Residents question HOA manager's leave, salary

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif. - Some Rancho Santa Fe residents are questioning the manager of their homeowners association after he suddenly took leave, and then retired.

Pete Smith raised more eyebrows after he told the Rancho Santa Fe Review he was training for marathons and triathlons -- all while on sick leave.

"There are a lot of issues that have come up about transparency and governance," resident Terry Peay said.

Terry Peay has lived in Rancho Santa Fe with his family for three years. He said Smith's salary comes from their dues.

"We're paying the dues. We ought to be entitled to be getting this kind of information, particularly when it comes to financial packages and compensation," Peay said.

Team 10 obtained a letter that Smith wrote to the association vice president saying he received poor treatment by former association president Ann Boon.

He wrote: "Physically and mentally I just can't do this anymore."

Smith also wrote that he worked "in a hostile environment," subject to retaliation.

"I was surprised that he wrote it because I didn't think we had a hostile environment," Boon said.

Boon was voted out of office this year by the directors. She said she was just doing her job.

"I was just asking questions. Members of the board have never seen the manager's contract; I asked to see it," Boon said.

Boon is running for re-election.

Nobody at the association offices would talk to Team 10 on camera. An email to Smith returned an automatic reply, saying he's out of the office.

The assistant manager, Ivan Holler, sent Team 10 an email saying:

"After more than 20 years of service, Pete Smith is retiring as Manager of the Rancho Santa Fe Association, effective June 30, 2014. At the request of the Board, Pete has been transitioning his duties and will continue to do so until the end of the current fiscal year."

The question that has yet to be answered is who approved Smith's $300,000 salary in the first place.

There are close to 2,000 properties in the association. Members pay a wide range for dues, from about $100 to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the property.

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