San Elijo Homeowner Association Board Elections

email us or post your questions for our upcoming interviews with candidates for San Elijo Homeowner Association board elections. Ballots don’t have to be in until November 23

The board candidates are:

Thomas Cappellazo (Cedar Crossing)
Brenda Clark (Sagewood)
Ashley Hammerschmidt (Azure)
Tim Minjares (Cedar Crossing)
Curt Noland (Developer)
Hale Richardson (Developer)
Erin Ruhe (Developer)
Mary Russell (CrestView) (withdrew her name)
Torin Snyder (Saverne)
Jeff Tuller (Westcliffe)
Cynthia Van Cleave (Westcliffe)
Sarah Vollrath (Morgan’s Corner)
Ryan Williams (Promontory Ridge)
Michael Young (Azure)

There are a total of five seats on the board of directors.  One director may be appointed by the developer.  Four directors will be elected by the community


  • I have a question for the board.
    What is your short term and long term plan for the lanscaping of San Elijo Hills common areas?

  • Hi Diane – – your landscaping question is one of the top issues for our community, because 70% of our HOA budget spending (excluding reserves) goes towards landscape maintenance and water. These costs will most likely continue to climb as tree mature (requiring more pruning), and water costs increase.

    I’m actually surprised that this information is not summarized for the community, but one must go through the budget line by line, and add up several line items to arrive at $1.4M spent on landscaping and water, which amounts to 64% to more than 70% depending upon whether you’re looking at 2008 actuals or the 2009 projected. But no matter how you look at it, landscape/water costs are the biggest expenditure of our HOA dollars.

    Our community had a long term landscaping vision that was captured in the San Elijo project design book which the City of San Marcos approved in the 90’s before the first shovel of dirt was turned over. The vision is a very beautifully landscaped community. I support this vision, but now more than 10 years later things have changed that we need to incorporate into our decision process. For example, as a result of the massive 2003 fire, the California State Fire Department issued new standards in 2006 for fire protection zones.

    Short term there are a number of issues that have frustrated homeowners in the past, including resolving concerns about the 100 foot perimeter fire protection zone around homes, trees that are beginnng to fall over (i.e. along Elfin Forest near Carmel), vegetation creating blind spot issues for traffic at intersections, view and privacy issues.

    First step is to focus on the issues impacting the safety of our community. I served on the committee that reviewed the fire safety plan in 2008, and the issues are complex with no easy answers. Unfortunately several of the committee recommendations were tabled by the current developer controlled board. We need to resurface this topic, and if necessary get a second expert in to bring the issues to resolution prior to next fire season.

    Secondly, with regards to landscape management, the landscape contract should be put to competitive bid, so that in the short term we can assure ourselves that we are getting the best value for our dollars spent. Next, we need to systematically evaluate where our money is being spent, which hillsides, which common areas, and develop projections for how this spending may change as the landscaping matures, and based upon projected watering costs.

    We all want beautiful landscaping in our community, but if it results in increasing our HOA dues over the upcoming years, then homeowners have a right to know and then as a community we can make informed decisions, especially if there are decisions we can make today that improve our conservation, control spending, while maintain the vision of a beautifully landscaped San Elijo.

  • Concerned Homeowner

    I’ve been receiving a lot of information lately about this group of residents who refer to themselves as the “San Ejilo 4” running for the board of director positions for the San Ejilo HOA. I have no problem finally having us homeowners occupying a majority of the board positions, I’m just a little weary about having 4 individuals with the same agenda all serving on the board at the same time. The purpose of the board of directors is to have a group of diverse individuals that can share views and ideas and protect the best interest of the group that they are serving. By electing all 4 members of this group aren’t we jeopardizing the integrity of the association? I can see electing 1 or possibly 2 of these individuals to the board, but it would just seem a little unfavorable if they held 4 out of the 5 board positions at the same time. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Concerned Homeowner – I understand your hesitancy and your comment is begging the question: why are the “4 San Elijo” candidates working together and requesting the community to vote for all four of the candidates? what’s their agenda?

      The answer is simple, this is not an election between homeowners. This is an election about the developer attempting to retain control of our homeowner association, and if the community splits its votes or unknowingly casts their votes for the developer candidates, then every candidate that is a homeowner loses.

      There are 14 total candidates, 3 of which are developer employees, and 11 that are homeowners. I believe that each of the 11 homeowners truly love San Elijo and want to serve their community with their best interests at heart. This is not a time to talk negatively about any of the 11 homeowner candidates. This is a time for the community to decide whether they would like homeowners on the board, or to divide their vote, and run the risk of having the developer control the board.

      The developer already has one seat on the board, and thus only needs to win two of the four open seats. Because the ballots went out without disclosing that the developer was running three candidates, we know that some people in the first few days unknowingly cast their ballots for some of the developer employees. We just didn’t get the word out fast enough.

      We realized that as individual candidates we could not be effective at getting the word out to the entire community about what the developer is attempting to do. That’s why the four of us who all live in different neighborhoods decided to work together.

      So now it’s up to the remaining people that are still holding on to their ballots to decide: do you wish to take the risk of the developer winning, or do you wish to support 4 homeowners on a united front to win control of the HOA for all homeowners?

      With regards to what’s the 4 San Elijo homeowner’s agenda and will these 4 represent San Elijo as a whole? We completely agree that the HOA board needs to represent homeowner interests, it’s the primary reason I am running. I love San Elijo. My wife and I plan to live here for many years to raise our two children. We have so many friends throughout San Elijo, friends I see when walking my son to school, or at PTO functions, at little leage games, cub scouts and all the wonderful community events. There is absolutely no way that I would I do anything but represent the best interests of homeowners.

      Each of the other 4 San Elijo candidates live in different neighborhoods and have the same love for San Elijo, as I’m sure that all 11 homeowner candidates do. We don’t have any hidden agendas, which is why we’ve posted on the vote4sanelijo website what the key issues are, and how we plan to approach them. In all cases, it’s our goal to increase community involvement in the issues and decisions that impact you.

      I know that you posted your comment as “concerned homeowner”, possibly to remain anonymous, but I encourage you to look up my email address on the community website. Please take a look at the issues affecting San Elijo on the vote4sanelijo website, and then drop me a seperate note, because I’d like your ideas on how to best serve San Elijo.

  • I agree, I find it a little childish the way the group has gone about trying to make their point. One of the candidates is even a member of school’s PTA I believe. That fact that she would even be associated with the tasteless efforts of the websites and flyers is a little embarrassing. It’s not a very good example being set for a person in her position. I’m curious though why they want the developer off the ballot so bad. That’s what kind of scares me about this group.

  • This email came from Hale Richardson this morning, and since she asked that it be forwarded to any friends and neighbors who might be interested, this seemed to be a good way to reach them all. I can tell you, the tactics of the “Vote 4 San Elijo” block have ensured that none of the four of them will get my vote. I find it interesting that Jeff says that “this is not a time to talk negatively about any of the 11 homeowner candidates” wnen the propaganda he and his block are sending out imply that they are the only “real homeowners.” In any case, Hale makes the case better than I ever could. Read on.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Dear San Elijo Resident,

    Many of you are friends of mine, but for those that don’t know me, I have worked out at the Visitor Center for San Elijo Hills Development Company for the past 10 years and I lived in the community for 4 of those years. I can say with conviction that I care a great deal about this community and I work very hard for its benefit.

    You’ve recently received flyers and emails, even a Halloween spoof in very poor taste, from a group of four residents running for the HOA Board – all four on the same ticket. They have gone to extreme efforts to warn you against voting for any developer representative (myself included). Had they stopped at that, I wouldn’t have felt compelled to write this letter. Unfortunately, they stepped way over the line to further tell you not to vote for any of the other 7 homeowner candidates running in this election. Out of principle alone I can’t remain silent about that.

    Candidly, I’m appalled at the direction this election has taken and I had hoped that I wouldn’t have to get involved in the banter. But there has never been a time in San Elijo’s history when residents have turned on one another in such a way and I feel obligated to interject. The propaganda you’ve undoubtedly seen has been hurtful, and outright false. I hope that you consider how offensive it is that any group would list the names of other residents and suggest they are not “real homeowners” and that you would recognize that is not the kind of representation you would chose.

    I’ve been fielding calls and emails from residents as a result of all the negative campaigning by this group of four. I’m grateful to those of you who reached out to me directly and appreciate the opportunity to clear concerns. I’m hoping this letter serves to answer the same questions for others.

    They have built their platform on misinformation and scare tactics and tell readers that they should not vote for any other homeowner candidate other than their group of four. They go on to say that the developer is secretly running and that that the developer has excessive voting power. These accusations are completely untrue. Please consider these facts before you vote:

    • You SHOULD cast your vote in support of the other homeowners running for the board. There are 7 other homeowner candidates (aside from the group sending the negative mailings) who are running for the board. I know many of these candidates through their service to the community and can tell you that they attend HOA meetings, volunteer at the schools, and participate in community sports and activities. Remember, these people are friends and neighbors of yours. Read their personal statements and you will see that each one has something valuable to contribute to your HOA board. Also, these other candidates are each running independently, which makes them far less likely to have a group agenda. Their names are listed below and they deserve your consideration. Unlike the group of four sending out all the propaganda, none of these individuals have chosen to run a deceptive campaign.

    Brenda Clark (Sagewood)
    Ashley Hammerschmidt (Azure)
    Tim Minjares (Cedar Crossing)
    Torin Snyder (Saverne)
    Cynthia Van Cleave (Westcliffe)
    Sarah Vollrath (Morgan’s Corner)
    Ryan Williams (Promontory Ridge)

    • There was no secret that I’m running for the Board. I clearly included my position on the development team on my Personal Statement which was mailed along with each ballot to each San Elijo home. I have no idea why it has been such a false focus of attention. Likely many of you have my Personal Statement sitting in a pile of mail somewhere in your kitchen. Please check it for yourselves.

    • The developer is given only one (1) appointed seat. All 3 of the developer incumbents (Erin Ruhe, Curt Noland and myself) are running because we continue to have a vested interest in ensuring it remains a fiscally strong association with the same quality community character as was originally planned. If residents elect us to continue to serve, we would be happy to do so. There was no secret plan, as otherwise indicated. Our involvement has been helpful in the past because we have intimate knowledge of the approvals, the physical property, association history and the budget and asset management.

    We still own approximately 550 lots in the community. Please keep in mind; we do not get to vote for each of these undeveloped lots (although this group has told you the contrary). Still, we are land owners and in such, we are eligible to run for the board just as any other owner.

    • The Developer has five (5) total votes… not 740. You have been told in these flyers and emails that the developer has 740 votes that they can cast for themselves. That is simply not true. This has prompted so many questions that even the management company has confirmed by email that the developer has only 5 votes. We are given one vote for each of the 5 homes that have been built but not yet sold. HOA dues are paid on those homes … just the same as any homeowner residence.

    • Costs are NOT going up uncontrollably and the Community Events budget is NOT decreasing. On the contrary, the master association dues have only gone up $2 in the past 5 years. There have been very conservative controls over the budget and the expenditures. That would be obvious to this group if they attended any of the meetings aside from those specific to their own agenda. Consider for a moment… what other bills do you have that have only increased 1.2% over the past 4 or 5 years? When this group talks about a reduced community events budget they are confusing, developer sales events with HOA events.

    I apologize for the tone of this email. The actions of this group have pushed me beyond the limits of my manners. Please consider these facts before you cast your vote. At a minimum you should be able to trust the people and the ethics of those representing you at the board level. These are important decisions. I’m not asking you to cast your vote for me. I will be appointed to the developer seat if not elected. Make your vote count and give it to one of the homeowners listed above.

    Please forward to friends and neighbors you think would be interested.


    • I’ve seen Hale in action at the board meetings…she’s employed by the developer and when a homeowner issue comes up that is in conflict with what the developer wants, she sides with the “developer”…that’s a no brainer. We all have to make a living…

      • In the five years I’ve lived here and attended almost every board meeeting, I’ve rarely seen any vote by the board that wasn’t unanimous, meaing that the homeowners on the board have ALSO sided with the developer.

      • Coincidently the few homeowners that have been on the board in the past have been buddies with the developer…don’t know whether the developer hand picked them to run for the board or what but if you do a little checking you will find that one of the homeowner board members who currently serves golfed with the developer…golfing buddies don’t generally vote against one another…

  • Thanks, for that post Ron. Very informative, it will be interesting to see how that group responds to this. Their antics seem to be in very poor taste and be very deceptive.

  • Dear Hale – – You’re message is “please vote for homeowners”, but you dance around the core message we have been trying to get out to residents . . . which is that it’s in the developer’s best interest to split the community vote, because then the developer’s candidates have a much better probability to win.

    If you are sincere in your message that homeowners should vote for homeowners, and that you are not trying to further split the vote, then there’s only one way that we can truly find out. And that’s if the three developer candidates withdraw their names from the ballot. As you said, the developer already has the ability to appoint one seat.

    Prove to us that you are sincere and not just trying to retain control of the “homeowner” association.

    And by the way, the only negative campaigning going on is between the developer and homeowners. We would applaud any of the 11 homeowners being elected to the board, but as long as the three developer employees are on the ballot, then the election is not about the homeowners, it’s about the developer trying to split our votes and retain control.

    Please show us that you are sincere about “homeowners voting for homeowners”. All three developer employees officially step down off the ballot, appoint your one seat, and allow the residents to then decide the homeowners they’d like on the board.

    • Couple of questions for you, Jeff.

      The latest comment on your website says “First, we support all 11 homeowners on the ballot.” If that’s truly the case, can you explain why you did the following?

      1. Implied that the non-developer candidates are not “true homeowners” in your Halloween flyer by featuring a headline that reads “These Candidates Are True Homeowners” and only showed yourselves?

      2. Featured a sample ballot with the headline “Be sure to cast your ballot for the candidates that will represent homeowner interests” and only checked your four names?

      3. Used a headline that reads “Turn the page to discover the true homeowner candidates that deserve your vote” and only featured yourselves?

      Don’t you realize how incredibly short-sighted you’re being with your scorched-earth approach? You’re still going to have to work the developer. You’re still going to have to work with any of the other homeowner candidates who may win a seat on the board. You’re still going to have to work with other candidates who either serve as community reps or serve on committees.

      Your goal of having 80% homeowner representation on the board could just as easily have been achieved by requesting that people simply don’t vote for the developer candidates, which I think most homeowners (including myself) would have agreed with. But the methods in which you’ve gone out of your way to also imply that the other homeowner candidates do not deserve our vote is reprehensible.

    • To Jeff Tuller,
      I was hoping to contact you directly but do not have your contact information. I own a townhome in Morgan’s Corner and was completely astonished by the lack of common sense and manners displayed by the person responsible for the distribution of your “Halloween marketing”. Because we are unable to have “No Solicitors” signs on our entry gates at Morgan’s Corner, and solicitors are unwelcome on my property, I have locked my gate and additionally blocked the entrance with a lovely potted tree and vine. INSTEAD of choosing to simply drop your leaflet over the gate, your marketing distributor CLIMBED OVER MY LOCKED GATE AND SNAPPED SOME BRANCHES OFF MY POTTED TREE IN THE PROCESS. No, by no means is this the end of the world, but I am EXTREMELY UPSET BY THE LACK OF COMMON SENSE AND COMMON COURTESY displayed by this person. WHO CLIMBS OVER A LOCKED GATE just to distribute solicitations? It’s not like he/she couldn’t toss it over the waist high gate! Doesn’t a LOCKED GATE mean DO NOT ENTER? I highly suggest that you provide a little direction to those who “represent you”.

      On a side note, don’t we get enough misleading information from politicians? Can’t we at a local level operate on facts? That is how you win a good race.


      • If you contact your Morgan’s Corner property management team, which I think is Walters Management, they should be able to send a violation notice to the trespasser.

  • I had hoped not to get in this mess of back and forth emails. We all have better things to do than challenge one another this way.

    I did receive 4 requests as a result of Jeff Tuller’s recent request to have the developer candidates step down from the election. Below was my response to those residents.

    I expected that those individuals had already made up their mind, but I was pleasantly surprised by a courteous reply (also copied below). I have removed the name of the resident to respect her privacy.

    btw… please excuse me if I don’t continue to post or reply by forum. This has taken a great deal of time and I have a lot of catching up to do at work and at home. If you need to reach me, please call or email me directly at or 760-798-1775.
    Thank you,

    From: _____________
    Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:47 AM
    To: Hale Richardson
    Subject: Re: San Elijo requests the 3 developer candidates step down

    Hi Hale,

    I appreciate your detailed feedback. It’s always good to educate oneself with both sides and I’m just starting to gather details, despite being an original homeowner in Promontory. I have some catching up to do.

    Happy Wednesday!

    On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 11:32 AM, Hale Richardson wrote:
    I can understand your desire to have a Board made up of all homeowners. The good news is that you have many qualified (homeowner) candidates to select from. But please keep in mind, many resident have already mailed in their ballots. Although you may not agree, there are those who have may have cast a vote in favor of a developer rep. I don’t consider it fair to those voters to drop out of the election midstream. Effectively that would void out their vote. I hope that you’ll respect this position. There are residents (many of which have actively participated with the HOA through attendance and committee service) who have asked that we continue to serve if elected. This request was primary in our decision to run. Obviously, if the majority of the community feels similar to you, we won’t win the necessary votes and only one developer member will be appointed. It’s all dependant on resident choice… no hidden ploys. Candidly, the suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous.

    If you had an opportunity to read my letter, I encourage residents to vote for other homeowners running for the board. I just hope that you’ll consider that voting for “the 4” reduces the diversity of opinion that is so important at the board level. It’s much like giving 4 positions to the same candidate. If you feel a connection to one of these candidates, then by all means, vote your support for that one candidate. But pick 3 other residents to accompany him/her on the board. There are 7 other qualified candidates that would appreciate the opportunity to serve and who are not focused on the same pre-determined agenda.

    I feel it’s important to clarify that you are not diluting your vote by casting it in favor of the other 7 candidates (despite what has been represented by the ‘vote 4 San Elijo’ group). That scare tactic is a campaign strategy to draw votes from other resident candidates. As the Developer, we do not have any substantial representation of votes, even though the ‘4’ have represented that to be the case. We do not have 740 votes, as they have represented. With the exception of 5 (five) ballots that we are able to vote for homes that are build but not yet sold, we have no voting power and no favored position over any other candidates. We get one (1), and only one, appointed seat (another fact that has been misrepresented). Please, stop and question the motives behind these misrepresentations.

    You may or may not know that we still have a significant interest in the community of San Elijo Hills. Besides having an investment of an additional 450 (or so) lots, we have the personal desire to see the community prosper. We have literally invested 10 years of our energy in San Elijo Hills.

    If you’re wondering why others have asked us to consider an ongoing board presence, it’s because we have a history of stepping up over the past 10 years to help when the association has presented a need. Aside from the expertise in land development that we have brought to the board, we have often financially supported the requests of residents for community enhancements and asset purchases, and provided access to our consultants… include landscape, design and legal… all free of charge to the association. I’m not suggesting that we’ve done a perfect job, but we have always had the communities interest at heart and have tried very hard to do our best.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. I sincerely appreciate your reaching out to me directly.
    Btw… I did get 3 other requests to step down from the board. I hope you’ll excuse me for copying the same response to the other residents that posed the same request. You are my first response.

  • Mary Russell (CrestView) (withdrew her name)

  • To the San Elijo 4 (now 3): On your website’s first 100 day agenda you list “Town Square Development.” as a priority. You write that the town square is “100% controlled by the developer.” If you are elected, how do you expect to improve the odds of getting the town square completed when you have essential castigated the developer in your campaign to get elected?

  • Umm…

    What’s wrong with having Developers on the Board?

    We all BOUGHT here because we liked what they Developed!

    There knowledge, history, dedication and interest in SEH should be valued and considered when planning for the future.

  • What does this mean for the people who voted for Mary Russell? Is their vote wasted? What are the implications of how the election would have turned out if they could have used that vote for another candidate?

    In my opinion, all components of the election as it currently stands should be null and void, then start completely over from the nomination process. And there should be a rule that the only statements candidates can make should be limited to the profiles that are attached to the ballot. Then candidates would be forced to run exclusively on their own qualifications, not by trashing others.

    • Are you familiar with, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

      While you may not like people to “trash” others it is their right to do so.

      • Congress may make no law, but as a private organization, the HOA can make whatever rules it wants to govern its membership.

    • No,

      Private organizations can not make whatever rule they want if it is not legal. An HOA can not for instance make a rule that says African Americans and Jews can not purchase a home in their association. They also can not make a rule that restricts a person’s free expression.

      • To be more precise, a private organization could certainly make such rules. They could not enforce them, however. Another example would be that they could not enforce a rule saying homeowners in their association could not own and keep firearms in their houses (this would violate the second amendment).

      • Regarding HOA 'rules'

        NOTE that County Law trumps HOA law (and State trumps County, etc.). So… an HOA law cannot be upheld if it violates County, State, Federal law.

      • I think you folks are a little confused about what the First Amendment actually says. It only says that Congress will make no law abridging freedom of speech. If I call my boss a jerk to his face, and he fires me for it, no right to feedom of speech is going to save my job.

  • I am truly disgusted by this HOA election. I have lived in SEH since 2002 and truly love the community. While I understand all communities have issues, I believe the board has handled every item of business with professionalism and with good intent for the community. It is clear there are personal agendas at stake here but it makes me saddened to think our community is turning to this. And seriously, are all the flyers really necessary. That seems like a lot of wasted paper, money and time.

  • All this HOA Chatter reminds me of my days in High School. It is pretty sad, yet somewhat entertaining.

    I’m a new resident in the community and can say that SEH is a nice community, but lacks several amenities that I understand several homeowners would like to have here and it is believed by those people that a fully developed town center would create such amenities.

    What many of these same people want, don’t understand the concept of what I see as a failed business strategy of “build it and they will come” That only happens in movies. There are some nice small businesses that recently opened up, but I see several vacant units without any construction going on. The likely reason is that it is nearly impossible to secure reasonable financing to start a new business. Building out the center section of town center will not solve your vision of this utopia you dream of. It will likely only create more vacant commercial real estate space. That is not what I want to see.

    On the whole issue of the San Elijo 4 that people seem to have issue with. Although it appears that some of their initial propoganda might have included some incorrect information, as an educated person, I saw what they were trying to do, which is to have a board that consists mostly of residents in the community. I don’t disagree with that logic. These people must have pooled together some resources to run as a slate of candidates to share costs of introducing themselves to the community. Obviously it has turned off many of you who read this. Although I don’t like mis-information being spread, I’ve seen subsequent material with more correct information. I appreciate the fact that these people are campaigning for something they believe in (regardless if there may be some hidden agenda as some have suggested). What I would appreciate more would be some actual old fashioned Face-to-Face interaction with some of these people. If it is important to them that they receive my vote, the least they could do is ask me for it face to face.
    In my short window of being in this community I’ve had no interaction with anyone from the HOA (other than Teresa’s emails). I’ve been given no information who my community representative is. I know there may be some turnover of residents in the community, but for such a small community, the least I would have expected was some outreach by at least one board member and my community representative to say “Hi, Welcome to the community and my name is ? and I’m ?”
    For that reason I will not vote for any incumbent. I would hope that whoever is elected would understand what I have expressed and perhaps improve on past performance of the HOA Board and representatives.
    I’m not saying I’m a perfect person in this community and that I could have attended one of the board meetings to attempt to seek out these people myself, but that is how I feel.

  • Hi,
    So what happened to the plans for a community pool? Nobody wanted to front the $$? Well, if SEH won’t build a pool, can the various condo developements in SEH be persuaded to sell pool passes to SEH residents?(no outsiders!) We could have a “universal” pass so if folks see that 1 pool is too crowded, they can just move on to another one. This way $$ stays at SEH and the HOA’s get additional funding.

    • You’re kidding right Frank, that was joke right?? Having the condo’s share their pools with other communities, seriously!

Leave a Reply