Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hospitality house is a hit!

The best part of every trip to Loreto Bay is the opportunity to meet fellow home owners, but with the Inn and its restaurants closed we didn't have any real options for informal gatherings during this last visit. Until Founder's home owner Susan Hill came up with the ingenious idea of opening her casa and creating a hospitality house - the Founder's Club - for all of us to enjoy.

She opened her lovely casa to any and all home owners from Loreto Bay and administrative staff members from 7 to 9 a.m. for coffee and rolls and then again from 5 to 7 p.m. (but often later!) for wine, beer and snacks and great conversation. It was a relaxing and enjoyable way to get to know our future neighbors. Susan also made her computer with Internet access available to those of us who weren't hooked up, a real bonus as we were able to check our email every time we visited.

We met so many interesting people, some who already have their homes in the Founder's Neighborhood and many, like us, who are anxiously awaiting our homes in Agua Viva.

What's most striking about all those we met is the shared vision of Loreto Bay and how drawn we all are to that magical place. Whether from the cold climes of Alaska or the more temperate environs of Southern California, we all share a love of Loreto Bay. We were also lucky to meet a couple who make their home in Nopolo, which is the original development created by Fonatur just down the road. They offered some invaluable tips on living Loreto and funny anecdotes about life in Baja and it's just that kind of information we crave.

Another bonus we experienced was meeting an almost year-round resident of Founder's who happens to be a member of the Master Condo Regime. Colette was a font of valuable information, which can only help Agua Viva home owners as our casas near completion. Colette and her friend, Robert, shared a tremendous amount of detail about what we can expect. Gracias, Colette and Robert!

But the best part of the whole experience was meeting Susan, who is as charming as she is inspired in setting up this venue. Her hope is that others will follow her lead by opening their casas to fellow home owners. As she said in a release, "I am definitely on the lookout for others to carry on in my absence and for Paseo residents to offer their homes. This enterprise is available for take over by anyone wishing to do so."

She certainly inspired us! Thanks, Susan.

AV home owner meeting, parte dos

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted. Our Internet time was limited to Beck’s office hours as we didn’t have access in our casa.

One of the most surprising revelations at Monday’s Agua Viva home owner meeting was the statement by TSD’s representative, Hector Medina, that construction monies were put into areas “where they shouldn’t have gone.” Medina , who was responding to a question about where all the money had gone, also acknowledged that TSD had been having cash flow problems. Gee, who knew.

He told home owners that TSD has already reached agreements with contractors and is now in the process of executing those agreements, which involve paying the contractors and in some cases that payment is in the form of land.

As for the estuaries – an important feature of the Agua Viva (Living Water) phase of the Loreto Bay development – Medina said the estuaries have been placed on hold, adding there is no plan in place to finish the canals.

Regarding the infrastructure, Stan Barton of Beck offered some numbers, but acknowledged those costs are uncertain. He said Beck has had substantive meetings with TSD to get detailed information on the cost to finish the utility infrastructure and based on conservative numbers from contractors that figure could be around $1 million. Worth noting is that there is a huge discrepancy between the numbers that Beck has been given for utility costs and the much lower numbers that former TSD employees are putting out as the actual remaining costs.

Also worth noting is that those former employees and TSD are not providing the documents to prove their numbers. At issue is whether the monies paid by home owners and held in escrow by Stewart Title for those utility costs were released before the work was completed.

Other expenses cited by Stan include paving for the walkways, based on the same materials in the Founder’s Neighborhood, which he estimated at $1.7 million. Landscaping is estimated at $600,000.

However, he did say the cost for walkway paving could be substantially reduced by using different materials.

The good news as reported by Stan is that he expects around 40 homes will be completed in the next month or so. Stan is also trying to reduce home owners costs in a number of innovative ways, so keep checking the Beck Web site for details!

On a personal note, George and I have confidence in Stan Barton and his ability and desire to finish this project. George has had a number of conversations with Stan, both before and after this meeting, that lead us to believe that he and Beck are our best hope for living the dream of Loreto Bay.

Next up: Hospitality House is a hit!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Updated update

In our post on the AV home owner meeting Monday, we incorrectly stated that Hector Medina, TSD's representative at the meeting, would not allow a co-advisor to serve along with him in sub-regimes K and L. He did agree to accept home owner advisors. Medina/TSD holds a majority of votes in both those sub-regimes.

As these positions are in an unofficial advisory capacity to Master Condo Regime administrator Bob Toubman, we're not sure how much weight they will have. But, then again, it doesn't sound as though anything of substance is expected to be decided before the meetings in February.

We'll try to post more on the meeting later today, but because we're having to use the Beck offices for Internet service we can't make any guarantees!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Home owner meeting, update

I just had the opportunity to read another online account of the Agua Viva meeting yesterday which contains information that differs from my previous entry.

I understood that TSD representative Hector Medina refused to accept a co-advisor for sub-regimes K and L. However, this other account states that he did agree to that compromise.

I'll check with Bob Toubman who should have minutes of the meeting even though it was informal. The information will be posted as soon as I can get it!

Home owner meeting, part 1

Enthusiasm and high spirits were evident among the more than 50 home owners Monday prior to the start of Agua Viva’s first ever sub-regime meetings. But for many of us those high spirits took a nose dive with the news from Master Condo Regime administrator Bob Toubman that none of the four AV sub-regimes had a quorum.

The rules governing the process state that if a 75 percent quorum isn’t reached on the first call, then another call will be made two hours later at which a quorum of 51 percent is required. None of the sub-regimes came close to the 51 percent (Toubman didn’t even wait to make a second call, which is a good indication of how low our valid proxy numbers were). This was depressing news for those of us who worked so hard to get the word out about the proxy process. Special thanks to Penny Davis and Rich Simmons for all their hard work on behalf of Sub-Regime I.

But it was the news that ALL of TSD’s proxies were invalid that really caused a stir. Tempers flared when Bob announced that TSD sent photo-copied proxies for the lots it owns. Proxies must be originals which is something that TSD must have known, considering they went through this whole process with the Founder’s Neighborhood just a few short months ago.

Bob then explained that the lack of a quorum means he legally carries the vote for our sub-regimes. However, he offered a compromise that would allow home owner voices to be heard by casting “unofficial” votes for a Master Condo Regime advisor from each sub-regime.

Those advisors are Rich Simmons for Sub-Regime I (the largest of the sub-regimes) and Barry Sardis for SR J.

Things really got sticky, though, when home owners learned that TSD had the majority vote in sub-regimes K and L. According to Bob, all lot owners, even those with invalid proxies, were eligible to participate in the unofficial vote.

The situation quickly went from tense to angry.

TSD’s representative at the meeting, Hector Medina, told home owners that TSD does NOT want to take a stand in opposition to the home owners. “I won’t be voting against you,” he said. But shortly after making that statement, Hector said he would not go along with a compromise that would allow a co-advisor voted on by home owners for sub-regimes K and L. TSD’s majority vote in those two sub-regimes means they get to appoint the advisors.

Comments were overheard calling the whole thing a set-up.

A question was then raised about whether TSD can be considered an owner if they don’t build on the lots they own within two years. It was pointed out that according to our contracts, we, as home owners, are required to build within that two year time frame.

Bob didn’t have an answer, but said he’d look into it. (Home owner follow up needed!)

In happier news, while on a tour of their home Friday, Karen and Terry Stepp (AV24) discovered their 90 percent complete home is actually 100 percent complete! No one knew. Not Beck, not TCC and not TSD. How the heck does that happen?!

Next up: More on the home owner meeting…

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dateline: Loreto

Hola from steamy Loreto Bay, where the brows are hot and sweaty and the cervezas are thankfully cold and sweaty. I’ll leave it to others to post actual temperatures, as I’d rather not know!

George and I arrived on Thursday afternoon and walked from the plane in sweltering heat and humidity into the new cool, modern and spacious airport, where the wait was still long but a lot more comfortable than in the old terminal.

After picking up our rental car we headed into Loreto proper for a look-see and a nice cold cerveza before heading to Loreto Bay. We stopped at Augie’s on the Malecon for those cervezas and found it changed. The second floor open restaurant where we hoped to sip our drinks is no more. That space is now for rent, so we stopped in the downstairs bar, which was icily air conditioned. Once we’d cooled off, we decided to head for “home” and proceeded – as we’d always done – back up the street (which I believe is Hidalgo?. George noticed that the cars parked on both sides of the street were pointing in the same direction, toward the Malecon, and wondered if the road was now one-way. But being the brains of the operation, I said, “Nah, there would be signs! Keep going!”

Boy, was I wrong. Right as we got to the intersection where Mike’s Bar is located we were stopped by two of Loreto’s finest who proceeded to shake us down for driving the wrong way down a one- way street. Their English was as limited as our Spanish, but it didn’t take long to realize they were not going to return George’s driver’s license unless we handed over 300 pesos. They didn’t even make a pretense of writing out a ticket and they weren’t very good at demanding mordida, but we got the message, and, sadly, they will probably get better with practice. Our advice: Be very careful when driving in Loreto!

The only other sour note we’ve experienced since we arrived was driving into Loreto Bay and seeing the line of dead trees blocking the Paseo in the northbound lane as we approached Agua Viva. Seeing those dead trees really brought home the impact of Citigroup’s actions. They didn’t just walk away from the development; they walked away from any claim to care about being part of a living, breathing sustainable community. It was sickening to see those dead trees acting as sentinels to the entrance to Loreto Bay.

But once past that unhappy sight, the signs of Citigroup’s abandonment were less apparent. The golf course looks green and well-kept and the people were just as upbeat as we’ve always known them to be.

We’re fortunate to be staying in a very lovely Casa Chica that looks out onto the golf course, where we’ve seen workers tending the fairways and greens and even a few hardy souls out hitting golf balls.

We’re also very fortunate to be sharing the house with two wonderful friends and fellow home owners, Karen and Terry Stepp, AV 25. They’ve been such great company and we’re going to miss them when they leave on Tuesday.

Next up: Karen and Terry get a wonderful surprise! The home owner meeting!!