Petition has been Submitted!
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
On March 6, we turned in our reform petition to the HOA’s property management company.
We had intended to present it to the Board at its meeting a week earlier, but we were thrown a last-minute curve ball that led us to delay doing so. In essence, the management company advised us that it would accept only the signatures of those homeowners who were listed on the deeds in its files.
This was a big problem. All of those signing the petition are the legal owners, listed on the deeds on file with the Maricopa County Assessor. However, for whatever reason, the HOA does not have copies of the current deeds of many of them. We raised this issue at the Board meeting. We could not understand how the management company could not accept the signature of a legal owner.
Late on February 28, the management company further advised us that such petitions would be reviewed by legal counsel. We saw this shift as offering a viable solution. While it would require an intense amount of extra work for us, we determined that it would be wiser to just accept this position rather than lose valuable time arguing about it.
Over the next several days, we re-checked all the more than 1,200 petitions. We pulled up copies of the deeds on the assessor’s website of all of those who are legal homeowners but not on the HOA’s list. We printed copies of these deeds and included them with the petitions. We completed this laborious task on Thursday, and handed in the petition the following morning. There can be no question that all signers are indeed legal owners; their petitions must be accepted.
With this problem behind us, the key question now is: what happens next? Will the Board respect the will of the Association’s members and call for special members meeting within 30 days so we all can vote on the reform package?
It is worth noting that more than 1,200 HOA members signed the petition. This exceeds the 25% of the total membership required by the Bylaws.
This is an amazing display of unity among the HOA’s members in support of the reforms. To put this number in perspective, it surpasses the total number of members who cast votes in last year’s recall election, both for and against the incumbents.
Thus, the HOA members have spoken ‘loud and clear’ that they want an opportunity to vote on the reform package. And that they want that vote within 30 days, so that the reforms can be in place for the May election of board directors.
We hope that the Board will do the right thing and call for a vote. But we are also realistic, and we have seen how the Board responded to previous challenges. The Board may be tempted to dodge the issue by delaying a vote and perhaps merging it with the May election of Board directors. It might also reject the petition and claim that its own Bylaws reform initiative should take precedence.
This would be simply unacceptable. Any such effort would run counter to the thrust of the reform petition and be dismissive of the will of more than 25% of the total membership.
Should the Board fail to call for a vote for whatever pretext, there can be no mistake about the Board’s motives: the incumbents want to stay in power.
Our reform package has five points. Four of them are not controversial in any way. The fifth point is term limits; that is what the Board has been fighting against as hard as it can.
In December, the Board’s own Bylaws reform committee (in which we participate) was deadlocked on the issue of term limits. Nearly all the homeowners on the committee favored term limits, while the board directors on the committee were adamantly opposed. The committee resolved that the only proper resolution was to let the Association’s members decide the issue. The committee recommended to the Board that there be a special membership meeting in February to vote on term limits. This could have been done at virtually no cost. The Board unanimously rejected the committee’s recommendation.
The Board’s position was that, while it had previously committed to have a vote on term limits, it opposed term limits and wanted the membership to reject them. Moreover, it did not want any vote before the May election, so incumbents would not be affected even if the members voted to establish term limits. Finally, they maintained that the term limits should not apply retroactively; the clock would not start until the May election, and those in office could serve as many additional terms as allowed by the new term limits. In practice, this would mean those already on the board more than a dozen years could serve many more.
We find this position to be an affront to the whole notion of term limits. The HOA needs an infusion of new leadership with new thinking now.
It was this decision by the Board in December that left us with no alternative but to push forward with the petition drive. Fortunately, we found homeowners to be very receptive to our effort and willing to sign the petition. A surprisingly high percentage were troubled by what that had seen of the Board, and many shared their own negative personal experiences with us.
The bottom line is that we have followed the rules, even the last minute curve-ball by the management company; we have turned in the petition properly signed by more than 25% of the members. Now it is time for the Board to do the right thing and call for a vote within 30 days. We know that they can do this, since they did it last year for the recall election.
If you would like for the Board to hear your voice directly, we urge you to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them that you want them to call for a vote on the reform package within 30 days. The more they hear from homeowners, the more likely it is that they will do the right thing.