Why we left Surfside…

This post is for those of you who have decided to leave Surfside. Please leave a note about why you left. Hopefully the future leaders of Surfside will take note and try to make a better community.

3 thoughts on “Why we left Surfside…

  1. We left pretty much for the same reasons. I don’t believe you could have found individuals that when put together had so many faults in their attempt to govern the HOA. They know nothing about governance, Roberts Rules, or how to deal with the folks they are supposed to represent. There is no workable way to govern if you do not have the respect of the people you are responsible to. There is practically no fiscal responsibility shown by any of them. The HOA has been hit with fines, questionable purchases, questionable personnel problems and the list goes on. Yet they treat the people like mushrooms, that is keep them in the dark and feed them poop. Owners stopped going to the Board meetings because they were treated with so much disrespect along with the Board not listening to what the owner had to say. This was manifested by several of the “committees” of the Board. Worst of all is the “Tree Committee”. I lived in the community for 13 years and we never had the animosity that we have had for the past few years. This is due to the voracity with which members of the Committee and Board members seek out tree height Covenant violations, cite the owners and then harass them until either they comply or pay a fine. Understand a Covenant is a “rule” that one agrees to obey when they become a member of the HOA. Howsoever, some of the Covenants, particularly the tree covenant is 50 years old and is virtually meaningless to today’s housing configuration. For example a house on J Place would have a view of the horizon from the front room. I measured the height (thank you GPS ) that one might be sitting on their living room chair. The houses on G Street (and their trees) are allowed to rise to 24 feet above the middle of G Street. The houses/lots on I Street are nominally 20 to 25 feet below J Place and having to look over the G Street Houses/Trees, you cannot see anything, trees or houses, on I street. My guess is that none of them took High School Geometry, or at least achieved a passing grade. The popular misconception is that owning on J Place you are guaranteed a 180 degree view to the West. Not so! Not written anywhere, not enforceable. The Board refuses to take action to update the Tree Covenant. There are some additional considerations, that being that the husband of the chair of the Tree Committee is on the Board as is the Board Representative (another Board Member) is very good friends (and neighbors) of the Committee Chair. At a minimum they should have recused themselves during any action involving the Tree Committee, they didn’t. I shouldn’t say that the Board is totally without swift action though, they moved with lightning speed to sue Patrick (and then post-suit to change the rules supporting their position). Well we all know how that turned out, Patrick won the suit and then when the Board appealed, the Board dropped the case, knowing they would lose. Watching them observe Patrick’s property through the use of a drone and Kirby Smith standing next door to us gazing across the canal while all of this was being accomplished (Kirby was a member of the Board at that time). Not a word of that action and the expense associated with the activity have been shred with the membership. Of course there was the great “Lighting Covenant change” authored by who knows that would have made everybody with a porch light eligible for a violation. Why was this change proposed? Beats me but I will wager they had somebody in mind to attempt to fine. Fortunately, the populace rose up against this change and it has been “delayed”.

    There is an election coming up, however elections in Surfside are a sham. When you need only a little over 200 members to constitute a quorum so a meeting can be held, you need only 50 or so votes to elect anyone. That is why groups have canvassed the neighborhoods prior to the Annual meeting to collect votes for certain candidates. OK you say, why didn’t you run? Good Question. I saw what happened to Board members who were in the minority and how, despite their best efforts those members were basically shunned by the rest of the Board, having little to no impact on what the majority deemed. Obviously I could go on and on talking about County Code violations, State and Federal Law violations, Fines, etc but I won’t because the Board never put any information to the populace concerning these activities. At least it appears one member of the Board that loves to spend great sums of HOA money may be leaving, albeit a little too late.

    I have rambled on but now we come to the real reason I left. It was mentioned earlier, that the HOA applied for (without membership notification or approval) and received a “forgivable loan” as part of the governments Covid 19 assistance programs. I thought to myself, we are not an organization that depends on people coming through the door to generate revenue. We have a set income for at least the dues and assessments (plus all that fining money and the revenue generated from sources such as the RV storage lot, which always seems to go into the General Fund rather than a separate fund as it should) . The 2020 budget was approved in November of 2019 so we should know how much and what we are spending for the year. This included all salaries and expenses. Now this funding was supposed to be for entities adversely affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. How was Surfside affected? Nobody was laid off and according to the Treasurers report we are ahead in collections of dues and assessments. What other financial activities do we have that could have been affected, because according to the Treasurer the $10k loan has been spent and was still not enough to cover the expenses incurred by the Pandemic. The only action that has occurred is one Board member has tried to put together a system to televise the Board meetings so that the members can observe (note: not participate, they tried sending in questions but the Board has ignored providing answers . I know, I was one of them). By the way, the system never really worked. So now they have gone and hired an IT person, a position not approved by anybody. Mu understanding is that the Board President brought up the idea as a motion, had no discussion, no second, and the Board voted it in. Roberts Rules where are you? Back to the $10k. When I learned that the HOA had received this money and knowing they had a set budget and collections were going well, I emailed the Board President and Treasurer asking them to donate the funds to a needy cause, the Ocean Park Food Bank or a needy family. The item may have been discussed by members of the Board, but without any record it is hard to know. By the way, thee Board doesn’t really publish meeting minutes. There is note about two to three months after a meeting, but it contains nothing of substance. One Board member actually said that the Ocean Park Food Bank was effectively “overrun with food”. If that were true I thought that was a good thing , we cold find a needy family. However, I decided to follow up on that statement. A few days later I spoke with the director of the Food Bank and she told me that statement was false and some of the bins were actually currently empty. She also told me the individual making that comment stopped by several times and if they were short on bread he would go across the street to Okies and buy a few loaves. Upon returning, rather than donating the bread he would be reimbursed the cost of the loaves. A real good Samaritan. Just within the past few days the Treasurer answered a query as to why they asked for the “loan”. He stated they have already spent more of the loan than they received, and as to assessments, there were people in the HOA that were affected by the virus and are finding it hard to meet their payment schedule. Well l guess that was what the money was for! I find this an ethical problem of the highest order. It is indicative of how the Board thinks and acts. It is not in any way a part of our makeup. So that is the short version of why I left Surfside.

  2. We left Surfside after many years of putting up with extremely prejudiced behavior toward RV property owners. We were forced to tear an extension off our beautiful shed as well as having to pull off our RV from the property every year while paying the same dues as home owners. We sold our Surfside lot because we just couldn’t take it anymore. When they asked us to cut our 40+foot tree down to 16 that did it. The tree was not blocking anyone’s view on J Place. the beautiful ocean pines that used to adorn our properties have been decimated by this HOA. We sold the lot at a loss. We miss the ocean, we miss the canal. We miss our friends there but I will tell you both of us are healthier and less anxiety ridden being out of there. Now we have 2 1/2 acres on Pend Oreille River with no restrictions. We can build anything 600 square feet or less without a permit. Neighbors are great there, too, which makes up for missing the ocean! It is really sad that a small group of egotistical people can ruin it for so many others.

  3. We were ecstatic when we purchased our RV lot in Surfside in 2016. We were just a shirt walk to the beautiful beach and we could literally smell & hear the ocean from our property. Before we purchased, we read the CC&Rs and weren’t alarmed; we thought it was unusual that they were controlled by the Board instead of the members, but there were provisions for making changes, so we moved on with buying our lot.

    We immediately went to work on our property. We trimmed the trees & removed a couple sick ones to comply with the height restrictions and make them safer for us and our neighbor. We added a nice shed, had work done on the electrical, put in a lawn, horseshoe pit, hot tub, a landing & steps for the RV, a back-flow preventer, made improvements to the electrical, added a security light, graveled the driveway, built a fire pit and added a locking gate. We had a satellite dish installed and got the Internet installed. We invested over $10,000 in improvements over three years.

    The tree trimming was frustrating – we spent over $3,000 over 3 years trimming healthy trees for no logical reason. Unfortunately our lot was in an area subject to a 24’ tree height, even though they did not obscure any views of those who live on the ridge. We were also frustrated as we learned the RV lot owners are subject to more scrutiny & harassment than homeowners. We soon learned that less than 20% of the Surfside members are full-time residents, yet they clearly controlled the Board and called all the shots. They were targeting RV lots for compliance violations and making arbitrary decisions about was and was not allowed, while hundreds of residences had houses or lots in disrepair. On the east side, the tree rules didn’t apply at all – even those on the east side of J Place on the ridge – the ones who filed complaints and forced other owners to get costly tree trimming, could grow trees without height restrictions. Although the Covenants make no mention of preserving views for those on the ridge, the enforcement of tree heights was led by the tree committee chaired by the J Place owners on the ridge.

    The HOA rules contradict the County ordinances and place unreasonable restrictions on owners’ usage of their properties. For example, RV owners were required to obtain and display seasonal permits on their RVs, while home & condo owners do not. RV lots have restrictions on when an RV can be on the lot and prohibit storage on one’s own property, although the county permits year-round usage/storage. Another example of targeting RVers was the “shed debacle”, in which sheds on RV lots were written up for having overhangs or covers that were in full compliance with county ordinances. Some Board members manipulated county employees to support their illegal restrictions which led to lawsuits. Although the HOA lost each and every lawsuit and lost their appeals – while wasting thousands of HOA funds on legal fees – they continued to single out RV lots, forcing members to tear down structures without compensation.

    Our first year as owners, I was encouraged to run for the Board to increase RV owner representation. I won the election which put two RV owners on the 9-person Board. We had two other Board members who didn’t live on the ridge and were “RV-friendly”, but this just led to consistently losing all motions on a 5-4 vote. As a Board member I had a first-hand look at the Board bias and illegal activities of the Board, who repeatedly violated the WA state RCWs pertaining to HOAs and Non-Profit Organizations. Meetings were held in secret and the majority of non-home owner and part-time members’ interests were pushed aside to favor the full-time residents. Voter suppression was rampant – member addresses were not updated verified, so many were not being notified of elections and the Board refused to implement virtual meetings or voting by mail. Since I was only elected to fulfill the term of a Board member who resigned, I was able to walk away after one year of beating my head against the wall.

    Unfortunately, my decision to get involved and try to effect changes to benefit the part-timers and RVers from within the Board totally backfired. I ended up being criticized and disparaged. Nasty posts and lies were posted on the Surfside blog and it eventually killed our joy of having our Surfside property, where we enjoyed two years of RV camping in Surfside for 6 months at a time. We bought our lot with the plan of building a cottage for our retirement home, but there is no way I would want to live year-round in a community that was ran by such a mean, biased, unethical and incompetent Board. While we loved our neighbors and 80% of the Surfside residents we interacted with, we couldn’t stand to go to Surfside with snobs running the HOA.

    Before we sold our Surfside property we purchased another RV lot in Olympia. Last year we sold the Surfside property and used it to build a beautiful RV cover and deck – which was prohibited in Surfside. We still miss the sound and smell of the sea, the squawking of the gulls, the sunsets and quiet beach. It makes me angry whenever I think about it. But the spiteful Board wished me good riddance, so I know we made the right choice to leave.

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