Dispute over homeowner dues turns Friendly Valley unfriendly

The entrance gate to the Friendly Valley community. Katharine Lotze/The Signal
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Friendly Valley got a little unfriendly Tuesday when members of Santa Clarita Valley’s gated community found themselves unwelcome.

Close to 300 residents living behind the gated and the guard-staffed kiosk of Friendly Valley on Sierra Highway learned Tuesday that their “gate cards” which, with a swipe, normally allows them into the gated community no longer work.

The residents who found themselves suddenly blacklisted all belong to Association One – one of 13 similar homeowner associations that make up all of the Friendly Valley residents living inside the same gated community.

Association One members – numbering 294 – are being accused of not paying their dues for privileges offered by the Friendly Valley Country Club that include: cable TV, access to the golf course and the Golf Lounge, lawn bowling and lawn bowling facilities, the pool and spa, auditorium, gymnasium, woodshop and ceramics room, among others.

Association One members, however, argue that they’ve paid their dues.

Having their access cards de-activated was the first of many disciplinary measures aimed at Association One members. Without an access card, residents were forced to check in with security guards in order to get inside the community where their homes are located.

Denying them card access angered Joe Cina who staged his own protest at the gates until deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station moved in and threatened to arrest him.


Private protest

Cina, a Friendly Valley resident and Association One member, used his mid-sized car to block motorists at the Friendly Valley gate.

“I went to the gate and my (access) card didn’t work,” Cina told The Signal.

“I asked the security guard about it and he didn’t open the gate. Then I told him ‘I’m going to have to block your gate.’ Then I blocked both entrance lanes,” he said.

A line of motorists barred from entering by Cina’s car began forming at the gate.  Some got angry.

“One woman yelled at me ‘Move your fricking car,’” he said.

The standoff lasted for about 15 minutes until deputies arrived and threatened to arrest Cina.

Cina, who said he couldn’t afford to be arrested, abandoned his personal protest before the confrontation escalated.

The conflict between shut-out residents of Association One and the Friendly Valley Recreational Association Inc., however, is only just heating up.

On Friday, Association One members received a letter from the homeowners association expecting monthly dues payments from association members.


Cancelled cards

“The purpose of this letter is to inform you that, due to Friendly Village Community Association Inc. #1’s failure to make payments for Country Club Dues, insurance, cable TV and security since June 1, 2017, the Friendly Valley Recreational Association has no choice but to suspend all recreational privileges to the members residing in Friendly Village Community Association Inc., #1,” read the letter.

The problem is, however, Association One has paid for those dues, according to the woman who serves as vice-president of the Association One board and who signs the checks.

“We already paid the dues with three checks,” Bev Wooly said, noting she signed checks for $36,000, $10,000 and $17,000.

But, the homeowners wanted a breakdown of what their fees covered, she said.

“We tried for two months to get an invoice from the Rec Board,” Wooly told The Signal Tuesday, explaining her request as seeking a breakdown of privileges paid for.

Instead of receiving an itemization of privileges tied to the dues, Association One residents received only an invoice to be paid, Wooly said.

“We asked for them to break it down, for each of the things we were paying for,” she said.

Frustration led Association One members to make their payments to Ross Morgan, a homeowner’s management company.

Three phone messages left by The Signal with Ross Morgan Tuesday seeking clarification were not returned. A spokeswoman answering an additional phone call to Ross Morgan offices in Sherman Oaks referred all inquiries to the office on Cinema Drive in Santa Clarita.

It could not be confirmed if Ross Morgan received payment.

Association One members phoning the Ross Morgan on Cinema Drive Tuesday heard a phone message recording left specifically for them.

“If you are a Friendly Village resident calling about the situation with the gate and the Rec Board, please be advised that your calls will not be returned at the instruction of the board, as the matter has now gone to legal counsel,” was the phone message recording residents heard.

Association One members have now contacted their own attorney, Wooly said.


Warning issued

Association One residents were warned in a letter from the Friendly Valley Recreational Association Inc., in its letter dated Sept. 15: “If payment is still not made be aware that the Friendly Valley Recreational Association can and will suspend all recreational privileges for Friendly Valley Community Association, Inc. #1 residents.

Recreational privileges were described in the letter as: “use of the Gold Course and Golf Lounge, Lawn bowls and Lawn Bowls facilities, use of Pool and Spa, use of the auditorium, annex, gym, woodshop, ceramics room and all other recreational facilities and amenities provided by the Friendly Valley Recreational Association.”

As a closing note to Association One members, the letter concludes: “Please DO NOT call the Friendly Valley Office as none of the staff will be able to answer any of your questions.”

The letter tells Association One members, instead, to call the management company, Ross Morgan.


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on Twitter @jamesarthurholt

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