About the Voting Proxy form and the need to update our bylaws/DORs
By YLOA General Manager Jonathan Penrose
We want YLOA homeowners to have a voice…
• How would you feel if citizens who choose NOT to vote had more power than those that dutifully go to the polls and cast their ballots?
• Would it be fair for YOUR vote to be set aside simply because other eligible voters choose NOT to participate?
• What if a ballot measure passed with 100% approval and our elected officials were unable to implement the voter-approved changes?
That is exactly the situation we face when it comes to updating our bylaws and DORs.
Did you know that our bylaws give the right to vote just to the male member of the household? Even though this now violates the law (and good sense), this provision is still in our Governing Documents.
This might not sound so bad, but consider that we rarely receive more than 600 ballots (and to the best of our knowledge, we have never received even 1,000).
This means that even if 100% of our voting owners vote ‘yes,’ we can’t implement what they approved.
As another example, our DORs prevent keeping goats and chickens (except under special circumstances). Even if we had a vote to change this restriction, unless we received 1,130 ‘yes’ votes, the board would be unable to change this.
Ideally, every property owner would cast a ballot, but we know given the last 50 years that is not going to happen. And this prevents us from modernizing our Governing Documents, which leads to confusion and opens the association to legal liability (in some instances).
In 2018, nearly 70% of the owners who cast ballots approved the very same changes that are on our proxy ballot for November, yet the board could not implement what was approved.
We have had to invest more time and money to get more ballots cast. Even though ALL owners had the right to participate, it is the will of those who choose not to vote that prevails over the wishes of those who do participate.
These changes are being proposed so that our community has the ability to make updates to our Governing Documents.
Any actual changes would still need the approval of the majority of those that vote. It doesn’t give the board any authority to make changes without community approval AND it doesn’t exclude any homeowner that wants to participate. However, it would give the board the ability to implement the changes that are approved.
One last thought… In 2018 the county of Madera had near record voter turnout. Even so, only about 40,000 of nearly 110,000 eligible voters cast ballots — in other words only about 36% of those that had the opportunity to vote, actually voted. That means it took about 18% of voters to make a majority.
In our community, it is tough to get 25% participation. That means that without the proposed changes, we would need to double the amount of voter participation AND have 100% approval to ever change our bylaws or DORs.
Remember, ANY future changes would still need majority approval and ANY homeowner that wanted to participate would still have the opportunity to participate if they chose to.
Please participate by turning in your proxy form or attending the November board meeting to vote in person.
WHAT AND WHY:
• YLOA included a Voting Proxy form in packets that were mailed to all members earlier this year. It instructs the board to vote as each member directs on just two issues that would give ALL members — not the board or anyone else — the ability to make changes to our bylaws and Declaration of Restrictions.
• The form gives the YLOA Board of Directors authority to vote at its November meeting on the members’ behalf only as directed on just these issues.
• The proposed changes will take place ONLY if 50 percent of all YLOA members, plus one, approve of them. That’s 50-plus-one APPROVAL, not just the number who vote. This may seem to be an unattainable goal (read on), but we have no other choice.
This is what the ballot asks (do not use this to vote):
I AUTHORIZE my proxy to vote as follows (Circle choice):
Yes No By-law change: bylaws may be amended or repealed by a majority vote or written assent of members in good standing provided that no less than 25% of the voting power participates
Yes No DOR Change: Declaration of Restrictions may be amended or repealed by the majority vote or the written assent of members in good standing provided that no less than 25% of the voting power participates
• Voting power: Members in good standing eligible to vote
• Bylaws: The bylaws govern how the HOA operates and contain the information needed to run the HOA as a business. They cover matters such as: how often the HOA holds meetings, duties of the various offices of the board of directors and membership voting rights.
• DORs: Declaration of Restrictions, also called CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions). They describe the requirements and limitations about what you can do with your property. The goal is to protect, preserve, and enhance property values.
Why was a proxy form sent? This election is different from annual HOA board elections and the ballots are not secret. Without proxy votes, members would have to show up in person at a board meeting to vote. This also gives members much more time and opportunity to vote on this important step. Members have had nearly four months to send in or drop off their proxy form. As stated above, the forms were included with the election packets sent out in July. A Proxy Vote form also was included in a separate mailing to all members with paperwork to sign up for electronic correspondence and updated owner information.
Why was the 50%-plus-one requirement ever put into place? Such requirements are typical for new associations to give the developers control over their project until a large number of properties are sold.
Members still have more than a week to send in their forms. Forms can be picked up at the YLOA office, or downloaded at THIS LOCATION on yosemitelakespark.org — just print, fill out and mail or drop off at the YLOA office, or bring to the Nov. 26 meeting. Ballots will be accepted at the meeting.
YLOA Board President Rebecca Brannon
YLOA General Manager Jonathan Penrose