Pubdate: Sat, 08 Feb 2014
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2014 The Arizona Republic
Author: Luci Scott


Chandler Group's Board Responds to Residents' Outcry

Bowing to pressure from residents, the board of Carrillo Ranch, a
homeowners association in Chandler, has reversed its ban on residents
smoking medical marijuana in their front and backyards and on their

City Property Management, which manages Carrillo Ranch, said in a news
release on Friday that the public's response to the issue "has been
heard loud and clear."

The HOA board had voted to ban the use of medical marijuana in
homeowners' yards and on patios, which caused an uproar among
residents who said the board had overstepped its bounds.

Homeowners were happy to hear the news.

Tom LaBonte, a Carrillo Ranch resident who was circulating a petition
in an attempt to have the ban reversed, said of the backtracking,
"Isn't that wonderful that common sense has prevailed?"

Keith Stefanczyk said he was glad the board rescinded the ban, "but
most importantly, people who need medical marijuana will be able to
use it without fearing our local, not-so friendly neighborhood gestapo.

"I hope this sets an example for people who are unhappy with their
HOAs. Look into it. Don't just assume they're looking out for your
best interests."

LaBonte said he was thrilled, but he indicated he still does not trust
the board, so he will continue collecting signatures.

The board had scheduled a March meeting for homeowners to discuss
medical marijuana and had invited attorneys to speak.

"The board needs to understand that this (medical-marijuana ban) can't
happen," LaBonte said. "This (backtracking) may be a political move on
their part. ... I will present my signatures at that March meeting so
this will never be an issue again."

He added that the rights of the homeowners must prevail.

"The rights of law-abiding citizens need to always be protected within
this HOA," LaBonte said. "This is a personal freedom issue where
people were going to dictate how other people should live. The
minority view dictating to the majority just wasn't right."

Another homeowner, Dorice Exline, upon hearing of the board's
reversal, said, "It's great that they rescinded, because they were
overstepping their bounds in thinking they could supersede the law and
thinking the homeowners would go along with it. The homeowners
obviously were not going along with it."

The board voted Thursday night to rescind the ban, and notices were
sent to residents in Friday's mail.

Brian Lincks, president of City Property Management, said in a news
release announcing the reversal that "Carrillo Ranch's decision to
lift its restrictions on medical marijuana on individual resident
properties was the right decision and we back it. ... This was truly a
teachable moment not only for us (and) our client, but also HOAs all
over the country that must adapt to changing and evolving laws on
medical marijuana."

Upon learning of the Thursday meeting, Exline immediately questioned
how the board could meet without first notifying the homeowners and
questioned the legality of the meeting.

"This is just more of what the concern is with the board thinking they
can do what they want without including the homeowners," she said.

Exline questioned how City Property Management could advise the board
to have the special meeting without giving proper advance notice to
the residents.

"The board does not know how to operate properly," she said. "How is
this property management company giving improper advice?"

The uproar over the medical marijuana ban raised other

"Because of all this, it brings to light the way the CC&Rs (covenants,
conditions and restrictions) are written," Exline said. "The board
votes on this stuff. We need to make changes so all the homeowners can

Further, Exline said she is curious about whether the attorneys are
still coming to the March meeting, and even if they are not, she
wonders how much the HOA was going to pay them to attend.

"How much are we paying for that?" she said. "I'm curious to look into
more of what we're paying."

Exline said she is angry that attorneys were paid to write the rule
banning the use of medical marijuana, only to have the board backtrack
on the ban. She also questioned how much a public-relations firm was
being paid to send out the news release about the backtracking.

"All of this stuff never needed to happen in the first place," she

City Property Management declined to answer questions on Friday about
costs or its advice to the board.

Its public-relations spokesman, Mike Scerbo of Rose +Moser+Allyn,
said, "The release is going to have to stand on its own."

The board of Carrillo Ranch was prompted to change its policy after
receiving input from affected residents and the public, the news
release said.

"The Carrillo Ranch board responded immediately to the advocacy from
its residents who gave it more information to make a better informed
decision," the release said.

"It was never the HOA's intent to infringe upon the access and rights
of medical-marijuana patients. The HOA, like many Arizonans, continues
to learn more about this complex issue."  
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