www.montereycountyweekly.com FEBRUARY 22-28, 2024 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY 21 disallowing garage inspections; asking Yancey (again) and Esteban to resign; and asking for a recall of all three board members of the townhome HOA. To date, according to those interviewed for this story, none of the requests in those petitions have been heeded. Kadidia Cooper, a single-family homeowner in East Garrison who works as a chief financial officer for a nonprofit, has repeatedly asked for the HOA’s financial records, which as a homeowner she’s legally entitled to receive. But she still hasn’t gotten them despite repeated requests since last summer. She’s filed two complaints with the state Attorney General, but so far nothing has come of it. Because one question many residents are curious about, but have no way of knowing the answer, is what exactly are all their HOA dues being spent on? And if that information isn’t being readily shared with them, doubts creep in. Residents wonder if there is something nefarious or fraudulent going on? Is it just incompetence? And if it’s none of those things, why can’t they see the records? Veronica Rodriguez, TMT’s property manager for East Garrison, didn’t respond to a request for comment about residents’ concerns, nor did Yancey (Esteban could not be reached). Fed up, a coalition of residents, Concerned Neighbors of East Garrison, retained legal counsel. On Jan. 18, attorney Gary Redenbacher, on behalf of the coalition, sent a scathing letter to The Management Trust and members of the board to inform them he is advising homeowners not able to inspect financial documents to begin a formal dispute resolution process, and potentially hold individual board members accountable for obstruction. He also calls the HOA’s demand to inspect garages illegal and “nonsensical.” He writes, “I have advised my clients that the sheriff should be called and an arrest requested should anyone from management or the board be foolish enough to trespass onto private property.” And as for the cease and desist letters sent to residents for criticizing the board on social media, he writes, “These letters appear to be little more than a transparent attempt to stifle free speech. One would think that any law firm would understand that writing such letters are not only not in accord with the law, but invites litigation under a panoply of California and federal laws meant to protect constitutional rights.” P atrick Johansen, founder of the volunteer-run HOA Reform Leaders National Group, lives in Washington state and, though now retired, he’s devoted to helping HOA members around the country navigate their challenges. He no longer lives in an HOA, but he once did, and when things started to go sideways, he sued the HOA and won. He feels driven to help others suffering under bad management, in part because of guilt he feels for abandoning his neighbors still under the HOA’s thumb. “I felt like I was leaving an open bear trap in a school yard,” he says. The best path, he believes, is for states to create an HOA department that would investigate complaints, which would protect homeowners from being preyed upon by having to pay unjust fines in the event they can’t shell out enough money for an attorney. And that’s a lot of people: Per the U.S. Census, in 2022, 71 percent of newly completed homes in western states are part of an HOA. But even if that does eventually happen—California creating an investigatory body to look into HOA abuses—it’s not going to help the residents of East Garrison anytime soon. And many of them have other concerns too—about the private transfer fees homeowners have to pay when selling their homes, and whether or not there will ever be a town center—but those are different stories. Right now, the primary concern many residents have is what’s going on with the HOA, and where the money’s going. The next chapter of the story, it seems, might be written in court documents. But acrimony doesn’t seem to be anyone’s goal—they just want East Garrison to feel like home. “I don’t enjoy living here anymore. You feel like you’re being spied upon.” CAN YOU SOLVE THE MYSTERY BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT? Follow the rabbit. Rob the bank. Travel through time to save the world....and many more. A 60 minute adventure, 9 rooms to choose from each with a different theme. Great for birthdays or special events. Kid friendly. 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