Be Careful Little Eyes What You see

The Assault on Our Eyes
September 17, 2016
Chaplain Kay Wilson-Bolton

Most people know when an image is seen, it is burned into the brain and no one can “un-see” it. Nothing can scar a person more than seeing images of cruelty and the results of tragic accidents and behavior, including pornography. The continuous assaults manifest themselves in post-traumatic stress disorder. The Civil War it was known as “soldier’s heart”. In WW1 it was “shell shock,” in WW2 it was “battle fatigue” and “combat stress.”

In 1952, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual settled on “Gross Stress Reaction” but only for a time as psychiatrists believed a greater description was needed. We know it today as “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

The remembrance and rehearsal of explicit and upsetting images can have profound and lasting effects. People who have witnessed such images are forever changed. Outside of war zones, there is a daily assault on our senses from news reports and messages from the internet.

For good reasons, first responders are able to manage their emotions after a while because the continued assaults on the brain from the sights and smells of tragedy. Some will seek counseling to help manage the attacks and others may resort to less healthy mechanisms. Without some acceptance of the effects of tragedy, they could not do their jobs.

The internet has produced wonderful uses and opportunities for education. A program like Facebook has forever altered the communication techniques and the sharing of information — for good and for bad.

I have so enjoyed many of the videos and posts from people I know and trust to guard my senses and put “no worthless thing before my eyes.”

There have been numerous unexpected wounds to my mind and my heart from posts by people wanting me to know about some cruel practice as though I could change it. One particular post was very disturbing. I have to fight to suppress it and change my mental focus, particularly when I close my eyes.

Part of the reason for confidentiality among first responders is so that the sharing of tragic events, details and images can create vicarious trauma to the listener, particularly for spouses, children and significant others.

Children should never see these images. For one, they are too young to process them and they may be subject to an aroused curiosity that would take them to place from which there is no return.

There is a reason King David spoke of this in Psalm 101:3, “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;”

I encourage everyone to be thoughtful about what you see, share, and say. It will promote good sleep and healthier private thoughts.

When You Cry “Jobs” – cry “Houses”.

“SANTA PAULA OR BUST.”
THE DAY OF OPPORTUNITY LOST

There are a number of folks in Santa Paula who have been concerned for decades about the dismal local economy caused by lack of job opportunities and diversity and the amount of disposable income spent out of town. They have studied ways to increase the tax base to pay for a higher level of services and amenities including public safety and sound infrastructure.

Many of these people have served on boards, commissions and councils. They have been active members of local business support groups, and supported bond measures for schools, police and fire services. Many are still at work; some have given up.

There is one area where everyone can participate in promoting all positive efforts and that is to understand the “jobs-housing balance” where there is adequate and desirable housing to support people who work within the community. Without housing, the jobs won’t come.

Our primary industry is agriculture. We do not have sufficient housing for all of our workers, although we have provided many housing opportunities for some. We will never have enough.
About 30 years ago, the City expended a real effort to entice a company called Tolo Corporation to move from Santa Ana to Santa Paula and create approximately 300 entry-level and skilled trades’ jobs. They visited us; we traveled to their plant to visit them. We hosted them here and they hosted us there. They met with Planning, Council members and local leadership. Their mantra became “Santa Paula or Bust.”

However, after all that, they never came. The decision was largely for two reasons. The City didn’t like the design of their proposed building and there wasn’t enough housing for the employees they would bring with them.

Every single development proposed within the community of Santa Paula has faced opposition and often hostile resistance. When the Hillsborough project along Monte Vista Drive was proposed, there were fears of landslides, mud and extreme traffic. When Hillview Estates was proposed on West Telegraph Road, there was concern about the loss of agricultural land, it was a “closed community” and the lots being too small.

The Las Pasadas neighborhood was opposed because of the loss of agricultural land and the project was too dense with lots being too small. Today all of these neighborhoods are extremely popular and provide a good balance of housing mix in a community where approximately 50% of the housing stock is more than 60 years old.

When the Mobile 400 and Rancho Santa Paula mobile home parks were proposed, the opposition was so bitter that a highly respected citizen resigned from his seat on the City Council.
There controversy was enormous over the proposal for reduced lots sizes and home square footage in the Vista Grande tract, Phase 2 of the Hillsborough tract along upper 10th Street.
When the Wilson Ranch in the Oaks along Cliff Drive was proposed, there were objections to spoiling the Oaks neighborhood with too much traffic. The objection to the addition of the 7 homes on two acres owned by the Stewarts was so bitter that relationships were lost and damaged. One resident laid down in front the gravel trucks to halt construction. Not seventy houses, but seven.

Even today, the current proposal for homes along Ojai Road on the former Procter Ranch is being opposed for a number of reasons. The Anderson Project along Foothill Road has been bogged with controversy for all the same reasons cited in every other development project ever proposed.

The controversy over the proposals for Adams Canyon and Fagan Canyon are still very fresh.. The opposition was huge. And so, the need for homes to support the jobs-housing balance has gone unmet.

The East Area One Project by Limoneira was favorably approved for several reasons. They are trusted community partners, the Ag land was “out of town” and considered marginal, traffic impact was not an issue and there was something for everyone. Even that has changed with the recent proposed reduction of affordable housing.

As most new developments go, many of the homes are sold to people from out of town. Typically, they will be priced below homes in any other community where there are new homes being sold–with the exception of Fillmore. The attraction to out of towners will be great. It is also rare for new home sales managers to sell to people who have a home to sell first. That will slow down sales to Santa Paulans who want to “move up.” This single development is not the final answer to Santa Paula’s economic woes or Santa Paula’s future.

There are almost always objections to “smaller lots and higher density”. With the high cost of land on the Central Coast, it’s the way of the future. That is why we see so many two-story homes. An 1800 sf home can be built on a 900 sf footprint. The need for the 10,000 sf lot is diminished. A developer will seldom take on the risk of a housing development without maximizing profit and optimizing land use is likely considered first. That is why there are planning commissions and planning staff to hold developers to zoning standards and compromise only for the good of the community.

We have built many affordable units in Santa Paula. Given our demographics, we could build many more and not meet the need. We need balance. We need middle-income spending power in Santa Paula from people who live and work here. Without a job base within our borders, the work force leaves town every day. It’s easy to shop on their way home where there is attractive shopping in nearly every other community.

Under a previous City Administration, a Development Agreement was made between the City of Santa Paula and a developer from Malibu. It was for the re-development of the square block where City Hall and the Police Station are located, approximately 6 acres, excluding the gas station on the corner. The new development was a shopping center with Albertson’s as the anchor tenant. Complimentary retail services were being pursued.

Albertson’s management had reservations about the lack of shoppers in our trade area from East Ventura to Fillmore. The final decline after approximately two years of work came when the development of Fagan Canyon seemed to be only a dream. As they said goodbye to Santa Paula, they noted, “When we see rooftops, we’ll be there.”

The developers sought out Gelson’s, Trader Joes and others. The answers were all the same. We got a second look from Super A Foods but we walked away from them.

We wonder why Main Street has changed so much over the last 35 years. It’s because it lacks shoppers with extra $20 bills in their pockets. Fortunately, a few classy businesses have added greatly to the appeal of Main Street and its overall appeal is evident during train stops and Cruise Nights.

By comparison, the City of Ojai has managed to stay small and appear prosperous because they have a clearly defined geography and receive a $1 million a year in sales tax revenue from the Ojai Valley Inn. There were many promises about a similar resort for us made by the developers and proponents of Adams Canyon.

As for new homes and the “new people” that purchase them, it’s easy to close the door to them once “we have ours”. We forget it was the investment and risk of people before us who made what we have possible. Housing projects should not be opposed because of the short term inconveniences of “dust on your bushes, hammers and truck traffic”. We should look to long view of a community where shopping at home is made easy and working close to home is made possible. It will be then that employers will consider relocating businesses or creating new ones, employment opportunities will be increased, educational opportunities will be enhanced resulting in improved school test scores accompanied by increased learning capacities and classroom opportunities.

Growing a community well is a continuing and healthy endeavor especially if it is languishing from economic blight. Closing opportunities for new neighborhoods gets us more of what we have. The groups who are charged with promoting business attraction must gain understanding of the need for housing and then earnestly pursue job providers. Otherwise, we have learned nothing from what we know and “bust” will be the continuing result of efforts never made.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a former State President of the California Women for Agriculture, former mayor of the Santa Paula City Council, former president of the Santa Paula Chamber of Commerce, member of the Santa Paula Economic Development Commission, Executive Committee of Ventura County Economic Development Association and a Realtor, serving Ventura County. She has two Bachelor’s Degrees and is completing her Master’s Degree.

New Lending Rules Here on October 3, 2015

September 27, 2015

THE ALL NEW LENDING RULES
ARE HERE

October 3, 2015 ushers in new laws and rules to protect homebuyers from being duped or acting without being informed. There are new forms replacing old forms and new timelines designed to slow down the purchase process. The rules apply only to transactions beginning October 3 or later.

We all know that fraud was rampant in the industry causing a global financial disaster and compromised the stability of households one at a time. The new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule, or TRID, is one of the most talked about subjects in the mortgage and real estate industries right now and it is 1,880 pages long.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a federal agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.

While we typically don’t view new rules as our friends, these are designed to help lenders and Realtors make and keep friends for life. The marketing of this new program also urges borrowers to shop for their Realtor® and shop for their lender. It is also a good idea for consumers to check the California Bureau of Real Estate website for license information. It is http://www.dre.ca.gov.

There are two new forms with new time constraints making a 45-day escrow more likely than 30 days. One is the Loan Estimate which replaces the old Good Faith Estimate (GFE) and Truth in Lending Form (TIL). The other is the Closing Disclosure form which replaces the HUD-1 closing statement that buyers did not see until the time of closing. The lender is required to provide both forms.

After the lender has provided loan information as to rate and terms, the buyer must provide a “Notice of Intention to Proceed”. They submit their formal application and that triggers the first new form, the Loan Estimate. It must be received by the borrower within three days of the application and prohibits their transaction from closing in less than 7 days.

The new Closing Disclosure is five pages long with each page devoted to a specific element of the loan, such as the loan terms and a breakdown of closing costs and contact information for the Realtor®, lender and escrow company. There is particular attention to costs you can “shop” for and those you can’t. Another new rule is zero tolerance for any variations in the estimated costs where a 10% variance was previously allowed.

One of the more critical changes is the waiting period required before closing and from when the Closing Disclosure is made available. If the lender can demonstrate the buyer has received the Closing Disclosure, only three days of waiting is required. If the Closing Disclosure is sent electronically or mailed, a delay of an additional three days is required.

The only possible opportunity for a consumer to waive this requirement is to demonstrate a true emergency–such as an eminent foreclosure of their property.

Further, if there are revisions in any of the costs or changes in the interest rate (1.25 for fixed rate loans or .25 for adjustable rate loans) or the loan type, it will trigger another three-day waiting period. This is to stop the old “bait and switch” act which crippled previous homebuyers.

Because business days are being re-defined within the TRID rules, it could mean even more days’ delay. For the Loan Estimate, business days are those days which the lender is open or available for all services to the public which would generally not include Saturday, Sunday or public holidays. For the Closing Disclosure, three business days are any days but Sundays and holidays.

There has been much chatter in the industry for a while about the consequences of these new rules. For those of us who have seen changes implemented over the years and are now a part of our standard business practices, the TRID rules are welcome. Being informed is being armed.

Here is a hint, however, to seller and buyers. if you are encouraged by a real estate agent to write a 30-day closing into a contract where financing is a condition of purchase, please beware. The agent either doesn’t know about the new rules or thinks they may not apply to him or her. They do.

There is a new 25-page booklet called “Your Home Loan Toolkit”. Go to the website http://www.cfpb.gov and click on the line “Learn more about our ‘Know Before You Owe’ mortgage initiative. It is available from the lender or your Realtor®.

Kay Wilson-Bolton has been in real estate in Ventura County Since 1976.

Kay Wilson-Bolton
Century 21 Hometown Realty
805.340.5025
kay@realestatemagic.com
CaBRE 00577863

Give Grief A Chance

August 4, 2015

Observing others in grief can be as difficult as being in your own. The emotions for those standing by can range from fear, confusion, helplessness, anger, pity, frustration and deep sorrow.

Grieving is hard work and its different for everyone. Ask the mother who never cried over the loss of four adult children and a granddaughter. Ask the long-married wife who cannot stop crying after the death of her husband. Ask the parents who just lost a newborn to SIDS death.

It’s difficult to know how to respond to people suffering grief. Those who are brave enough to speak often attempt to rationalize the death with personalized theological truths. Those who feel shy about reaching out to grieving people will avoid them altogether which can be as hurtful as saying the wrong thing.

If you plan to stay with the grieving person, don’t judge any behavior. If you want to be a friend in comfort, create an emotionally safe environment where anything goes and you are okay.

Most people know to never say, “I know how you feel.” No one can know how anyone feels. If it’s true, you can say, “I lost a daughter too. I know the pain.” However, give yourself permission to say nothing. Don’t compete with their grief. Your silence will be comfort enough and you will know when it is time to speak. You can never really add value to sitting through a death by saying something. Your presence has its own value.

Job’s Old Testament friends are known for misinterpreting Job’s suffering. They are seldom recognized for the good moments when they responded to Job’s anguish with wisdom. When Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar first heard of the tragedy, they immediately came to comfort Job:

“Thus they lifted up their eyes from afar, but they did not recognize him, so they raised their voice, and they wept, and each man tore his outer garment and threw dust on their heads toward the sky. Then they sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, but no one spoke a word to him because they saw that his suffering was very great” (Job 2:12–13).

Job had just lost ten children and their families–his grandchildren. His herds, representing massive wealth, were carried away by thieves and his hired hands were killed. But, not once did he curse God for his calamity. He then became so covered with boils that he was damaged beyond recognition.

We often try to diminish grief with clichés that fill the silence, like “God is in control”, “You don’t see it now, but you will.” “Time will heal.” While it’s true, it is no comfort.

Job’s friends realized that weak attempts to speak trivial truths would only interrupt and add to the grieving that was necessary and appropriate. So, they shared his grief, stayed in his presence, and didn’t speak a word–for seven days.

When Job’s friends decided it was time to speak, Job wished they would be silent: “O that you would keep completely silent and that it would become wisdom for you” (Job 13:5).

Our response to the grief of others should be prayerful. Attempts to explain events that we don’t ultimately understand ourselves can bring even more pain. Consider a fatality caused by a drunk driver, a house fire taking the lives of old people or children, or a SIDS death.

What is true is that tears and crying are necessary in the grief and recovery process. Many times in the day-room at the ER, I have witnessed doctors deliver the pronouncement of death to family members. The process is the always the same. The best of comforts is to be silent and let them cry. Soon, the reality of the event becomes evident and people begin to breathe again.

It is then that shared grief and empathy help survivors grip the new reality followed in time by the new normal. You don’t get over it; you learn to live with it. Life does go on and there are always arrangements and adjustments to be made and experienced. Just stand by. It’s called a ministry of presence.

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a Fire Chaplain and Biblical Counselor

The new link between homelessness and mental illness

The City of Santa Paula is experiencing an alarming increase in crime from members of our homeless population. There are assaults and fearless attempts to rob and steal for their next beer or fix. Begging is on the rise. They are sleeping closer to town and pee and poop where they will.

We are at crisis stage. The level of violence among street people is leading to elevated police response and with heightened public scrutiny all around, this is a situation we must avoid. In my view, the new level of violence is fueled by the lack of housing for people living on the street and from mental illness due to drug and alcohol abuse.

A mental disorder or mental illness is a mental or behavioral pattern that causes either suffering or a poor ability to function in ordinary life. As our culture progresses, disorders becomes more numerous often, in my opinion, creating excuses for poor behavior. For example, in the latest version of the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), doctors have labeled road rage as a disorder and given it a new name, “Intermittent Explosive Disorder” affecting up to 16 million Americans.

Since Christmas Eve 2008, when we found a homeless man dead in one of our churches, I have come to know many of our homeless people like family. We have fed them, counseled them, sheltered and housed them, buried several, visited them in jails and hospitals and cried with and over them.

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports that there is a “definite connection between mental illness and the use of addictive substances”. Mental health disorder patients are responsible for the consumption of 38 percent of the alcohol, 44 percent of the cocaine and 40 percent of all cigarettes. People who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder are responsible for the consumption of 69 percent of alcohol, 84 percent of cocaine, and 68 percent of cigarettes.
There’s a connection between substance abuse and mental health disorders, and any number of combinations can develop.
A necessary component of treatment is housing of some kind to get them off the street and manage their recovery. A nexus is needed for those who have moved to Methadone treatment so there is an automatic plan to taper down the doses.

I make no excuses for my homeless people, and I am an advocate for their care and restoration. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t made a bad choice in our lives. Fortunately not all bad choices led to others or did permanent damage. There are many from all walks of life who daily make the ultimate devastating choices, for whatever reasons, to drink excessively and use drugs.

A recent public statement was, “homeless people are criminals.” Not all are and certainly not all criminals are homeless. The reality is that many suffer from mental illness because of their addictions impairing their decision-making process. This can lead to homelessness and compound criminal activity.

Economic homelessness can be solved and there are success stories everywhere. The subset of that is homelessness stemming from the impact of mental illness, whatever the cause. It is hard to solve and requires new strategies.

The criminal activity of homeless people ranges from petty theft to armed robbery, intimidation of bystanders, compromised uses of public facilities and tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on many levels. This includes the awarding of social security dollars to many who have self-inflicted health issues and the expensive cost of medical treatments in our urgent care facilities and ER’s.

One young man pretends to throw himself in front of cars and yells at pedestrians about fighter jets. A young homeless woman on meth gave birth recently to a baby who was taken by CPS. The mother is coming undone and believes in a conspiracy between the police and hospital staff.

The treatment of homeless people who are mentally ill must include housing. Neither problem can be solved without the ultimate collaboration of Mental Health Services and housing providers. Here’s how it goes.

Give someone a shower, clean clothes, a meal, a bed and a case manager. Housing makes homelessness easier to solve than to manage. A famous case study was reported in The New Yorker, February 13, 2006. It is titled “Million-Dollar Murray”. The study claims that a small number of chronic homeless people cause a large drain on social services. It also shows it is less expensive to house them than it is to chase them. I don’t mean place them into an apartment and give them the keys. A treatment program, structure, counseling, and case management 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is required.

In one specific 18-hour period in Santa Paula in May, one homeless woman was transported by police, fire and ambulance three times and treated in the emergency rooms of two County Hospitals. She is an addict and has transitioned to Methadone. She received extraordinary treatment in the hospital for almost three weeks for her chronic illnesses. When she was almost well she was discharged with nowhere to go but the streets. She misses follow-up appointments, loses her prescriptions, and can’t keep her sores clean. She is nearly back where she started. The cost to taxpayers is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Imagine the cost over the last 25 years of her homelessness.

We need people on street who are the warm fire that draws them in. Partners and response teams need to be trained professionals who know who to call and where to go when someone is ready for sobriety. Clinicians need to be on scene–not in an office hoping someone drops in.

Failure to provide the team power at the entry level has brought us to the hard task we face now. Bits and pieces of good work are being done but there is a disconnect in some. One is that not all communities have the resources to deal with the problem. This is especially critical since the central winter shelter in Oxnard has been terminated for 2015. Unless a community provides one, homeless people will be on streets this winter–in all communities. This will elevate the need for police and fire services.

The Mental Health Services family must convene a task force to address the specific issues that communities face within the homeless population fueled by drug and alcohol addictions and develop pro-active strategies that include housing. They must also bring trained clinicians into our schools to deal with children facing suicide and depression. They need to help parents struggling with financial stresses and all the issues facing our culture. Santa Paula deserves financial and resource parity with every other community.

No entity is better equipped or informed than this County’s Behavioral Health system. The approach needs to be radical to achieve radical and positive outcomes. The goal is to solve a problem that affects the whole community—business owners, children, public safety and relieve the taxpayers who are funding millions annually to treat and transport. We need to treat the whole person.

When there is both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse issue, it is important that the patient enroll in a treatment program that addresses both problems at the same time. The untreated symptoms of a mental health disorder can cause the patient to be unable to remain clean and sober, and untreated substance abuse issues can make mental health treatment ineffective.

I often feel crushed with the weight of human need from our homeless people. The need now is the heavy artillery and chariots of trained professionals who will work until it’s done. It won’t take long–just money and talent and commitment.

I wonder why love isn’t enough. Why isn’t the family tie or the memories of affection, security, holidays, birthdays and graduations enough to motivate an addict to and seek sobriety? Why do they love the drug more than the people who love them most.

I have wondered that since our own daughter, Kathy, died of a drug overdose in 2006. What would have made the difference in her last day, or in the days preceding that one?

I pray the hope and encouragement I offer will make a life-changing difference in someone’s last day. I know that if I fail to try I will answer for it.

Pricing Residential Properties with Industrial/Commercial Zoning. Who is the buyer?

When a single family home is in an industrial zone.. who is the buyer?
In an older community like Fillmore and Santa Paula, located in the Santa Clara Valley of Ventura County, it is common to find industrial and commercially zoned properties adjacent to residential areas. It is equally common to find older homes on properties that have been up-zoned to higher uses.

When its time for the family to reallocate these assets, there is a challenge as to how to price it. The industrial/commercial zones are attractive to small business owners but financing is more difficult. Additionally, it is appropriate for the smaller size parcels to be priced reflecting the more intense use, but the buyer pool becomes smaller.

It’s a waiting game in many respects as larger developments in the area begin to appear. This activity heightens interest in the area and all ships rise with that tide, but the practical aspect is “how long”? Family members need to consider the highest and best use in the short run and evaluate how long the wait will be for the existing zoning to catch up.

If you are a property owner out of the area, be sure to connect with a local broker who can prove local market knowledge.

Amnesty for All

On the Other Hand by By Kay Wilson-Bolton

July 15, 2007

WHEN SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE IS CLEAR

America was founded on principles that would get government out of the Church. It was never to separate the Church from the people.

For those who wonder about churches being places of Sanctuary for illegal immigrants, here is a learning opportunity that will give you another good reason to join a church. “Sanctuary” is an interesting place and has different meanings. The ultimate meaning depends on where you are in your journey through life.

The dictionary describes sanctuary as a, “holy place.” It is likely that not everyone buys into that. It is also described as, “A church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.”

It is also known as, “A tract of land where birds and wildlife, esp. those hunted for sport, can breed and take refuge in safety from hunters.” With these descriptions in mind, try to view yourself as one who is desperate for sanctuary. You are from a foreign country, you are here illegally, your children were born here, you came here looking for work—and found it. Upon threat of deportation and separation from your family, you run to a church. If you are denied, your world view of God has suddenly changed.

If you are welcomed, your view has changed again. Contrast this to our expenditures of millions of dollars protecting condor eggs because their parents don’t know how to protect them or themselves. They eat unsafe things and go to dangerous places.

As an American, I count on the right to run to a church when I and my family are in peril. I must be able to stay there until the danger is
passed. Churches that refuse to do this must be willing to take a class in Christian principals and basic human rights.

If you think churches should close their doors to people who are in this country illegally, knowing that we created jobs and enticed them to come, let’s look at who else is in our churches.

We are drug addicts, ex-cons and felons, alcoholics, womanizers and prostitutes, sex offenders, abusers, cryptics, skeptics and critics, fugitives from something or other. We don’t vote every chance we get, we are tempted and often cheat on our income tax; we regularly despise our neighbor and want what they have, while not forgiving them for doing to us what we do to others. Thank God we are in churches.

Let’s allow churches to do what churches have done for centuries. Then, let the government do whatever it does. This country exists because of the need to get the State out of the business of the Church. It was never to separate the Church from the people.

Kay Wilson-Bolton
Santa Paula

The Paperless Transaction and Electronic Signing

The Paperless Transaction is Here to Stay
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
December 14, 2014

The real estate industry, among others, has embraced electronic signing and paperless transactions. While it may be a cost saver for some, clients and some Realtors feel the price is high.

The data base for real estate documents has just been updated with hundreds of changes and responsible REALTORS have spent many classroom hours preparing for implementation. Electronic signing is now generally accepted in the industry and makes for efficiency in processing but not always in understanding.

It is designed for on-screen reading and signing. No one should ever sign any document until they understand it, but it is possible that in this environment many people sign because they trust the person asking them to sign. On-screen reading is very different from holding a piece of paper in your hand and reading for understanding.

Most transactions are now completed via email. In a recent transaction, a busy doctor was purchasing a bank-owned property and was receiving documents from the escrow company, the home inspector, termite company, mold inspector, contractor, lender, HOA management company and their REALTOR®. It became overwhelming to him. It was made worse when he was informed by the lender a Notary would be at his office at noon the following day for signing of the loan documents. Because he is not always reading email, the Notary’s arrival was a surprise.

Sadly, the documents did not reflect the terms of the purchase agreement or escrow instructions. The Notary patiently waited while explanations were sought from the lender. He was admonished by the lender who stated the changes were emailed and he should have read them. This is not a client who spends his day on the computer, and this information was not received in a timely manner nor was the admonition received well.

In another case, computer savvy first-time homebuyers were given their loan documents the day they were asked to sign. They read almost everything and discovered two significant errors. They were assured they could sign them anyway and the errors would be corrected. They had asked their lender to send a copy of the documents ahead of time but did not receive them. As a result, the documents had to be redrawn, there was a three-day rescission period and the escrow was delayed more than a week. This makes for a stressful ending for what should always be a happy experience.

I hope the industries embracing this new technology will balance the benefits and adjust for those who do better dealing with humans. REALTORS® still hold the keys to the home and even that takes hand-holding.

Kay Wilson-Bolton
Real Estate Broker in Ventura County Since 1976

Realtor Safety – Fighting Evil With Intelligence

Realtor Safety in a Changing World
…Fear No Evil and Protect Against it

The recent tragic murder of 49 year old real estate agent, Beverly Carter in Little Rock Arkansas, is an urgent reminder of the need to fear evil—and take correction action against it. Realtors live the American dream. We are not tied to a rigid schedule except that which we impose on ourselves. We are not limited to wage restrictions, we meet the public where they need us to be—and we love what we do. However, we face a special kind of workplace violence.

We share our knowledge and skills with anyone who asks. We are the gatekeepers of an industry that has outpaced anyone who did not embrace the changes that come with technology. We go where we need to go at often the whims and needs of the public to serve them and complete our tasks. It is time for all of us to examine our “open door” business practices and begin to “fear evil” with wisdom.

The world has never been a safe place, but there was a time when we were considered unlucky if something bad happened to us. Now it seems we are lucky if something bad doesn’t happen.

Our new personal commitments to safety will vary within offices and with practitioners. It is clear that the consent and cooperation of the public will be needed to help us stay safe.

For example, some may begin to ask you for copies of your ID before embarking on a business relationship. Please don’t be offended. While we don’t think you would cause harm, we know that someone out there could.

Some may ask for the first meeting to be at the office. Buddy systems should become standard operating procedure. Agents will check in and out of offices and destinations will be left with the administrator. 911 will be saved as a “favorite” on the phone.

Open houses will not be held without another realtor or lender partner in place. We will be more vigilant and we won’t carry money or purses. We may carry pepper spray and other protective devices. Vacant homes create a different kind of opportunities for mayhem and should be avoided, particularly in isolated areas.

We will re-think our willingness to share our success stories with the public. Prosperity is a coveted thing in our society but is often viewed with contempt. We should not be judged by our financial success anyway, but by our skills and commitment to serving well. Many will be more circumspect about how we promote our services.

Wisdom will require we not work at the office at night alone unless doors are locked and the car is parked in a lighted area. We will not take chances. There has always been wisdom in using caution. Soldiers do that by nature. This view of life is common in almost every country but we in America feel secure in light of all the freedoms we enjoy. The goal is to balance fear with wisdom.

Changes, if any, will be individual but there will likely be a generally rising of the tide. We will ask you to help us. We are your sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, friends and colleagues. These are different times and there is a new call to action. Only the foolish will think business is usual is acceptable.
Kay Wilson-Bolton has been a full time Realtor in Ventura County Since 1976.

August 17, 2014

Chaplain on DutySPFD 004 3.09 head shot - Formal

Most of us do our best to plan for the future. We buy insurance, pay our bills, take our medication, see the doctor and eat right.

There is one area that needs particular attention and that is Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Most of us don’t think we are going to die soon, so this is one task we often avoid or postpone. Everyone should have a Durable Power of Attorney that meets the California codes.

This document is the legal right given by the law to someone else to make health care decisions for terminating care or ending life supports given to a critically and terminally ill person. This agreement is written and signed in the presence of a lawyer, notary or witnesses.

Most of us have an idea about what we would like to have happen at the end of our lives, but unless your wishes are made known and provided in a properly prepared legal document, the law will supersede all your good intentions.

Everyone who has a particular desire as to end of life actions should consult with an attorney before signing documents. The Durable Power of Attorney will instruct all first responders in how to treat you at the end of your life. Copies should be placed with the hospital, your doctors, attorney and family members.

First responders view every 911 call as a plea for help in a life threatening situation. Their goal is to rescue and save lives. Unless the caller can provide documentation to first responders as to any alternate response, all efforts will be made to save life, regardless of the verbal requests of family members.

The Durable Power of Attorney must be completely filled out and signed by the patient. If there are blanks in the form or unsigned pages or paragraphs, the document has no affect and is not binding on anyone.

If you are clear on your intentions, please make the efforts to get them in writing and on a generally recognized form. First responders are there to save lives, not to complicate a patient’s wishes in an end of life situation.