The Greater Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District's (MAD) oversight committee is getting a makeover. The Greater Golden Hill Community Development Corporation (GGHCDC) will replace 8 of the 12 members serving on the volunteer committee with fresh faces.
The GGHCDC will do so through an appointment process, not in an election as was done when the MAD was formed in 2007.
And while GGHCDC officials say they are following the contract they have with the City, some residents believe it's a hack job and that CDC officials, with help from the City, want to remove the unwanted board members who have worked tirelessly to trim away extra fat from the MAD's budget.
Evidence of that trimming came back in July, when several members of the MAD oversight committee successfully lobbied San Diego's city councilmembers to cut next year's assessment ($488,000) in half, claiming that rollover funds from previous years should be spent before new assessments were collected.
It's because of their effort, says Barbara Houlton, an member of the MAD oversight committee that supported the reduction, that the GGHCDC is reconfiguring the oversight committee - her position included.
"[The GGHCDC and the City] were infuriated that we got the city council to reduce next year's assessment by 50 percent, and they are determined to get rid of the people that were instrumental in doing that," says Houlton during a September 17 phone interview. "The City and the [GGH]CDC are in agreement that this oversight committee is a major pain."
"We were expecting one-third to be replaced by a vote," adds Houlton. "So, the oversight committee has turned into an appointed committee instead of an elected one."
But for Pedro Anaya, executive director of the MAD program, nowhere in the City's guidelines does it state that community elections are required for oversight committee members. "The implementation of an election by property owners was something the CDC chose to do initially to establish the committee. Having an election for the initial selection of the [oversight committee] was at the discretion of the [GGH]CDC."
In a September 16 email from Luis Ojeda, program director for the City's Economic Development Division, to Barbara Houlton, Ojeda agreed, adding that the bylaws established by the oversight committee shortly after it was formed don't have any bearing on anything.
"Bylaws are not statutory or legal in nature since the [MAD oversight committee] is not a recognized legal entity, it is an advisory committee," writes Ojeda. "Although the Greater Golden Hill CDC Executive Director may not have the right to make the nomination process decision, the Greater Golden Hill CDC Board of Directors does. The process was approved by the Golden Hill CDC board of directors at the August 20, 2009, board meeting."
Despite the GGHCDC's decision to appoint new committee members, Barbara Houlton says the issue isn't over. She points to a lawsuit filed last year by residents claiming that the city illegally pushed the MAD on the community after voters had rejected it the first time. That case, which could potentially overturn the MAD, will be heard next week.