Granite Peak Management


Granite Peak Management &HOA &Property Management &Where's the Beef?07 Oct 2010 03:21 pm

How often have you heard about an action taken by our HOA, Granite Peak Management, or of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) justified with the old saw about preserving homeowner value? I have listen to these pundits raise this claim over and over again, and the claim is the loudest whenever the action violates one or more provisions of our CC&Rs or California State Law.  How is that these folks believe that knowingly violating the law preserves value for the homeowner?

Several years ago I was exercising my Constitutional right to free speech and posted a political sign in my exclusive use area behind my unit. It was not long after that, that Granite Peak Management submitted a trumped up complaint against me to our Board claiming several complaints against me and citing a violation of our CC&Rs. Needless to say, this action did not endear me to either GPM or our Board and I did not act on my disgust, partly because there is actually a provision in our CC&Rs prohibiting this form of the guaranteed right of free speech granted by the Constitution.

Then today I received an alert from The Center for California Homeowner Association Law announcing that indeed, all homeowners have a guaranteed right to post political signs, that this right has been codified in California law, and that the loudest opponent of your Constitutional Right, the CAI, was once again unable to demonstrate their claims of preserving property value.

REMEMBER: HOA homeowners have a specific right under
California law to post political signs in support of a
candidate or a ballot measure, whether the election is for
the President of the United States, your congressional
representatives, your state lawmaker, your mayor, your HOA
board of directors, or an election on a special
assessment.

This law is the result of 2003-2004 legislation sponsored
by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and supported
by CCHAL and members of the consumer coalition in
Sacramento.

CCHAL and coalition members went to Sacramento to testify
repeatedly in support of the bill before the Housing and
Judiciary Committees explaining the need for AB 1525.

Coalition members also lobbied members of the committee
for their votes, got the issue covered in the press, and
supported Dr. Bill Durston in his campaign to fly a United
Nations flag outside his HOA home in order to protest the
invasion of Iraq by the U.S.  His HOA told him to take it
down and fined him for every day that it was up.  [CCHAL
website link: http://www.calhomelaw.org/doc.asp?id=706]

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) apparently
doesn’t believe in the U.S. Constitution, because it
fought the bill tooth and nail right up to the end.  CAI
argued that posting political signs and flying flags
degraded HOA property values.

The Governor rejected this phony argument and signed the
bill into law.

The California Attorney General’s Office also endorsed AB
1525.

AB 1525/Longville states that homeowners living in HOAs
have a specific right – guaranteed by the Constitution —
to post political signs.

Here’s what the law says:

Sec 1: It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting
this act to provide for all of the following:

(a) that homeowners throughout the State shall be able to
engage in constitutionally protected free speech
traditionally associated with private residential property

(b) that owners of a separate interest in a common
interest development shall be specifically protected from
unreasonable restrictions on this right in the governing
documents.

More information on AB 1525 is on the CCHAL website and on
the state’s legislative website:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.  To read the bill as chaptered,
go to
http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/asm/ab_1501-1550/ab_1525_bill_20031011_chaptered.pdf
To read the ACLU letter, go to the CCHAL website:
http://www.calhomelaw.org/doc.asp?id=1214

Since 2001, CCHAL, the California Alliance for Retired
Americans (CARA), Consumers Union and the consumer
coalition have been tireless advocates in Sacramento to
get laws off the books that injure homeowners to create
new ones that protect HOA owners.

To read a partial list of bills that CCHAL and the
coalition have worked on in Sacramento, go to
http://www.calhomelaw.org/doc.asp?id=460 on the CCHAL
website.

CCHAL NewsBrief
October 7, 2010

Over the past fifteen years I have often been attacked by our Board, and now Granite Peak Management, in ways that have violated our CC&Rs and California Civil Code. These sanctimonious actions are presumably a confrontational reaction for promoting a political agenda by simply asking questions and demanding answers.

Time and time these violations are justified under the mantra of preserving home value. It should be clear, even to a casual observer, that neither our HOA, nor Granite Peak Managment, nor the  CAI are able to influence property value (short of a capital improvement) one way or the other. The market forces are far to large.

On the other hand, I continue to believe that having our HOA operate responsibly within the auspices of the law, is an asset to each homeowner.

Granite Peak Management22 Jun 2010 10:57 am

A few months ago I was busy fighting a few fires on a Monday and after I put them out I realized that I had yet to visit my favorite business to pay my monthly assessment. For nearly a decade our association only charged late fees if your payment was not received by the end of each month. But that changed when we hired Granite Peak Management.

My first clue was when I received my monthly statement which included a quickly scrawled note accusing me of wasting the association’s time because I paid at the end of the month rather than on the 15th. Apparently Granite Peak Management’s accounting system was not able to handle this situation, or so I was told.

Since this time Granite peak Management had become worse than a credit card company, one hour late, and bang a penalty. Our Congress has recently outlawed this type of behavior exhibited by the credit card companies, but of course, that law does not apply to Granite Peak Management.

So the day after I rushed over to their office to make my payment I received a condescending email from Granite Peak Management.  It has long been accepted policy that if the 15th occurred on a Sunday, the due date became the following Monday. I had personally confirmed this policy with Evan.

Dear xxxx,

I wanted to let you know that I am in receipt of the dues payment you delivered to our office last night. As you know, payments are due by 5pm on the 15th of each month and late fees are assessed on the 16th. The 15th was Sunday so all payments that were received over the weekend were processed yesterday morning and late fees were applied to all accounts with outstanding balances, including yours. I am happy to waive the late fee this month but, please be advised that payments not received by the 15th for future months will be subject to the late fee. Our office is open 7 days a week through the winter and there is a mail slot on the back door where dues payments can be deposited.

Sincerely,

Cirra Cantisano
Staff Accountant
Granite Peak Management
530-583-7545 ext 105
cirrac@gpeak.com

Well Cirra, I regret to inform you that the State of California has seen fit to define the requirements that must be met in order for any CID to change their collection policies. Fortunately for the homeowner, this does not include the fact that now your office is open on Sunday.

In fact, Granite Peak Management has a long history of ignoring California Civil Code when pursuing collections accompanied by a complete disrespect for homeowners. This type of behavior is not welcome and may very well lead to Civil Action.

Granite Peak Management &Property Management18 Jun 2010 10:36 pm

It seems Granite Peak Management is back to their dirty tricks stirring up more resentment. A while back my kitchen sink plugged up and GPM refused to help so I called a local plumber. Once GPM learned of this they went ballistic.

Of course we all remember what a hit The Sopranos was and I couldn’t help but remember that scene where one of the Caps had returned from prison and was out patrolling his previous territory and found someone mowing the grass that did not work for him. He beat the hell out of him.

Evan reacted in much the same way although he did limit his rage to a verbal rampage. I really did not understand this behavior until I read a copy of GPM’s contract. They get ‘juice’ from all contractor work they manage as authorized by our illustrious Board.

If your HOA has made the mistake of contracting GPM then you may expect to see a dramatic rise in the cost of doing business. GPM’s strong arm tactics are but one reason.

Subject: Well Being of the HOA

Dear Evan,

It has come to my attention that you have called one of my vendors offering diatribe, false accusations, and threats. All of this over the minor occurrence of a frozen pipe I had in my unit this past Monday.

After I called your office to report the problem one of your employees stopped by to take a look. After-wards your employee displayed an unprofessional attitude by criticizing my vendor with unsubstantiated accusations.  He further stated that I should not use the vendor because it would be detrimental to the well being of the association.

Also included in your employee’s diatribe was the claim that the vents under our units had been shut and that insulation had been installed. Apparently your employee has our association confused with some other association. The new vents that were installed during the siding upgrade do not have the capability to be opened or closed, nor has insulation been installed behind all the vents.

The occurrence of vendors arriving onsite all spouting wisdom about what is or isn’t in the best interest of our association is becoming annoying. These vendors do not own property here, or pay the bills. I find their comments patronizing and out of line.

Further more I fail to see how your angry call to my vendor is helpful for the well being of our association. It is my observation that this is just one more example of placing more importance on pointing fingers of blame on someone else in order to escape the association’s financial obligations to maintain common area property.

You have previously declared the existence of ‘exclusive use plumbing’ in our association, although our CC&Rs do not support this claim. It is clear, that if the association will not pay for regular maintenance, then the association has no business questioning my choice of vendors. Furthermore, calling my choice of vendors to pursue some past perceived grievance is definitively not in the best interests of our association.

I am sure I am not alone in hoping that your company would perform your maintenance chores with just a smile on your faces. After over 10 years of full time residency, it is highly unlikely that your company has any words of wisdom above and beyond that attained from my real life experiences.

Sincerely,

xxxx

River Run Condominiums #xx

And of course, Evan replied:

xxxx, thank you for your comments. Have a great day.

Evan Benjaminson

Granite Peak Management
1600 Squaw Valley Road, Suite 2
Post Office Box 3750
Olympic Valley, California 96146
phone 530-583-7545 x110
fax 530-583-7574
evanb@gpeak.com

Granite Peak Management &HOA &Property Management11 May 2010 06:38 pm

Does anyone else out there smell conflict of interest? Is there really a reason to raise homeowner dues two years running? And add another assessment?

And why is it that with all the years of self proclaimed experience with property management afforded by Granite Peak, we receive yet another letter talking about new and unaccounted for expenses?

It was just a short five years ago that the homeowners bailed out our Board to the tune of 3/4 million dollars. Less than a year after that we received the bad news that a number of units were once again damaged by water.

My very first month of ownership here at River Run was marked by the very same problem. Of course, I requested the HOA reimburse my expenses. And of course, the Board declined. That was fifteen years ago.

Members of the Board have known for decades about the leaks. Despite Granite Peak’s years of experience, their management of the residing project failed to fix the leaks and once the leaks reoccurred, they went into overdrive trying to pin this problem on anyone but themselves.

So, the following year only 1/2 of the problem areas were repaired. We were told that our bailout money was running out and that Granite Peak may need to pass another assessment.

I am sure we will once again hear about our Board’s fiduciary responsibility. How many more times will we subjected to these lectures by those that have mostly failed their fiduciary responsibilities? Other than capital improvements, proposing assessments is direct proof of fiduciary failures.

So why is this? Some insight can be gleaned from Granite Peak’s contract. Request a copy, it is illuminating. Granite Peak is paid a commission on all additional work that they oversee. While, in general, I do not oppose getting paid for work managed, it is becoming a bit much when the firm that maintains our books, prepares our budget, constantly claims (Evan) and act like they (he) are (is) a member of the Board, and is also recommending an ever expanding list of unforeseen work.

Not only did Granite peak earn a fee for managing the siding project, they also received payment for managing the corrective action which they failed to prevent.

Of course I went running for my checkbook when I read the Board’s justification for the new proposed assessment.

“The Board of Directors strongly urges your affirmative vote on this Phase 1 Special Assessment to avoid the possibility of an additional dues increase.”

Who are they kidding? How is it that an assessment in not an increase in dues? And if this is the case, why is this proposal packaged with a notice that the Board IS raising dues?

“While the Board of Directors desired not to raise dues in these tough financial times…”

Yeah, right. These folks seem to believe our money is theirs, that they are entitled to soak us everytime they get an itch or whenever Evan of Granite Peak management decides he needs more income.

Enough is enough. These budget shortfalls are primarily caused by Granite Peak Management’s incompetence managing the re-siding project. We have every right to expect that when we fork over 3/4 million dollars that the work would have been completed so that the leaks were fixed. The primary beneficiary of ripping off the siding to fix the problem after the fact benefits only one party, Granite Peak Management.

Vote NO!

ALS &Granite Peak Management28 Feb 2009 03:50 am
Granite Peak Management has teamed up with Association Lien Services to get tough with dead beat North Lake Tahoe homeowners who fall behind in their homeowner’s dues. According to River Run’s HOA President Joe Baylock, “GPM has a long track record of doing collections successfully…”

If you are a homeowner that does not always meet that 5pm deadline on the 15th of each month, then you could be at risk as Association Lien Services will be more than happy to help your HOA steal your home from you.

Think I’m joking? Go Google. Review Fuller v ALS and Curry v ALS.

How does it work? Apparently too easily. All Granite Peak Management has to do is forward your account to Association Lien Services and tell you that your account has been frozen, that the association will no longer accept your payments until the entire bill, as determined by Association Lien Services is paid in full.

Under California Civil Code an association can only initiate non-judicial forclosure if the amount you owe exceeds $1800, a figure that cannot include any additional fines or penalties that your association may or may not have charged you with in accordance with your CC&Rs.

To force this limit, your account is frozen, the bill is jacked up, and if you don’t cough up the dough, that $1800 limit is reached. And the jack up can be costly. At a minimum by several hundred dollars and can quickly reach thousands of dollars.

If the inflated costs exceed your budget, then your home becomes prey to Association Lien Services.

Apparently Association Lien Services’ business practices have come under some scrutiny. According to the  Center for California Homeowner Association Law :
CONSUMER LAW FIRM FILES CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST ASSOCIATION LIEN SERVICES
The consumer law firm of Mulligan Jenkins & Gabriel has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Sylvia Curry and countless other homeowners subjected to the business practices of debt collector Association Lien Services (ALS).

The lawsuit centers on what are described as the unfair and unlawful collection practices of ALS which, in pursuing collection activities for homeowner associations, has allegedly violated Civil Code 1367.1 by requiring homeowners to waive the protections of this statute before ALS will accept payment from homeowners for past-due assessments and fees.

Curry has always acknowledged that she owed the association money. She sought first to develop a payment plan through the board, then through the property manager, Massingham and Associates. When that didn’t work, she sought help from the Center for California Homeowner Association Law and then from her state Assembly Member Sandre Swanson. ALS fought every one of her efforts to pay down her account. The lawsuit escalates the fight.

An African-American grandmother, Curry has owned the same condominium in Oakland, California for 27 years. She has been trying since early 2008 to set up a payment plan to discharge her assessment debt. She has made numerous payments to ALS toward her account. ALS, however, has refused to cash any of her credit union checks or postal orders unless she lets ALS collect its profits first before paying down her homeowner dues. ALS has now returned all her checks and nearly doubled the collection costs.

Keeping the assessment balance high is the chief method for debt collectors like ALS to increase their profits by levying more interest, carrying charges, collection fees, and payment plan administration costs on the account balance.

The California statute requiring debt collectors to credit payments first toward assessments and only secondly to collection costs has been on the books since 1997. The law was authored by Congresswoman Jackie Speier when she was in the California State Assembly.

The consumer lawyers filed the lawsuit on behalf of Curry and “on behalf of all persons similarly situated.” The class is comprised of “all persons in California who submitted payments to ALS, but were required to waive their rights to have their payments applied according to state statutes and who were charged additional collection costs as a result.”

Association Lien Services is a subsidiary of the Los Angeles law firm of Swedelson & Gottlieb. They have several offices in both Northern and Southern California.

The firm has fought tooth and nail every legislative effort in Sacramento to expand consumer protection for homeowners during the assessment collection process. [Read their six page letter lobbying against Christine Kehoe’s legislation AB 2289 posted under COURTCASES/DEBT COLLECTION.]

Curry’s lawsuit was filed in Alameda County on Nov 7. The first hearing is in January 2009.

CCHAL NewsBrief

November 20, 2008

For more information on Swedelson & Gottlieb’s actions against Association Lien Services please visit the American Homeowners Resource Center.  I have also found this little tidbit:

DID YOU GET A STRONG-ARM LETTER FROM YOUR HOA’S DEBT COLLECTOR?

Did it ask you to waive your rights under Civil Code 1367(a)? Did it tell you that, if you don’t waive your legal rights, you can’t pay down your assessment debt?

That’s what happened to homeowner Sylvia C.

In April, she got a letter from debt collector Association Lien Services (ALS) saying they wouldn’t accept any of her payments unless she waived her legal rights under Civil Code 1367(a).

Sylvia didn’t know what 1367(a) WAS, but she knew instinctively that the debt collector’s letter “didn’t pass the smell test,” so she brought the letter to the Center for Homeowner Association Law.

Civil Code 1367(a) is a California law requiring that, when a homeowner makes payments on the assessment debt, the debt collector MUST apply payments FIRST toward paying down the assessments and only SECONDLY toward paying down the collection costs, that is, to collecting profits.

This consumer protection law has been on the books since 1997. It was authored by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, when she was in the California State Assembly.

A moment’s thought will make clear why this law is crucial to homeowner consumer protection: if the assessment balance is being paid down FIRST, then the collection costs — i.e. profits — decrease. Debt collectors typically charge interest, late fees, payment plan administration fees, and who know what else ‐ fees that are computed on the account balance. The longer a debt collector like ALS can keep the assessment balance high and string out the payments, the bigger their profits.

Debt collectors like ALS then sock homeowners like Sylvia with a big balloon payment as the final payment ‐ though they won’t tell the homeowner what that figure is while strong-arming them into signing away their legal rights under 1367(a).

Debt collectors like Association Lien Services hold the homeowner’s payments hostage until they sign away their rights. ALS dunning letters to homeowner don’t just ASK if the homeowner wants to waive his legal rights: the letters DEMAND it.

Sylvia wrote back to ALS saying she didn’t WANT to waive her rights under Civil Code 1367(a) and, furthermore, that ALS couldn’t FORCE her to waive her rights. With her letter she sent another payment and asked that it be credited to her assessment account.

What did ALS do? They sent back ALL her payments: cashier’s checks, money orders, moneygrams ‐ with yet another letter demanding that she waive her rights. Oh yes ‐ and they tacked on another $1000 or so in collection costs.

Not sure if you got a letter similar to Sylvia’s? Read the one ALS sent to her. It’s posted under COURT CASES/Fair Debt Collection Laws on the CCHAL website.

ALS isn’t the only one doing this, by the way: we have seen similar letters from at least five other debt collection companies, so blackmailing homeowners seems to be an industry practice. If you got a letter like the one Sylvia got, then CCHAL wants to hear from you (info@calhomelaw.org)

ALS is a subsidiary of the Los Angeles law firm of Swedelson & Gottlieb. As debt collectors, they are supposed to comply with both state and federal Fair Debt Collection laws ‐ but do they?

CCHAL NewsBrief

November 9, 2008

Granite Peak Management03 Dec 2008 01:00 pm

I am sure all of you have received the postcard announcing that our pool area will soon be reopened complete with the new security code to unlock the door. It was a bit odd that the security code, highlighted in bold text, was published on a post card.

Unfortunately little if any work has been completed over the last 2 weeks. In fact, yesterday Granite Peak Management once again dug up the area flooring once again revealing the jacuzzi plumbing.  That, despite the fact that Granite Peak Management had reported that the leaks had been repaired. The soil in and around the plumbing is visibly much wetter than soil in other areas of our property. Had Granite Peak Management actually used a real plumber for our jacuzzi there probably would not be any leaks.

Today, Granite peak Management is busy working on the plumbing. I wonder how much extra we are being charged for all of the fix it work?

And of course, no work has yet been completed on the fence surrounding the pool area and of course, there is no door in which to use your new security code.

Granite Peak Management is becoming rather well known for water leaks. Ask any homeowner about the water leaks that occurred last winter caused by improper management of our new siding project, managed by, you guessed it, Granite Peak Management!

Granite Peak Management10 Nov 2008 01:20 pm

It has been several months since Sean of GPM, with the help of the Amigos, started ripping down the rotting fence surrounding our pool area. Since that time the pool shack has been resided, the old pool area flooring has been replaced, and new fence posts have been installed.

And this is not the first time that our HOA has waited until eminent failure of common area property before acting.

When I first went out to take a look at the progress, jolly ol’ Sean was there and immediately started yelling at me. Sean obviously has a hard time coming to grip with the fact that GPM is a contractor for our HOA and he does like to order homeowners around. I suspect that he is just not comfortable with HOA oversight, let alone have an understanding of the concept of customer service with a smile.

The pool reconstruction is another example of poor property management by GPM. GPM employed one of their Amigos to complete the plumbing work for the jacuzzi and I am forced to conclude that this several day project implies that GPM and their employees are registered plumbers as required by California state law for any project where the cost of materials and labor exceeds $500. But we all know that GPM certainly doesn’t pay their employees $500 for 2 or 3 days worth of work, but it is clear that the cost of materials does exceed this limit.

While I was not impressed with the plumbing work, none of the pipes were laid in straight and at the proper angles, it became apparent that the plumbing work was also faulty as late last week GPM dug up parts of the pool AREA flooring to apparently fix the plumbing.

Faulty new plumbing?

Faulty new plumbing?

Of course doing something twice is par for the course for GPM. They recently managed our near million dollar siding replacement which last winter resulted in water leaks into several of our units. The north facing leaks were repaired late this summer. No word on if and when the south facing repairs will be completed. Guess who paid for the mistake?