As a newcomer to GSMOL and after attending the GSMOL convention in Costa Mesa, I have some thoughts I want to share. While I have lived in mobile and manufactured homes for over 28 years, I only joined GSMOL a month or two ago. I had heard of GSMOL, but knew little about the organization. Not being a member and involved is partly my fault. However, I believe most of it is GSMOL’s fault for not getting its message and mission out to people like me.
After sending in my application for membership, I received a welcome letter from the President. I went on the website expecting to learn how the organization functions. I saw references to Chapters, Managers and Associate Managers, however, I could not find a description of Chapters and Delegates, nor how GSMOL functions. I saw where it said “Regular Members” could vote and hold office. Then I went to the convention.
Upon my arrival and checking in at the registration desk I received my convention packet. I was given a name badge with a ribbon attached identifying me as an “Observer”. I thought that must be a mistake, shouldn’t it read “Member” I asked. I was told we are all members and the observer ribbon meant that I could not vote on anything. I was perplexed and felt it was demeaning to be so identified.
I met a number of members (observers) and Delegates as well as Alternate Delegates. I began to learn that to be a delegate, you had to belong to a Chapter (or a Super Chapter). I discovered that there were no chapters in all of San Marcos, therefore there was no one eligible to vote other than the Zone Vice President. Seems like a crazy way to run a railroad, except to those in power.
I attended workshops which I found helpful and interesting. However, the very same complaints I have heard over and over again in my HOA and in SMMRA (San Marcos Mobilehome Residents Association) regarding the lack of enforcement for the MRL regulations were prevalent in most of the sessions. It was especially so in the HCD Panel’s presentation, which in fact was a bit hostile to these Department employees.
The Sunday morning Board Meeting, with voting Delegates seated in the center sections and us “observers” seated in the wings off to the side. The only members speaking on the discussion of the proposed bylaws were the delegates.
I do not have the voting results on all of the amendments, but was very much disappointed in the defeat of one amendment to the proposal which would have eliminated the power of the Zone Vice Presidents to appoint two delegates of their choice. While it had the most votes, it failed due to the 2/3 majority requirement. As I understand it, out of some 76 voting delegates present, the Board with its 10 or 11 members and their appointed delegates had a potential of 30 or more votes out of 76 votes. It would have taken about 50 of the 76 votes to pass the amendment. While my calculations of the voting results are not official, it is easy to see that the proposal faced a very difficult chance of gaining the 2/3 majority.
I believe it was at the banquet where I heard compliments for a member selling memberships, and that more “sales” were needed to boost the membership. Any discussion about gaining new members should be about “recruiting” new members, which are the lifeblood of the organization.
There are many factors which can be the cause of declining GSMOL membership. Apathy, imposition of RSO’s, conversions to ROPs, aging of the base, etc., etc. to name a few. However, just perhaps some of the fault lies with the GSMOL structure. I realize it has been around many years, but times change and maybe GSMOL needs to look at how it needs to change in order to survive and thrive. I would suggest some changes that might be a part of the solution. Taking better care of the membership by disposing of the Delegate/Observer designations and giving all dues paying members the right to vote and speak their minds. I am not convinced that the Chapter concept is effective. Why not make each city with several parks a Chapter? Whether you call them a chapter or a region or by any other name needs to be considered.
Should GSMOL retain the Manager, Assistant Manager and Associate Manager designations or take a stab at other titles (Ambassador, Captains, or whatever). The whole structure or mechanics needs a brainstorming or strategic planning process to revamp it. Being more responsive to the members and being more transparent, including the provision of financial reports is essential.
A new president was elected and now the question is …will she be a key to reforming GSMOL, or will it just continue as it has for the past several years? Is there a sincere effort and belief of the Board in the necessity of restoring the association to its former success?
I am, of course, a novice when it comes to GSMOL and it may be presumptuous of me to offer my opinion and suggestions. But I do so as one who knows how much we need GSMOL and who wants it to thrive and once again to grow and become an even greater organization. The loss of membership requires it to “rebuild, renew, and restore” and not just give lip service to the convention slogan. My experience over the last 40 years with non-profit businesses and associations provides me with the nerve to openly advocate for a true reform of GSMOL. While my suggestions may seem drastic to many GSMOL members (BOD and Delegates), change is needed to make progress. Doing the same things over and over and not succeeding is only a sure road to failure.
Article by Lloyd Rochambeau, President, SMMRA and Lakeview Mobile Estates.