At the HOA meeting last September, a well thought out proposal was presented to allow longer term renters here at River Run keep their pets. Pets were never an issue here at River Run prior to the first year of operation of what is known as Phase II, a collection of duplexes and homes that were built and sold in response to a perceived lack of demand for single family condos.

A rift quickly developed between two of the Phase II owners, the Lofstedts and a local owner that has since sold their interests. The rift soon blossomed into a full scale legal battle whose costs exceeded $100,000. Word on the street was that many of the Lofstedt positions were unreasonable, apparently Bonnie Lofstedt is a Diva.

Bonnie is the type of person that will scream and rage bloody murder if someone parks their car in the wrong place and then wonders why anyone would complain when she parked her cars where they don’t belong.

We miss Brodie!

We miss Brodie!

Part of the fallout was an arbitrary board ruling clamping down on pets, dogs in particular. The “flat landers” on the board apparently have little if any appreciation for Lake Tahoe’s favorite pets, the family dog. Dogs are the preferred pet here and for good reason. Lake Tahoe is a mountainous forest area filled with all sorts of mother nature’s more dangerous animals – bears, coyotes, & raccoons.  River Run is backed by national forest. The family dog is a great way to keep these creatures somewhat at bay, meaning out of your hair. It was little surprise to me that the number of bear incidents here at River Run increased dramatically after tighter enforcement of our dog policy went into effect.

At issue is that one of our units was having trouble finding a long term lease because of the arbitrary dog ruling prohibiting renters from having pets. The “reasonable” proposal presented was to allow pets for leases of 6 months or longer.

The proposal was rejected by the board with claims that boarding of family pets by renters would require significant changes to our CC&Rs. I nearly laughed out loud! I can only assume that this verdict was rendered by Mary, a lawyer on the board whom I believe does not practice law in either the real estate or the home owner association fields.

If I’m mistaken, then perhaps this is just incompetence. You only have to read a short paragraph, Section 2.5 Pets, of our CC&Rs to determine exactly what the authority granted to the board is. You would be mistaken to declare that the CC&Rs prohibit renters from having pets or even that you would need to change the CC&Rs to begin to allow approval of renters with pets.

In fact, the CC&Rs declare that “each Member shall comply with such reasonable Association Rules governing the keeping of pets which may be adopted by the Association from time to time”.

There is the rub. “Reasonable”, and “from time to time”.

Tyler Berding, Esq. wrote an interesting article dated Friday, October 31, 2008 entitled “Why Community Associations are Not Governments” where he describes that while many consider associations akin to “mini” governments, and some boards certainly act in this fashion, there are important differences. The primary focus of an association is on the rights of the individual and that the community function in a kind of consensual harmony. The sole agreement is contractually based. It depends on both parties remaining satisfied for the Association to continue to exist.

To state that our board has been and is primarily concerned with the rights of individuals is like republicans proclaiming to be populists on election day. In particular, many of our board’s decisions, in my view, violate one of the fundamental tenants of contract law, the contract cannot be changed without mutual consent.

There is meaning in the feelings afterward, that the only people that objected to the request were people that don’t live anywhere near here. For me it is yet one more example of the lack, or shall I say, feigned concern over individual rights.

The prohibition of pets to renters at River Run is neither warranted or reasonable. It is simply an arbitrary decision that can be changed at anytime.

Anyone who claims otherwise is either a fool, a zealot, or both.