■ Metro Service / Contributed
Homeowner associations (HOAs) were originally created with the purpose of managing, marketing, and selling property in a residential community. The boards regulate and restrict the residents based on a democratic system usually voted on by the inhabitants. One park here in the valley has experienced a series of conflicts, creating a void between the two opposing sides. American Village is a well-maintained, upscale senior community on the border of Hemet and San Jacinto.
After the last article about American Village senior community was published, a quorum of at least 112 ballots was finally reached, allowing a meeting to take place on Feb. 15. Jack Hale received the most votes with 106, Gary Payne received 58 votes, Eileen Wynn received 39 votes and Carmen Garcia received 33 votes. Wynne was immediately reappointed as president of the American Village HOA board. This meeting was the third attempt by park residents and owners to reach a quorum.
Previously a dispute took place when some residents allegedly witnessed Tim Maw, American Village property manager, touching the arm of the Inspector of Elections Lisa Schwartz, which is a violation of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act. Maw denies ever touching the Inspector of Elections and feels this is an attempt by a few to discredit the HOA board, management and other members.
The fallout among residents and the HOA board members originated years ago over a community garden. The dispute arose over liability issues stemming from accusations of potentially contaminated organic produce, an emergency area needed for a helicopter pad, to requests to grow medical marijuana for residents with a medical marijuana card. Insects from the mulching also became an issue, which led to the eventual uprooting of the garden. The original contract was for a 900-square-foot garden and according to Gary Payne, it grew out of control. Susan Vallez says once an attorney became involved, the HOA board had no choice but to get rid of the garden to avoid any potential liability.
“When you have this many people in an organization, you must have compromise,” said Payne.
One incident that continues to divide the community is an accusation of a racial slur that took place last May at a card game in the clubhouse. The board member who supposedly made the racial slur was temporarily reprimanded and reappointed back to the board. After some home burglaries and other issues, a neighborhood watch called Concerned Private Citizens was created, but recently this group was dissolved as well.
Many residents in the park feel a sense of balance has been reached through the recent election of new board member Hale, who’s been very critical of the HOA board and property management. Hale is an absentee owner who continues to maintain the property while he rents it out. Hale says that back in 2011, “American Village was the place we were all looking for and found right here.” Since then he claims problems with a new property manager and over-enforcement of minute issues has driven a wedge between some residents in the park and the current HOA board.
Some issues have dissolved and been clarified, while others continue to emerge, creating further discourse among residents. Both sides of the dispute hope to agree to disagree and move forward with a balanced HOA board that can make decisions benefiting and protecting all the residents within the normally tranquil park.
Coldwell Banker Associated Brokers