Waterford Village Homeowners Association board members face a recall following their approval of composition roof in the otherwise tile and shake shingled El Dorado Hills neighborhood.
Ballots will be counted during a Waterford residents only meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 at Fire Station 85 on El Dorado Hills Boulevard. Ballots can be carried in that evening. Spare ballots will be available.
Most of Waterford’s 393 homes, located along Sheffield Drive in northern El Dorado Hills, are sizable but not ostentatious. Built in the late 1980s and early 1990s, their original shake shingle roofs show their age and, according to El Dorado Hills Fire Marshal Brad Ballenger, “present a significant (fire) hazard.”
“The sooner we lose the original shake shingle roofs the safer this place is,” Ballenger said.
Earlier last year 22-year Waterford resident Tony Marchionna, who lives with his wife Sara at the corner of Sheffield Drive and Yardley Place, decided to replace his roof. “It was tinder dry,” he said, “a real firetrap.”
A former cabinetmaker turned developer, Marchionna built hundreds of homes on the coast before retiring in the 1980s. He still builds award winning bird and doll houses, and has served on Waterford’s architectural review committee since its inception.
After doing his research Marchionna decided he didn’t like tile, “especially what you have to do to put it on.” His roof structure would have needed expensive reinforcements to bear the added weight of tile, he said.
Also, he pointed out, “You can’t walk on a tile roof, it costs a fortune to install and a lot of people around here have had problems with them.”
Marchionna preferred the top-of-the line CertainTeed product, “Presidential TL,” which is designed to emulate the look of a shake roof and has gained wide acceptance in affluent communities.
The Waterford HOA architectural review committee denied his application for a CC&R variance.
Opponents of composition roofs argue that their HOA’s high roof standards, contained in the Covenants Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), are an important part what what makes the Waterford formula work, and a big reason why Waterford homes hold their value.
The CC&Rs, amended in 1999, allow fire retardant shingles, tile or slate. Composition shingles are strictly verboten. Over the past several years, the HOA’s architectural review committee fielded several residents’ requests for permission to install the new generation of architectural grade, dimensional composition roofs. All were denied.
The HOA board formed an ad hoc roofing advisory committee to study the issue several years ago.
Waterford resident Rob George, the local Bartile distributor who has supplied the majority of the new tile roofs in Waterford, was on the architectural review committee at the time, and volunteered for the ad hoc roof committee, which eventually concluded that the CC&Rs should be softened to allow high quality composition shingles. George and architectural review committee member Ray Myers vehemently opposed the change despite a 2007 survey of residents and area appraisers that found that 74 percent of the residents favored allowing high quality composition roofs.
“These products didn’t even exist when those rules were written,” said former HOA board president Paul Raveling. “We originally interpreted ‘composition’ as the old fashioned three tab asphalt jobs, but there’s nothing wrong with these new dimensional products, which seem a lot more practical, and there’s absolutely no evidence of harm to property values.”
Marchionna appealed his 2010 case to the Waterford board. After hearing his arguments, the board allowed the roof over the objections of George but has remained mum on their reasons. Board President Diana Vaughn wouldn’t confirm rumors that a hardship claim and ADA compliance issues were at stake, both of which require confidentiality and can get litigious quickly, other than to say, “He presented a set of facts so compelling that we felt obligated to act to protect the best interests of the residents.”
Approvals from the El Dorado Hills Community Services District and the county followed.
Myers made a personal appeal to Marchionna and his wife not to go forward with the composition roof. “He told us there would probably be a lawsuit over it and that it might involve us,” said Marchionna. “We were good friends until that time.”
Marchionna’s roof cost roughly $25,000, he said. It comes with a Class A fire rating and a 50-year warranty. The material is three times the price of tile but costs much less to install. “They took my roof off on a Tuesday and on Thursday they were putting the new one on,” he said. “Tile would have taken 10 to 14 days of preparation.
“Look at this roof and tell me its devaluing the homes in Waterford,” said Marchionna. “I think that’s a big hoax.”
“It’s not a matter of personal opinion,” countered Myers. “We have a set of rules, developed in 1988, that we agreed to. If you want to change them there is a process. They tried that twice and it failed both times. The system is working.”
The recall effort has already cost Waterford two-fifths of its board. Rob George resigned in protest when the board allowed Marchionna’s roof. Longtime board president Paul Raveling resigned his position so he could “speak freely” to fight the recall effort and support his board.
The remaining three directors — Jeff Wilcox, Paul Matloff and Diana Vaughn — are the targets of a recall effort lead by Myers, who is insists the recall is about much more than the impact of composition roofs on home values.
“I absolutely believe they do (affect home values negatively) but our individual opinions on roofing aren’t the issue here. When I signed the CC&Rs I accepted them and I will live by them,” Myers said. “We have residents with all types of hardship here that still comply with the rules we all agreed to. Once you allow variances, everyone has a good reason for a variance.”
Several villages north of Green Valley Road now allow dimensional composition roofing, said Raveling, and all have higher property values than Waterford.
“When it comes to lowering property values how about an HOA board recall?” asked Marchionna. “That seems like a far more negative reflection on the neighborhood than my roof. I’ve had people knock on my door and tell me how nice it looks.”
“People tell me they think it’s ugly,” countered Myers.
Only 25 percent of the 393 potential votes — 98 votes — are required to make the upcoming recall election valid. A simple majority of the turnout, as few as 50 votes, can recall a board member.
The sames rules apply to fill any recalled seats. Once the 98-vote quorum is reached the election becomes valid. A candidate must also receive a simple majority of the votes cast. With those two conditions met, the highest vote-getters win any vacant seats.
Candidates for any newly opened seats include current and former board members Vaughn, Raveling and Matloff. The recall committee supports Sean Hansen, Larry Klein, Ray Myers, Gabrielle Guest and Rob George. Robert Hoffman has also tossed his hat in the ring.
When the recall dust settles the three elected board members are free to fill the two vacant seats by appointment.
With the community bitterly divided — vandalism was reported at both Marchionna’s home and the home of one board member — one thing all parties agree on, besides wishing the local newspaper hadn’t heard about their squabble, is that they wish it was over.
“These gentlemen have been been bickering over this and other things for years,” said Vaughn. “We need to stick to the business at hand.”