmont voting on issues.

    • Shirley Phillips on September 14, 2020 at 10:00 am

      In my statement above, please note that 25% of Oakmonters (3,200 total)
      is 800. So it would only require 401 votes (a majority of the 800) to approve an issue.

    • Kathryn Cirksena on September 14, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Thanks Shirley! I was thinking that as well, that we have had reasonable turnout in the past, with often times near or making the quorum needed for changing by laws. I appreciate your doing the work of pulling together information from previous board elections. And the golf purchase. With this clear evidence that the basic premise of the board’s concern about turn out is incorrect and the proposed quorum level of 25% is inadequate, They could easily defuse the situation by allowing pro and con statements in the Oakmont news, promoted in the e blast and maybe even holding a “listening session” rather than a Townhall dominated by speakers from the board.
      I hope everyone will vote against this proposal to give decision making power for all of us to 401 people. And I am especially grateful for your raising the point that before these kinds of changes should be made, a special effort needs to be devoted to rebuilding community and trust so we are better able to confront and address disagreements openly, in a way that doesn’t use the ugly tools of our era: obfuscation, radio silence, gaslighting, and ad hominem attacks on opponents.

    • Maureen Schwartz on September 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you Shirley for compiling and reporting the numbers/percentages. Puts the whole issue in perspective.

  5. Peggy Dombeck on September 14, 2020 at 10:12 am

    I totally agree with the above commenters and Lynda Oneto.

  6. Ellen Mufson on September 14, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    I am in agreement that the above change will give boards too much power to do whatever is in their interest. My concern is that not enough residents get to see the pros and cons of a proposed amendment since the board screens Oakmont News articles. Good thing the vote now is 50% +1.

  7. James Foreman on September 14, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Hello. In observing the discussions about this issue I have not seen anyone consider the following:

    Many people are not voting in the OVA based elections, or on issues of all kinds in Oakmont, because of how the issues/information is presented to the members and the public as a whole. It was obvious when I lived in Oakmont, and much more clear after leaving there and still living in Sonoma County, that information from the OVA BOD is not presented in a transparent, easy to follow and understandable way. In fact much of it is specifically hidden or hard to find, and the Oakmont News is not giving the members alternative sides/perspectives.

    Wouldn’t you think that if the OVA BOD did a better job with their communication and transparency, along with making the information more compelling while soliciting member engagement, that 50%+1 would be achievable almost every single time?

    I know a few member/owners who rent out their houses, but live in Sonoma County or nearby. They may be sent a ballot, but are not given all the information to help them decide on what to vote on, and they do not always have the time to log in to the Oakmont website, try and find the information etc. I know one owner who would just ask our neighbor what to vote for and he would fill it out exactly as was recommended. Some owners do not see discussions on NextDoor if they do not live in the neighborhood, and they can be influenced by the biased articles written in the Press Democrat. On top of that they may decide that “Oakmont is always having internal battles… and I cannot keep up with it all, so why even try?”.

    Back in 2017/2018 I tried to institute a more open news format, and was in the process of making the Oakmont News more easily found and readable online. We were about to open it up to moderated online discussion and make it easier to subscribe to news alerts and all the rest. A few weeks before this was to go into effect the entire team was disbanded by the BOD and soon after they closed off the Oakmont News by creating a firewall for members only. Issues got more confusing, the reputation of Oakmont has suffered, and there continues to be misinformation on all issues facing Oakmont.

    The conclusion I come to for this change is that the current BOD wants to be able to influence a smaller group of people with the least amount of effort put into communicating information to the so called “silent majority”. The ultimate effect though will be to more easily control the “vocal minority” and rush through important decisions that would normally take many months to complete.

  8. Lyn Cramer on September 16, 2020 at 4:51 am

    James Foreman,

    Thanks for the excellent summary of an ongoing problem that defies my understand. While I’m reluctant to accept the motives you assign as the reason, I concede I’ve no better one to offer. Consistently upcoming issues of some import to members are buried in Oakmont News articles summarizing board activity. Their significance or complexity, much less differing opinions, is missing. Now, maybe an aggressive outreach problem wouldn’t change much. I’m not sure. But the board has an obligation to make this information widely available, and I don’t mean including it on page 68 of a 137 page board meeting packet.

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