Letters to the Editor
For a slower Warm Springs Road
I am writing to support the Kenwood community effort to make Warm Springs Road safe and sane.
When I first heard of the effort to implement traffic calming methods I was supportive of my neighbors, understanding that those who live on Warm Springs Road near Highway 12 are significantly impacted by the noise level. I live a block away so I don't hear the noise, which made me think this was an issue limited to a small few. However, I do walk regularly for exercise along a route that takes me along Warm Springs and I was amazed at the difference the recent electronic warning sign made on my walks. I used to feel like I was taking my life in my hands on the long two blocks until I could turn off on Mervin Ave., a quiet country lane. I would walk as fast as I could on the Warm Springs Road section and hug the edge of the road, all the while considering how it would feel to have to jump into, or be knocked into, the thicket of blackberry bushes and ditches that line parts of the road. I very quickly realized that my walk had become very comfortable and the fear factor reduced to nil when traffic was going slower, once drivers caught sight of the sign flashing. In chatting with other walkers we all said how much nicer it was during the time the sign was up. Not surprisingly speeds have increased now that the sign has been removed. It's clear that if traffic calming were to be a permanent fixture on this section of Warm Springs Road it would be safer for all who use the Kenwood Plaza Park and live in the general vicinity of the road.
Please help us achieve slower speeds and a safer environment through the installation of a stop sign at Warm Springs and Los Guilicos Ave. or other measures to permanently slow drivers down. Our quality of life would be much enhanced.
[The following letter was sent to Supervisor Susan Gorin]
Dear Supervisor Gorin,
The recent placement by the CHP of the 25 MPH speed limit advisory signage was really welcomed here in Kenwood. Crossing Warm Springs from the Park to Los Guilicos with children and dogs has often been frightful due to speeds that appeared to be in the range of 50 MPH. And the noise of excessive speed, especially from motorcycles and large commercial vehicles, has been very unpleasant.
My request is that you personally and proactively back both the CHP and County Sheriff in their active and continuing presence and enforcement of the posted speed limit of 25 MPH.
Farewell to a Kenwood Treasure
Returning home from a trip away from Kenwood recently, I was saddened by the destruction of the once pristine walnut orchard by Lawndale Road. As a longtime neighbor, I have fond memories of Cliff Rich on his tractor lovingly tending to his immaculate walnut orchard, and can only imagine that he would turn over in his grave if he could see the choice made to “save” what was at one time part of “the family ranch.” For some, there can never be enough money to be made I guess.
Let Zen Center have its permit
I support the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center's application to amend its use permit which, in the end, will simply permit the center to continue to exist - but in full compliance with county code requirements.
The center is not responsible for the abysmal state of the county's roadways, which are the result of political and financial decisions made by the county, not the center, in recent years.
The center is a resident of Sonoma Mountain Road and suffers all the same aggravations and inconveniences as its neighbors. Denial of the amendment will not repair or improve the roadway in any manner. It will not fill even one pothole!
Nor will permitting the amendment cause significant deterioration of the roadway in the future since the center holds only one or two public events a year that draw more than a couple of dozen people - and those events are one-day events such as its annual bazaar.
We are not talking about 500 people coming to the center every day, or every week, or even month, but, at best, perhaps, one or two days out of every year! Nor are we talking about scores of trucks and heavy equipment invading the area on a daily basis for several years to construct a mega-complex on the scale of a big box shopping center.
The center is not seeking to expand its physical size but merely to replace, over time, its aging, non-compliant facilities with newer, more attractive, environmentally friendly ones that will meet the latest code requirements.
If the object is to protect the environment and maintain the natural beauty, openness and peaceful serenity of the area, while assuring that structures are code compliant, the county ought to permit and encourage the amendment, not impose onerous conditions and penalties upon the center that can serve only to discourage or delay the long overdue improvements that need to be made.
Ray C. Estabrook
Patricia Arnold Letter of Resignation
[This letter is reprinted with permission from Patricia Arnold, OVA Manager]
July 2, 2013
Dear Board of Directors,
I believe OVA and I have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. It has been a pleasure to work in and for the OVA community. At this point, I have achieved the goals I set when I joined OVA, and I have decided to move on. I'll be leaving OVA on September 30, 2013 - which will give you three months to find a new manager.
I am most proud of the following achievements during my work here:
o OVA now has a new Employee Handbook correctly reflecting actual OVA employer/employee practices.
o OVA now has a detailed reference binder for each Board Member and Chair of Standing Committees which will be updated each year.
o OVA has implemented a post-Board Election Training session which includes Committee Chairs in order to shorten the learning curve for all new Directors and Chairs and to help the OVA leadership begin each new Board year with a 'same page' understanding about applicable laws, the basics of OVA' s insurance coverage, and the use of the monthly financial report as a management and planning tool.
o We have implemented an annual Board Goal Setting Workshop to further aid each new Board to begin its year as cohesively and effectively as possible.
o OVA now has a thorough inventory of all OVA facilities including each piece of capital equipment numbered and labeled by its use and installation date to create a more accurate list of the OVA's physical assets and a more accurate Reserve Study.
o I reduced OVA's annual operating budget each year, eliminating wasteful spending, and carefully managing operations. OVA had been on track to raise its 'dues' by $3 each year for a series of years. 'Dues' increased only by $0.50 in 2012 and not at all [in] 2013. At the end of 2011 and 2012, OVA transferred a combined $300,000+ in unspent funds which were transferred from Operations to the Reserve Fund. ,The refinanced CAC loan has cut the cost of the loan by nearly a million dollars allowing it to be paid off several years earlier.
o Installation and implementation of management, maintenance, and event software makes it easier, quicker, and more efficient for OVA Members and Staff to retrieve and manage accounting and member data.
o Digitization of OVA's key documents makes it possible for OVA Members to access years of Board Meeting Minutes, Oakmont's Governing Documents, Oakmont News articles, and a growing list of pertinent information. Expansion of live streaming by adding Board Meetings and other important Board related meetings adds to the list of events OVA Members can access after the fact.
o We thoroughly cleaned out and reorganized the Maintenance Office and Shop and established accountability standards for cleaning and maintenance for all OVA-owned property. A dress code for the Facilities Maintenance Department ensures staff wears appropriate apparel and equipment for personal safety. Now OVA has regular OSHA safety training programs, general in-service training, staff cross-training, and continuing education for all OVA employees and periodic employee events designed to create camaraderie and improve morale.
o What could not have been foreseen when I joined OVA was that for nearly a year I would serve as Association Manager and Facilities Maintenance Manager. During that time I got a deeper look at OVA maintenance and custodial practices, deferred maintenance, and the physical condition of OVA's buildings and grounds. I corrected what I could and determined OVA needed a more thorough examination of the buildings. While it may have been unwelcome news, the report from that forensic investigation will serve as a basis for further study, and will inform and guide successive Boards in decisions needed in the coming months and next few years.
During the remaining weeks I will continue to serve the needs of OVA, managing the business affairs of the association, assisting the Board in its search for my replacement, and supporting a smooth transition at the end of September.
Patricia Arnold, CCAM, CMCA AMS