18 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 22-28, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com for that. But, as the amenities they feel like they bought into fail to come to fruition with each passing year, many feel like they were sold a false bill of goods. A plaque outside an entrance to the East Garrison fire station states that it’s a community room, but only a group organized and funded to the extent that it has its own insurance policy, like the county’s community service district, can meet there. There’s a narrow, rectangular art park with pedestals for sculptures, but there are no sculptures on them. In the community’s central park, Lincoln Park—a public park managed by the county—there’s a community bulletin board, but members of the community have not been allowed to post anything on it. That same park has a snack shack that’s been utilized just one time in the last eight years, according to residents interviewed for this story. Shannon Rose, who bought her East Garrison home in 2018 and for one month last spring served on the master HOA board, says she had to fight tirelessly just to get the community services district’s board to allow a food truck, Tacos Don Beto, to come to Lincoln Park every Thursday evening so that residents can gather and build friendships in their nascent community. On Ord Avenue there are more than a hundred striped, diagonal parking spaces in front of derelict former mess halls. The area is supposed to be the future location of an arts neighborhood and near a yet-to-be-built town center, but the spaces sit empty, pristine. At the same time the HOA is asking that residents register their car every year for a parking permit. And there is also a fear among residents that the HOA intends to inspect every homeowner’s garage annually in order to get a parking permit, ostensibly to ensure that it still has enough space to accommodate a car. Yet it’s perfectly legal for a homeowner to park on their driveway, or the street. Whether or not it’s legal for the HOA to demand such garage inspections? That might be up for a judge to decide, depending on if the HOA’s leadership actually tries to require it for a homeowner who resists. A s tensions have elevated in recent weeks, the community’s primary Facebook page got taken offline Feb. 5 for a few days, as one of its administrators, in a post, said board members had complained to her that some of the comments were “libelous” and “maliciously twisted facts.” And at a sparsely attended East Garrison CSD meeting at the fire station on Feb. 7, there was even a security guard hired to watch over everything—which residents say is unprecedented—but there was little for him to look at except his phone. Tensions are high, and residents have been taking to social media to voice their discontent, and over the past year, some residents received cease and desist letters from the HOA’s law firm, Tinnelly Law Group, which is paid from fees paid by the homeowners themselves, to warn them off of making “defamatory” statements about board members online. Tamrynn Clegg, who’s now on the master HOA board, received such a letter on June 16, 2023, which starts off with: “We have been informed that you have a history of disparaging the board,” before going to demand that she “cease and desist” from making such comments. “While you are obviously unsatisfied with the board’s execution of its obligations, you should be aware that the board is granted broad discretionary powers when exercising its obligations under the governing documents.” Given that the board is a small, unpaid group of volunteers who may or may not have any expertise in governance, and who are “granted broad discretionary powers,” according to Tinnelly’s letter, it doesn’t stretch the imagination to think of the ways such a dynamic could go wrong. Clegg ran for the HOA board last summer in a field of five candidates vying for two open seats, and did so on a platform of reforming the board’s leadership. “We have to make our governing documents make sense,” she says. “And we need to take what the community has to say into consideration…We don’t need to have our hands in every decision our homeowners are making. “I want to ensure the rules we’re enforcing are reasonable, not capricious,” she continues. In an election last September, Clegg was elected by a wide margin—out of 375 ballots, she earned 198 votes. In second place was Deborah Kelly with 164 votes. But even if they vote together, they’re only two votes out of five, and the other two residents on the master HOA—aside from the developer’s seat—own townhomes, and also serve on the three-member townhome HOA. Clegg is steadfast in her commitment to reform how the board and the management company operate, but it takes more time to fix things than it does to break them. S tephanie and Gustavo almost lost their home. (The couple doesn’t want to use their last names, but not for fear of retaliation from the HOA; their professions can bring them into contact with those who’ve been convicted of crimes.) The couple owns a townhome that’s deed-restricted and subsidized for lower-income residents. Apart from that, one thing that separates all the townhomes from the single-family homes is that the owners don’t own the land their home sits on, they just own the structure, which they are not allowed to alter. They pay monthly fees to two HOAs: One for the master HOA, another for the townhome HOA. The couple hit hard times financially during the pandemic, and entered into a payment plan with the previous property management company, Associa, to ensure they weren’t getting dinged with late fees when they couldn’t make their HOA payments. But once the current property management company, The Management “It is a beautiful community, but it has the worst HOA in America.” More than a hundred striped parking spaces line Ord Avenue by former Army mess halls, but they sit mostly vacant, waiting to serve a yet-to-be-built town center and arts district that homeowners were promised. Tamrynn Clegg, holding two letters the HOA’s law firm sent to her in 2023 in the months before she was elected to the HOA’s board.