Opening envelope. Close-up top view of male hands opening envelope over wooden desk with different chancellery stuff laying on it

2 critical issues face Foothills HOA Board

This evening, May 27, the Foothills Community Association HOA board will hold an electronic meeting, resuming activities after being idle due to coronavirus.  

Two critical issues are:  a special meeting to vote on homeowner-sponsored reforms; and the annual election of board directors.

AFN readers are aware that this past year has been very difficult for the HOA’s board.  

Last May, homeowner frustration with the board’s conduct boiled over, forcing a recall election.  While homeowners voted nearly 4-1 to remove the President, Bill Fautsch, two corporate members with large blocks of votes helped him escape being removed.  It is telling that, after more than a decade on the board, Fautsch could muster the support of only 4 percent of the HOA’s homeowners.

The recall did not end the board’s troubles.  Instead, it was an accelerant.  

Many previously uninvolved homeowners started paying attention to what the board was doing.  Attendance at board meetings swelled, and criticism of the board’s secrecy and dismissive attitude toward homeowners reached a crescendo.

The board reacted by adopting, in secret, a new ‘etiquette policy’ aimed at muzzling homeowners.

Over the course of the summer, concerned homeowners worked to develop a package of bylaws reforms aimed at addressing the most pressing problems and ensuring long-term transparency and accountability.

To a large degree, the board tacitly acknowledged the need for these reforms by initiating action on several of these issues:

  It created a written procurement policy (drafted in secret and insufficient, but at least a start)

  It moved to implement electronic voting 

  It formed a committee to draft Bylaws amendments (a week after homeowners launched their bylaws reform drive)

The question of whether the board was genuinely trying to mend its ways or cynically trying to coopt the reform campaign was answered at its December meeting.  

The board unanimously rejected the recommendation of its own committee to allow homeowners to vote on term limits.  

While board directors appeared to be willing to accept some changes, they would not abide any threat to their hold on power.

The board tried to minimize the reform campaign, even repeatedly refusing to allow it on the agenda for monthly meetings. Nevertheless, the campaign succeeded.  

In early March, the petition signed by one quarter of the HOA’s total membership was submitted. This was a significant accomplishment; the 1,200+ signatures dwarfed the number of members historically taking part in HOA activities.

The homeowners thus spoke ‘loud and clear’--they want change. A key element of the reform package is term limits. The homeowners made abundantly clear that the directors who have dominated the board for more than a dozen years should go.

The board directors now must decide whether to respect the will of the homeowners, or to defy them and employ some stratagem that would permit the perennial directors to be installed once again by the corporate blocks.  

The best option would be for the board to hold the required special reform meeting prior to the board election. That way, if the Association’s members approve term limits, they would apply to the upcoming election.

Alternatively, if the board wishes to conduct the reform vote concurrently with the board election, there is only one proper path forward:  any board director who has exceeded the proposed term limits should voluntarily abstain from seeking reelection.

The time has come for the board to do the right thing. It can put to rest the controversies of the past year and create an environment in which the new board can move forward with the support of homeowners as it addresses the problems of the HOA. 

-David Randolph

 

Bravo to cyclists for their freeway path advocacy

Bravo to Mr. Struttmann and friends (AFN, May 1, 2020) for the advocacy of the recreational path along the 202 freeway. 

Ahwatukee lost a big community asset – a dedicated bike path along Pecos Road – with freeway construction. The new path along the south side of the freeway helps offset that loss and recognizes the importance of biking to quality of life in the Phoenix area. 

Identifying needed adjustments and improvements to the path is important to making it the best it can be for little additional cost.

On the other hand, there are critics, some of them extreme. Mr. Cox (AFN, May 6) doesn’t like our tax dollars going to this project.  

At a cost of $1.7 billion for the freeway, he is concerned about incidental costs to make a great amenity even better by ensuring that intersections and fencing are safe for everyone.

His axe to grind is resentment towards bicyclists. “Bikers have already taken over every street in the Foothills. Are we supposed to shut down the freeway so they can have that for their personal use too?” 

 Bicyclists are far from taking over, but we are large part of the community and are insisting on our rights to use roads and paths. 

Here is a thought for Mr. Struttmann and friends to consider: make the pathway even better. Extend it westward around South Mountain by paving service roads ADOT has already built.

-Andy French

Nonprofit for foster kids misses its volunteers

Arizona Helping Hands utilized the services of 1,397 volunteers in 2019. This army of men and women donated 13,026 hours assisting in our mission providing essential needs to boys and girls in the state’s foster care system.  

They stuffed backpacks with school supplies, sorted and folded clothing donations, assisted in our warehouse operations and answered phones. They were the driving force behind our Birthday Dreams program, gift wrapping and decorating birthday packages that we provided to 3,596 children last year.  

Then the coronavirus hit!  In April, we had no volunteers in our facility. 

This put a strain on our staff to pick up some of the pieces, but I think it put more strain on our regular volunteers. This work has become an important part of their lives, and like all of us, they want to get back to whatever sense of normal we can as soon as possible.

At Arizona Helping Hands, we adore our volunteers.  We want to see their smiling faces around the building and can’t wait to have them working beside us, but we will do everything possible to keep them safe. 

Effective May 27, limited volunteers will get back to work, filling those birthday bags and assisting in our mission. The lives of children in foster care will be enhanced. 

Your work matters, and we can’t wait to have you back beside us.  Due to the colorful masks donated to us by community friends, we might not see the smiles on your faces, but we will certainly see the twinkle in your eyes as you go about the important work you do.

Information: azhelpinghands.org

-Dan Shufelt, 

President/CEO Arizona Helping Hands.  

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