• Fuzzy numbers create confusion – OVA’s broker attempts to clarify

    OVA members expecting to find clarity for what they are being asked to vote on starting next week were likely further confused after the […]

    • Perhaps topping the list of information vacuums left unaddressed by the Board to date is the Quail Inn. Michael Connolly’s incisive reporting may have squeezed out some speculative detail:

      “In terms of operating losses, Arimitsu explained: ‘I will tell you that this golf course needs to gross around $5.1 to $5.2 million to break even on (two) 18 hole courses.’ And: ‘Right now it’s running about $4.3 million in gross (revenues), which is creating a deficit of about $400,000 a year in operating loss.'”

      $5.1 to 5.2M gross to break even less $4.3M current golf course gross is more than the $400,000/year operating deficit. Does revenue from the Quail make up the difference?

      Arimitsu also said at the meeting that golf is a declining industry and specifically swept aside a question of how many more rounds would need to be played to reach break-even, suggesting that additional rounds was not a significant factor in the financial projections.

      That means that the multi-millions necessary to put into the golf operation to eliminate deferred maintenance and bring the courses up to standard are not anticipated to generate sufficiently more paying rounds to make any significant difference in the annual deficit that Arimitsu expects from the golf operation for as long as 10 years — the first $500,000 annually of which OVA, not the leaseholder, would be responsible in the lease agreement apparently being contemplated.

      And that suggests that the only significant contributor toward Armitsu’s projected break-even point in 10 years — and toward lessening the continuing dues obligations on OVA members arising from an OGC purchase — would be dramatically increasing revenue from the Quail’s food, wedding and meeting business.

      Even assuming major capital infusion and significant quality improvement, do we have reason to conclude that the Quail can carry that burden, notwithstanding its great views, in the notoriously fickle and difficult restaurant industry with many dining competitors in easy driving distance?

      It appears that the Quail’s operational information, about which we know nothing, is more than just a financial detail — it is critical to understanding how to vote.

    • The numbers presented as examples of increased dues are only for YEAR ONE. The broker says it will take up to 10 years for this golf and food service business to break even, which means residents here will be paying year after year to prop up an unprofitable operation. There is no rational justification to do this deal, only the biased and emotional needs of the BOD, in particular the president, and the real estate agent gang, who have feasted on easily done Oakmont transaction commissions while only paying back to the community via their dues (if they are owner/residents). Sticking this obligation on the residents here, many of whom are worried about how long their limited income will last, is inhumane. Vote NO.

  • OVA President Steve Spanier made a provocative statement at the June 18 board meeting with regards to the issues surrounding the potential offer to buy the OGC:  “Don’t believe anything unless it comes from us […]

    • Michael Connolly’s latest article “Truthteller or Salesman” is a tour de force covering Steve Spanier’s handling of the Oakmont Golf Club sale and the potential acquisition by the OVA. Citing Spanier’s own words, Connolly exposes the gulf between words and actions by the president of the OVA. A must read for all members of the association.

    • Although hard facts are difficult to come by (and we’ll see if the Board changes tactics and provides some hard facts tomorrow), I believe that the purchase offer will be contingent on the OVA dues increase passing, which makes sense as a valid contingency. The vote will probably cost OVA between ten and twenty thousand dollars, which is not large in the scheme of things but which would be a total waste of money if done prior to making the bid and OGC turned down OVA’s offer because they had a better one (we can hope!).

      On the other hand, the disregard that the Board holds for democratic principles is amply demonstrated by the rush to start the voting before information is disseminated to educate OVA members about what they are voting on. I have no doubt that the YES campaign will urge people to vote as soon as they receive their ballots, because it is “obviously desirable for OVA to control the property” — they just slough over how much it is going to cost us all. If it were done right, there would be a fair and detailed pro/con discussion in the Oakmont News prior to the start of the balloting — somehow I don’t see that as a likely occurrence!

    • For those of you that are Game of Thrones fans the changes in Steve’s behavior from pre election to now remind me of the changes in the Game of Thrones character Daenerys Targaryen from her first introduction to the current Season 8 episode 5 when she destroys King’s landing. Although Daenerys is fictional, I see parallels in these two evolutions of individuals in positions of power and concern Steve’s actions will lead to the destruction of Oakmont (instead of death, our residents will suffer financial decline and quality of life at a time when they cannot remedy the loss). Residents must see through the rhetoric and research if the financial risks are worthwhile to gain 225 acres of land for recreational use.

  • Kathy, the graphic was a comment on Spanier using a Dirty Harry reference, nothing more. He chose a confrontational title using a quote from this violent movie for his President’s Message. We are merely making a comment on that choice.

  • In September of 2017 current OVA Board President Steve Spanier gave a talk at a Sunday Symposium on the topic of transpartisanship, a relatively new system of thought distinct from bipartisanship or […]

    • Kathy, the graphic was a comment on Spanier using a Dirty Harry reference, nothing more. He chose a confrontational title using a quote from this violent movie for his President’s Message. We are merely making a comment on that choice.

    • Thanks Michael for this post! I am pretty sure Steve will not read it, but I actually hope that he does.

      While living in Oakmont I got to know Steve well and even met with him many times to specifically have a dialogue about how to promote “Transpartisan Principles” in Oakmont and beyond. In 2017 I encouraged Steve to get involved in the Oakmont Forum, during the early stages of dialogue, and he came to a few meetings to discuss ideas and promote the principles he said the community needed.

      My first indication that he was truly needing to “teach what he needed to learn most” was when he said he would not be involved with group due to the “horrible, partisan…” things that some in the meetings had expressed through social media or other means. He was not willing to dialogue with others he disagreed with unless they apologized or were willing to admit that they had hurt others in the community.

      I continued to support Steve during his candidacy, but the shock of his hurtful comments about the Oakmont News team showed a side I did not know existed. He has since made numerous judgmental and unfounded accusations of others in the Oakmont community. At the same time he has been completely happy and willing to work with those on the current OVA Board who have been divisive and partisan through social media, as well as direct actions and in personal communications.

      In the end I think he is a well meaning person who truly does want to help others and be of service. He set the standards himself by promoting and using Transpartisanship as his guiding belief system. He should therefor not be surprised when the people he regularly attacks and points fingers at challenge him on those very principles he espouses.

  • In an effort to gauge the amount of information that might be shared with OVA members I attended some recent committee meetings with agenda items involving the golf course sale.

    At the Oakmont Community […]

  • As the issues surrounding the sale of the Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) and golf courses are discussed and presented to the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) community, facts and not fear should be the guiding […]

    • I agree with the others that this is yet again great reporting and excellent points! The Oakmont Observer is the only way for anyone not living in Oakmont to get recent news.

      As an outsider now, living in Sonoma, I wonder if the OVA Board, and others in Oakmont, realize how their decision to have no “news” on the Oakmont website, that is viewable to the public, has continued to hurt the reputation of Oakmont? The closed FB pages and lack of an established Public Relations plan definitely is having an effect when you talk with people about Oakmont in Sonoma County.

      Other than the OO and a few articles in the Press Democrat there is no way to get a clear picture as to what is going on in total. There may be people who want to buy the OGC but would shy away due to the way this issue, and many other issues, have been handled by the “powers that be”. I suggested to Kevin and Steve before I left to put energy into a PR plan and get things moving. I think now it would entail spending a lot of time building or rebuilding the reputation.

      As I drove by Oakmont recently I was thinking maybe some folks want “what happens in Oakmont, to stay in Oakmont”.

  • Editor’s Note:  As we were preparing to publish this article the OGC announced that their member vote to approve the $750 per member assessment successfully passed.  This vote likely removes the immediate need f […]

  • The Oakmont Golf Club announced on March 12 that the Proposal for Assessment received a 73% favorable vote. It appears from these numbers that 234 of the 260 members cast ballots.

    The announcement […]

  • During Open Forum at the February 19 OVA Board meeting a request was made by Phillip Herzog to initiate the Internal Dispute Resolution process.

    “I believe the Board’s action in Executive Session to pay up […]

  • The Oakmont Golf Courses will be put on the market for sale, as revealed at today’s OVA Finance Committee meeting. Oakmont Golf Club (OGC) member Alan McLintock informed the Finance Committee that the issue had […]

  • Although the OVA Board has expressed an interest for several months in allocating OVA funds to the OGC for unspecified drainage and flooding concerns, the first sign of concrete action on this issue was displayed […]

    • Excellent factual report, Michael. You’ve given us much more information than our so-called transparent board has provided. This whole issue is a trumped-up ploy to fool Oakmont residents into thinking there is a real issue here; instead, it is just a way to siphon money from our dues to the ever-ailing OGC. Board VP Kendrik calls this ethical when, in fact, it is deceptive and insulting to the community.

    • Worse yet, OVA cannot become involved in maintenance of residences in the association because of OVA’s status as a tax free 501c7 Social and Recreational organization. Even if OVA did want to give up that tax free status and perform as an HOA responsible for maintenance of residences in the association, the BOD would have to treat all the residences in the association equally. If drainage of association homes is OVAs responsibility, any resident having a drainage problem could come to OVA for assistance.

      Trust me. Many, many older homes in the original parts of Oakmont have occluded drains from the rain gutters to the place they are supposed to release water onto the street. A result of water not being properly drained might be flooding and damage to the foundations of these older homes. Will OVA come to their rescue?

  • With OVA member dues rising to $75 starting this month, now may be as good a time as any to explore where this money goes.

    The 2019 budget was mailed to OVA members in late November.  Total budgeted operating […]

    • No longer are the Association’s money funds fattened by impact fees that real estate developers had to pay in Oakmont. From here on out, repairs, rehabilitations and new projects will need to be funded solely with our monthly and increasing dues.

      In clear and concise language, Michael Connolly describes what happens to our monies and how they are allocated between the Operating, Asset Replacement and Capital Improvement funds. Loans obtained to meet expenses are shared by current and future members, and importantly bypass legal restriction in regard to a vote by the members.

    • Thanks for an understandable explanation of OVA budget issues and dues.

      A bit more information about the trend in dues: Monthly dues in 2008 were $35.75, in 2009 were $37.75, in 2018 $67 and in 2019 $75. So the ten-year increase in dues was 87.4% from 2008 to 2018, and 98.7% from 2009 to 2019. For the most recent 10-year period available, 2008-2018, the California Consumer Price Index increased by a total of 20.1%.

      OVA may have underfunded maintenance in the past, and therefore needed to raise dues to compensate, in particular increasing the funding to the Asset Reserve Fund. But the dues have increased at a rate of about 4.5 to 5 times that of California inflation, approximate doubling in the past ten years. It is simply not credible to argue that we need to keep increasing dues by double-digit percentages in order to remedy deferred maintenance.

      The only reason that the Board needs to continue such a level of dues increases is to expand facilities, not merely to maintain and repair them. I believe that this Board has an agenda, largely not voiced so far, of doing just that, and is seeking means to do so that will not foment rebellion among those who have to pay for that agenda! They take very seriously the clause in the Board Mission Statement (adopted in 2010) that states that a primary purpose of the Board is “to have Oakmont perceived as a premier active adult retirement community in comparison with other similar retirement locations.” It is long past time to review that portion of the Board Mission Statement, and to determine whether or not it is in agreement with the desire of the majority of OVA members.

  • Editor:

    One of the responsibilities of a General Manager is to remind Board Members of their duty of  due diligence. It is also the Board President’s responsibility to advise a Board Director when said Board […]

    • Sorry Kerry but you are howling in the wind and now, no one cares – especially, ‘these Board Members.’ Ugh. Based on Lyons’ absurd claim that, ‘we can’t know what it will cost until we get a permit,” OVA wasted $100k to develop pickleball courts that wer never built. But Spanier nominates him to the board – brilliant.

      And what about the board’s 6 to 1 vote to approve putting a fence around the lawn in front of the CAC for a temporary (for a trial period) Dog Park? Oh, gee, Spanier changes his mind, so forget that – the board vote is ignored and never rescinded.

      Obviously, Spanier’s board is ignoring bylaws and making things up as they go along.

  • Some OGC members have said here and on Nextdoor that Mr. Huber is not the attorney for OGC. I guess they didn’t make an effort to correct the Kenwood Press at the time of its article. Mr. Huber may not be their official attorney but he was offering legal opinions to them and to OVA members at past town halls.

    The above article relates to the…[Read more]

  • Thomas, the BCC has been the title of the committee for less than a year. This committee evolved out of the Construction Management Committee (CMC), which evolved out of the Construction Oversight Committee (COC). To my knowledge, there was no such construction committee at the time of the WRC renovation. It appears that the Association Manager…[Read more]

  • At the November 13 OVA board meeting the membership was given an update on the ERC construction project.  Two weeks prior to the meeting it had been announced that additional costs of $413,975 by a change order […]

    • In his well documented article Michael Connolly writes:

      “It appears that the process used to define the scope of work and to budget for construction projects is flawed. The Board should not approve projects that are not clearly defined. Prior to approval by the Board, the project should be 90% defined in design and scope before taking bids and submitting plans to the city for permits.  This will limit the number and size of change orders, which are expensive and add significantly to costs of the project.”

      October 2017 East Rec Center remodel is pegged at $1.5 million.

      October 2018 costs have doubled to more than $3 million. (Interest on loan included)

    • So the contractor and/or the BCC “overlooked” the very likely consequences of finding “unexpected” complications under the ground or behind the walls. The contingency budget was grossly inadequate, and apparently no lessons were learned from the experience of the WRC. I can think of only two reasons for such things — incompetence or purposeful bait-and-switch tactics. Both require remedy, such as proposed in this article, before any future projects are initiated.

      Thanks, Michael, for your thorough investigative reporting.

    • And the changes continue. The Nov 13 presentation showed a new shade canopy over the windows on the northeast side of building justified because the windows opened incorrectly letting rain in. This weeks progress report announced oops, we now need to remove one of the windows as we did not realize a structural beam required for upstairs goes through the window. This will unbalance the remaining windows on the exterior view, require the shade canopy be revised; another change order. A design engineer should have foreseen the need for this structural beam at time they decided to expand the opening upstairs. This week’s progress report also noted delays due to construction due to rain which ultimately could lead to delayed use of the ERC and higher contractor costs still to come as we enter the wet season. All justifying the need for independent professional project management oversight to protect our finances.

    • Another great article here, and it says a lot about how things are being managed on this project. It seems that the BOD is just “matter of fact” about this, so have they owned this overrun at all? I can only imagine what the new BOD members would say if the last BOD had done this.

      I do a lot of project management for large Tech projects I am involved in, and I can tell you that when a Project Manager is not doing their job, or lacks experience, the projects are late, way over budget and problems pop-up all the time. Many times they cut corners by not having a PM at all.

      When projects are managed with best practices, regular follow-up and the SOW (Scope of Work) is taken seriously from the get go the project usually is successful. I like the fact that Michael included solutions in his article here. I hope they are voiced at the next meeting and are taken seriously. Kind of amazing how much money this has expanded to after so much work was done to consider the options.

    • Another superb reporting job, Michael. Thank you.

      This contribution demonstrates again both the need for and the value of The Observer as the only available serious news and opinion source.

    • Thomas, the BCC has been the title of the committee for less than a year. This committee evolved out of the Construction Management Committee (CMC), which evolved out of the Construction Oversight Committee (COC). To my knowledge, there was no such construction committee at the time of the WRC renovation. It appears that the Association Manager worked with the Board and the Finance Committee on the WRC project. If anyone has further details hopefully they will comment.

    • “… we need to pay to hire an outside, unbiased professional to oversee the work ahead. We pay for cost estimators, architects, and contractors, who all have a piece of a project, but we need an employee charged with the entire set of projects.” (Julie Cade – February 13, 2018- Nextdoor)

      Julie presciently and early called for an outside and independent professional individual to oversee the East Recreation Center rehabilitation. In disregard of this expert recommendation, the Board signed off on a $146,000 Nordby Construction “IN-HOUSE” site manager.

      Michael Connolly in his timely exposé advocates: “To avoid possible conflicts of interest and to control costs a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certified project manager should be brought on board prior to signing a design contract. They could assist the BOD in the project scope definition, contract bidding and the awarding of both design and construction contracts.”

    •  “Soliciting at least three competitive bids should also be the defined practice for expensive construction projects.  In this circumstance, a decision was made over a year ago to solicit a single preconstruction services contract to get the ERC project started as soon as possible in light of the perceived demands for construction services after the fires in Sonoma County.” (Michael Connolly)

      Nordby was the contractor for the West Rec Center and they also provided the cost estimates for the Berger project.

  • Change order:  A change order is work that is added to or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract, which alters the original contract amount and/or completion date.  

    Contingency Funds:  A con […]

  • On several occasions the OVA board has stated that no decision has been made with regard to sending funds to the OGC and that no vote has been taken.  However, it appears that preparations are being made to do […]

    • The potential flooding of homes compels the OVA Board to earmark anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 as a contribution to the Oakmont Golf Club.

      The Sonoma County Water Agency states: The golf course would act as a natural detention basin and because of its 250 acre size there is “a boatload of area we are talking about that would have to get flooded a foot or two to even come up close to some of those finished floors. I wouldn’t give a whole lot of validity to (talk of Oakmont homes) being likely to flood.”

      The OVA Board wishes to support the OGC financially, which according to one’s point of view is either acceptable or not. But to use the canard about the flooding of homes is plainly and simply misleading, as Michael has shown in his superbly researched article.

    • Thanks, Michael, for continuing to bring the facts to light concerning the OGC drainage issue. It has been a bogus OGC claim from the start, and your articles show that fact.

      I object to false justification for OVA transferring money to OGC far more than I would to a simple direct subsidy. If the various claims about declining home values, should OGC fail, hold water (and there are good arguments that they do), then that might be a justification for throwing them some money. The direct subsidy approach may not be legal (if we want to keep our non-profit status), but to execute a fee-for-service funds transfer on bogus grounds would invite legal challenge, as well as violating all ethical and transparency considerations.

  • Monday, November 12 – Noon to 1 pm – Berger Center

    This appreciation event will be held similar to previous annual events, with special appreciation to honor to those veterans and first responders who have […]

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