Tahoe Donner HOA | Understanding Our CommunityAssociation News, Featured, Member News, Northwoods Clubhouse
By Ali Dickson
Whether you’re new, seasoned or somewhere in between at Tahoe Donner, we want to ensure everyone knows the ins and outs of this beautiful community we call home. This is the first story in a series that takes you into the inner workings of our association through frequently asked questions. You can find other lists of frequently asked questions at tahoedonner.com/faq. To start, let’s take a birds-eye-view of the association as a whole.
WHAT IS TAHOE DONNER?
Tahoe Donner is a homeowners association (HOA) with a wide variety of recreational amenities. While it offers many resort-type operations like the Downhill Ski Resort, Cross Country Ski Center and Golf Course, the core of Tahoe Donner is that it functions as an HOA.
In 1969, the land we know as Tahoe Donner was sold to investors to become a homeowners association with an abundance of recreational opportunities at members’ fingertips (fun fact: before it was a homeowners association, previous owners wanted to turn it into a Christmas tree farm, but the kind of tree they wanted to cultivate didn’t grow well here). A key investor included Jack Kirby, former NFL athlete and war veteran, whose resolve and determination was crucial in creating the wonderful family resort community and amenities we have today.
WHAT WERE THE ORIGINAL RECREATIONAL AMENITIES?
Intending to have “every recreational opportunity at your fingertips,” Jack Kirby created the Tahoe Donner Sports Advisory Board, which included several Olympic athletes, Ronald Reagan’s son and the head football coach of University of Southern California at the time. The original amenities included:
• Golf course
• Downhill ski complex
• Donner Lake beach area
• Pool at Northwoods Clubhouse
• Tennis center
• Equestrian center
• Main clubhouse (Northwoods) as the original recreation center
As time passed, buildings have been rebuilt and replaced to uphold the vision that the association maintains attractive and well-maintained facilities. Since its opening, additional amenities have been added, including:
• Trout Creek Recreation Center
• Cross country ski area
• Recreation programs
• Day camps
• Expanded trail system and programs
WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE ASSOCIATION
Tahoe Donner is run by its board of directors, who are elected by and represent the membership. The board hires the general manager of Tahoe Donner, who has a team of approximately 84 full-time, year-round staff. This staff includes a multitude of positions, from trail manager to accountant to chef, risk management, IT and many more.
WHO IS THE BOARD?
The board of directors is made up of five members voted in by the membership, each carrying out a three-year term. An election is held every year to replace either one or two rotating members whose three-year term is expiring.
To learn more about your board members, our website provides member names, biographies, organizational charts to show how the board is utilized among committees and task forces, fiduciary responsibilities and information for those interested in running for a seat.
The board functions to ensure the Association’s Covenants and Restrictions (C&Rs) and bylaws are upheld. An analogy to help you understand what these documents are: bylaws could be thought of as our constitution, and the C&Rs can be thought of as amendments to clarify what has been written. It is the job of the board to ensure Tahoe Donner’s original vision is upheld.
WHO KEEPS THE ASSOCIATION ON TRACK?
Tahoe Donner is held accountable in multiple aspects. The board is ultimately responsible for governance of the association. The Davis-Stirling Act holds Tahoe Donner accountable for health and safety codes, rules and regulations. Additionally, we use guidance from national associations for specific professional standards.
The membership votes for their board of directors, holding these individuals accountable for the governance of the association. The board then holds the general manager to Tahoe Donner’s standards through metrics such as the strategic plan and annual operating budget.
Tahoe Donner is a corporation in the state of California and follows the California corporate civil code. Governing laws specific to HOAs, such as our association, are known as the Davis-Stirling Act. This act covers statutes such as how an election is run, how finances are reported and how meetings are organized and operated among much more. Additionally, the association has to maintain health and safety codes, building codes, healthy replacement reserves, county rules and regulations and more.
SPECIFIC DEPARTMENT ASSOCIATIONS
Each element of our association has governing bodies that uphold the best practices, codes and ethics for that specific department. Whether we are looking for regulations to uphold the ski areas, forests or other departments, every business line we have in Tahoe Donner has an industry standard we look to for accountability.
IS TAHOE DONNER A NON-PROFIT
Tahoe Donner is a 501(c)(4) non-profit mutual benefit organization. To maintain this status, the association ensures that the Truckee community benefits from our HOA. To do this, services and volunteer opportunities are provided. For example, Truckee’s middle school tennis teams are hosted at the Tahoe Donner Tennis Center. Our contributions to the annual Truckee River Day event include helping to plant over 2,500 trees each year and involve and promote the event, which largely benefits the community.
Because Tahoe Donner falls under the 501(c)(4) category of non profit organizations, it does not pay federal taxes.
WHY ARE SOME AMENITIES OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?
Certain amenities have been granted public access, and the fees paid by guests at these amenities directly benefit members by reducing the total cost of the Annual Assessment paid each year. This rule is written directly in the Covenants and Restrictions and holds true so long as public presence does not detract from member usage.
It is important to know that approximately 67% of our annual revenue comes from user fees, while 33% comes from Annual Assessments paid by members.
WHAT MAKES TAHOE DONNER DIFFERENT FROM MOST HOAs?
In Tahoe Donner’s infancy, there were fewer acres that made up the subdivision. Over 1,000 acres were purchased in the 2010s, creating more open space than many HOAs. Today, we hold 5,080 acres of open space within the 7,300 acres that make up the association as a whole.
Additionally, Tahoe Donner has a unique diversity when it comes to amenities. A standard for many HOAs is to provide a recreation center, pool and/or golf course. Some may have tennis courts or clubs as well. To provide all these amenities in addition to an equestrian center, campground, downhill ski area, cross country ski area, sledding hill, bike shop, extensive trail system and marina, no other HOA in the United States has the number of recreational amenities currently available at Tahoe Donner.
Of course, the membership creates one of the most exciting and unique aspects of Tahoe Donner. Our members reside in 46 states and a variety of other countries around the world, which brings diversity and uniqueness to our special community. Some members who own homes today decided to purchase after visiting Downhill Ski Resort, others chose to raise a family in a quiet and adventurous community, and some even inherited a Tahoe Donner property through their parents or grandparents. The welcoming feeling people have while at Tahoe Donner draws people of all ages, interests and backgrounds.
No matter the reason you chose to make Tahoe Donner your home (or home away from home), we’re excited to share more about our association and continue to provide the unique experiences and adventures that make our association unlike any other. Learn more about Tahoe Donner through frequently asked questions at tahoedonner.com/faq.