I'm writing about the article in last week's edition of the Voice entitled "HOA dispute leaves new school in the dark" about efforts by PG&E to provide electric power to the new Vargas Elementary school.
The article refers to a "protracted dispute" between PG&E and the California Station Homeowners Association (HOA), and suggests that the homeowners association is not acting in good faith to provide the necessary easement to PG&E as quickly as possible. I am a longtime resident of California Station. Many of my neighbors were troubled by the article and suggested that I write a letter to the Voice presenting our view of the situation.
I first want to point out that the California Station HOA was not consulted at the time the decision was made to run the electrical lines for the new school through our property. Our HOA was contacted by the school district for the first time this past June — just seven weeks before school was scheduled to start — and informed that the new power supply lines ran through our property, and therefore we needed to provide an easement to PG&E to install and maintain those lines.
Since that time, our HOA board has been working with PG&E to complete the necessary easement. Because the HOA board has a fiduciary duty to protect HOA assets, the HOA board had certain questions that needed to be answered. For example, PG&E didn't specify what they wanted to build on HOA property. Further, PG&E requested unlimited access to HOA property, to build whatever they wanted at any time, without any requirement to notify the HOA prior to starting work. The HOA board has submitted several draft easements to PG&E. So far, all of them have been rejected without comment. This has been perplexing and frustrating, since PG&E seems to be violating precedent they themselves set when they needed access to our HOA property to complete projects in the past. In spite of PG&E's reluctance to work constructively with our board, our board members have been proactive and responsive in an effort to complete the easement as quickly as possible.
Secondly, in hindsight, given that the new school has been planned for more than three years, it would have been helpful to start the easement process earlier to provide time to complete the easement well before the school opening date. Again, our HOA was not aware an easement was required until June. If we had been aware sooner, we would've started working with PG&E sooner to avoid a last-minute fire drill.
In conclusion, the residents of California Station want the community to know that we support our local schools and students. We did not sign on to be involved with the power supply for the new school, but we're happy to do our part. Our HOA board members, and our entire community, look forward to completing the easement as soon as possible so the new school can get power and we can all move on with our lives.
Jim Pollart is a longtime California Station resident.