MAD's a No-Show

Five residents of Greater Golden Hill stood outside the clubhouse at the Balboa Park Golf Course on July 21. Some held green mailers with handwritten notes scribbled on both sides of the page. Resident Jim St. Laurent was one of them. He fussed about the abandoned house and fallen fence next door to his house on A Street. A few weeks earlier, he called Alia Kanani, program manager of MAD (maintenance assessment district), to inform her about the eyesore. He's had no response, no action. St. Laurent decided he would raise the issue at MAD's July meeting. Along with four others, he stood outside the clubhouse on the third Monday of the month and discussed the disaster that has become Greater Golden Hill's MAD.

For the MAD committee, having just five people discuss the program's inefficacy at one of their meetings would have been an improvement -- at the last meeting, infighting and fist-pounding took up most of the scheduled time.

There was one small problem last Monday: no meeting. No one from the MAD committee, or the Greater Golden Hill CDC, showed. The meeting was apparently canceled with no notification sent to the community or posted on the corkboard at the clubhouse. So the five residents held their own "mad" meeting in the parking lot of the Balboa Park Golf Course.

"I just want to know how much of our money was budgeted for this meeting," said South Park resident Rosemary Kelly. "I wonder where they are having dinner, on our dime. I was against this from the start because I didn't know where my tax dollars would go, and I guess I was right."

The disgruntled denizens called program manager Kanani, but there was no answer.

This reporter also left a message for Kanani, though didn’t receive an answer until the next day.

The website for Greater Golden Hill's CDC and MAD ( included no mention of rescheduling the meeting.

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Well raise your hand who's surprised.

Dear San Diego Reader Editor, My name is Alia Kanani and I am the Greater Golden Hill Clean, Green, and Safe MAD Program Manager. I would like to bring to your attention several inaccuracies in the article “MADs a No-Show” written by Dorian Hargrove and published in the San Diego Reader online on Wednesday, July 23, 2008. The MAD Oversight Committee meeting was not cancelled on July 21st, rather the Oversight Committee decided to move their meeting up a week earlier on July 14,2008 to precede the CDC Board Meeting on July, 17, 2008. It was considered an “emergency meeting” so the Oversight Committee could have a chance to review any items that were to be approved by the CDC Board later in the week. To be very clear, it was not my decision to move the meeting, it was the decision of the Oversight Committee. The Oversight Committee Chair, David Skillman, noticed the meeting and posted the agenda on Friday, July 11, 2008. The agenda was also posted on the CDC’s website and at the office on Friday, July 11, 2008. I agree that the meeting could have been better noticed to avoid any confusion and my apologizes to those that did not know about the change of the meeting date. In an email sent to me from the Oversight Committee Chair on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, in which he responded to my concerns over calls that I received due to the “cancelled meeting,” the chair admits that “several of us talked about posting [a notice] on the golf club door, and decided that we wouldn't, so tell complainers to blame me. It was a properly noticed meeting…” Had Mr. Hargrove or the others that called me on Monday night at 6:30pm, returned my phone messages that I left on Tuesday for them, I would have explained this to them. Also, the statement made by Jim St. Laurent is also inaccurate, in which the MAD has not addressed his concerns. I in fact spoke to Mr. St. Laurent when he called the office and told him that the dilapidated house and fence were code compliance issues and not under the purview of the MAD. However, I also told him that since one of our interns was working with a code compliance officer on another abandoned house, that I would have our intern notify the code compliance officer of the one brought forth by Mr. St. Laurent. Again, I believe that had Mr. Hargrove returned my call, I could have clarified this point. Lastly, I was unable to return the calls from Mr. Hargrove and the other residents till the next day because I was not in the office until Tuesday morning, July 22nd.

The CDC, including myself, is diligently working towards building a more positive image of the MAD since it has been such a contentious issue in the Greater Golden Hill area. We are actively finalizing the contract for the cleaning and trash removal services so that these services can start as soon as possible. However, articles like Mr. Hargrove’s, which are blatantly bias against the CDC and me, the MAD Program Manager, and are not thoroughly researched, only create more controversy. I ask that the next time Mr. Hargrove decides to write and article about me or references my name that he please contact me so that I can have an opportunity to present my side. Sincerely, Alia Kanani GGHMAD Program Manager

Well, the Greater Golden Hill MAD committee should have fixed dates and stick to them. Advertised as a management committee, then an oversight committee, and currently an advisory committee, it may soon disappear completely.

Because this MAD program is funded directly by property owners, it has generated extensive community interest. The City Council, when it recently approved the budget of almost a million dollars mandated mediation for all parties. How much money stays in the CDC office and how much is spent outdoors? How much goes to special interests? The committee meeting is the only forum for the community to make their issues known. Please try again. Next time: Monday, August 18 at 6:30. Or did I get it wrong?

Ms. Kanani,

I'm glad you had a chance to clear things up! Though, I'm having a hard time finding the clarity, or the "inaccuracies" and "poor research" you are referring to. I reported on what transpired at the regularly scheduled meeting time. It is not my fault you do not like the opinions of some of those in which you were hired to serve -those that were apparently just as unaware as I, about any schedule changes.

In regard to your feeling, that the write-up was blatantly biased, I would also like to set the record straight. I am not in opposition to, or a proponent of the GGHMAD or CDC. I have only reported on the meetings, or "canceled" ones, that I have attended. If you go back and reread the article, you will see that I only stated the feelings of those frustrated residents and I did try and get your point of view, thus the reason for my phone call to you. I am sorry that my timing was not the best, most convenient time to reach you. I will be sure to keep your schedule fresh in my mind in case there is a similar misunderstanding. If you would like, please contact me and we can set up a good time and discuss some of the issues you feel the residents of the Golden Hill area should be made aware of.

See you at the next meeting!

Dorian 619-519-2227

I read the article with interest because as a resident of GGH and an opponent of the MAD, I see that my fears about its implementation continue. The original purpose of the MAD was inaccurately promoted by the GGH-CDC last year and after it passed, narrowly in July '07, there was another election to create an Oversight Board whose purpose, as advertised on that ballot in November '07, was to implement all the extra services our increased taxes were to pay for. As I understand it, this Board has NO oversight power. It was by-passed when the the paid administrator was hired and it has been relagated to the back seat when important decisions regarding budget priorities are discussed. The residents who went to the scheduled July 21 meeting have legitimate concerns. Noticing the meetings, especially changing the expected date, is the least we property owners deserve, even though OUR elected members come in second place, after the GGH-CDC gets its way. Mr. Hargrove, thanks for your article.

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