Monday, November 14, 2016

WE ARE NOW LISTED ON SMILE AMAZON!

The California Pines Community Land Trust is now listed as a supported charity on SMILE AMAZON!   This means that if you log into Amazon by using www.Smile.Amazon.com, and enter the Land Trust as your charity, Amazon will donate a portion of their profits to us automatically!

Smile.Amazon.com is the same great site as Amazon.com, all the products and prices are the same, and if you are an Amazon Prime member on one site, you are also a Prime member on the other site.   Smile.Amazon.com is really just a "back door" entry into Amazon.com.  I don't know why they don't just have one way to log in, but some things are just destined to be a mystery in life.

However, ours is not to wonder why, our goal is to get more community purchasing power going back into the COMMUNITY!  So, do all of us a favor.  Log into www.Smile.Amazon.com right now, use your normal Amazon.com password to get in, and follow the instructions to designate us as your charity.  Then, every time you go to Amazon be sure to use the Smile.Amazon.com entry point.  You, and the rest of the community, will be happy you did!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What can the Land Trust do for Me?

I have been asked what advantage the Land Trust is to property owners in Cal Pines. I have to say, that does depend upon what you want out of Cal Pines.

If you like the idea of living in a high density development with people "camping" in tents and lean-tos all year on the property next to your house without proper sanitary facilities, and cooking their meals over open fires (even in dry summer months, when we might all go up in flames), while POA fees continue to increase because the POA is obligated to maintain the miles and miles of roadways that serve the "campers", then the Land Trust will really not help you achieve your dreams here.

However, if you envision a tranquil affordable country home where you can be surrounded by an abundance of wildlife and have to strain your ears to hear your neighbors, camping facilities with all the amenities are available in clustered campgrounds for anyone to use at an affordable price during the summer, all-year "camping" in inappropriate structures is discouraged, POA fees remain modest with plenty of funds to maintain the public roads, and property values stabilize (and, dare we hope, rise?), then the Land Trust will be a critical partner to you, the POA, CSD, and the County in making this happen.

HOW? The Land Trust can help with:

-> REDUCING DEVELOPMENT DENSITY in areas that cannot support it by encouraging voluntary lot mergers and the creation of open space for wildlife corridors and hiking trails.

-> ADVOCATING FOR CHANGES IN DEVELOPMENT RULES AND REGULATIONS to encourage property investment rather than the building of ramshackle huts and the abandonment of recreational vehicles.

-> PROVIDING ECONOMIC RELIEF TO PROPERTY OWNERS who want OUT of Cal Pines by helping them find buyers for their property or accepting their land as a donation rather than abandoning them in their struggle to pay the taxes and fees they no longer feel they can afford.

-> STABILIZING THE REVENUE STREAM OF THE COUNTY, POA, AND CSD by finding ways to reduce their maintenance and enforcement burdens and stabilize property values. This effort is critical for all parties as these entities are the only ones available to protect and maintain Cal Pines.

-> IMPROVING AMENITIES AVAILABLE TO VISITORS AND OWNERS ALIKE by teaming with the POA, CSD and County to focus grant funding and volunteer efforts on habitat restoration, trail building and park development.

-> BUILDING COMMUNITY by providing a gathering spot for property owners and their guests in one of the Hill Units. In addition to being a place to relax and unwind among your friends, the "Community Center" will serve the important function of building solidarity and understanding among residents, and can provide some important amenities that many seasonal visitors may not have on their property, like laundry facilities, an RV dump, a water source (sold in small batches to members only to discourage illegal "grows"), and shower facilities.

What else can the Land Trust do? We are only limited to our imaginations, but the fact is, it can do nothing without your help.  We hope you will consider making a donation to this effort.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Land Trust Takes Over Hosting of "Available Properties" Site

Do you have property you are trying to buy or sell in California Pines?  You should have it listed on the Available California Pines Properties blog!   The Land Trust is now hosting this blog, and your listing is FREE, whether you are a property owner, potential purchaser or a Real Estate Agent.  Check it out!

NOTE TO PROPERTY OWNERS:  Any property owner selling or leasing five or more legal lots in California Pines (or any subdivision in California) must complete  a "Notice of Intention" with the California Department of Real Estate, and obtain a preliminary, conditional or final Public Report from them before they can offer the properties for sale or lease (pursuant to the DRE Subdivision Public Report Application Guide, Section IV, Subsection A).  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

County Board of Supervisors Approves Funding for Review of Cal Pines Issues

While attending a meeting with County staff regarding the huge number of Cal Pines properties that are expected to be put up for tax sale next year, I found out the County Board of Supervisors approved funding for Planning staff to work with the Cal Pines community to try to identify and find solutions to some of its outstanding issues.  This is GREAT news!  Money is in VERY short supply all over the County, so it is a real boon to Cal Pines that County funds have been earmarked for us in the current budget.

When asked what issues would be addressed, staff indicated they would be contacting the Property Owners Association and the Community Service District, as well as other interest groups, to get their help in identifying issues and solutions.  They need to come up with a plan by June of 2017 that will bring tangible results.

So, watch for the announcements from Modoc County, and participate in the meetings!  This is a wonderful chance to bring about a positive change for Cal Pines, so I am hoping when the time comes, we will all get together and help.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

GoFundMe Campaign Launched!

We have started a campaign to raise seed money to get our work started in California Pines! Please take a look, and donate if you can.  We have big plans that will help all the property owners in California Pines, but we need your help to get started.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Land Trust Relationship To POA

We are starting to get a number of questions about the Land Trust and how it relates to the California Pines Property Owners' Association (POA).  First, let me say that we are a completely separate organization, with a separate Board of Directors.  However, what we have in common is a love for California Pines and a desire to ensure it is a beautiful and healthy place to live, work and play.

Now, what does that mean for each of these organizations?  We hope to engage the POA very soon on this very question, but here is our perspective...


ABOUT MONEY

1.      I have been asked if the Land Trust wants to take money from the POA.
My answer is an emphatic NO! 
DISCUSSION. The Land Trust is not interested in trying to coerce,  steal or block money from reaching the POA.
WHY?  Contrary to the opinion of many property owners:
·         We believe the work of the POA, which is the enforcement of the CC&Rs and the maintenance of community property,  is essential to the wellbeing of the community, and   

·         We do not believe the POA can do the job currently required by the CC&Rs on the funds it currently receives.    

 

2.      Will the Land Trust deprive the POA of its rightful dues? 

No.  Even though the Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it is just another property owner in the eyes of the CC&Rs.  Therefore, the Land Trust will need to pay POA dues just like any other property owner in the development. We are hoping to negotiate some "in-kind" service to cover this debt, but acceptance of any agreement of this nature will be entirely up to the POA. 
 

3.      Will Land Trust activities reduce the membership dues coming into the POA? 

Potentially.  However, it is more likely that the judicious actions of the POA, the County and the Land Trust (working in concert with each other) can both stabilize the revenues of the POA and reduce the amount of work the POA is required to do so that it can operate smoothly within the revenue it receives. 

DISCUSSION:  The payment of POA dues are on a downward slide right now, as are property tax revenues to the County.  As long as properties in California Pines are not valued, this is likely to continue.  This will result in the County continuing to undervalue the California Pines community and restrict support in the form of enforcement and road maintenance assistance, which will put a greater burden on the POA.  To meet this burden and to make up for lost revenues, the POA will need to  increase its annual dues (as it is required to by the Davis Stirling Act).  The more they do that, the more property owners are going to be tempted to renege on both POA fees and property taxes, hurting both the PAO and the County, continuing the vicious cycle until the POA is forced to fold. 

How can the Land Trust Help?  The Land Trust is dedicated to reducing the development density in both the Hill and Lake Districts to levels that are environmentally sustainable, thus protecting private investment in Cal Pines and potentially increasing the value of privately owned land.   

In doing this, it is true that fewer lots will be available in the development, so fewer property owners will be available to pay dues.  However, as a result of the mergers, properties should be more valuable, and the development more desirable, so members might be more willing to pay their dues and may also be open to accepting dues increases, if needed.  
 
In any case, as part of our charter to help the Cal Pines development, meet Land Trust dues obligations to the POA, and help minimize the need for the POA to raise dues, the Land Trust will work with the POA to identify ways we can help offset revenue losses by reducing POA maintenance obligations.
 

4.      How is the Land Trust going to pay its POA dues? 

Excellent question!  We don’t know, and because we don’t know, we are not yet accepting any property donations.   

DISCUSSION:  Not only will  the Land Trust be required to pay POA dues for each legal lot it acquires, it will also be required to pay property taxes, insurance and maintenance costs on that property.  These are big bills.  POA dues alone can stop any efforts of the Land Trust to help California Pines. 
For instance, let’s say the Land Trust starts accepting properties from donors, and soon receives 100 property donations.   If all of the properties have at least one shared property line, then the Land Trust might choose to merge them.  This would mean that the Land Trust would only owe the POA $80/year for that property.  Not bad.  However, if none of them share a property line (which is the most likely scenario), then the Land Trust would owe the POA $8,000 per year!  To make that worse, a similar amount would be due to the County.  Since the Land Trust does not even have the funds to pay for staff at this point, clearly it cannot afford to pay for dues and taxes of this magnitude. 
So, in order for the Land Trust to assist with improving California Pines on a large scale, both the POA and the County are going to have to work with the Land Trust to reduce these costs.  However, we do not believe either organization will, or should, waive the financial obligations of the Land Trust and receive nothing in return.   

What does the Land Trust bring to the table?  As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Land Trust offers property owners the chance to get out from under the obligations of property ownership in Cal Pines and receive a tax deductible donation in return.  We also have the ability to fund-raise and potentially bring in funding from outside sources.  The Land Trust also brings land planning and contract negotiation expertise to the table through its Managing Director (the author, Jennifer Andersen), who has 30 years of experience in land planning and redevelopment.  This is important because the County will soon be required to conduct a Tax Sale involving nearly 3,000 California Pines properties.  Most Cal Pines properties offered in this manner have remained unsold in years past, causing a further drain on both POA and County coffers. Those that have sold, largely went to one or two business interests with the intention of reselling the individual properties as is.  Unfortunately, this activity does nothing to reduce development densities, nor has it helped stabilize land values.  With the Managing Director’s help, the Land Trust is in a position to change this unhelpful cycle by accepting ownership of the properties offered for sale, and either retaining them for the benefit of the public, or reselling them under conditions that will help both Cal Pines and the County stabilize its revenue stream and create a healthier and more vibrate community. The actual terms for land acquisition, retention and resale would be negotiated by all concerned (including the Land Trust, the POA, and the County).  

Can’t the POA do all the things the Land Trust can do?  Very nearly.  As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the POA can accept property donations, re-sell property, and can adopt all the policies the Land Trust has adopted regarding the acquisition and sale of those properties to reduce development densities in Cal Pines to levels that can be environmentally supported (thereby protecting property values in the area).   In addition, the POA can hire the expertise it needs to develop sound land use policies and negotiate with the County for control of tax sale properties.  However, the POA cannot offer an income tax deduction to property owners who donate their property, and their ability to fundraise may be limited.  
 

ABOUT CONTROL

5.      Is the Land Trust trying to shut down the POA?
NO!  Like all other property owners in Cal Pines, the Land Trust only has jurisdiction over its own lands.  It cannot enforce the CC&Rs on properties it does not own.  As noted above, the Land Trust believes the ability of the POA to enforce the CC&Rs is important to the wellbeing of the community.
DISCUSSION:  The POA is the only entity, other than the County, who can enforce regulations in California Pines on properties it does not own.  Furthermore,  we cannot look to the County to solve our enforcement problems, because the County:
·         Will only enforce its own regulations (not our CC&Rs),

·         Will only employ enforcement staff when it has the funds to do so (and it is far from having these funds), and

·         Cannot give California Pines special attention.  When the County has funds for enforcement, it must focus its efforts on areas of greatest need (which is unlikely to be Cal Pines).

While the CC&Rs for California Pines would benefit from some judicious amendments, they contain some very good regulations that need to be enforced to preserve property values and a good quality of life for Cal Pines property owners and residents.  Without the POA, this work cannot be done. 

6.      If the POA folds, can the Land Trust take over for the POA? 

Not really.   While we might be able to help manage some key properties, without the ability to require dues payments and enforce the CC&Rs, the Land Trust cannot replace the POA.

DISCUSSION.  Before the POA can dissolve, its Board is required by non-profit law to transfer POA assets to another non-profit organization (this process is overseen by the State Attorney General’s Office).   Since the Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and is allowed (by its Articles of Incorporation) to accept donations of any kind, it can accept all the properties held in common by the POA and any of its remaining assets.  However, whether or not it would do so would depend on its ability to afford to maintain these assets.    

Unlike the POA, the Land Trust does not have any ability to charge dues, and even raw land is expensive to maintain as you need to pay for insurance, taxes, debris removal, and clean-up.   While the Land Trust might be able to find reliable funding for some of these expenses,  the bulk of POA property lies in the extensive private road system that crisscrosses the development.  Even with member dues, the POA is finding it impossible to maintain all of the roads.  Without dues, the Land Trust could never accept ownership of the roads, and road maintenance would become the responsibility of the individual property owners that use the road. 

Finally, as has already been discussed, one of the most important powers of the POA is the ability to enforce the CC&Rs. This role cannot be assumed by the Land Trust at all.   The CC&Rs would dissolve along with the POA, and the only regulations on private property would be those established and enforced by the County.

I hope the above information has made it clear that every organization with an interest in California Pines needs to work together to meet their organizational responsibilities and make a difference to the property owners and residents in Cal Pines.  This is not a competition between organizations, it is more of a relay race in which we are all on the same team and we are only competing against the clock.  Will we run out of time before we run out of options?  We will see.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Young Stellar Jay Saved from Fishing Wire

One of the problems we are facing in California Pines is the accumulation of trash that is being left behind by "visitors".  This is particularly evident in the Hill Units, where squatters tired of mountain life leave behind camping gear, half burned plastic bottles and metal cans, old tents, clothes, and a wide variety of other detritus, much of which is not only unsightly but also hazardous to our wildlife.







Even day users leave an indelible mark on the landscape, with potentially disastrous effects on the inhabitants.  This juvenile Stellar Jay was recently found entangled in the bundle of fishing line shown in the second photo.  Fortunately for him, one of our residents pulled him out of the tree, where he was floundering helplessly, and cut the line from around his neck and wings.  He flew off unscathed this time. 

We can really use your help to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. The Trust is looking for volunteers that will help us clean-up properties in California Pines, and we hope to receive credit for this work from the POA in exchange for any membership dues the Trust might owe on the properties it acquires.  We plan to make these "work parties" just that! A combination of both work and fun, everyone benefiting.   Please say you will join the team by entering your name in the Contact Form provided on this page! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's Official! We are a 501(c)(3)!

On September 12, 2016, the IRS approved 501(c)(3) status for the California Pines Community Land Trust!  Donations to the Trust are now tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code Section 170.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Federal Tax Exempt Status Requested

The Managing Director has submitted IRS Form 1023 requesting 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for the Trust.  We hope to receive confirmation of this status within a few months.

First Official Board Meeting Held

I am pleased to announce the Trust held its first official Board meeting and installed its founding  Board members.  The Board then adopted the Trust's Bylaws, approved the officers of the Corporation, and then adopted a Conflict of Interest Policy as well as other key directives needed to empower its officers to open bank accounts, enter into contracts, and file for tax exempt status.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Articles of Incorporation Filed

We have received confirmation that our Articles of Incorporations were filed by the Secretary of State on August 12, 2016.  Our corporate number is 3935807!  We will soon file for nonprofit status with both the state and federal governments. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Land Trust Soon To Be Born!

The founding Board of the California Pines Community Land Trust has just submitted its Articles of Incorporation to the State of California.  We are looking forward to working with the California Pines Property Owners Association, the California Pines Community Service District, Modoc County and all the property owners and businesses located in Modoc County to help make California Pines a better place to live and work for all.  We hope you will join us in this effort by volunteering your time and talent, and becoming a Land Trust Sponsor!  It is not too early to make your pledge to improving and protecting our beautiful mountain and lake properties.  Contact us (using the Contact Form on this page) to let us know you are interested in hearing more and helping out.