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Laguna Woods HOA to continue hybrid board meetings

The United Laguna Woods Mutual board will continue to hold meetings in a hybrid format, which allows directors to participate in-person or via Zoom.

As indicated in a Village Management Services staff report, the hybrid format is a legacy of the pandemic, largely dictated by state and county health and safety requirements that have now been lifted.

The hybrid format “allows so many people in so many instances to make a meeting they otherwise could not make. I think it’s worth keeping,” Director Maggie Blackwell said during a meeting of the board June 14.

Several board members and residents spoke in favor of returning to in-person only meetings.

“It seems like whenever we have hybrid board meetings, things get out of order,” Director Pearl Lee said. “Also, we face our residents here.”

Residents Mary Stone and Maxine McIntosh voiced strong objections to the hybrid format.

“If you’re sick, stay home; but don’t use this as an excuse to sleep in later, to not have to get ready and stay home,” McIntosh said. “I want to hear everyone when they’re speaking – but I want to hear them here, at the board meeting.”

Resident Elsie Addington noted that the conference call system predating Zoom and COVID-19 worked well and offered less interference.

Director Azar Asgari, who was videoconferencing in to the meeting, said she chose to stay home because she had a cold symptom associated with the coronavirus.

The hybrid format “is a protection for everyone,” she said, reminding the audience that despite the lifting of state and county regulations, the pandemic is not over. “This way, we can be online and do our duty while also making a safe place for others to do so as well.”

The board approved the resolution, 5-3-1, on second reading. The resolution takes immediate effect.

Voting policy

United passed a resolution that will amend its voting policy to include term limitations, per new California state legislation introduced in October.

Pulling from Assembly Bill 502, which took effect Jan. 1, United’s Governing Documents Review Committee proposed the addition of a term limit to its Membership Election and Voting Policy that will suspend directors’ eligibility to serve on a board for 12 months after they have resigned, been removed or served two successive full terms, according to a staff report.

The board passed the resolution 7-3-0, with Directors Asgari, Andre Torng and Reza Bastani dissenting. The resolution takes immediate effect.

Anti-harassment policy

United discussed a proposal to create an interboard committee to address claims of harassment, abuse and intimidation across all relations – residents, staff and board directors.

Originally introduced in May, the revised proposal now includes input from the Golden Rain Foundation and each mutual, a staff report said.

The six-member committee, to be modeled after the Village Traffic Hearing Committee, would consist of two members from each board – GRF, United Mutual and Third Mutual – and would work with VMS representatives, legal counsel and other relevant individuals to impose discipline as appropriate, according to the staff report.

Beyond state and federal definitions of harassment, abuse and intimidation, the policy interprets shouting; stalking, such as following someone around to intimidate or “make a point”; disrupting organized activities in progress; and excessive telephone calls as valid counts of harassment, per Housing and Urban Development guidelines.

Complaints would be investigated by the Security Department, which would then report its findings to the committee for further action, as stated in the report.

United board President Anthony Liberatore noted the importance of documenting a paper trail if an incident were to escalate to a courtroom setting.

Director Pat English added, “Anything to protect the organization, United or Laguna Woods, would be an advantage in my opinion.”

The board approved the revised resolution on first reading, 6-3-0. The resolution must now satisfy a 28-day notification requirement.

COVID-19 update

The adjusted daily case rate of COVID-19 cases has tripled since the same time last month in Orange County – jumping from 8.5 to 29.5 – as detected by the OC Health Care Agency, as of  June 21.

Testing positivity rates – the number of swabs and spit tests that return with traces of the coronavirus – increased threefold as well, now at 14%.

The health equity quartile positivity rate – the test positivity of disproportionately impacted neighborhoods – follows at 14.5%.

To date, this tallies a total of 1,230 COVID-19 cases and 77 deaths in Laguna Woods since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Resale report

The average resale price for a co-op in United Mutual in May was $381,962, up from $250,205 in May 2021, according to a VMS staff report. Resales year-to-date numbered 211, up from 165 the same time last year. Sales volume in May was $16 million compared with $10.3 million in May 2021.

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