Bel-Air Association Special Meeting March 17 Despite Leadership Misdirection

By Matt Lopez of the Beverly Hill Courier

Despite persistent stalling tactics by leadership of the organization, members of the Bel-Air Association (BAA) have called a special meeting for Thursday, March 17 to set a course for a new direction of leadership within the BAA.

The agenda of the meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Bel-Air Country Club, calls for votes on important items such as the adoption of a new set of bylaws and the election of new directors.

Additionally, the BAA’s Executive Director Paulette DuBay has been asked to come before the community and speak about her role in the organization. The meeting was originally called by a handful of members two weeks ago, before a wrench was thrown into those plans by a Wednesday BAA blog posting appeared aimed at misleading members as to the importance of the special meeting, by erroneously claiming that it was “unauthorized.”

Pursuant to BAA bylaws, nothing could be further from the truth. Four members called for the special meeting – which is more than the three required in the bylaws – and the members gave 15 days written notice instead of the required five days written notice.

The Bel-Air Association, which started as a homeowners organization in the early 1920s, was originally intended to assist in the sale of lots in developing the Bel-Air Community. Until March 2014, the present BAA board members and Executive Director steadfastly refused to manage development or assist residents with solving development-related problems, such as construction trucks parked in front of their homes or clogging traffic on narrow and steep community streets.

The Bel-Air Homeowners Alliance, which began in spring 2014 and spawned from continuous community complaints and dangerous interactions between construction vehicles and residents, immediately began to interact with the L.A. Department of Building and Safety and L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz’s office to change the culture of ignoring the residents to one involving them in the decision-making about projects close to them.

Among the BAHOA’s many successes was getting City officials involved in closing down Mohamed Hadid’s 901 Strada Vecchia, whose neighbor Joe Horacek’s pleas for BAA intervention fell on deaf ears. Those community concerns, the BAA’s refusal to operate with normal non-profit transparency and actual misstatements on their IRS Form 990’s along with conflict-of-interest concerns, have led to skepticism in the community and 50 percent decline in membership.

“Based on my experience with the BAA, I found the leadership unapproachable and that is only one of many reasons why the current BAA leadership lacks a finger on the pulse of the Bel-Air community.” said Bel-Air community leader and BAA member Maureen Levinson. “It’s time for a change and new representatives who will listen to our community’s concerns about the degradation of health, safety, our public roads, among other quality of life issues for residents.”

As previously reported on in The Courier, a lawsuit was filed by BAA member Marcia Wilson Hobbs, over the BAA’s lack of disclosure issues and the refusal of the present BAA board to accept all homeowners in Bel-Air as members as required by their 1940s bylaws forward.

The L.A. Superior Court concurred on many points and granted a motion to stop an earlier attempt by the BAA’s incumbent officers to hold an unlawful election, and also ordered the BAA to accept applications from members it had refused to accept.

Now, a new obfuscation has arisen, in addition to its attempt to confuse the community over the validity of Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. special meeting at the Bel-Air Country Club, the BAA blog also falsely claimed the group had “successfully defend[ed] [a] meritless lawsuit” against the BAA.

“The community is tired of being abused by the leadership of the BAA” said BAA member and community leader Dan Love. “They are only accountable to themselves and the community has had enough. Its time to take our community back and bring openness, transparency and effective leadership to our community again.”

“My DNA would never allow me to crumble, but transparency and democracy were ingrained in me from birth. My lawyers Eric George and Russell Wolpert read the bylaws very carefully and advised that three members or more could call a special meeting to conduct business for the BAA.” Hobbs said. “At that point, when I became aware of that, I realized that democracy was the best option and that I could halt my lawsuit and trust that my neighbors will come to Thursday’s meeting at the Bel-Air Country Club and listen to all points of view and make the right decision for the future of this community. We welcome one and all and want this to be a dynamic discussion about the future of Bel-Air and I hope in the end, we will all agree to return control to our residents and neighbors instead of developers whose only concern is their personal financial gain.”