OVA Reopening Some Facilities

            After much discussion regarding liability and enforcement, the Oakmont Village Association board voted unanimously to open facilities for tennis, pickleball, petanque, bocce, shuffleboard, horseshoes, lawn bowling and the community garden at its May 19 meeting. Indoor facilities remained closed.

            The staff was working to get the venues ready by Friday or Saturday, May 22-23.

            The action lifting the closure, which took effect March 17, is subject to the usage guidelines in the Sonoma County health officer’s May 12 order C19-11 “allowing limited socially distanced access to some parks for outdoor recreational activities.” It is also subject to any “subsequent county orders.”

            On advice of OVA’s attorney, the board voted to require that the posting of the county guidelines include a notice that users waive liability. A motion to require those using the facilities to sign a hold harmless agreement regarding liability was defeated 7-0.

            Spanier, describing himself as “more cautious than others,” also questioned how the guidelines would be enforced. He suggested that a newly approved Post-COVID Facility Reopening Committee could enforce the rules, but no action was taken on that suggestion.

            In his president’s report, Spanier said: “We’ve now heard about three COVID cases in Oakmont. We still believe there are additional active but undiagnosed cases here and that other residents have had the virus and recovered.”

            The county order specifies that open facilities “may be used by individuals alone or in a group comprised solely of individuals from the same household.” In addition, every user must conduct a self-assessment of their health and shall not enter if they have any of the symptoms consistent with COVID-19. These include a fever of 100.0 degrees or greater, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, unusual headaches, severe fatigue, chills, gastro-intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or stomach cramps or loss of smell or taste.

            The county order adds further requirements for community gardens, which can be operated as agricultural operations providing food for participants subject to social-distancing and hygiene protocols. These include the availability of soap and running water, wearing masks, cleaning all tools with a CDC-recommended disinfectant after each use and not sharing tools with other gardeners. Also gardeners must use their own gloves, signage listing the rules must be posted at all entrances and benches and other communal spaces must be marked off-limits for the duration of the order.


            The board unanimously approved a resolution postponing “until further notice” approval of the Fire Safety and Control Policy, which calls for defensible space fire inspections of Oakmont properties. The resolution cited member concerns about the timing of beginning a fire inspection process during the COVID-19 shelter in place order and “ambiguities” regarding defensible space. It also said that the board and management “have recognized they may have been premature in beginning the inspection process”.

            OVA General Manager Kevin Hubred, noting that creating a fire safe community is “a long process,” said one community of 200 homes took three years to achieve the goal.

            Spanier, citing the difficulties in establishing fire regulations in a community like Oakmont, said “it’s especially tough now. Drawing a line in the sand requires balancing community-wide fire safety with individual privacy and financial impacts. To do this at a time when many across our nation are decrying governmental overreach is particularly challenging.”

            He said OVA’s goal “is to produce reasonable fire regulations that protect our community. At the same time, we must recognize and appreciate that our residents have financial and privacy concerns. It’s not surprising, as with making decisions to open facilities, setting fire regulations is evoking emotion and diversity of opinion. We’ll do our best to make our way through this with care, thoughtfulness and your help.”

            The resolution allows for community outreach and education on defensible space and enables members to offer their recommendations and to express their concerns how fire inspection measures will affect them. It also directs the board and management to revise the policy “and strategically plan the inspection process beginning in the most egregious fire hazard areas in Oakmont.”

            One change in proposed revisions which loosen the policy concerns the limbing of trees.  Rather than requiring the limbing of all trees to a minimum of 6 feet from the ground, not to exceed 1/3 of the tree height, it refers to trees “that are considered a potential fire hazard” and that they “should” rather than “will” be limbed “and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.”        


            Turning its attention to OVA’s central complex, which includes Berger Center and the Central Activities Center, the board established a Project Team Ad-Hoc Committee to manage exploration of potential options for the complex. The team’s goal is “to develop high-level, credible information on potential alternatives.”

            The board adopted a study by the Oakmont Community Development Committee on developing additional emergency egress routes from Oakmont and directed the OCDC and OVA staff to explore and develop egress routes recommended in the study. These include egress from Oak Leaf Drive to Highway 12 through property owned by OVA, from Meadowstone Drive to Highway 12 through an existing private road, Channel Drive with access away from Highway 12 through state-owned land and through Elnoka with access away from Highway 12 through a future residential development.

              Hubred said five automated external defibrillators (AEDs), purchased following approval by the board March 17, have been installed at the CAC, Berger, East and West Recreation centers and the OVA office. OVA will be coordinating AED and CPR classes as soon as time permits. He said the AEDs will be ready when OVA buildings reopen.