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Coto de Caza, California is a census-designated place and guard-gated private community in the unincorporated Trabuco Canyon area of Orange County, California. As of the 2000 census, the CDP had a total population of 13,057

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Lawless, Clueless Coto de Caza

January 13, 2006  

Last night, December 12, 2006, the CZ homeowner’s association board of directors held their regularly scheduled open session meeting.  Present were representatives from the LA Times and Freedom Communications.

As board members Thagard/Mezger attempted to explain the impact the Orange County Board of Supervisors action with regards to repealing ordinance section 6-4-20 might have on Coto de Caza, the conversation to gravitated toward the exact wording the CHP:  Would the CHP “guarantee” a maximum of 40 hours per week?  Would it be a minimum of 40 hours per week?

The board also reported that patrol worthy certification of certain Coto de Caza streets had expired.  When questioned why such certification had expired and when it could be taken care of, CJ Klug, Keystone Property Management company employee explained, that he did not know that certification had to be kept current.  The board was unable to provide a reasonable answer as to when the certification could be taken care off.  Allegedly, it was all in the county of Orange’s hands.


Chuck Gibson, Ladera Ranch Transportation Club Traffic President, likes to use the “Four Es” to describe functional pro-active traffic enforcement.  We would like to add “L”  and “O” to make LEEEO as follows:


L – Leadership

E – Engineering – that is, streets need to be certified for patrol and certification needs to be current

E- Education – self-awareness program to educate residents on the importance of respecting law and order.  We prefer to use the term enlighten.

E – Engagement – coordination between law enforcement agencies and residents

O – organization


The board was gracious enough to allow us to tell the gathering that despite the board’s most public and insulting remarks against the  California Highway Patrol, our experience with them has been totally the opposite:  They have promptly and  professionally answered all of our questions.  They have provided any and all of the information we requested from them.  If for any reason the data they sent was incorrect, they promptly apologized and sent an update.  A lot more than we can say about any Keystone employee or board member for sure!

We also emphasized for the umpteenth time that continued discussions on the precise wording of the number of hours per week the CHP may be willing to commit to is a red herring.  If we take a look at LEEEO above, it is obvious that the combination of Keystone/board is zero for five.  If only the board had invested a fraction of the time and resources into LEEEO, instead  of pursuing their personal agendas, it is obvious that as a minimum, street certification would not have expired.

The most shocking issue of the night however was that Thaggard/Mezger refused to acknowledge that the most cost effective pro-active traffic control post-ordinance repeal is the CHP – quite the opposite.  Even some residents, reminiscent of the LIGGIT tirades barked that the Sheriff had promised a “revenue-neutral” pro-active traffic enforcement services.    Even after we informed the attendance that in our private conversation with Supervisor Tom Wilson and CHP Chief Karen Douglas, supervisor Wilson was very clear:  Sheriff’s pro-active traffic enforcement within Coto de Caza will be very expensive.  Oh well, we may just have to start a fire sale of the Brooklyn Bridge in Coto – the Coto de Caza board meetings seem to attract a large captive audience. 


Mezger likes to say that if you want to find out what is going on in Coto de Caza, you need to attend board meetings.  Perhaps he should change the wording to “if  you want to know how I am going to mis-inform you, you need to attend board meetings”.


Reminds me of why I have such low tolerance for Coto de Caza Board Meetings:  My threshold of resistance to underdeveloped cognitive and moral reasoning skills is very low! So, should the CHP put in a minimum of 40 hours, or should they guarantee 40 hours?


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Buzz:  Pending a 9/11 type crisis or natural disaster which would pull them away, the CHP will provide what ever number of hours CZ is willing to pay for.  They use over time officers to patrol our streets and money generally does talk.  It is as simple as that.  As usual, Varo and company on the current incompetent CZ Board continue to be full of baloney.  Shame on them if they have allowed our street certification to lapse.  It probably means that a new traffic study will be necessary for all of Coto instead of just the streets in South Ranch that were never certified.  Based on the last time around, my guess is the cost will be $15,000 - $20,000 for the traffic study to get it done.  Perhaps, Varo, Mezger, Thagard, missing Hill, Schlieder and Keystone should write the check for the extra money we will now have to pay to get this done again.  There really should be a price for incompetence.  Joe Morabito



Apparently they have been waiting 18 months for certification of the streets in south ranch. They are clueless as to why the county could possibly take so long. Clay Corwin suggested they hire a facillitator to push things through the county. They seem to be patiently waiting for something to happen-obviously they are not in a hurry to get traffic enforcement in south ranch. Jan



That is because the current incompetent CZ Board never wanted pro-active traffic patrols in Coto.  Really pretty obvious.  After all, it was this CZ Board that fired the CHP with nothing to replace it.  And, we would not have the CHP now, if not for a tragic death on our streets which forced the issue.  Joe Morabito


If Coto de Caza has this crack community manager that the BOD is so proud of, then it is inexcusable for this to happen! C.J. Klug must be held accountable for this mistake, along with the BOD. Somebody needs to go. Bob



Someone would have to work very hard to convince me that the $168,000 over-invoice paid by Keystone to Securitas is an honest mistake.
Perhaps someone could also work very hard and argue that the use of  LID (lie, ignore or deny) and/or Keystone’s  List of Prominent Coto Residents makes sense to manage $7,000,000.00 year (gate access + landscaping).
It would take a very good attorney to convince a judge that the decision and process used to hire the GM, fire the CHP, fire Securitas, fire Maxicom consultants, etc., meet the business judgment/judicial deference rule.
However, I am not sure there is anyone who would be able to excuse a public safety issue such as this one.  Especially when a good number of us have been concerned for over two years, and have told Keystone and the board as much.
Some (on the board)  have bragged about the cumulative corporate experience found in this board – I have yet to see it manifested in the running of the association however.  Perhaps in this case the board will do what it should:  Hold those responsible accountable not only financially, but heads have to roll as Bob has suggested! Buzz

The fact is that CJ Klug and the current incompetent CZ Board all need to go and the sooner the better.  They have squandered our money, exposed us to danger and liability on our streets, failed to provide for landscaping renovation, a primary responsibility and made our community less secure.  Anyone who believes that CZ Master is better off today than it was under the management of various prior CZ Boards must be smoking oak leaves.    Joe Morabito


The only street that doesn't need a traffic study is Coto de Caza Dr. The rest expired 2 weeks ago and their best guess as to the fastest they can be recertified is April!!!!!! Jan


Jan:  That is just unbelievable; but not surprising.  The current incompetent CZ Board and in this case Keystone Management has failed to mind CZ's business once again like so many other times before.  This is going to cost us all a few bucks; but presumably even more important, neither the Sheriff nor CHP will issue traffic tickets on streets that are not certified.  That means speeders are free to speed on these other streets until this all gets fixed.  Perhaps if Bob Varo and company would focus on the business of CZ instead of the Estates, Villages, CotoCan, Community Services Districts etc., this would not have happened.  ALL CURRENT CZ BOARD MEMBERS SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE.  CJ KLUG SHOULD BE FIRED.   AND THE CONTRACT FOR LEGAL SERVICES WITH JAMES HARKINS SHOULD BE TERMINATED.  Joe Morabito


There are only 6 streets for patrolling:
Coto Drive
Plano Trabuco
Vista Del Verde
San Miguel
South Bend
Although some of these now need to be recertified, the only one not previously certified was South Bend. Joe Bower



also Tipu Run needs to be certified - Jan



January 15, 2006 

Way Forward
We know the board will not act.  We know that Keystone will not act.  We can.
Those responsible for the current road certification expiration debacle must be held accountable.  We suggest we start with Keystone: 
As  background, CJ Klug lied, in writing about the status of Lyle’s appointment to the board.  I suggested that if he did not lie, then it was gross incompetence for a general manager not to know what was going on with the important issues of the day around the community, and thus he should resign. His response:  That I resign my post as a delegate and that I stop all communication with him, which I have.  Since then, I refuse to communicate with anyone other than Cary and the board.  It should also be noted that Cary failed to take any disciplinary action, and never responded to me directly about the incident.
All Coto de Caza home owners have the right to engage in a dialogue with the board or the property management company in the management of the association affairs.  Therefore, as a minimum we suggest that any and all future communication should be strictly with Cary Treff  ( or the board, until the general manager is replaced – if ever.  Buzz


Hello All:  CJ Klug was selected and hired by the current incompetent CZ Board.  Mr. Klug is a nice enough fellow; but is now in in-service retirement.  That means we are paying him a bigger than necessary salary at the same the time the Association has had to hire numerous high priced Consultants to do his job.  Mr. Klug is on Keystone's payroll which by law means that they have responsibility for him and his actions.  I believe he should be FIRED because he is not up to the job particularly for the excess monies we are paying him.  If Keystone fails to act, they too must be FIRED and I say that with real reluctance since I was the guy while serving on the Board who ran the comprehensive supplier selection process through which Keystone was selected.  Generally, I have been willing to give Keystone the benefit of the doubt because they must work with our current incompetent CZ Board; but at some point just like Harle/Kannen, our former attorney, that walked away from CZ business rather than work with this Board, Keystone will have to choose between their reputation or the CZ account/revenues under this current incompetent CZ Board.  I don't think Keystone can have it both ways and/or perhaps they are just hoping to out live Varo and company all of whom should be removed from office sooner than later.  That could be Keystone's strategy; but it is very risky.  Joe Morabito
P.S.  Keystone and Jim Harkins, CZ's attorney should pay for any street re-certification that is now necessary.  Our Property Management company and attorney should have been on top of this process even if the current CZ Board is incompetent.  The buck needs to stop somewhere in addition to the Varo and company writing some personal checks for their continual negligence.  I have not mailed my formal complaint letter yet because I was out of town.  I will now add this fiasco to the list. 




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