Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Real Coto Desperate HouseOwner

To: fmickadeit@ocregister.com
CC: "Buzz @CotoBuzz"
Subject: Real Desperate HouseOwner

April 4, 2006

Dear Mr. Mickadeit,

I read your article yesterday. It made me realize how little most people know about the Coto Homeowner's real desperation.

Five years ago my husband and I looked in San Clemente for 8 months for a home we could afford. At that time there just wasn't anything in our price range. Both my husband and I are native Californians, I from the Pasadena (San Marino area) and my husband from Anaheim Hills.

Brett, my husband brought up this place called Coto. I said "where?" He said "oh this really expensive area and it is gated". I said "no way". Sounded too ominous ( a word better describing Coto Culture, than desperate). After 8 months of looking in San Clemente, with no luck, the almost brand new, shiny home, in such a lovely area seemed practical.

I wish I could say I was a "desperate housewife", sounds so glamorous, but I work full time. I am a licensed clinical social worker. I have a private practice in Rancho and one in San Clemente (needed a breather twice a week from Saddleback). But I think what mostly defines that I am not a privileged housewife is our uncooperative and obstinate Homeowners Association Management, Keystone Pacific and our Board Of Directors.

For two years I have been writing letters and making complaints about our commonplace hillsides, in our humble neighborhood of Montecito. For some reason two years ago Keystone and the board decided they did not need to prune or care for our trees. Our trees have become so overgrown that the premium most of us paid to have a view is null and void. The trees have shrouded us in, there is now little sunlight that can peek through, constant debris and claustrophobia setting in.

Part of the problem is the delegate in our area. Last year she claims to have put a notice, in all the neighbors’ mailboxes, that there would be a walk through about the trees. None of us ever received one. She did the walk through with Lot ( the landscape superintendent) and between the two of them they decided the trees were dandy. I called Lot after I realized the trees missed their annual trimming/pruning and he claimed it was the wrong time to trim them (too hot in July). Two weeks later I saw them trim the same Chinese Lantern trees on a street two blocks away ( a much fancier neighborhood). After that I complained and Lot said well the truth is "it's just not in the budget". I asked "when is it in the budget?" He said next year. That brings us to yesterday.

After two years, and 50-60 letters of complaints from all the neighbors, being humiliated and ridiculed by rude board members (Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah we get to ruin your home value), messages that we would call the newspapers, run an ad in the penny saver saying, not do you have a psychiatric complaint, but "do you have a Coto Homeowners complaint, please call...), Keystone, who hires Mosaic Landscapers, who hired Tree Arborists came out and started hacking our trees. Not pruning or trimming, but hacking. AAAAAAAAAAAH! The trees look smaller but still reflect no light through them and forget about a view.

I mentioned the view one day to a board member and he flipped out. You can't worry about the view, it's the trees we care about. Evidently that is a lie. And there are more lies.

Lies about our safety. Number one in crimes in Saddleback Valley. Deaths from high speed limits, and no safety plan implemented to protect drivers and pedestrians. Lies about why the board doesn't have money to trim and prune trees, yet can "save" trees from Ladera Ranch, truck them over and plant more trees in Coto. Trees that drop more leaves, which the gardeners spend all of the fall season sweeping up, because they don't trim and prune the trees when they are supposed to.

The real story about Coto is the story about desperate homeowners. With Frustration,

Marla Stone-Muiter

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