Tesoro couple fights HOA over tree removal

Tesoro Del Valle resident Irma Dorrien in her back yard which contains nine pine trees in question. Dan Watson/The Signal

When John and Irma Dorrien moved into their Tesoro Del Valle home in Valencia more than 13 years they looked out on sparse open hills and had few neighbors.

They planted some pine trees in their backyard and set about enjoying their new home in a new subdivision.

Now those pine trees stand at the center of a neighbor dispute involving the Tesoro Dell Valle Homeowners Association and costing the Dorriens $100 every month in fines for allegedly violating HOA rules.

After 13 years, the Dorriens now have neighbors and the trees have grown to more than 30 feet.

The Tesoro Del Valle Master HOA – now managed by FirstService Residential which operates on Avenue Stanford in Valencia – has told Dorriens the trees violate two sections of the Association’s Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions:  Article VIII, Section 8.1.20 which pertains to slopes, and Section 8.1.23 which deals with landscaping.

A representative of FirstService Residential contacted by phone Tuesday said he was not authorized to read or explain the two sections of the HOA.

He referred all official comment to manager Shauna Gatlin.

“I haven’t had correspondence with these people in a while,” Gatlin told The Signal Tuesday. “I wouldn’t be able to comment on anything.

“It’s privileged information,” she said. “I honestly cannot comment.”

According to copies of emails sent and received between Gatlin and Dorriens – copies of which were obtained by The Signal – the last correspondence between the two parties happened Sept. 20.

The only thing constant in the dispute – aside from the towering pines – are fines of $100 sent every month to the Dorriens the HOA for allegedly violating HOA rules.

“I don’t know why they want to make us cut them down,” Irma Dorrien told The Signal Tuesday.

In 2008 and 2009, the Dorriens cut down “bushy” acacia trees at the request of the HOA, ensuing a cost of $3,000 they paid for personally.

As for the case of the pines, which they would rather keep, the Dorriens said they’ve asked for documentation and, specifically, for the CC&R sections addressing slopes and landscaping.

Irma Dorrien and her pine trees. Dan Watson/The Signal

Copies of emails sent by the couple to the HOA asking for documentation show association representatives acknowledging the requests in July, August and September but, in each case, no documents exchanged, according to the Dorriens.

The last time they asked for tree-cutting language as written in their HOA rules, the Dorriens sent it in writing, in a letter dated Sept. 29, 2016 to the HOA board of directors.

They asked: “We had previously requested that you send us copies of the documentation in our emails dated June 24, 2016, and July 19, 2016. However, our requests were ignored. As members of the Tesoro del Valle HOA, we are entitled to have full access to all the pertinent documents, books, records, etc. at any time.”

They also pointed out in the same letter: “Our pine trees are all alive, healthy and well kept. We have obtained a legal document of an Official Inspection Report, written by a Fire Captain, which states that our pine trees do not present a fire hazard, dated 9/23/16. We are ready to present this should it become necessary.”

In addition, to being fined, the Dorriens have lost their privilege to the HOA swimming pool and gym, they said.

FirstService Residential would not confirm, clarify or answer any questions pertaining to  monthly fines, lost privilege, exchanged emails or allegations of the Dorriens having violated CC&R sections.

“I honestly cannot comment,” Gatlin told The Signal Tuesday.

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