Despite some glitches using new technology, a Sept. 3 Townhall to get feedback on a proposal that would lower the threshold for approving changes to OVA’s bylaws accomplished its stated goal.
“I hope we can start a good conversation,” said OVA Vice President Tom Kendrick opening the two hour session which drew strong opinions about whether to lower the current standard requiring 50 percent or 1,600 households to vote in favor of any bylaws change.
A Bylaws Revision Committee (BRC) appointed in September 2018 spent almost two years studying the issue and compiling a list of 100 proposed changes to update bylaws which have not been changed since 1992. Most are minor corrections or small additions. Other more substantive BRC recommendations would allow two votes per residence, increase the OVA board from seven to nine members and terms to three years, require membership approval of major construction projects and include behavior in addition to non-payment of dues in defining member conduct.
Hugh Helm, a BRC member, said Phase 1 of the process is to have the community vote on reducing the threshold to a majority of 25% of households for approving any bylaws change. “This is a minimal number which I believe will serve as an incentive and motivate people to vote.”
Among those expressing opposition were Kerry Oswald who commented that no election in Oakmont has been deemed void due to a lack of a quorum, Bern Lefson who suggested making change too easy is not in everyone’s best interest and Bruce Bon who said he believes any bylaws amendment should represent a consensus of OVA members.
“I’m somewhat ambivalent at this moment,” said Sue Aiken. “I’m hoping and wishing the decision in your minds has not been closed off,” she said, addressing the board in the virtual Open Forum.
OVA Director Noel Lyons responded he had an open mind. “I place a lot of weight on the recommendations of the committee and our hired attorneys, he said, adding quorums are all over the map for different associations from the 25 percent to a high of 50 percent. Lyons also noted that the Davis Stirling website recommends a quorum of 15 percent for associations with more than 500 members.
Other Open Forum participants said they felt they did not have enough information. “I am concerned about the quorum,” said Ann Reeves. “We need complete transparency and both sides should have equal opportunity to state their case.”
“I think transparency is important and for the community to hear both sides,” said Board President Steve Spanier. “I don’t want the community to vote uneducated. We can do a better job so our official communications present both sides.”
“The current problem is that the OVA bylaws are very outdated,” commented Judie Coleman. “Such an onerous decision-making process leads to a stagnant community that can’t adjust to changing times.” She added the proposed system will be fairer because it will be a more accurate reflection of those who care enough to vote.
The board has set up an email address to receive member comments, questions and feedback, pro or con, on proposed bylaws changes.
“We want to hear from you, especially regarding the Phase 1 process for amending our bylaws,” Vice President Kendrick said after the forum. “Please direct your thoughts to Bylaws@oakmontvillage.com.”