Help Bring Good Stewardship Back to PVHA
Save Our PVE Parklands
Preserve our Home Values
212 people signed PETITIONS to Nominate ROBE's candidates
For two page summary of this initiative -- click here
“If Harry Brandel [longest serving former President of PVHA with over 40 years on the Board] knew what you’ve done in selling parkland, he’d be spinning in his grave so fast you couldn’t even count the revolutions. If I were still on the Board, I would ask every one of you to resign. You should be ashamed.”
-- Lin Melton (former President of PVHA) addressing the PVHA Board at the January 14, 2014 PVHA Annual Meeting
2/2/17 Guest Commentary by PVHA Board in Peninsula News on "PVHA members content with organization’s direction" -- click here
1/26/17 Guest Commentary by John Harbison in Peninsula News on "PVHA should change election procedures" -- click here
1/24/17 ROBE Proposes to PVHA to Follow ByLaws and Extend Election. The election on January 10th did not yield a quorum, so the current Board has declared they will serve another year. The following week, ROBE’s Steering Committee and its candidates for the PVHA Board prepared a presentation on the shortcomings in the recent election and a proposal for remedying the situation. In summary, we advocated that PVHA follow its By-Laws and extend the election “day-to-day” until a quorum is reached. For the specifics, click here. At the January 24th PVHA Board Meeting, Director Dale Hoffman proposed that PVHA do that, and Carolbeth Cozen also voted in favor of that proposal. However, the other three Directors (Phil Frengs, Ed Fountain, and Carol Swets) voted against the proposal and the motion was rejected. ROBE is considering our next steps.
1/12/17 Article in Peninsula News on "Without Election Quorum. Homes Association board members keep seats" -- click here
1/11/17 Article in Daily Breeze on "Palos Verdes Homes Association election moot, board members reappointed" -- click here
1/10/17 Summary of PVHA Annual Meeting Announcement of Election Results. It was very sad night for democracy and for our community. The City Council Chamber was nearly full, with the largest turnout in four years. However, only 1589 ballots were returned out of 5420 members, well short of the quorum of 2711 required, and less than the 2101 returned last year or the 1772 that were determined to be “valid” last year. The efforts of the current Board to minimize the likelihood for reaching a quorum were successful:
- Sending one mailing not three as in some previous years
- Refusing to accept ballots returned by fax, email, hand delivery to PVHA, as well as by bringing the ballot or proxies to the annual meeting – all of which were allowed in previous years
- Establishing a difficult process to acquire signatures - 100 with affidavits and notary required (PVE City Council nominations are 30 signatures and no affidavit/notary required)
- Allowing address errors on the return envelope
- Closing the office Dec 23 to Jan 4 effectively making it impossible to get a replacement ballot after Dec 22nd
- Failing to list a return address on their original mailed envelope and using the returns to update the PVHA address database. Many people claimed they never received a ballot and others received ballots for homes/condos sold many years ago.
- Sending ballots out on 11/21 (just before Thanksgiving) -- thus increasing the likelihood they might go unnoticed
The Board did not acknowledge any responsibility for any of their actions in this regard, and basically rejected all criticism.
- They are thus not resending ballots to the members that did not vote.
- They are not counting the results of the ballots received, even though members have volunteered to help under their supervision.
- They are not even opening the envelopes received, logging them in, and posting a list so that members can verify if the ballot they sent was received.
- They are not petitioning a judge to have the quorum threshold reduced.
- They did not follow their own Resolution #177 which requires all candidates to gather 100 signatures and comply with the complicated affidavit and notarization process. They did not do that for any of the incumbents, even though three have never been elected and the other two have not been elected since 2009.
Finally, President Frengs stated that in lieu of a quorum being reached, they would continue to serve as directors for another year. We pointed out that the PVHA By-Laws state that in the absence of a quorum, they must “adjourn day-to-day” until a quorum is accomplished. “Day-to-day” does not mean “until a year from now”. The language means PVHA should extend the election long enough to establish a quorum. However, they’ve rejected that -- showing once again that they feel they are above the law (by violating deed restrictions), and can ignore their bylaws and their own resolutions. Finally, by not following their by-laws and continuing to transact business during the year, they are acting illegally because they have not been legitimately elected and hence are not empowered to transact business. For a full report on the meeting, click here.
1/3/17 Powerful Precedent for Rejecting Sale of Parkland. The central argument that the PVHA makes in its Appellant’s Opening Brief (AOB) in defense of the sale of CEPC/Panorama Parklands is that the PVHA is not bound by the underlying deed restrictions that state the parklands “shall not be sold or conveyed, in whole or in part, by the Grantee … except to a body suitably constituted by law to take, hold, maintain and regulate public parks.”This clause was in the deed the PVHA wrote when it transferred the parkland to The City of PVE in 1940 (click here), and in the deed whereby the PVHA received the parkland from the Trustee of the Palos Verdes Project in 1931 (click here). The AOB states (click here) that the PVHA had the right to sell property in the original 1923 Protective Restrictions, and that that right has precedence over the deed restrictions. This argument centers on the intent of the PVHA when it transferred the Parkland to the City in June 1940.
The PVHA does not acknowledge that in March 1940 (just months before that transfer), Pierre Lamure (a prominent resident who was chairman of the committee to incorporate the City of PVE) petitioned the PVHA Board to purchase for his own use parkland where he had illegally built encroachments adjacent to his property. Sound familiar? But unlike the situation in 2012 when the PVHA Board voted unanimously to sell parkland to an encroaching resident, the 1940 Board flatly rejected the proposal and moreover the minutes of the meeting acknowledged that the Board had previously rejected all similar proposals, citing the deed restrictions that prevented them from doing so. Per the article in the Palos Verde News (which was published by the PVHA at the time), here was the Board’s response: “It was explained to him [Lamure} that the Homes Association, under the terms of its tenure of park properties, could not convey them to a private individual.” The PVHA’s legal argument on appeal that it never intended to bind itself to the “no sale” of parkland deed restrictions is flatly refuted by the PVHA’s Board’s decision in 1940. For a copy of the two articles in the Palos Verdes News on March 15, 1940 on this topic, click here and here.
12/30/16 Letter from ROBE to Judge Latin: ROBE’s attorney sent a letter to Judge Latin, who is overseeing the PVHA Election. The letter 1) asks why Judge Latin has not responded to ROBE's 12/9/16 letter; 2) suggests that ballots be allowed to be returned at the 1/10 Annual Meeting because there are many reports of members not receiving ballots and PVHA has closed its office from 12/23 - 1/4 yet the ballots must be mailed back by 1/4; 3) asks for verification that the incumbents collected at least 100 signatures as required in PVHA's Resolution #177 and 4) states if quorum is not met that ROBE will ask Judge Latin to hold the election open as required in PVHA By-Laws. For the letter, click here.
12/29/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Association faces contested election" as part of "Year in Review" -- click here
12/22/16 Letter to the Editor in Peninsula News from ROBE candidate Dick Fay on the PVHA Election -- click here
12/12/16 Questions Submitted for the LWV/LBHOA Candidates Forum which will be held at PVE City Hall Council Chambers at 7pm tonight. For a list of questions submitted to be asked of the candidates, click here.
12/9/16 History of PVHA and Background for the Current Litigation: Joe Ryan has written an excellent blog that explains the context for the current controversy over Parklands that is a key issue in the current PVHA Board Election. For those of us without legal training, Joe has researched the topic and applied his legal mind in a way understandable by us non-lawyers. For the blog, click here.
12/9/16 Letter sent by ROBE to Judge Latin: ROBE’s attorney sent a letter to Judge Latin, who is overseeing the PVHA Election, pointing out the above errors and asking for a method for members to verify receipt, as well as asking for PVHA to follow their By-Laws and to extend the election should there be no quorum. The By-Laws stipulate PVHA’s by-laws state in Article V on page 51:
…“at such annual meeting of the members, directors for the ensuing year shall be elected by secret ballot, to serve as herein provided and until their successors are elected. If, however, for want of a quorum or other cause, a member's meeting shall not be held on the day above named, or should the members fail to complete their elections, or such other business as may be presented for their consideration, those present may adjourn from day to day until the same shall be accomplished.”
“Day to day” does not mean “until a year from now”. The language means PVHA should extend the election long enough to establish a quorum. For the letter, click here.
12/8/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Address Error: No effect on Election". This article incorrectly leaves the impression the address error is a non-issue by quoting Kim Robinson (manager for PVHA) as saying that "so far all but one person has been comfortable with the Homes Association's handling of the issue." This statement is far from the truth. Dozens of residents have contacted the PVHA, written emails to PVHA, or posted comments expressing concern on NextDoor (click here for a sample). For the article, click here.
12/4/16 LMV/LBHOA Announces Candidate Forum on Dec 12th: The League of Women’s Voters in collaboration with the Lunada Bay Homeowners Association are hosting a Candidates Forum for the PVHA Board of Directors. It will be from 7 – 9 pm on Monday December 12th at Palos Verdes Estates City Council Chambers (340 Palos Verdes Drive West, PVE). In accordance with LMV rules, all 8 candidates have been invited to the forum. Questions for candidates will be collected ahead of time and provision will be made for audience questions to be collected at the forum as well. LBHOA is requesting anyone interested in attending to register here. Seating is limited, so please sign up if you expect to attend. Please check the Lunada Bay Homeowner’s Association website for updates or other information.
12/4/16 John Harbison sends PVHA email with suggestion for addressing resident concerns over the mailing address error. With over 60 comments on NextDoor with residents expressing concern over whether their ballot would arrive to be counted, John Harbison proposed to the PVHA Board of Directors that they ask Moss Adams to post online a list of ballots received so that people can overcome their distrust and each confirm that their ballot has been received. PVHA President Phil Frengs responded they did not take responsibility for the address error or their failure to answer members’ concerns posted on NextDoor, and that they would not allow members to verify if their ballots were received and counted. John Harbison responded saying that he had already been encouraging members to send ballots in using the envelopes provided, and it was not his responsibility to clarify the PVHA process or to make representations/assurances that it would work. For this email interchange, click here.
11/30/16 Error Discovered in Address of PVHA Return Envelope. On the pre-paid return envelope, the street address is in error – showing “11960 Wilshire Boulevard” not “10960 Wilshire Boulevard.” Click here for a sample. This caused some people to wonder why the zip code was confusingly not the same as the Moss Adams address listed on the ballot itself (“90099-9811” on the outside envelope instead of “90024”). The incorrect house number was reported to Kim Robinson at PVHA, but PHVA took no action to explain this to the public. However, we have been told that the bar code contains the correct information and that the envelopes will be delivered correctly to Moss Adams, the CPA firm that is doing the counting. Nonetheless, the mistake and the slowness of the PVHA to respond with specifics on why letters should get through caused much discussion on NextDoor -- click here.
11/26/16 Mailer with letter from Phil Frengs arrives in mailboxes of all PVHA members. For the letter and John Harbison's comments on the many erroneous statements made by Mr. Frengs, click here.
11/25/16 ROBE Mailer arrives in mailboxes of all PVHA members -- click here
11/24/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Opposition regroups for new Palos Verdes Homes Association election" -- click here
11/23/16 Two Errors in PVHA Ballot Reported to PVHA. On the ballot, PVHA misrepresented the years of membership by overstating incumbent Carolbeth Cozen by eleven years (15 years instead of 4 years) and understating petition candidate Marlene Breene by ten years (21 years instead of 31 years). This error was corrected in a postcard that arrived on or about December 3rd, although some people have reported the ink was smeared. For examples, click here.
11/23/16 Letter from PVHA President Phil Frengs Posted on Nextdoor on 11/22/16 Taking Issue with Statements made on this Website and John Harbison's Comments in Response -- click here.
11/23/16 Excerpts from the 1924 Protective Provisions that Articulate the PVHA's Role in Enforcing the Protective Provisions. The PVHA's role includes enforcing the Protective Restrictions, and recent statements from PVHA Board suggest they do not view that as part of their role. Further, the PVHA is given powers to exercise a "Reversion of Title" if there are "Violations of Conditions" and the "Violation Constitutes Nuisance." For the specific language in these clauses, click here.
11/20/16 Article in Daily Breeze on "Opposition regroups for new Palos Verdes Homes Association election" -- click here
11/17/16 Letter to the Editor in Peninsula News from former PVE Mayor Jim Nyman on the PVHA Election -- click here
11/16/16 Second "Meet the Candidates Night" scheduled for Thursday December 15th at 7pm in the Gallery Room at Malaga Cove Library.
11/11/16 Letter sent to PVHA President Phil Frengs Taking Issue with Assertions he made at the Meet The Candidates Night on 11/10/16. Mr. Frengs accused ROBE of misrepresenting aspects of 5 issues, and this letter goes through each of those assertions and fact-checks to show that the accusations were inappropriate and unfounded -- click here
11/10/16 PVHA Applies for Permission to file an Oversized brief. Permission to file this 133 page brief was granted -- click here
11/10/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Candidate Forum set for Tonight" -- click here
11/9/16 Palos Verdes Homes Association files Appellant's Opening Brief. Eleven months after appealing the Judge's Ruling in the Panorama Parkland case, the PVHA files a 133 page opening brief. I guess "brief" is not a literal term. For the full AOB, click here.
11/7/16 City of Palos Verdes Estates files Appellant's Opening Brief. Eleven months after appealing the Judge's Ruling in the Panorama Parkland case, the City of PVE files its opening brief -- click here.
10/6/16 Defendants file for Another Extension of Time to file Opening Briefs. This latest request for an extension makes in eleven months and counting -- for their stated reasons, click here
9/6/16 Defendants file for Extension of Time to file Opening Briefs. After the Defendants in the CEPC lawsuit appealed in November 2015, they have missed several deadlines for filing their first brief. This latest request for an extension makes in ten months and counting -- for their stated reasons, click here
10/19/16 ROBE Announces "Meet the Candidate Night" on November 10th at 7pm at Malaga Cove Library Gallery Room downstairs. All candidates have been invited.
9/24/16 ROBE Suggests to PVHA that they Ask Judge to Lower the Quorum Required for an Election: The 50% quorum threshold has not been reached since 2009, and lowering the quorum would allow the public to have a say in electing their representatives. This item has been added to the agenda of the PVHA Directors meeting in on October 25th at 4:30pm in Building 19 in Miraleste Plaza. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
9/16/16 PVHA Accepts the Signatures Nominating ROBE's Three Candidates
9/12/16 ROBE Submits 212 Signatures to Nominate its Candidates: Only 100 were needed, and these were gathered in 10 days over a holiday weekend, showing strong support from the community -- Thanks!
9/9/16 PVHA Approved Resolution 179 Additional Procedures for Governing Election: Additional rules governing the election include the statement that if a quorum is not achieved, then the PVHA will not even count the votes -- click here.
August 2016 PVHA Selects New Director Without Public Input (Contrary to What Was Promised): On 1/4/16 at a public "Meet the Candidates" night, PVHA Director Dale Hoffman stated that the opening created by Mark Paullin's resignation would be filled after a process of public solicitations, interviews and vetting by the Board. Throughout 2016, ROBE members asked at the monthly Directors meeting when that would occur, and no answer was given. In the past month, the PVHA website was quietly updated to indicate that a new director (Carolbeth Cozen) had been selected. This lack of transparency and disregard for the public interest is symptomatic of the problem that motivates us to push for Open Board Elections and change
8/28/16 Letter sent to PVHA Board of Directors with questions on the Election Process -- click here
6/24/16 PVHA Approves Resolution 177 Procedure for Open Nominations: For the first time ever, PVHA has acknowledged that they must accept nominations from the public -- click here
3/16/16 Guest Commentary in Peninsula News by Former Mayor Jim Nyman -- click here
2/29/16 Letter sent to PVHA Board of Directors with Suggestions for defining the Election Process -- click here
2/12/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Reformers Dispute PVHA vote totals" -- click here
2/12/16 Article in Peninsula News on "PV Homes Association vote totals disputed" -- click here
2/11/16 John Harbison Comments on the PVHA Election Report: If the last ballot submitted by PVHA voters were counted (instead of the first ballot as PHVA did), all four ROBE candidates would have been in the top five vote getters. This is disappointing because PVHA Attorney Sid Croft stated on 12/26/15 in the Daily Breeze that “If (residents) want to revoke their ballots, they can come to the homes association and mark whoever they want.” For Harbison's comments, click here.
2/10/16 PVHA releases Judge Latin's Report and Issues a Press Release -- click here
1/30/16 Judge Latin Sends his Report on the Election Count to PVHA -- click here
1/14/16 Article in Peninsula News on "Lower Voter Turnout nixes PV Homes Election" -- click here
1/14/16 Article in Daily Breeze on "Lower Voter Turnout nixes PV Homes Election" -- click here
1/9/16 Letter from ROBE to PVHA Directors on Election Process -- click here
1/7/16 Letter to the Editor in Peninsula News from Ann Hinchliffe, former PVHA Director -- click here
1/4/16 Meet The Candidates at Peninsula Center Library Community Room from 7 - 9pm
1/1/16 Article in Daily Breeze on "Challengers in PV Homes Association election to host open forum" -- click here
12/31/15 Letters to the Editor in Peninsula News from Barbara Culver (former PVE Mayor) and Renata Harbison -- click here
12/31/15 Year in Review in Peninsula News on "Parklands ruling appeal spurs candidates" -- click here
12/29/15 Article in Daily Breeze on "New ballots cannot be recast for P.V. Homes Association board, attorney says" -- click here
12/26/15 Article in Daily Breeze on "4 challenge incumbents for Palos Verdes Home Association seats" -- click here
12/17/15 Article in Peninsula News on "Four Challengers Running for Seats on PV Homes Association-Peninsula News" click here
12/17/15 Letters to the Editor in Peninsula News: For letters from Dick Fay and George Winston, click here
It's time for a leadership change at Palos Verdes Homes Association (PVHA) -- The current directors have lost their way:
- Sold parkland to an encroaching private resident in 2012
- Advocated re-zoning parkland as residential in 2013
- Taken actions declared illegal by Judge in 2015
- Appealed court ruling despite strong community opposition
- Advocated closing the most heavily used trail through parklands in PVE in 2015, and offered to partially fund the project
- Allowed the bluff top parklands to serve as a construction yard to house broken up asphalt, heavy machinery in 2015
- Failed to act while PVPUSD granted easements for freestanding solar panels on PVE school sites
The current Board has been embarrassingly inconsistent on several issues including a rezoning request (supported then not supported), tried to deny a legal standard (MRTA) in one case then advocated it in another, filed with the court that they voted for appeal then denied it, cited that the PVHA had rights under the Stirling-Davis Act then later denied that the Stirling-Davis act applied to them. Other embarrassments include trying to redefine the word “shall” as meaning “may” and hence “optional”.
The consequence of "status quo" actions of the incumbents can be:
- Loss of open space parkland through further sales and reduced public access
- Further drain on public resources by defending lawsuits brought on by illegal actions and ill-conceived policies at PVHA
- Erosion in property values as PVE's premium over RPV goes away with the loss of Protective Restrictions and open space
- Risk of Palos Verdes Estates turning into another Redondo Beach
As a consequence, a group of concerned residents have formed a group called ROBE (Residents for Open Board Elections) to nominate and elect a new set of leaders to PVHA Board that care about PVHA's true mission and commitment to parklands.
So far, ROBE has collected 193 petitions and at least 178 nominations per candidate. Per CA Code, only 100 are needed to add a name to the ballot.
Among the signers are four former Palos Verdes Estates mayors, one former PVHA President, one former PVHA Director, and the widow of another former President of the PVHA (who two years ago asked all the current Directors to resign), as well as two former Board members for PVP Unified School District — indicative of the depth and breadth of concerns by recent leaders in our community. Former Mayor Joe Barnett (recently deceased) also spoke out against the sale of parkland at a City Council Meeting in 2012, so if he were included, it would be five former PVE Mayors dissatisfied with the decisions made by the current Board.
To learn more, we encourage you to read on and explore this website. To take action, click here.
One of the things for which we are most thankful is the foresight our Palos Verdes Estates Founding Fathers who created a very special community almost a century ago, with about 800 hundred acres of open space to enjoy and cherish every day. We are also truly thankful for the spectacular job of stewardship of that legacy performed by the PVHA over most of the past 92 years.
However, many of us are concerned that the current PVHA Board has lost its passion for protecting our parklands, and that it has made a series of very poor decisions starting in 2012 when Board members agreed to sell parkland to a private individual (click here for more information). Since then PVHA's behavior in the CEPC lawsuit has added to the Community’s concerns about their commitment to their core mission — that of defending the Protective Restrictions established in 1923 while ensuring their adherence. The Judge in that case found the actions of the PVHA "ultra vires" (illegal) and mandated that the sale of parkland be reversed; for the full Ruling click here, and for the Final Judgment click here. PVHA's recent decision to appeal the Judge’s ruling is a stark reminder that they remain unresponsive to the strongly expressed interest of the community that they accept the ruling.
Some of you are unhappy with how the Association resolves view and tree disputes. Others of you may have shared our disappointment with how the Association and City allowed the bluff tops to serve as a construction yard to house broken up asphalt, heavy machinery and other construction equipment when construction was done earlier this year near the intersection of Paseo Del Mar and Via Barr. More recently, the Association advocated the closure of the Fire Road trail off of Paseo Del Sol -- one of the best hiking trails in all of Palos Verdes. The Association has also stood by silently, without any apparent comment or inquiry, when the Palos Verdes School District recently approved solar panels without competitive bidding or drawings depicting the location of the solar panel arrays. The direction that the Association’s current Board of Directors seems out of step with the will of the Association’s members.
For instance, PVHA President Mark Paullin wrote a letter in June 2015 expressing support for a plan to shut down (with a 300 foot fence) all public access to a portion of the Paseo del Sol Fire Road trail. The Fire Road is probably the most heavily used walking/hiking/biking trail in our City, and it is the only path through the largest parkland parcel in our City. Astonishing as this advocacy was, Paullin went on to say in his letter (click here) that PVHA would financially support the project. How could the PVHA support this, since the Fire Road is on the very same tract of land that the Judge has ruled must remain "parkland forever… for public recreational use” due to inviolable deed restrictions? The Judge had found that the PVHA had acted “ultra vires” (illegally) when they sold parkland on Via Panorama. Fencing off public access to parkland to give privacy to a few neighboring homeowners is also illegal since the same 1940 Deed states the property “is to be used and administered forever for park and/or recreation purposes only … for the benefit of the (1) residents and (2) non-resident property owners within the boundaries of the property heretofore commonly known as ‘Palos Verdes Estates’.”
For many years, the same people who made the above decisions have remained on the Board of Directors by default because there were insufficient numbers of PVE residents who cared enough to vote in the board election. No quorum and no meaningful election has been held for years.
This continual and alarming disregard for our heritage has caused many in our Community to conclude that we need to act to elect a more thoughtful and responsive Board of our HOA. Unfortunately, the tradition of the PVHA Board has been that they are self-nominating, and the ballots we are asked to sign have no provision for write-in alternatives or even choice among a pool of qualified candidates. Consequently, a group of us have formed a new initiative called ROBE for “Residents for Open Board Elections,” and we’d like to ask for your support. The PVE City Council, the PV Golf Club, the PV Tennis Club and the PV Beach & Athletic Clubs all have processes where members can collect signatures and add themselves to the ballot -- why should PVHA not do the same?
This website provides background documents, press articles and information about ROBE so that you can be better informed. For bios of our proposed candidates who have all demonstrated commitment to parkland and a passion for preserving that part of our heritage, click here. We also provides the means for you to take action and help bring back good stewardship in our local government.