November 8, 1999
We are members of the "sports groups" alluded to in the HHA newsletter, and we want to set the record straight regarding many of the statements made in the newsletter.
First off, the newsletter states that we "sports groups" claim the majority of the HHA membership no longer supports preservation of Hollywood Hill as rural or the Sammamish Valley as agricultural resource land. We never said that. What we did say is that the majority of the HHA membership favors the building of South Gateway Park, a planned 20 acres of park and playfields that are sorely needed in our community.
The HHA board chooses to view this as an all-or-nothing issue--if you are for South Gateway Park, then you are against preserving agriculture. We do support preserving agriculture and the rural character of our area ... none of us wants to see the Sammamish Valley turned into an industrial park, strip malls, or more apartments. We just don't understand why turning 20 acres of unused scrub into lush green playfields is inconsistent with preserving the rural character of the community.
The newsletter also talks about how we "soccer advocates" decided to disrupt last year's annual meeting. The truth is that we, as members of the HHA, had been asking the HHA board for some time to end its opposition to South Gateway Park.The board ignored us. So we came to the 1998 annual meeting to present a formal resolution asking the board to stop fighting the park.
In addition to the 40-50 people who attended the meeting, we brought more than 100 signed proxies from HHA members backing the resolution. The HHA board refused to acknowledge us. They claimed we did not represent a quorum (more than half) of the membership, yet they refused to tell us how many people actually belong to the HHA so we could tell if this was true.
During the past year, we have made repeated requests for this information, which is legally ours for the asking under RCW 24.03.135. The HHA board refused to give it to us. We read the membership information for the first time in last week's newsletter. We are still trying toget access to the membership list to verify if these figures are indeed correct.
At last year's meeting, we asked the HHA board to send out a ballot to members asking one simple question--did they want the HHA to continue fighting South Gateway Park? We said that if the majority wanted to keep fighting the park, we'd abide by that. But the HHA board said they didn't have to ask what the membership wanted ... they feel that by electing them to the board, the membership has given a blanket endorsement to their stands on the issues. In the words of one HHA board member, "if you don't like our position on South Gateway Park, then you'll just have to vote us out of office, because we're not changing our minds."
Taking that statement to heart, several Hollywood Hill residents decided to challenge the existing board members up for re-election at this year's annual meeting. But guess what--the HHA board has decided that rather than seek nominations as they have always done in the past, they would appoint a nominating committee to select candidates for the board positions. And the nominating committee is made up of--the HHA board! So they nominated each other for the open positions, and told us our candidates could not be on the ballot. The HHA board claims this is how the by-laws say the election process is to work, but our legal review of those by-laws shows nothing of the kind.
In his newsletter column, the HHA president laments that "...we're lucky if we can fill all the (board) openings." Well, we've got willing people ready to serve on the board ... so why won't you let us get on the ballot?
The HHA board has also changed the annual meeting from a business meeting to an "informal" annual meeting. Without an agenda or formal meeting, they won't be obligated to discuss their stand on South Gateway Park or answer member questions regarding this or other issues.
Included in the newsletter along with the ballot is a survey, asking HHA members if they want the HHA board to end all efforts to preserve the rural designation of Hollywood Hill, and to end all efforts to preserve the agricultural designation of the Sammamish Valley. Once again, it's all-or-nothing. No one wants these designations to end ... but we don't understand why a 20-acre park, which would be an asset to our community, would mean ending the rural and agricultural designations--especially since the building and expansion of the Willows Run golf course didn't end them ... nor apparently is the building of the new hotel/winery next to the Redhook Brewery.
Tthe ballot is worded so that if you don't return it, that means you want the HHA to keep opposing the park. They are counting on the fact that most busy people won't even take the time to read the survey, let alone return it.
Members of the HHA board appear before all kinds of meetings, judicial hearings, and legislative committees claiming to represent "all of the residents of Hollywood Hill" in opposing South Gateway Park ... yet there are hundreds of us living here who actively support it. Is this the kind of representation you want?
If you think it's time for a change, do not return the HHA's ballot. We are taking legal action to get our candidates included on a new ballot, which will be distributed to HHA members and anyone wishing to join the association in order to vote.
Please wait until you receive this new ballot before you vote. If you have already sent your ballot in and want to change it, you are entitled to revoke the first ballot and send in another. We also encourage the HHA board to involve some impartial parties ... perhaps some elected Woodinville officials ... in the counting of the ballots.
With your help, we can return the Hollywood Hill Association to what it once was--a grassroots community group interested in representing everyone on the Hill.
Gail Neubert, Jorge Barrera, Woodinville