My name is Robert Stermer-Cox and I want to warn people interested in purchasing real estate in Ocean Shores, Washington. Be careful! Many of the lots in Ocean Shores are part of a extortion scheme called the Ocean Shores Community Club.
This is how the club excludes anyone who entertains the thought of voluntary membership from seeking a position of the Board of Trustees. Because it is a “requirement”, it is, therefore, a qualification of office. Qualifications for office are described in the By-Laws and Articles of Incorporation. There is no mention of any oath.
I call this club a extortion scheme because not all members are permitted to exercise their property rights as club members or be part of the governing process. The members who wish to change the membership in the club to voluntary are denied representation on the Board of Trustees or the right to elect someone who would represent them. This is not a club run by the members, but by the club’s attorney and the select few.
By denying members their rights and interfering with the election process, the Club is no longer a legal operation and is nothing more than an extortion scheme to take money from members who don’t need, want, or use the club’s facilities.
This club, the product of the club’s attorney, Michael Valdez, is simply a social club, offering no other services at all, and yet it has liens on member’s home to insure dues payments. This is a private club in an incorporated town that is not part of a homeowners or condominium association and because of that, is illegal under Washington State law. Only a questionable bankruptcy court proceeding insures it’s continuance. This club, via it’s attorney, can, will, and have foreclosed on some 200 properties for failure to pay dues.
I also blame the greedy real estate industry for this situation. We, like a great many others, were never told about the club having liens, in fact, our agent told us the property was “free and clear”. It was not. Our bank, USAA, also failed us. Their policy was not to make loans on properties with liens. Yet, they gave us a loan. Buying our first home we relied on and trusted the “professionals”. Big mistake.
How this situation can exist in a city in America is beyond belief. The extremes the club will go to protect itself is astounding. My writings on an other web site, saved three people from making the mistake of buying in Ocean Shores. I hope this site does as well.
Note: Unless otherwise credited, italics indicate quotes from the Ocean Shores Community Club, Inc.’s Second Amended Disclosure Statement; Second Amended Plan; Exhibits and Notices. I selected to display items from the Decree side by side with notes about the item. Reader comments will be made at the end of the article.
I also include articles and comments from other members that I have accumulated and a couple of new ones from the web.
August 14, 2020 @ 12:13 am
Is there a way to get out of the club permanently if you own your home free and clear?
August 14, 2020 @ 12:31 am
No, once in the club, the property stays under the club for ever. That is unless you have tons of money to fight a hugely expensive lawsuit. Sorry.
September 18, 2021 @ 8:05 pm
How do you know if you are in the club or not? Are you referring to the $148 yearly fee to use the pools and community center?
September 19, 2021 @ 4:27 pm
Your real estate agent is, by law, supposed to disclose that to you. You can call the club and ask them. Check your title. If there is ANYTHING ABOUT THE CLUB, then you are more than likely in it.
Yes, this whole web site is about this dues paying system and what happened to us when we tried to change it.
Joe & Kim hicks
September 19, 2021 @ 2:31 pm
We bought our home 4 years ago and saw no mention of having to pay dues. How can we find out for sure that we’re not going to get a surprise?
September 19, 2021 @ 4:45 pm
Hi, Joe and Kim,
Your real estate agent is required to disclose that information and your attorney should have knowledge of the same. When you contact them, don’t be surprised if
your house is part of the club. On the other hand, if you haven’t been paying dues and you haven’t received any overdue bills, then you MAY have somehow luckily managed to buy property that is not part of the club. Non-club properties are a rare find.
dave st. bees
April 3, 2022 @ 5:46 pm
I like the club and don’t mind paying the $155 per year for the benefits of the facilities, including gym, shower, cafe and events.
April 7, 2022 @ 8:23 am
Did your real estate agent or lawyer explain to you that you were buying an encumbered property, with no way to remove the encumbrance? Ours didn’t. And, if you read the other comments on that page, you’d notice that we’re not alone. (Even the banks don’t understand it because the lien has NO value and can’t be paid off.)
Did anyone explain that if you oppose the mandatory dues scheme, that the club will start a file on you, tracking any letter to the editor you write, any web site comment you make, or anything that you say or do against the club? They did on me. The club went so far with me, they took it to the bankruptcy court in Olympia, forcing me to waste my time driving there and back. And you know what happen? The judge THREW THEM OUT OF COURT! They knew they had no business bringing me to court; it was simply a scare tactic that didn’t work. It cost the club a pot full of money to do that; all for nothing.
It all boils down to this:
If the club can claim property owners have the right to encumber their properties, then, conversely, they also have the right to remove those encumbrances. The club does everything it can to prevent that by rigging the elections.
Read, how in 2004, a group of us put up a candidate that wanted to change to voluntary dues – like every other private recreational club in the United States. We even got a letter from the club, explaining how to use proxies. We carefully followed the instructions given us. But, when it became apparent that we were going to get someone on the board, they held an emergency board meeting where they changed the rules and declared all proxies invalid. Is that a fair election?
Then, in the meeting following the “election”, they initiated an oath of allegiance to support the rules of the club – which was already required in the Bylaws – but this oath went further by including about supporting the bankruptcy decree and you were required sign it before you could run for election. This constituted a change in candidate requirements, which requires a change in the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and demands the vote of the majority of members to make legal. That was never done while we were there. They still rig elections to keep the club with forced membership. That’s not what we do in this country. If fact, you will find no other private recreational club in the USA that has liens on people’s property and forces them to pay dues. And, by the way, the club is not a homeowners/condo association, it’s a property owners association. And that’s a big difference in Washington and makes everything they do illegal if it weren’t for a barrage of lies told to and never checked by the bankruptcy court.
So, Dave, if you take the time and read what happened to us and others and still think it’s just fine to force others to pay for your enjoyment, then continue to enjoy the club and cheap dues, but keep in mind that your enjoyment in the club is at the expense of those who don’t want or use any of the services offered by the club. You mention the gym, shower, cafe and events. But what if you don’t use a gym? Have a shower at home? Frequent local eating establishments? Schedule your own events and trips? They may not want or need the club, but you still want to force others to pay for it? Then I have to ask the same question I ask all the others: What kind of human being does this at the expense of other humans beings just to save a few dollars?
July 20, 2022 @ 1:14 pm
It is just like any property that is in an HOA. The only difference is that you pay a very nominal fee for a wonderful club and facilities, but there are no HOA rules governing your property. You would never expect to get out from under paying HOA fees.
July 20, 2022 @ 1:30 pm
First of all, there IS one big rule governing your property with the Ocean Shores Community Club: pay your dues or we take your home. At least HOA’s don’t take your home.
This is NOT an HOA. In fact, under Washington law, it is a PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION and it has NO standing in Washington court. And you’re right: I wouldn’t expect to resign from an HOA. But, again this is NOT and never has been an HOA or a COA. You, obviously, have never read anything about the club before you bought property nor have you bothered to read this entire site. Try reading my reply to the the post above.
And, by the way, YOU may think this FORCED ENROLLMENT for a small fee for a “wonderful club and facilities”, but there are MANY out there who don’t agree with that evaluation and you still want to force them to pay dues JUST SO YOUR DUES CAN BE KEPT LOW?
If you think forced enrollment to ANYTHING is acceptable, then move to a country like China or North Korea or Russia.
The “our way or you lose you home” makes me sick.
April 16, 2023 @ 9:11 pm
The manager based on her gut can refuse anyone from entering the club but not stop from collecting fees in my case we were refused membership for no reason other than she didn’t like me. I was told her only job is to protect the club How I became a threat is beyond me
April 17, 2023 @ 7:26 am
I’m a little confused about your problem. You said: “…we were refused membership…”. The only thing that determines “membership” in the club is whether or not the property you purchased has a clause in the title that binds you to the club (it’s not obvious that you are a member, so to be sure, call the club or their attorney, Valdez to find out). If your property was already part of the club, then you are a member and have the right to use the club and can not be refused entry (unless you have violated the rules). If your property is NOT part of the club, then you are lucky. No, you can’t enter the club as a non-member, but the plus side is, you don’t have an encumbered property. You can, however, join the club, if you want to and don’t mind having your property encumbered FOREVER.
If your property in not encumbered by the club, do not join the club. There are other things to do than hang around a club of “meanies” – people who think it’s just fine to force people to pay dues in a club they have no desire to be part of.
If you are a member, then raise hell. If they can take your house if you don’t pay dues, then they can let you in the club if they do. Unfortunately, what you describe fits right in with our experiences with them.
Oh, if you have ever mentioned anything about the dues scheme, you are on their radar. If you’re a “misbehaving” member, like ourselves, they will do everything they can to shut you out and they don’t even bother to go by the Articles of Incorporation or the By-laws. Before we were ever served an injunction, they were SUPPOSED to have meetings with us, but never did.
Please, remember that everything we know about the club is from past experiences and we’re sure they have done even more to tighten their grip on the club. As long as there are no FREE elections, where ANYONE can seek a position on the board, there will not be any changes in the near future.
December 31, 2022 @ 12:52 am
I’m new to OS. It might be a little unfortunate that you/we cannot choose to opt out of the club but I can say the club is amazing and brings value to the city and community. OS should be proud to have this club. Its possibly the 2nd greatest asset to the city (behind the ocean of course lol).
December 31, 2022 @ 9:54 am
I disagree. Just because the club is the “greatest asset”, doesn’t excuse FORCING people to belong. And “a little unfortunate” is not how I would describe the inability of people not being able to resign. People have lost their homes because of this. That’s more than “a little unfortunate”. The club is a illegal operation simply because they control who can run for office on the board; opposition to the dues scheme is not allowed. No other similar clubs in this country follow this same pattern of forced enrollment. That alone should tell you something. Ask yourself, if the club is such a great deal, they why do they have to force people to belong?