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Yosemite West Property and Homeowners Incorporated Records
YCN: 2039 (YOSE 232959)  
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Description
Correspondence, memoranda, minutes, membership and dues records, architectural drawings, and circulars from the Yosemite West Property and Homeowners Incorporated (YWPHI) regarding Yosemite West Unit #1 subdivision. These records document the activities of the organization related to sewage treatment, water scarcity, and land-development and planning from the 1960’s through 2000.
Background
Yosemite West Property & Homeowners, Inc. (YWPHI) is a non-profit organization, incorporated in the State of California on April 26, 1977 and dedicated to promoting and protecting the best interests of property and homeowners in Yosemite West, a subdivision created in 1967 by Yosemite West Associates, a limited partnership whose general partner is Forty Acres, Inc., a California corporation. The Yosemite West subdivision consists of 294 privately-owned parcels on 109 acres located on Henness Ridge outside of and adjacent to Yosemite National Park's western boundary and other private land. YWPHI does not own any real property and is funded by a voluntary membership whose dues are paid annually. YWPHI was formed to: improve facilities and services in the community, encourage community involvement in beneficial projects, cooperate with federal, state and county agencies that service Yosemite West, and promote friendship among residents. Governed by the YWPHI Bylaws, YWPHI's seven-member Board of Directors oversees various YWPHI Committees that engage in community projects and events. YWPHI also reports on the activities of the Yosemite West Planning Advisory Committee (YWPAC) and the Yosemite West Maintenance District Advisory Committee (YWMDAC). The committees act as a liaison between Yosemite West property owners and the Mariposa County Planning Department and Public Works Department, respectively, and make recommendations to Mariposa County. Individuals serving on these committees are Yosemite West property owners appointed by the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors who may or may not be YWPHI members. YWPHI provides information about the committees as a service to the community but is not involved with any activities of either committee. Early History Problems with Yosemite West's infrastructure, both its water system and wastewater treatment facility, led to a series of court cases and the need for property owners to organize themselves for broader representation. Since the beginning of the subdivision’s establishment in 1967, the inadequate water supply at Yosemite West’s has not met Mariposa County standards. Water storage provided less than half of the domestic and fire protection needs of the combined residential and condominium projects. Major concerns included improperly sited fire hydrants in the subdivision, and extreme water pressure that could blow the hydrant off the pipe connecting it to the main water line. All of the hydrants lacked gate valves which would shut off the flow of water from the main line in the event a hydrant was blown off of the line, or knocked off of the system by accident. The wastewater treatment facility developed problems every year during the spring snow melt. Sewage would rise to the surface and run down the hill toward Indian Creek, a creek that flows into the headwaters of the Merced National Wild and Scenic River. Around 1978, the California Regional Water Control Board and state and county health departments determined that the system was almost inoperable. Homeowners in the Yosemite West subdivision filed a class action suit against Yosemite West Associates, claiming breach of contract and fraud. The complaint alleged that the homeowners were third party beneficiaries to the 1967 agreement between Mariposa County and Yosemite West Associates, and sought specific performance of the agreement and to enjoin the sale of land adjacent to the subdivision. It was also alleged that Yosemite West Associates had misrepresented the adequacy of the water system and wastewater treatment facility. Mariposa County also filed suit against Yosemite West Associates. Their complaint contained causes of action for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud. Mariposa County sought specific performance of the agreements and an injunction against further development by Yosemite West Associates. The trial was held in the Superior Court of Mariposa County where the related cases were combined in a trail without a jury. Trial judges Jack L. Hammerberg and Paul R. Martin issued the statement of decision and rendered judgment in favor of Mariposa County for $344,684, which included the following: (1) $ 95,000 for remedial work to the sewer system; (2) $22,500 reimbursement for sums previously spent by the County to repair the sewer system; (3) $36,000 for gate valves and thrust block kickers for the fire hydrants; and (4) $191,184 reimbursement for sums previously spent by the County to improve water storage facilities. On June 30, 1988, Yosemite West Associates unsuccessfully appealed the decision with the appellate court as County of Mariposa v. Yosemite West Associates, No. F008068, Court of Appeal of California, Fifth Appellate District, 202 Cal. App. which upheld the previous decision, Living in the Wildland Urban Interface Yosemite West is in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and has a very high hazard risk assessment. YWPHI started and facilitated an annual spring pine needle clearance to start addressing fuel loading within the community. Although inadequate, these early efforts raised awareness among property owners. Since 2003, the YWPHI Fire Safety Committee has been taking proactive measures to minimize the risk to the public, and public and private property in the event of a large-scale, stand-replacing wildfire capable of consuming all in its path. While the mission of the YWPHI Fire Safety Committee is to preserve Yosemite West's natural and built resources by educating and mobilizing all property owners to make their houses, lots, and the community Fire Safe, it does not fight fires, nor enforce any laws or regulations. The YWPHI Fire Safety Committee seeks to communicate and cooperate with county, state and federal agencies whose mission is fire protection and public safety. It started an annual chipping program in 2005 and continues to fund this program. In June 2008, Yosemite West became the first Mariposa County community to complete a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), a four-year long process initiated by the National Park Service and completed through two grants awarded to YWPHI with funding provided by a National Fire Plan grant from the National Park Service through the California Fire Safe Council. Implementation of the prioritized projects in the CWPP continued with 2009 and 2010 National Fire Plan grants from the USDA Forest Service, and a 2011 National Fire Plan grant from the National Park Service. YWPHI’s five National Fire Plan grants, totaling $532,000, have been successful in raising awareness of and educating the public about the threat of wildland fire, increasing community-wide defensible space with 75% of parcels inside the subdivision participating in fuel reduction projects, and creating shaded fuel breaks on 130 acres of privately owned and Mariposa County-owned land adjacent to the subdivision.
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