Proposed ByLaw Changes

Posted in: Mitchell Park West
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  • mkyle
  • Respected Neighbor
  • Tempe, AZ
  • 61 Posts
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To reiterate, here is what Mark put in a reply, and I assume it was copied from the City of Tempe Neighborhood Association:

“A neighborhood association is a voluntary organization of residents who work together to improve and maintain the quality of life in their neighborhood.”

I read nothing here that segregates renters from owners or stores from homes in this statement.  The term “neighborhood association” is not restricted in ways that “home owner’s association” might be.  While the wording in the proposed change to the bylaws is carefully crafted, the result is that some neighbors will be second-class citizens.  I do not believe that is right.

What to me is more puzzling is why both of the proposals have come about at all.  Has there been a problem?  If so, it would be good to come forth and share this with the neighbors.  

I do not believe that exclusionary practices should be a part of any neighborhood.  I reject both proposed changes  

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  • smachen
  • Valued Neighbor
  • USA
  • 4 Posts
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  This is the second attempt to have a message posted. I hope I can be a clear as my first attempt.

  When I was on the Board we thought ourselves lucky if any renter wanted to participate in anything related to neighborhood. We never excluded them. The original bylaws stated that to be a member you had to pay $1 per year. We at least rid ourselves of that limitation.

I do not believe that anyone who lives in the neighborhood and wishes to participate in neighborhood affairs should be eliminated. I know renters in the neighborhood who have lived there for 20 years. Does this show a lack of interest in their surroundings? 

Trying to limit who is in the association looks like you are trying to find only those who agree with your views. Government and democracy work because of the differences. It brings a variety of ideas to the table. Maybe an issue comes up and you can only see two sides to the coin. Someone else might remind you there is a third side.

Businesses have always been our allies. Contributing to the annual meeting with refreshments. This also kept them involved enough to think of going to the neighborhood with any changes to their property that might affect a change to the neighborhood. I do not believe they have any interest in 'voting' on our issues so designated as 'non-voting affiliate' seems to fit but do not keep them out of the loop. Keep them informed and interested in where they do business and who lives around them.

Anyone living within the boundaries of MPWNA is involved in the association be it passive or active. Any decision made by the NA affects them. They have to be involved in the process. If someone runs a business out of their home they are still a resident of the neighborhood.

The basic thought Do not include any exclusions in membership. This includes those of us who  are involved as owners of property. It is still 'my' neighborhood too. I care what happens to it.

Thank you for the opportunity to state my opinion. 

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  • 719w10th
  • Respected Neighbor
  • Tempe, AZ
  • 84 Posts
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Consideration of changes to the by-laws concerning membership in the association was brought before the Board at a public Board meeting. There was discussion, the Board decided there was merit to the ideas. The Board and resident drafted proposed changes to the by-laws and have put them up for discussion and to vote.

An organization (association) is formed based on likenesses or commonalities. In the case of a neighborhood association, it is as stated from the City website, to improve or maintain the quality of the community.

There is ample precedence for different types of membership in organizations. Most of the differences are predicated on the position that what is 'best for the members is best decided by the members'.

The essential commonality of Mitchell Park West is that it is a residential community. 'Residence' means 'a place to live'.  Sometimes that residence is also a place to work and do business. A residence is not primarily a place of business.

The differentiation proposed by #1 by-law change to make businesses non-voting affiliates is based on the rational process that a business must follow.  What is best for a business to maintain itself and prosper is the priority, not what is best for it's surrounding neighbors (residents). Of course there are exceptions. Some businesses are bound to a particular neighborhood for their success and prosperity. To my estimation, there are no businesses of that type within the MPWNA boundaries. The residents support almost all the businesses in the boundary. Some businesses do not require resident participation to sustain themselves. Some businesses have excellent relations with the residents, others do not. The Board would prefer that all businesses had excellent relations with the Association.

I actually see it the other way, what is best for the neighborhood residents, will be best for the businesses within the MPWNA boundaries. As the neighborhood becomes a better place, safer, less crime, etc. that will benefit the businesses within the boundary.

The change in the bylaw porposed eliminates this potential conflict. Efforts to include businesses in MPWNA participation in the neighborhood association have been ongoing for years and will continue. 

example: In 2007 the Board reported the development at the se corner of university and Hardy (Sacks, Starbucks, etc) to City code enforcement. Trash was not being placed in the dumpsters in the alley. It was piling up, because the garbage trucks did not stop to pick it up by hand. The bags were being torn apart by dogs. The trash was a habitat for rats. The alley is bordered by duplex rentals on the south side.

Apparently it was easiest for employees to throw the bags of trash over the fence, hoping to get it in the dumpster, rather than open the locked gate. It took six months, three or four municipal agencies, and several meetings to come up with the brilliant solution to take the lock off the gate. The employees did not have keys to the lock. No single business was cited by the city.

During this time, the roof water overflow drainage at the alley was stopped up by trash, and plantlife. The standing water was creating habitat for mosquitoes to breed. This was during a time when West Nile Virus was in the news. The drainage system did not meet current building code. To my knowledge this problem has not been entirely remedied. The responsible party is the building owner/propery manager, and to repair the problem may cost a few thousand dollars. Altho recent construction at the development may have fixed the problem. I assume that city bldg inspectors were on site to approve the changes.

Both of these examples had been ongoing for a substantial period of time before they were reported to the City by the Board.

#2 by-law change: quorum and majority of the Board shall be owner occupant.

This proposed change in the by-laws does not eliminate membership in the association by renters. It only states that decisions by the Board requiring a vote shall be made by a majority who are owner occupants.

There are two classifications of residents, owner occupants and renters. All are included as members. The fact is, very few residents are active. 'Involved in an association' by my definition requires some kind of activity, attend meetings, deliver information, serve on committees, etc.  All residents are 'included in the association'. There 275 households in MPWNA,  and on average 2 residents per household gives up 550 residents. If  5% of the residents are active in the association or about 28, we are doing pretty well. Average attendance at neighborhood meetings is less than 15. There are presently 4 Board members, 3 owner occupants, 1 renter.

Going back to who will be making decisions that are in the best interest of the community, it is most often the homeowners. There are exceptions again; renters that are responsible for property upkeep and participate in the community, and homeowners that do not maintain their homes to the minimum standards as established by City Ordinance and do not participate in the association.

Among the homeowners that do not maintain their property and behave as not permitted by the City Ordinance (loud parties, etc) they are primarily at absentee landlords households. It would be possible to quantify the calls for disturbances, and maintenance issues that are prodominantly at these households. Absentee landlords lease their properties to renters.

In addition there is the typical period of residence. I dont have any statistics, but it seems reasonable, that homeowners inhabit households longer than renters. There are households in our neighborhood that are inhabited by original homeowers, approx 40 years. There are exception to this too among renters and homeowners. The rental house next to me is on it's 3rd group of college students in the last 6 years.

Decisions that may have long reaching effects on the community, should give priority to the owner occupants. A renter that tips the vote then moves out in two years, may leave behind an undesirable solution that long term established residents will have to live with.

Votes that actually determine neighborhood issues are made at neighborhood meetings. Board votes are to prioritize agendas, and bring issues to the neighborhood. The #2 by-law does not propose any changes to that situation. Given my discussion above, the Board may wish to modify #2 by-law to require a majority of owner occupants at a neighborhood meetings be required to approve an issue before the Association.

Absentee landlords are another specific problem the Association faces. How do we get them involved? Do we want them involved? They own property but they do not occupy it themselves. Therefore the issues that affect that property, since their principal interest is as a 'rental' or 'business to make money' may not be aligned with the residents, other renters or owner occupants, whose quality of life and property value are affected by the surrounding community.

The city will be mailing out a card with the next Board and Neighborhood meeting dates. You can also look at the calendar on this website. Hope to see you there!

My wife, Eliane, and I agree strongly with both the views expressed by smachen and before that by mkyle. The bylaws have served well for the past 20 years as we understand it, so why the push to change them now? What events have occurred to promote these changes? The examples described by Mark Lymer are upsetting but are not a rationale reason for changing the bylaws. Instead, they point out a problem with the Code enforcement by the City. The idea to include businesses as non-voting affiliates achieves nothing as it will merely discourage any business from becoming involved since, to their perception, they can have no influence or effect. And it will certainly not affect examples like those quoted by Mark. As the young soccer couple noted at the last neighborhood meeting, the association seems to be driven by the idea of exclusion; many proposals that comes up are to exclude someone or some group: the soccer palyers, the renters, the businesses, Childsplay, the list goes on............ This must change, otherwise the association will wither and die as it alienates more and more of the community. Mark has remarked on just how few residents actually become involved. These proposed bylaw changes and the pervasive attitude of exclusion among some in the association are a sure fire way to reduce the involvment to only the half dozen old timers and thus render the association pointless and its objectives moot.

John and Eliane Purchase

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