Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Forum Oakmont: 03/15/2011

The Governing of the Oakmont Village Association

Most residents of our Village take it for granted that Oakmont’s many recreational facilities are gleaming and well taken care of, the landscaping lush and lovingly attended to, the pools clean and inviting, the halls and rooms for the many meetings and club gatherings always prepared with the requisite tables and chairs in place.

They know their dues are processed monthly, and that Board meetings take place every four weeks, during which they assume the business of running Oakmont is discussed and decisions made in their best interest. Based on the annual financial report, Oakmonters are aware that their community finds itself in good fiscal standing, giving rise neither to concerns nor worries.

What most residents, with the exception of a small number of regular Board meetings attendees, might not know is the fact that Oakmont runs close to a $3 million dollar annual budget, constituting a sizeable enterprise.

Who are the stewards of these sums of monies? Who, indeed, runs the business of Oakmont and how do they govern? At the head of the organizational chart stands the Oakmont Village Association Board of Directors, a seven-member body, led by a president and vice-president, elected annually in rotation.

Their duties are circumscribed by the Davis-Stirling Act, a state document regulating Common Interest Developments with the following words: “The Board of Directors is responsible to preserve, protect and enhance the assets of the corporation” – a not-for-profit 501(c)(7) entity. This dictum means that any purchaser of property in Oakmont has the right to expect that its communal amenities and surroundings will appear as attractive in 10 or 20 years as they did on the day she or he moved into a home.

This legitimate anticipation leads us straight to the nerve center of Oakmont, the Village Administration, where all the strands of this widely flung venture flow together, under the leadership of the association manager, Patricia Arnold. And although her primary duty is to carry out the directives of the board and to support the directors in their fiduciary obligations, her equally demanding portfolio is to ensure, to the best of her ability, that all members of the Association receive the services to which they are entitled.

While taking care of the 1,001 daily housekeeping details, the manager must prepare the board for its monthly meeting. The executive packet that is delivered to every director is replete with the agenda, her own report, minutes, communications and proposals from all the committees, draft resolutions, financial data, correspondence and executive summaries, all intended to provide adequate information for the board to reach carefully reasoned decisions. The documents are voluminous, and the manager, in her quest to streamline administrative procedures, developed a “Committee Recommendation” form that highlights the pertinent facts and methods used to achieve stated solutions, as well as the breakdown of respective votes.

Another innovation in the service of efficacy, originating with the president, Bob Chapman, is to involve directors with the planning of the agenda. By the time of the board meeting, prior knowledge of the monthly work product, assembled by the manager, including past history, will lead to more focused discussions and exchanges of viewpoints.

With management and committees most often providing the board with information necessary to arrive at certain resolutions, it may happen, according to Treasurer Noel Lyons, that the directors initiate a project such as the review of the all important committees and their organizational patterns. To render the process as transparent as possible, several public meetings were held, during which the structure of the committees were tightened, in order to more ably assist the board with its analyses of issues and ultimate decision making processes. New members will be vetted as to their suitability for the job, and the board will, henceforth, direct their activities. The respective charters will undergo revisions, if necessary, on an annual basis and be streamlined to achieve unity of purpose.

Space precludes us at this time from offering more than just a glimpse behind the scenes of Oakmont’s governance. Suffice it to add that a new crop of candidates has already made their intentions clear to garner a seat on the Board of Directors next month. Our manager is ready to instruct them in the art of governing, to impart legal imperatives, to familiarize them with the rules and regulations of the Davis-Stirling Act, and to generally advance the knowledge of how business is done at Oakmont.

Patricia Arnold is not only a consummate professional with 30 years experience in the leadership of homeowners associations, but a born teacher whose work and support has led to an effective administration of the Oakmont Village Association.

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