Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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The Healing Of Oakmont

“This is seen in all the issues that have arisen over the past 5 years, and can be unpacked by looking directly at the fears people in Oakmont are driven by; home values, conflict with neighbors, losing a recreational activity, fire etc.”

The above comments from a former Oakmont resident, give pause and lead to consider his words further.

Are we members of this community truly driven by fear and anxiety? Most particularly was the lopsided result of the Oakmont Golf issue the product of fear, fear of the unknown? 

The YES voters cast their dominant ballots after a yearlong debate over the fate of some 250 acres, threaded throughout the Oakmont village. Their primary argument was the fear of housing development on golf fairways. The NO residents tried their very best to dispel this worry by citing city planners, zoning regulations and open space development restrictions.

“But looking at the current malaise, we see more and profound forces at work. Oakmont faces a generational and demographic change among its population.”

We now know that the former argument won the day by a wide margin, yet leaving behind a third of unhappy fellow neighbors. 

Has this event split the community, or was the community disunited before? Fresh off the controversy over pickleball, the OGC affair drives a further wedge into our retirement environment. 

On the horizon looms a no less fraught and weighted project, namely the renovation of our central plaza, specifically the questions surrounding a new Berger Center. 

Is it fear of the new and the untried, or are other elements at work? Money plays a big part with opponents of the proposed expansionist ideals by the board of directors and their supporters. 

The dues increasing by some 31 percent with the prospect of more to follow, poses a challenge to moderate incomes among our members. A committee to research ways and raise funds to help neighbors meet the new expenses has been formed. 

But looking at the current malaise, we see more and profound forces at work. Oakmont faces a generational and demographic change among its population. 

After more than half a century of existence as a middle-class haven, the location with its beautiful surroundings in the wine country has become a magnet for a more affluent clientele. 

They buy the mid-century homes and set about to remodel them post haste. They bring the same certitude of conviction to the rehabilitation of our public facilities. Simple maintenance gives way to expansive renovations or new construction.

“Oakmont finds itself at the confluence of two trends; a populace who have lived here for many years and feels entitled to a quiet pace of life, known as retirement, and the new arrivals, a decade or more younger, filled with ideas and idealist conception for their new habitat.”

The old is becoming exchanged for the new, a juxtaposition that can be disquieting and upsetting to a society whose median age is reportedly 76. 

It is facile to say that change is the only constant if you are of advanced age. A time when excitement does not rule your life any longer and you seek peace and harmony in your environment.

Oakmont finds itself at the confluence of two trends; a populace who have lived here for many years and feels entitled to a quiet pace of life, known as retirement, and the new arrivals, a decade or more younger, filled with ideas and idealist conception for their new habitat. 

How can the seemingly divergent needs be brought to a common and acceptable denominator? How can a widening rift among generations and demographics be healed?

Standoffs lead to strife and unhappiness, but understanding the deeper currents flowing through our community, will lead to compromise, writ large. 

The “old elderly” among us need to lead the way, accepting, if not embracing the march of time and the sense of a certain displacement, while the young and semi-retired residents would do well, recognizing the conflict existing and, therefore, tempering their enthusiasm for a recreated future. 

Understanding of the inherent anxieties leads to compromise and acceptance of each other’s needs and wishes.

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5 Comments

  1. Lyn Cramer on August 10, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Yvonne, you are ever a healer and optimist. May your sentiments bear fruit. Though, am I now a member of the “old elderly”? Not a category I willingly embrace. Ugh. Can’t we live with the fantasy that “age is a state of mind”?

  2. Lisa Symonds on August 10, 2019 at 8:11 pm

    I disagree this is a generational division. I purchased my home in 2012 at the age of 55 and was a no voter. Many others young friends I know at Oakmont, many still working, also voted no. As a matter of fact I estimate many of the missing voters or the yes voters may have been folks in their 90s who estimated they will not be around long enough to see dues above $200 a month and have little to lose. They did not want uncertainty and wanted to maintain the current look of Oakmont. Their retirement years are not threatened by this run away train of money mismanagement and lack of assessing financial risks. For the younger generation looking forward to rising healthcare costs, the loss of social security, property tax increases post 2017 fires, rising home insurance costs post fire, inflation….. adding large HOA dues to our future and threatening the value of our significant retirement asset, was difficult to stomach. I was never concerned about the $17 increase to purchase the land but the millions more to maintain it over my lifetime.

  3. James Foreman on August 11, 2019 at 11:43 am

    It seems that many of the people who wanted to buy the OGC and raise dues on everyone to achieve that result are calling this a victory and for everyone else to move on. This was said about Pickleball and many other issues that have come up. In the case of Pickleball the solution was facilitated by those who did not give up and move on.

    I am curious though, do the majority of Oakmonters really want this to be their legacy for Oakmont? A legacy whereby they save failing golf courses in the midst of societal and world upheaval and climate disasters? Where we have an exploding homeless issue for people who are retiring, and benefits are not keeping up with the cost of living?

    The millions of dollars set to be spent, and countless energy put into the protection of recreation for a few hundred people in the community is irresponsible. I know the argument that this is “just the beginning” and “now we have control and the options for the future are fully open”.

    If this is the best Oakmont can do, then sadly it will continue to uphold it’s reputation as an exclusive place to live that is devoid of diversity, and known as a closed off, bickering community culture where only a few people out of thousands have any interest in being a board member.

    I am sorry to be negative and paint the picture this way, since I truly am a positive person and have spent my entire adult life working to make life better for myself, my employees and those I serve. This kind of process and decision making troubles me as I enter my older years (52 now). I can only say that I have learned a great deal from observing this, building this website to support Oakmont, and by living there and trying to be of service.

    I will continue to support Oakmont because I believe whole heartedly in freedom of speech and dialogue that honors each individual. I hope to come and teach what I have learned about sharing online, and I am right down the road in Sonoma, probably for the rest of my life, and I care deeply about this area and the people who live here. Best of luck on the next phase of this process!

  4. Bobbi Rogers on August 11, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    Politicians know how to exploit fear and this is what happened. We are all against housing development of the golf course and open spaces and no development would take place due to zoning and open space regulations. Its about being financially responsible and transparent to the homeowners of Oakmont. We saw that with the Pickleball courts.

    The next step is to be honest with us and your negotiations with the group who wants to manage the golf course. Does all the risk fall on us not them? What do the homeowners get out of it? And if golf courses are struggling why is the board so confident that they will make a profit if our existing management group is not?

    We look forward to the answers.

    Bobbi Rogers

  5. Merle Hoscheit on November 11, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this page to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

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