Our Rossmoor - Celebrating 65 Exceptional Years

1960’s Era Technology Lingers Into 2020

On The Ground by Ralph Vartabedian
On The Ground by Ralph Vartabedian

Imagine watching television in your Rossmoor living room on a 21” black and white television that gets three channels?

Or how about firing up your Chevy in the driveway with a tank full of leaded gasoline?

And wouldn’t it be just great to call your folks back in Iowa on a dial telephone mounted to the wall in the kitchen?

It is only a little bit of hyperbole to say that this is the 1950s era of technology in which the Rossmoor Homeowners Association basically operates, though we don’t like to generally talk about it.

I am going to tell you about our effort to bring the RHA into the 21st Century’s online environment, which we believe will make the RHA a better organization and help bring the community closer together.

Every year since 1958, we have to send printed applications to all of our members, asking that they once again join the RHA. It means recruiting every member of our organization every year. It is a testament to the loyalty of RHA members that our renewal rate is in the 90% range.

Most of our members send in paper checks that our treasurer Gary Stewart, has to cut out of their envelopes and deposit at our bank account– when he isn’t managing his dental practice. And then the data from the application forms has to be manually entered into a spreadsheet by Everett Knell, a retired engineer and our membership chairman.

At least we have a spread sheet, but can you imagine the amount of manual labor that goes into this thing? It is almost like an Internal Revenue Service’s processing center. At least RHA is better liked than the old tax collector.

The problem with this system isn’t just the work load it causes our 13-member board and our stalwart volunteers. The cost of postage and printing is one of our biggest expenses. Every one of the more than 3,000 addresses gets an application that includes a postage paid return envelope.

If we could cut that cost, we could do more to support our scholarship program, improve the Our Rossmoor newsletter, promote our social festivals, operate Neighborhood Watch and represent the community with various government agencies.

The most important step forward will be getting our members to apply online and pay online. It is possible right now to do it through Paypal or other online payment services by going here.

I urge all of you to renew your membership online for 2020. It isn’t quite Amazon, but we’re trying to get there. RHA has to do more and make this much easier for our members. Ultimately, I want our members to have the option of having their membership automatically renewed each year.

RHA has a data base that includes most, but not all of our members’ email addresses. They provide those addresses voluntarily when they submit a paper application. About 10% of our members do not even operate in the online world. Of course, we still value them and will always serve them through printed mail.

But for the folks who read their news online, shop online and never seem to have their smart phone more than 12” from their fingertips, we want a better system.

RHA is weighing a decision to go to an online membership platform, in which each member will register their account, access it by password, provide their physical address and have a secure communications link with the RHA.

We think this change will begin in mid-2020. At some point, we will buy a membership platform service that will provide the benefit of an online environment, while allowing us to provide additional services to each member. Another alternative we are considering is to implement off the shelf software that will essentially do the same thing at a lower cost.

One key element of this transition is whether members will actually renew and pay their $30 annual dues online at the same rate that they do by mail. If we ultimately can transition most of our roughly 1,200 member households to an online environment, we will free up thousands of dollars each year to put back into the community.

Even though we don’t have that online platform in operation yet, you can still go online to renew your membership. It will send an important signal to us that we can take the big step of an online membership platform.

And once again, thank you from our board for your support of the RHA. You are making Rossmoor a better place.

Ralph Vartabedian
RHA president

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