Big trouble in Eastlake III

Homeowners association battles property-management company

Barney Reed
  • Barney Reed

If you live on the eastern side of Chula Vista, you likely belong to a homeowners association. The association governing Eastlake III and its 32 neighborhoods, located in the Otay Lakes area, has been a hotbed of political struggles for years.

Eastlake III area in foreground

Eastlake III area in foreground

Conflict began for the EastLake III association in 2012, when large residential developments, which were not in Chula Vista’s master plan, began to be shoehorned into the Otay Lakes area. As quality-of-life issues such as traffic and parking became aggravated and developer’s promises of amenities failed to appear, members of the association began to ask the seated board to take a stand on these issues. The association did not get involved, but 40 or 50 concerned homeowners began going to city-council meetings and speaking out about Lake Pointe and Casa Lago developments.

Then the activists began to focus on HOA issues and vied for board seats.

Association relations became so contentious in the past six months that the association had to hold two elections for board seats. Police have also been called to association meetings.

The first election, on April 8, could not be validated by ACE Inspectors, the company hired to conduct the procedure. The inspectors maintain that interruptions the night of the election and ballot irregularities impeded validation. ACE Inspectors wrote in an email to HOA president Barney Reed: “Most of the ballots/proxies were faxed or hand delivered and were never in envelopes…”

Shortly after the April election, ACE Inspectors offered this explanation to boardmembers and FirstService Residential, the property management group, as to why they declared the election invalid:

“…We also asked why the ballots were not mailed per Civil Code section 5115. If we had contested the annual meeting that night [April 8], it would not have looked good for FirstServices [the management company]. Most of the homeowners who were present were under the impression that transparency is gone and that the meeting was not ‘objective and fair.’ We truly believe that it would look good for FirstService…to re-do the annual meeting and have the homeowners send their ballots in the double envelope to the Inspectors of Election. In this way, you will not be seen as the management company who is siding with a certain group and not ALL.”

Cindy Collins, vice president of FirstService, fired back to ACE Inspectors: “I had forewarned you that this would be a heated election and yet you appeared to not to be prepared or equipped to handle the situation…. As for the inference that you were in some way protecting FirstService by not contesting that annual meeting...I believe if that was your true motivation, that you were negligent in the performance of your professional duties and loyalty to your client, the Association.”

Another contentious election took place in August that gave the activists another seat on the board.

Since becoming association president, Reed says he has learned things that surprise him.

In a September 21 interview, Reed said, “In an at effort to resolve the parking issues for the community, I went through a discovery process to find out who owned the properties around Eastlake III neighborhoods. Through this process I discovered that the 3133 residents of Eastlake III homeowners association are paying for water and landscape maintenance for a local church and other sections of private properties. In the interest of transparency and fairness it’s important for the residents to know where their HOA fees are going. We could potentially be talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

On September 23, the Reader called Debra Vaca, FirstService property manager for Eastlake III, inquiring about Reed’s allegations regarding water and landscaping. Vaca said someone would call back with an answer — that didn't happen.

So far, the association has racked up more than $20,000 in election costs, Reed said.

“And now there is an attempt to recall the entire board, adding even more costs.”

Reed says he wanted to enlist the assistance of Chula Vista’s District 1 council member John McCann to resolve some of the property issues, but McCann lives in one of the Eastlake III neighborhoods and McCann’s wife Myllissa has already signed the petition to recall Reed and other boardmembers.

The Reader also contacted boardmember Ritch Adair to ask about the recall petition. Adair said that all questions should go through the attorney and if any other boardmember was giving out information they were outside their authority.

(corrected 9/25, 11:55 a.m.)

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The only intent of this "article" is to somehow, someway, tar Councilman McCann.

We all know the Luzarro clan has many current and former teachers union officers and members that have been at odds with John McCann for years, and the author of this little story has been writing hit pieces against McCann for years.

This is just another personal vendetta story posing as "journalism".

Sjtorres Speaking of vendettas...

Are you suggesting that John McCann is anti-union? Surely that would not be appropriate for a city council member. Most council members and board members respect unions and union members and I hope Mr. McCann does as well.

Please try to stay on topic as Terms of Use policy requires.

Sjtprres is just one of those who know nothing about unions or how they operate but has been taught to hate them. To be anti-union is to be anti-employee.

Sjtorres - I am beginning to believe what many are suspect of is true - rather than Sjtorres perhaps in reality it is JMcCann...............

Ms. Luzzaro - Mr. McCann not a union proponent - ding, ding, ding.................. I believe we have a winner.

While not an east side resident - IF I were one, I would be disgusted with the bait and switch community I was sold vs. what I am now seeing take place. Soon, there will be huge buildings packed with families - similar to the projects of Chicago.

** just my opinions

Referring back to my Catholic roots - HALLELUJIAH, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJIAH, HALLELEJUAH ------ HALLE-LU-JIAH!!!!!!!!! (think I goth them all in)


Thank you owners of The READER!!!!! For years the So. Bay has depended on Ms. Luzzaro for factual news, now we have it back!!!!!

Wow,an article from Ms.Luzzaro! You have been missed! Quality South Bay stories are back,thank you Susan. Investigative facts not innuendo is back. If I were an owner and was told that $20,000 was spent on election costs I think I would be at every meeting with questions to find out what is really going on. What a mess! It appears some people have already made their minds up. Glad I'm not involved in these home owner associations,scary stuff going on.

While I do not reside in Eastlake III, I do care about the overall scheme of things in this little corner of the universe.

Isn't it strange how these little and not-so-little fiefdoms crop up here in south San Diego County? Why it is almost as if some people feel that this is an area where people get to make their own rules. Of course, when the city of Chula Vista goes along, it doesn't help.

Developers rule the roost, I guess.

Politicians just pander to whomever has the bucks, right?

It would be so great if someone could prove me wrong on this. Eastlake III shouldn't be a fiefdom, just like the city of Chula Vista shouldn't be a fiefdom, just like Sweetwater school district shouldn't be a fiefdom, just like Chula Vista Elementary School District shouldn't be a fiefdom. All these entities and organizations should be run according to the rules that established them. Basic fact.

Which is why each and every one of us needs to pay attention to where our money and power go. Watch what happens, or doesn't happen.

Interesting that John McCann and spouse appear to align with the status quo. By the way, Mr. McCann, is that soccer arena still torn up? Any funds been allocated yet? Talk about the decaying of a neighborhood--crime is up, vandalism is up, and what do we get? Not much representation from Mr. McCann. Funny how that happens.

Susan welcome back! I've been watching this drama unfold from neighboring EL II, and it is certainly a soap opera. A lot of allegations and finger pointing by a few individuals against a few others. Quite interesting that our lil friend McCann pops up in this drama. Why am I not surprised!! He is like that character in Charlie Brown - everywhere he goes there is a dark cloud of dirt and dust swirling around!!

Eastlaker is right - McCann has poorly represented our district. He has sided with developers and agreed to more home construction - to the chagrin of some of his own EL III neighbors. That field still sits torn up with no action from him. Another person said they contacted him on poorly planned street repairs in EL and only received a form response from his office.

He even held a district meeting to update our community on issues - and he could not even get that right. It was held on a Sunday night at a small cafe tnd was poorly publicized and attended.

It will be interesting to see how this soap opera plays out.

Susan, so glad to see your name again! I've missed your honest journalism.

I am surprised that no one mentioned that the board along with Barney Reed fire a mangament company thst has been there for 15 years - and has yet to answer why he did r this with out letting the memebership know or answering thier questions

Why did we fail to mention that the city attorney Glen Googins lives in the neighborhood to? He has done nothing for years about these issues. He also made sure that our $30 million claim against the city was denied.

First, Thank you & Mil Gracias to those who have welcomed me back.

On the subject of HOAs, over the last few years I have received calls from various people in HOAs and I didn't fully understand how important they are for day-to-day life, as well as huge issues like maintaining property value. I understand now.

I find it interesting that HOAs, which dominate southern California landscape, have become the locus of so many conflicts that the LA Times has a column that takes up questions. Here is a sample: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-associations-20150215-story.html

First things first welcome back Susan. Not sure what McCann and rest of council are thinking by voting for more and more build outs in the east. Getting in and out in the morning and evening is a nightmare. Glad I chose to stay in the old home.

Welcome back Susan, great story! Looking forward to you covering more on this topic. Interesting that your readers comments are almost all focused on the McCanns. This sparks one to question, HUM??? could the McCanns have had a hand in two election ordeals??? Sounds like this hoa needs Judge Judy or Orange is the new Black!!!!

Susan L found out you were back while in line at Trader Joes, then went to Best Buy and people in line there were talking about your story. homeowners out here are mighty angry over our lack of representation by the Council and Googins. Never been a fan of Mc Canns looks like east side building will be his swan song.

Look at how much power a board president has, he controla 3000 homes,and budgets of millions of dollars yet he gets upset when people question him. Yet they feel it's ok to question the politicians A hoa board president is a politican just like all the rest

Management companies work at the pleasure of the HOA Board. It is the responsibility of the Board to oversee everything the management companies do including reviewing service provider contracts and all financial agreements, bills and accounts. Regular audits, reviews and bidding for services should occur to insure that all providers are giving the best bang for the buck. Board members are elected and should represent all homeowners. The problem is that most HOA members are lazy, do not attend the meetings, do not get involved and do not vote. They only complain when their calf gets gored.

Relatively minor point, but I'd like to reiterate a problem that was mentioned in an earlier post, having to do with roadwork that was done, and is not up to par.

In our area when repaving was done this past summer, there must have been something wrong with the mix, the quantity, and the application, because the very thin amount that was used to repave is rough and crumbly, and the resurfacing ended up being very uneven. It looks like the job was half done.

I kept waiting for the road crew to return and finish, but no! It was left looking unfinished.

So who do we go to if McCann is ignoring the problem?

Could be they didn't complain because they felt the board was doing the job they were elected to?

AlexClarke, I like your analogy, unions = employees.

As for homeowners associations, this particular one, Eastlake is huge, and a significant number of people cast their votes to seat the current board. There are several stories listed under the article above. I found the 2010 story about HOA horror stories interesting:

Here is one quote that caught my eye:

"In a way, the whole HOA is a sucker’s game set up by a collusion of developers and local governments. Unpaid HOA boards use HOA assessment fees to pay for what should be the municipality’s responsibility, such basics as roads, electricity, sewage, and water. Developers create high-profit, high-density housing and then hand it over, lock, stock, and all financial and legal responsibilities to these amateur boards not only to run what often amount to million-dollar businesses, but also to keep on paying property taxes to local government for the infrastructure services those authorities didn’t actually have to provide or keep up. No wonder cities love them just as much as developers. No wonder HOA-run condo complexes have mushroomed sixfold, from 7000 in California 20 years ago to about 43,000 today, housing around 10 million, maybe a quarter of the state’s entire population."

Susan quite the contrary, a well run HOA can be a great place to live. Reasonable HOA dues ($85 per month) clean neighborhoods, relatively safe and well maintained neighborhoods, no drama, pretty good schools, central to all services and an HOA board that does their job overseeing the mgmt of the HOA. Sounds pretty good doesn't it??

As many of these comments pertained to Councilmember McCann, thought I'd pass this Star News article along.


Wow. Luzzaro's personal obsession with McCann is concerning.

Wow Sjtorres, your personal obsession with me is concerning. Did I write this story in the Star News?

So pleased to see you back, Susan L! This community desperately needs your in-depth reporting on South Bay happenings.

Well,,,, if it is attention Mr. McCann desires - he is sure getting it this week - from the voting bloggers and from the Courts (see Star News report) - alas it is negative, and rightfully deserved apparently.

The facts in the Star News report regarding an anti McCann campaign flyer are most concerning. What he 'chose' to take the flyer authors to court for is nothing short of trivial when compared to the allegations presented in the campaign flyer.

Sjtorres - I am reminded of that Tammy Wynette song 'Stand By Your Man' - good thing, because when he turns around, you may just be the only one holding up the rear.

I am more inclined to be humming - 'TURN OUT THE LIGHTS, THE POLITICAL PARTY IS OVER'

In case you have not seen this, a recent "official" release by Councilman John McCann said this:

               "John McCann Helps Shut Down Illegal Strip Club

Chula Vista Councilmember John McCann won another victory for the community. As part of McCann's platform of cleaning up the City, Chula Vista announced a recent victory in the litigation against EyeCandy Showgirls Strip Club."

Well, at least he did not remind people that he also cleaned up SUHSD.

Emphasis on the 'helps' - let is not forget the other Council members and the Mayor.

Transparency in democratic institutions is important. When people fight against transparency, that generally means they are part of a group that prefers keeping information from the public.

I'd say Eastlake III does need to find out what has been going on with their dues. Obviously, the public entity that is Eastlake III should not be forced to support an organization that is private and not part of actual Eastlake III properties. How could anyone think that arrangement could continue, especially with rising water fees and drought regulations?

And that is only one management issue that needs straightening out, according to what I have heard.

Honestly, what has been going on here?

A journalist should always disclose personal interests in a story they are writing. Since Luzzaro's husband and daughter (union bosses) have been fighting against McCann for years, and Luzzaro fails to disclose this is tantamount to unprofessionalism in the least. Disclose the connections! Epic fail in ethics!


JD Hawkins, I wasn't aware of the HOA battles you mentioned. Earlier I brought attention to the previous Reader story that was about HOA nightmares. Later, a commenter, BVAVSVAVEV pointed out that good HOAs can be instrumental in maintaining the quality of life and property value. It comes down to choice. I'm lucky to have good neighbors, a large lot, good schools, no HOA fees, etc But it is a question of personal preference.

Sjtorres, It says a lot about the scary obsession you have with me that you would be up at 1:19 a.m. posting inaccurate things about me and my family.

As well as the fact that "his" profile picture is a stock photograph...

Sjtorres repeats the same bs over and over like a confused broken record. Should be bringing more to the conversation than attempts to slander.

Whoever Sjtorres is, he or she should be ignored. When nobody responds to the comments, they will stop.

It's good to have Susan back on the So County beat. We look forward to seeing more from her. BTW, she may be the safeguard that those school districts don't backslide. The voters still don't show much understanding of what went on, and could put the bad guys (think of Cartmill) back in office.

You think east lake is bad? Try Otay Ranch Countryside 5!! Cops had to be called in, illegal motions, parking nazis, corruption, misappropriation of dues and monies. Psycho HOA leadership. Crazy.

I'm curious. The article refers to "the activists". Are they the residents that are going to the board meetings, looking for answers? The article makes it appear almost negative, in the way it describes activists getting another seat on the board. (Without knowing who are being referred to as activists, I'm not really sure.) Hey, I'm all for members of the public trying to get involved, picking up the slack where board members may not be doing.

I note the info about petitions to recall the entire board. (New board member activists as well?) I see that Reed appears to be trying to ascertain details about what the HOA is paying for. If so, why would members be trying to recall him as well?

As for the mention of McCann, Reed wanted to enlist the aid of McCann to resolve some of the property issues. Did Reed contact McCann? (Or any of the other Chula Vista Board Members? Can he ask others, or is it only McCann covering that area?) It was noted that McCann's wife signed the recall petition, but if Reed is actually attempting to aid the HOA with these matters, why would McCann not assist in this aspect?

(I don't see this article as attempting to slight McCann. It doesn't say anything that McCann did or did not do, only that Reed wanted to get his help, but....)

dbdriver, it could be "turf warfare" of a sort. The ousted group wants to oust the newly elected and regain their turf.

But--it looks like several issues need to be opened up and discussed.

It is important to know what is happening to dues--which should not be subsidizing an independent organization, no matter how "worthy" people think that institution is.

The idea that major financial issues were not being taken care of by the ousted group is something that needs examination.

So, if people like being leaders in their community, it might help if you actually do a reasonable job.

Visduh, Thank you very much for the welcome back. Your advice is good, hard to follow :-)

I find it interesting that Mr. Reed cares so much about what we spend for water at a local church and on election costs, but somehow racks up $15,000 in HOA attorney fees in one month! To an attorney he appointed nonetheless. Our previous HOA board didn't even spend that much in an entire year! He even had the attorney come to his home to consult with him and his wife, and that alone cost us $900!? These guys need to go, the recall needs to happen. #ECHO4RECALL

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