Sunday, February 17, 2019

What Is This? An Eyesore Is What It Us.

Update: Now they have put up a screen so that you no longer can see the equipment and other things in the fenced-off area. That is good, but still questions remain.
Ugh. I know that the Board asked for a fence around the snow removal equipment that is stored in the King Farm Community Center's parking lot. But I don't think THIS is what anyone had in mind. Last year they put up a smaller fence, I believe it was temporary and not see-through. One of those fences that block the sight of what is behind it - like they use for construction at apartment building around town, etc.
Not only is it see through, but the posts are in the ground. In the cement and asphalt. It is either a permanent fence or will require repairs when it is pulled up. Plus, it is an expanded fence from what it was last year. Last year it was just around the sand pile and the containers. Ensuring that the neighborhood children couldn't climb on those things and potentially hurt themselves. 


Now it has been expanded. And they have parked more equipment behind it. Pickup trucks, bulldozers (or whatever they are), etc.

Taking up parking spaces and disrupting the parents who drop off children for the bus stop and leaving less space for community events.

Some people have complained that the Board sometimes can micro-manage - and there is a bit of truth to that. I have always thought that we should keep out of day-to-day decisions.


I am reconsidering that position after seeing this fence. It is absolutely not what we (or at least I) envisioned for our community standards.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

3 Candidates for the KF Board, 3 Open Positions

The deadline for potential Board candidates has passed. It appears that we have 3 candidates for the King Farm Board for 3 open positions. They are:

- Sue Beckerman
- Andrew Brammer
- Ric Ricciardi

Ric is a current Board member but both Andrew and Sue are marking their first time on the Board. Congratulations to all!

And a fond farewell to Bruce Cox and Paul Stankus who are departing the Board. Thank you for your time and service. 

I look forward to working with the new Board members and learning their vision, their issues and how we can move King Farm forward!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

What Is The Vision For King Farm?



Let's face it. King Farm is getting older as a community and other newer communities have been built. We have to ask ourselves - what do we have to offer? How can we modernize and look at what the community is doing to keep up home prices and keep King Farm as a community that is sought after for new residents and their families. 

The debate over opening up Board meetings by putting them online is just one example of the growing pains we will have in moving from a mind-set of "good enough" to a mind-set of what can we do that is new, that is innovative, that makes life easier for the community and that brings King Farm into the modern age?

Others include: the Architecture Design Trust's (ADT) standards for things like roofing and other improvements. Building materials have advanced since the documents were written - shouldn't we have a comprehensive review to look at the documents with an eye towards standards that are up-to-date and environmentally effective as well? Things have changed in 20 years. We should change with the times.

We have made some progress on the voting front in King Farm. Clarifying the voting process and making it easier for every resident of King Farm to vote by mail. This brings us into line with the City of Rockville which will be moving to vote by mail in this year's city election. The forms are on-line at KingFarm.org as well as mailed out so that is some improvement.

But we can and should do more. It turns out that there are some electronic voting systems in use by HOAs across the nation. Now is the time to explore those and move to an election that incorporates an electronic component as well. Why not make voting as efficient (but secure) as possible and move to a system that likely is more environmentally friendly and lets people vote the way that they want to - by mail, electronically or in-person?

We should be more transparent with our documents and finances. There is no reason that the website can't put almost everything up in real time. Yes, it can be made password-protected so that only residents can access it. But there is no reason why the HOA should require a resident to come into the office to see a document or charge for a copy of it if they have it electronically. 

We should have a crisis management plan in place so that if we are ever faced with a situation like the recent embezzlement scandal that it could swiftly be put in place. We have seen these types of stories blow up unexpectedly. It seems like a dereliction of duty not to at least have a plan in place to deal with a crisis.

In short - this is the question residents should be asking. Do we want an HOA that simply is doing what they have always done and staying the same, or do we want an HOA that is pro-active and looks to keep improving so as to stay competitive with other younger communities?  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

You Are Entitled To Your Own Opinion, Not Your Own Facts

I'm reminded of this famous quote of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan all too often these days.

Whether in Trump's tweets, or the Congress or the City Council or even King Farm's own debates I notice the facts being twisted, misused or even flat out lied about. 

It is important that people stick to the facts and that we debate the issues on common footings - not with one side saying untruths or rumor-mongering or withholding information. There is no reason to exaggerate but too often that is what happens. Especially those in leadership positions should not be doing so. 

Just my opinion....

Friday, January 25, 2019

Progress on HOA Video of Meetings - Maybe

There has been some movement on the issue of video/audio of giving residents the option to tune in and listen to their Board of Trustees meetings online. 

It has been a long process and there is still more to go. Change and progress are difficult at the best of times. To move the process forward, I proposed a motion and the Board adopted it unanimously - "that management propose a solution to the Board of Trustees on providing real time video or audio dissemination of Board meetings. And that they provide a recommendation by the March board meeting."

The HOA's legal counsel produced a memo that lays out his best advice on "livestreaming" or video-ing meetings. He listed several things that he thought King Farm should consider. The list that legal counsel has given King Farm includes:

1. The logistics of live streaming/recording meetings. For this, the association may wish to contact contractors who handle this type of activity and assess the scope of their services and the equipment needed.
2. What meetings will be live streamed/recorded?
3. Will the association maintain the recordings and if so under what circumstances?
4. How will the association handle potential defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement and other legal considerations that may arise during the flow of a meeting? These types of issues that arise during the flow of the meeting are essentially “out of the barn” and it may be too late to prevent them. Therefore, appropriate mitigation is the next course.
5. How will the association handle live streaming/recording of meetings by members of the audience? If the live streaming/recording disrupts the meeting then the association clearly has the right to preserve order.
6. How will the association deal with recordings when they surface later and perhaps do not accurately reflect what has occurred?
7. Posting appropriate notices that the meeting is being live streamed/recorded so that participants are fully aware that their statements will be received not only by those present but by a larger listening audience.
8. Signs stating disclaimers and including disclaimers as a part of the broadcast that say opinions and statements made during the meeting are those of the individuals making them and not of the association and the individuals will be responsible for their own conduct.

I hope that Management comes back with a workable plan by the March meeting. If they find that there is not a workable plan, I hope they will propose alternatives. We need more openness not less. I look at Kentlands and I see them innovating, being open, and trying new things to engage residents. I see no reason why we can't do the same.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Change and Progress

I look and see the Kentlands experimenting with video and opening up new ways to engage their members. And I think - why can’t King Farm do the same?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

People Need To Grow The F***K Up

Just came from a Board meeting.  Honestly, no words.


Think About Running For The Board

It is not too early to consider running for the King Farm Board of Trustees - in fact it is getting to be too late. The deadline is fast approaching in February.  We need fresh faces, new ideas, new perspective and new people from all over King Farm, rather than the Community-centric view.

Are you worried about the businesses in the Village Center and want more options? Get on the Board and make your voice heard.

Concerned about landscaping issues that you have seen around your neighborhood? Get on the Board and get heard.

Yes, it is an evening or two each month where you spend your time in meetings listening and debating things. But those issues are important to the community - things like activities, the Swim Team, the shuttle bus, HOA dues, landscaping, snow removal and replacement and repair of Community property. Among other things.

If you care about King Farm then jump on in. The more the merrier.

If you are interested drop me a line and I will be happy to talk to you. Or ask any member of the Board. If you have ideas and want to debate and implement them - what are you waiting for?

Friday, January 18, 2019

2018 Neighborhood Survey Results

Around 80 people took the 2018 Neighborhood Survey – so the results are not necessarily representative of how the community feels about issues. But that said, they are still pretty revealing. Here is a link to the full surveys results - https://www.surveymonkey.com/stories/SM-JMMLH6Q8/
On the positive side – most felt that the neighborhood was clean, that crime was low, that the streets were good and that landscaping was in good shape.
Respondents cited the walkability of the neighborhood as contributing to a good quality of life as well as the closeness of King Farm to the Metro station. They listed the King Farm Swim Team, HOA activities and the amenities such as parks that they view as positives of living in King Farm.
Also, they felt that the HOA responded to them when they had a concern.
But there is still work to do. One item that responding residents were very clear about.  With a vote of 62-2 people were in favor of the HOA finding a way to expand engagement and put a livestream or video of the Board meetings online (18 people said they were neutral). That is pretty striking and seems something that needs immediate attention. People want more information about what the Board is doing and meeting about.
Answer ChoicesResponses
Very much In favor39.02%32
In favor36.59%30
Neutral21.95%18
Opposed0.00%0
Very much opposed2.44%2




Answered82

Skipped0
Some of the responses included comments such as:
  • I've seen BOT members and President (or spouse) say "Just attend the meeting" which is an arrogant comment. I work, have a family, volunteer with other areas. Maybe I don't have time to go on a Wednesday night to a meeting. However, that doesn't mean I'm not interested.
  • The Board and President should be less paranoid about residents potentially misusing these videos. Check out the policy on similar videos from Rockville Council meetings -- you will find none exists.
  • i'd like to come out to hoa's meeting but with a kid at home. it's hard for me to come out without getting a babysitter. video of meeting would be a great idea for people to get involved.

Take a look here at the other responses to more questions such as:
  • What do you like most about living in King Farm?
  • What do you like least about King Farm?
  • What changes would most improve this neighborhood?
  • What would you like to see the Board and President work on in King Farm in 2019? Or future years?
  • Any ideas for ways that the Board of Trustees and the President can improve engagement with residents?

There is a lot of information in the feedback, and I hope it generates much more conversation.
People identified needs such as taking a look at the landscaping in medians and other places that can obstruct views when they are driving. The Village Center space is a major issue among respondents who cite its empty storefronts and lack of a vibrant commercial presence as one that needs addressing to bring up the quality of life in King Farm. In addition, some respondents raised the issue of King Farm being divided in half by the school districts – with some in the Rockville district and some houses in the Gaithersburg district. They feel that this contributes to a less cohesive community.
By and large, when people had a complaint or an observation about King Farm it was that they did not know their neighbors or that a sense of community was lacking. It seems to some people that there people move out of King Farm and that new residents aren’t incorporated into the fabric of the community. So you have the old established community and the new community that feels un-involved and disconnected.
Residents had a lot of suggestions for the Board of Trustees, the HOA President and Management. These include updating the website, better usage of social media and other platforms, more HOA events, more timely upkeep on landscaping and increased attention to management of the pools. 
There also was an undercurrent of people desiring civil discourse - whether on social media, the list serv, email or in interactions with their neighbors and the HOA President and Board. I think that is something that we all can strive towards immediately.
There is a lot to digest in the responses to the survey. So I’ll probably try to clean them up to ensure nothing in there is identifying or inflammatory. Probably the next week or so I’ll post them when I have some time to clean them up.
Thanks everyone for taking the survey. Hopefully next year we will be able to field a real HOA sponsored survey once everything is settled down and people can focus on it.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

2019 King Farm Elections - Small But Important Changes

Look for a mailing next week that begins King Farm's election process! I can't believe that it is almost time for the annual King Farm elections. But it comes around every year I suppose. This year 3 Board of Trustees positions will be up. Maybe they'll have competition, maybe not. If there is a competitive election though there have been several changes for the positive.

Thanks to the ad-hoc Election Committee we had a good roadmap to work off of - read it here. This election the BOT voted to clean up the election communication, streamlined the process and made it easier for every homeowner to vote. In addition, there is more time to register to vote. Once your votes have been tallied, every vote will be counted and the totals disseminated.

The new Election Guidelines have been approved by the Board and should be implemented in this election.

No longer will we have confusing language like "Proxy" ballot and have to have individual votes  witnessed before sending a vote back. Each homeowner whose name is listed on the title will receive a separate ballot. No more asking the office for another ballot or not voting because you don't have a ballot. Or being inconvenienced because you have to vote in person because you didn't received a mail-in ballot. You can put them in the return envelope provided and mail them back to the office, drop them off at the office or vote in person on Election Day. More details are coming but the idea is to make it easy to vote while still having a secure system.

We already had a vote by mail system, but now we are calling it that and making it more efficient.

Of course there are still deadlines - to register or to turn in your mail-in ballots. These are to give King Farm's limited staff and volunteers time to do their jobs. But I think we have balanced the need for time to do the work with the desire to register more people and give people more time and ways to vote.

For instance registering to vote. Titleholders are automatically eligible to vote in King Farm elections. But for apartment residents, renters and those living in King Farm residences they have to register. We have extended the deadline to register so that if people become aware of the election due to the Chronicle or the Candidate Forum or because some issue is hot - they can make their voices heard. Yet, we balanced that against the reality that Management has a lot of different things to do and needs a few days to check everyone's residency.  

After the vote on Election Day, when the votes are counted, the vote totals will be put out in the Chronicle and other channels. And, when it is all over - the Election Committee will give a report to the Board of Trustees making recommendations about the election process. That is an important component to ensuring that any issue is addressed and corrected.

We can't help having an election every year. It is in the Bylaws and that takes a lot of effort to change (even if we wanted to). But we can make it easier for every King Farmer to vote if they choose - and that is our goal.

Now we just need to get the Election Committee appointed and working. There are other things to do to be sure (cough Comsource cough cough) but the election is coming and time is ticking away...

Look for Election instructions in the mail, the Chronicle, in an email or by looking at the King Farm website.  

What Is This? An Eyesore Is What It Us.

Update: Now they have put up a screen so that you no longer can see the equipment and other things in the fenced-off area. That is good, ...