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Read "Locke property dispute (part 1)" here.
This is my reply to the long response of another of my neighbors in Locke to "Locke property dispute (part 2)"
RLM: It was with great interest that I read this.
Esch: Glad to have your interest, Ronnie.
RLM: I have never publicly spoken on this matter, neither verbally nor in print--not even anonymously.
Esch: According to my friend Jacquie and her friend, who visited me a couple weeks ago, you had quite a lot to say to them about it.
RLM: However, I must dispute some of the claims made. Firstly: There are two separate issues here 1" the manner in which the building at 1265 Levee was acquired by Ms. Esch and 2) the zoning of this property.
Esch: Go for it.
RLM: Before a property in Locke may be sold, it must be presented to the Locke Management Association (LMA) governing board. The LMA has the right of first refusal--they may match any offer being considered for a property in Locke and purchase it. The board has 30 days in which to make its decision. Ms. Esch is aware of this--she and I have spoken of it prior to this, though not in this context; furthermore, I believe she has been present at least one meeting when a property has been presented well prior this. RLM: “The board has 30 days in which to make its decision. “
Esch: Wrong, Ronnie. 25 days, not
30. Open your CC&R’s to page 8, section 2.8 and read it. The LMA board was four days late by their own rules, plain and simple.
RLM: “This building was not presented to the LMA as being for sale, nor was it presented as having an offer made.”
Esch: True, it was not put up for sale. I made an offer to the seller. She accepted it. I opened escrow through Placer Title Company, who then sent e-mail notification of my bona fide offer to LMA’s Executive Director, Shirley Roberts on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 4:08 PM (two and a half hours before the start of the LMA monthly meeting). Roberts replied to Placer Title’s e-mail 35 minutes later at 4:43 PM. Roberts and LMA Chairman Clarence Chu had the responsibility to publicly release the news of my escrow to the board and to the public during the communications portion of that meeting. They instead chose to keep the information secret. This was the first in a long series of Ralph M. Brown Act violations the LMA made, just on this property issue, alone.
RLM: “Instead, they were notified by the title company asking if there was an impediment; they were told there was--escrow had not yet closed. “
Esch: Not quite. The title company did not ask if there was an impediment. The seller’s attorney received an email on March 9, 2011 from Chairman Chu, stating that the LMA board had voted to exercise ROFR. From February 8 to March 9 is 29 days. LMA was 4 days late by their own rules. Plain and simple. With or without a petition with 12 signatures on it, not 16, taken illegally by a board member with clear conflict of interest and no public notification, the LMA board was still late.
RLM: Apparently Ms. Esch feels she is above the rules; they were not followed.
Esch: The word “buyer” is not mentioned anywhere in the LMA’s CC&R’s or in its Bylaws. The seller followed the rules. Placer Title Company followed the rules. We all waited out LMA’s 25 day ROFR period. The only entity that feels it’s above the rules is the LMA board, itself.
RLM: As for the zoning issue: Laura Ulewicz owned that home before she died. It was one of her goals to see that the zoning on her home, and of Levee Street east of Main, receive residential zoning. She had the support of everyone that lived on our street. She was successful--the zoning on our street was changed to residential. We celebrated this together.
Esch: Ronnie, sorry to break this to you, but you’re also within zone 5, the commercial/residential zone of Locke. Open up your county SPA Special Planning Area packet to the zoning map of Locke on page 14. If you can’t find your copy, here’s an online link to it: http://www.msa2.saccounty.net/planning/Documents/Zoning-Code/TitleV%20504-400%20Locke.pdf
RLM: Laura was my best friend. She was a poet (yes, a published one) and a passionate gardener. Her home, her yard, reflected her love of things growing. The entrance to our street was cool, green and shady, enlivened by flowers; our privacy was enhanced by her plantings of tall service berry shrubs, which also fed the birds. One could find many flowers and ferns growing in the understory of her plantings. In her last years, Laura often expressed the fear that all she worked for, the trees, shrubs, and flowers that she planted and nurtured, her living legacy, would be chopped down, as if she never existed. And now they are. Our street is no longer cooled and protected from prying eyes by Laura's legacy. Ms. Esch has cut them down.
Esch: Laura was my friend, too, Ronnie. I am doing my best to care take her property with respect, though I’ll never be the accomplished gardener she was. I weeded many of the shrubs that have become overgrown since Laura’s passing in 2007. That really annoyed the rats and ferule cats that were having ongoing parties in them. I did have two of the twenty-some trees cut down, I cannot lie. I invite any readers of this to stop by when I’m there and pick from Laura’s thriving fig, pomegranate, cherry, loquat, plum, peach, lime and ginkgo trees on the property, some of which I prune to hopefully yield a better crop next season.
RLM: One can walk or drive by and look in the windows.
Esch: No one can drive by. Levee Road is blocked by a permanently parked car, and in front of a different house, there are a bunch of assorted possessions, spilling onto the road (in addition to about a dozen or so cats). The windows on the two houses you’re referring to are opaque or covered in tin foil and have been for years.
RLM: The house across from her now receives the searing rays of the searing summer sun.
Esch: The house across the street from me is south of mine. Even on the summer solstice, his trees cast a shadow on mine, not the other way around.
RLM: The ambient temperature on our street has risen a few degrees during the warm weather.
Esch: The ambient temperature on Levee Road hasn’t risen a fraction of a mercurial inch. See the above photo I took this week of my property while standing on Levee Road.
RLM: I have seen tourists standing on the porch of the home directly across from her, their faces pressed up to the glass of the windows, trying to peer into this man's home.
Esch: I doubt that. He keeps tin foil taped to his window.
RLM: I have had tourists try to enter my own home, further down the street.
Esch: Yes, you’ve told me this story four or five times since 2006, Ronnie.
RLM: Ms. Esch has opened a store here, disregarding the fact that it is not zoned for it. She makes the claim based upon 'businesses' that have not existed for far longer than she claims--Laura came here in the 1960s; there were no businesses on this street then, nor were there thereafter.
Esch: Here we go again. Open up your SPA docs to the zoning map on page 14.
RLM: Is there prejudice in Locke? I have no doubt--we are all human, and where there are humans, it will exist. Is racial prejudice being directed against Martha Esch to wrest her building (note I don't say home, it isn't her home) from her? Nope. We just want her to go by the rules.
RLM: BTW, I am not Chinese, I was both a CAC member who voted on and for the zoning issue/change to residential that the Sac. Board of Supervisors passed,
Esch: Page 14. SPA.
RLM: ...as well voting against the right of first refusal.
Esch: So, let’s see...you voted against ROFR and now you want LMA to apply it...right?
RLM: I was a founding board member of the LMA. I have not been a board member for several years now. I am trying to keep this honest.
Esch: I was going to reply to this, too,...but I’d better not.
Editor's note of disclosure: Article author, Martha Esch purchased a Commercial/Residential property in historic Locke, California in March 2011 and the Locke Management Association has filed a lawsuit against her, disputing she has the right to own the property and run her business. The case is pending a jury trial in Superior Court in 2013.