Third Mutual - Director's Corner







Mike Straziuso (11-14)


1st VP

James Juhan (12-15)


2nd VP

Beth Perak (13-15)



Judith Troutman (12-15)



Hank Gioia (12-14)


Won Chang (11-14)


Kathryn Freshley (11-14)


Rosemarie di Lorenzo Dickins (13-16)


Ray Gros (13-16)


Bert Moldow (13-16)


Wei-Ming Tao (13-16)


September 12, 2013

You may have read articles in the Globe recently about a plan for the direct election of GRF board members. While this may seem noble and patriotic on its face, the reality is that this is a highly calculated move by a small group of individuals who want to wrest control of Laguna Woods Village from residents, their representative Mutual boards – Third, United and Mutual Fifty – and even the professional managers who have protected our quality of life for nearly a half-century.
Mutual board oversight of GRF has ensured that the interests of all Village residents are considered when they vote. If this scheme were to succeed, the interests of the many would be replaced with the political agendas of a powerful few.
For example, Mutual Fifty, which now has a dedicated vote on the GRF board, would be swallowed up in a “district” dominated by Third Mutual under this plan. Towers residents would lose their collective voice at GRF. This must be why no one from the small group promoting this plan has ever come to Mutual Fifty to consult with us or seek our opinion. This group prefers to hold its planning meetings in secret.

There are other frightening details about this power scheme. The most significant, it was revealed recently, is the real reason this group so badly wants this to happen. Their real goal is to orchestrate the complete takeover of GRF and the end to the professional management of Laguna Woods Village.
This carefully contrived ruse, if enacted, would be disastrous for our community and we must not let it happen.

Ryna Rothberg, President
Laguna Woods Mutual Fifty Board of Directors

August 8, 2013

The Third Laguna Hills Mutual (TLHM) 2014 Budget (Operations and Reserves) is to be completed with a televised review of Version 3 today, Aug. 8, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board Room and on Channel 6-TV. As stated before, the board has made a conscientious effort to maintain service levels that our residents currently enjoy and to keep up with maintenance requirements.
   We started our 2014 landscape and maintenance reviews in May 2013 with identified scopes of work/service levels and needed staffing. The board entertained a motion to reduce by $300,000 of the Garden Villa (GV) Buildings breezeway janitorial service and bring the number of cleanings down to 25 times per year. With the reduced budget, residents could call Property Services anytime when cleaning was needed between the regular services. If passed, this could have reduced the assessment for all TLHM residents by $4 per manor per month (PMPM). Unfortunately, many residents at GV either did not understand the proposed change or would not be willing to give up the current services, so this motion was later rescinded.
   The preliminary 2014 basic monthly assessment will increase by $29.90 per manor per month (PMPM) which includes $13.42 for Third Mutual and $16.48 for GRF. The increase of $13.42 for Third’s portion of the assessment includes an Operating increase of $7.42 (2.5%) and a Reserve contribution increase of $6. The assumptions include a wage adjustment pool of 3% and increases for utilities totaling 6% (EWTD, SCE, WARE). Also, beginning July 1, 2013, TLHM pays electricity for its 371 street lights, previously paid for by the city. On the GRF portion, Operations actually decreased by $0.01PMPM.However, in 2013, GRF lowered its assessment to offset prior year’s surplus. In 2014, instead of lower the assessment, GRF has decided that any available surplus will be transferred to reserves, which increases the operating budget $13.49PMPM by not having this offset. 2014 Reserve contributions increased $3PMPM, bringing the total GRF assessment increase to $16.48PMPM.
   The board has taken all elements into consideration (actual cost for past several years, rate increases, analyses, projections, etc.) without decreasing the level of services. As you may recall, we had an increase of $26.63 PMPM ($25.98 for TLHM; $.65 for GRF) in 2013, due to the fact that the board intentionally lowered the budget for three years (2010 – 2012) as a means to spend less. Unfortunately, this model did not work and the total 2013 operations deficit was $1M. In fact, at our proposed 2014 Business Plan – Version 2 meeting on July 17, 2013, a motion was made and approved for $750,000 to be transferred from Unappropriated Expenditures Fund to cover the prior year deficit.
   It was promised last year that 2014 operating budget should not expect a large increase, which is now proposed at an increase of only 2.5%; reflecting rates and anticipated expenditures (electricity for street lights). The 2014 Budget has been prepared with anticipated spending levels, again, as a realistic budget to ensure adequate funding levels and prioritized spending are keys to success.
   Rae Tso
   Third Mutual Treasurer

January 31, 2013

The City of Laguna Woods is planning to spend $9 million to widen Moulton Parkway from El Toro Road to Santa Maria Avenue by forcing GRF to sell 10 feet of Laguna Woods Village property along each side of the roadway. This is for the Orange County “Smart Street” Program. Most of us would agree with the OCTA program of developing Smart Streets throughout the county. Compared to other metropolitan areas, OC traffic generally moves very well. Now this sounds great, except the additional 10 feet is for a sidewalk and bicycle lane. There are no additional traffic lanes.

What is the impact on the village? Starting from El Toro Road, the city will spend $9 million to rebuild the fence along Moulton Parkway and create a new entry gate turn-in for Gate 12, (entry to Clubhouse 2, the Village Greens and the other amenities). Continuing north from Gate 12 is where SMART turns into STUPID. Removing 10 feet along the east side of Moulton Parkway creates significant problems because of the proximity of our golf course, specifically, Course #2, Hole #1. The tee box would be closer to the street. I am sure many of you have seen the tee box and the fairway, even if you do not play golf. Now with the widening project, the city is proposing to build a 180 foot high fence made of netting along the roadway from the area adjacent the tee box down to Garden Center #1. Just so you understand what this means, 180 feet is higher than the Towers, a 14-story building. We will have a “fence” with 5-6 foot diameter columns at the base. This is wider than the columns of the Parthenon, as well as having flashing red lights at the top. The netting will have to be replaced every 10 years increasing our GRF operating costs. (Remember who foots that bill.) Additionally, we will be losing garden plots adding to our already huge waiting list. We are asked to accept this monstrosity so that the city can add a sidewalk and a bicycle lane, even when there is an existing sidewalk on the other side of Moulton.

What are possible alternatives? 1. Since the primary purpose of the Smart Street Program is to maintain traffic flow, this can be accomplished by adding three turn-in lanes, one each at Gate 12 and Garden Center #1 on the east side of Moulton and one at the entry to Clubhouse 7 on the west side of Moulton. A bus stop turn-out lane just south of Santa Maria Avenue would also be required.

The addition of these lanes will allow traffic to continue to flow during rush hour and will cost significantly less than the city’s proposal since there is very little construction involved. It eliminates the 180 foot fence, since the roadway will not be widened. Finally, OCTA will be able to use the funds elsewhere in the county where there is a benefit to the local residents. The city’s current proposal is particularly not beneficial to the Laguna Woods Village, Third Mutual residents. They will be getting the extra added attraction of a 180 foot tall net fence with flashing red lights instead of their currently expansive view of the golf course and mountains in the distance.

2. If the roadway must be widened, then the city should provide adequate funds to enable GRF to redesign the affected golf course hole to eliminate the need for the fence and to possibly move Garden Center #1 to another location within the community, if that is required as a result of the golf course hole realignment. It is my understanding that GRF has been consulting with golf course architects who are investigating a redesign of the hole that can eliminate the fence monstrosity. It is unfortunate that in 2010 the City Council chose to include the Moulton “Smart Street” widening project into the community’s Village Greens building CUP. This was to eliminate the use of the U.S. Constitution’s Eminent Domain provisions, which offers greater protection for private property owners in situations such as this.

Now the village faces significant expenditures to maintain the environment and attractiveness that we all enjoy while the City Council moves ahead with a project that is detrimental to our residents. This project should be stopped until an acceptable solution can be developed by GRF and the city. Forget the grants, if receiving the funds creates a monstrosity that harms the village.

Kathryn Freshley