PSA...Who Is The RCSC?

Discussion in 'Sun City General Discussions' started by BPearson, Apr 1, 2021.

  1. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Before i posted this topic, i did a quick take on the RCSC website to see how much of the history is there. When they first posted the site years back, i found it to pretty good and still think it is well suited to give people the basics. Given some of the back and forth the last couple days on the site, i thought readers may enjoy a deeper dive into the actual history and formation of the Rec Centers of Sun City (RCSC).

    Most folks know Sun City opened on January 1, 1960. The first rec center was there on opening day; it was called Community Center. We now know it as the Oakmont Recreation Center. Visitors were quickly enamored by the idea of a “new active way of life.” Best of all, it was in place and the day they first moved in (May of 1960), they would begin to enjoy all Sun City had to offer.

    Those options were indeed plentiful: shuffle board court, wood working club, craft clubs, lawn bowling, the front 9 of the North course, wonderful auditorium with stage and kitchen facilities and a spectacular pool area to lounge in the sun and take a quick dip.

    It was made even better by the fact there was a “small town in miniature” directly across the street, complete with several stores and a hotel/motel with a fabulous bar/restaurant area. The Safeway store was open and running even though nary a soul lived here. Jim Boswell was on the Safeway board and they gave them a lease based solely on sales.

    There was one big oops that took seven plus years to remedy. This community was the first of its kind in the country and there was no how to manual. Virtually everything was trial and error and in retrospect they made a big one. There was no facilities agreement and the the company let buyers decide if they wanted to pay the $20 fee to use the amenities or not.

    Towards the end of the year, the Del E Webb Development Corporation (DEVCO) deeded Community Center to those living here. They had no interest in running rec centers, however a significant number of owners elected not to pay the yearly dues. It put a massive strain on the community and without DEVCO subsidizing the operation it could have been in serious trouble.

    There were all kinds of discussions within the community as to the options of generating enough revenue to even keep it open. Mercifully the company helped by picking up uncovered expenses. Realistically, they couldn’t afford to let those non-payments by residents sink their investment in this new type of living.

    The good news was, they kept selling huge numbers of homes and a second recreation center quickly hit the books. They also were fast studies in how to fix the dilemma and insure the same problem wouldn’t crop up as they moved south...but that’s a topic for my next post.
  2. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear, this isn't some sinister plot or evil empire outcome. Nope. Most people aren't aware of those early years and how the RCSC came to be. In the next week we will visit the 60's and the multiple organizations that became the RCSC.
  3. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    After a quick chat with my old friend Ben, he clarified this regarding Community Center: The SC Civic Association was formed in December of 1960 by the residents. It wasn't until February of 1961 that DEVCO deeded the center to the organization.however the problems persisted because owners didn't have to pay the $1 per month fee unless they wanted to use the amenities (purchased on a yearly basis). They quickly came to the conclusion that mandatory fees were the only way to insure the new center (Town Hall/what we know as Fairway) would survive was to have new home owners sign what is still called today a "facilities agreement."

    Got to head off to do a tour at the museum and we can pick it up tomorrow.
  4. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let's keep going here because this whole process gets pretty convoluted really fast. By the summer of 1960, DEVCO had come to the conclusion they had something very special on their hands. They immediately started on Town Hall (what we know as Fairway) and it opened on January 28, 1961. DEVCO smartly included a "facilities agreement" on all homes purchased in new Unit 2. The new Town Hall was much nicer and far larger and their cost was $40 per year per household (compared to the $12 per household and voluntary for Community Center).

    Interesting to note was the Community Center facility was open to all residents in an effort to keep the folks at Town Hall from starting their own association. Their efforts to thwart this second association resulted in the creation of what we now know as the Sun City's Home Owners Association (SCHOA). Originally the Community Center board (SC Civic Association) handled both the center and civic matters. In 1962/1963 the community made a decision and voted to split off civic concerns for the whole of Sun City, hence SCHOA was born (though not their official name, that was just HOA).

    By the end of 1962, efforts were under way to create the "Town Hall Recreation Activities of Sun City." There were clearly differences given Unit 1 wasn't obligated to pay yearly fees while Unit 2 residents were. It gets worse, because once formed the new Town Hall Association opted to exclude Unit i residents from most events (only certain crossover was permitted). Oddly, to try and maintain the peace, Community Center accepted those from Unit 2 to use their facility whenever they wanted.

    Where this gets fascinating is, there were now three separate organizations in the small community of Sun City. Each conducted their own election of board members and it wasn't surprising to see as many as 25 candidates running for each board. There truly was a sense of ownership and pride in their community. It was an amazing time and the best part of it is, it only gets better, way better.

    All for now, but it does take us to what DEVCO termed the Mini-Berlin wall.
  5. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Let's continue on with some filler to help folks understand why Sun City became so successful. We know they had sold 4000 homes by 1964. We know they opened identical communities in Florida and California and they were already dead in the water. Then in 1964, they sold 387 homes in Sun City AZ and it looked like the dream of active adult communities was on its last legs.The three men responsible for convincing Webb to build it, Joe Breen, Tom Ashton and LC Jacobson were told to do something to fix it, unfortunately they told Webb they were on the right course. All three were gone a short time later.

    John Meeker was sent to Sun City and given instructions to make it work or the senior living experiment would end at Grand Ave and north of Grand would be an industrial park and non-age restricted homes. DEVCO had a policy of non-involvement. They built stuff, they didn't want to run it. The good news was, the residents quickly accepted the responsibility, the bad news was they needed help to make it work. Meeker understood the value of getting involved and quickly embarked on changes to assist residents in creating a community that would sustain itself after the company left.

    Clearly Sun City was divided by the two centers and the differences of Community Center and Town Hall. The friction was ever-present and the solution took another couple of years to resolve itself. The residents took ownership of Town Hall (Fairway) in February of 1965. Everyone was paying their share and they were protective of the newer, nicer center. Meeker started the Play and Stay, created a home warranty program that built brand loyalty and held clubs hands to get them going and growing.

    The result was a steady growth of home sales in 66 and 67. All of which spurred the development of The Sun Bowl that opened in January of 1967 and building a third rec center Town Hall South (Mountainview) in June of 67. Mountainview was quite the setting with a massive swimming pool and auditorium for large events. It was at that point the residents in Unit 1 wanted badly to use the newer, nicer facilities and a deal was negotiated. Meeker agreed to invest in some renovations in Community Center if those living in Unit 1 would vote to sign facilities agreements and pay yearly fees.

    The two center's organizations began talks in the summer of 1967 but it wasn't until early 1968 the parties reached a potential deal of consolidation. It would take the signatures of at least 1700 residents (850 in support of the action) from the Community Center area for the deal to move forward. Several open hearings were held in 1968 and on March 8th the merger was approved by a 3,228 to 651 vote. In May of 68 Articlews of Incorporation were drafted and the Sun City Community Association was born. The new dues would be $20 per person and everyone would be obligated to pay them.

    Everyone would be able to use any of the facilities and the mini-Berlin wall crisis had come to an end. Unity was finally alive in Sun City...but would it last?
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2021
  6. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    By the end of 1968, Sun City's rebirth was fully anointed and any plans on backing off the age-restricted concept were quickly forgotten. Meeker's genius had become a reality as literally everything he touched turned to gold. On December 5, 1968 the community approved plans for Lakeview Recreation Center by an 8 to 1 margin. Moving across the tracks was always a challenging thought, but with the massive Boswell hospital plan in place, the drop-dead gorgeous new round resort-like center and the spectacular lake setting, it had little choice but to succeed. The fear was more, would the new phase leave the initial offering behind?

    The model homes along the lake were the finest offered to date. Sun City's 10th anniversary coincided with the January 3, 1970 ribbon cutting of Lakeview Rec Center. Sales were so brisk, plans were already underway for the next center, Sundial. It wasn't until a membership meeting on May 8, 1972 the residents approved yet another name change and it was to be called "Recreation Centers of Sun City." At that meeting plans were unveiled for the 2 million dollar Sundial rec center with the largest indoor pool in Arizona.

    It was shortly thereafter name changes for the rec centers south of Grand Ave were proposed. By August of 72, Community Center became Oakmont, Town Hall North became Fairway and Town Hall South was renamed Mountain View Center. In March of 1973, DEVCO began plans for the the sixth and by far largest rec center with the final plan approval in 1974. The Sundial Recreation Center was dedicated on April 14, 1973 and Del Webb attended the ceremonies; which sadly turned out to be his last visit to Sun City. He died July 4, 1974.

    Off for another tour this morning at the museum, but i will wrap up for now and then conclude with the final years and then some thoughts on this incredible journey/experiment we all know as Sun City.
  7. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The tour yesterday at the museum was a blast. Turns out it was one of the new TOSC members and his wife who had just purchased a home in Sun City the end of last year. What is really awesome is they are family members of another TOSC member and it now brings the total of mom and dad, two siblings and their spouses who have all purchased homes in Sun City. Way cool because that is one of the reasons Sun City was so successful. Best of all they love the history of the community and understand knowing it just makes their choice to buy here that much sweeter.

    Quick question...who knew one of the phase 3 model homes included an indoor optional swimming pool as an upgrade in the living room? Pretty fun piece of trivia and though there were only a handful sold, John Meeker claimed they were the catalyst to increased sales of smaller, less expensive models. One of DEVCO's goals was not to offer endless upgrades and inflate prices, but to sell well appointed homes where standard features were the norm. That way building wouldn't be slowed down with change orders. Makes sense when you figure they were building 7 to 10 homes a day. So readers understand, it took roughly 30 days to build a home, but they finished as many as 10 homes every day.

    All of which explains why once they moved across Grand Ave everything moved so quickly. From 1968 through 1978, they averaged nearly 2000 homes sales per year. That included 1974 where sales were abysmal due to the gasoline shortage/embargo. We left with the completion and opening of Sun Dial and the massive Bell Center on the books. DEVCO covered their costs of rec centers by adding a fixed dollar amount to each home sold. It increased from a low point for Community Center (Oakmont) around $140 and increased at Bell to $250. You never saw it on the sales brochure/pricing guides, but it was included in the calculations when the company determined their cost to sell the home.

    Ground breaking for the Bell center began in December of 1974. Meeker had a problem in that his mantra was always; "bigger is better." The opening ceremonies for the center weren't until April 10, 1976. During that time frame, costs on building the center far exceeded the $250 per house allocation. It was so bad, they had to scrap the plans to build a Performing Arts Theater that was scheduled as part of the center. Bell opened with a huge flourish as the new center was easily the biggest and most impressive of the now 6 rec centers they had built.

    All of which created problems for DEVCO as they were reaching build-out. The phase 3 sales brochures and accompanying map showed a seventh center in phase 3. The company decided with cost overruns for Bell they would just skip putting in the last center. Oops. Those living north of Bell road were angry and threatened a lawsuit if the company didn't deliver. Rather than get into a fight over it. Meeker stuck an undersized center in and the DEVCO employees referred to it as "Meeker's revenge." The good news is it has been remodeled several times since opening day and now houses the world famous "pickleball pavilion" and an updated fitness area and pool.

    Sales were so brisk in 77/78 the company immediately shifted gears and headed to Sun City West; a full year ahead of schedule. They used the model homes in Sun City to sell lots in Sun City West. The original plan was let SCW residents use Sun City amenities until the even larger than Bell, Johnson rec center open but that went over like a fart in church. A number of the Sun City West home buyers were Sun City residents and people felt like those buyers were traitors for leaving. They begrudgingly allowed for some odd hours usage of the pools, but it was really limited.

    There's a couple more pieces to the puzzle, but we will save that till tomorrow.
  8. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    The final pieces of the puzzle, not including the challenges within the community internally, are the selling of the golf courses, the subsequent sale of the Lakes Club and the transfer of ownership of the Sun Bowl. We've talked before about the golf courses and we know seven of them became RCSC properties in 1977 for "$10 and a cup of coffee." The eighth, Quail Run wasn't transferred till 1978. Most of you know that was DEVCO's storage yards and construction area. The golf course transfers took much longer than the rec centers because of the fear of them becoming money pits. The solution was to write into their documents that golf was to be self-sustaining.

    The Lakes Club, a long time lament of mine, was sold in 1981. By then Bob Johnson and John Meeker were gone and the new president of the Webb Corporation had a contract based on the companies profitability. His solution to achieve that was to sell off assets to enhance the bottom line. As a footnote, Sun City West was to be a third larger than Sun City (42,000 homes compared to our 27,000) and included all of the land that is now Sun City Grand and also a piece of Surprise where the Cactus league stadiums are and tennis courts. He also went on to sell the Sun City shopping centers and the ball field, but that is a story for another day.

    Last and certainly not least is the Sun Bowl saga. DEVCO's initial plans included the Home Owners Association (what we know as SCHOA today) to take it over. As they got closer to consummating the deal, the HOA saw that ownership as both a massive undertaking and well beyond their purview. Once that happened, Meeker turned to the RCSC to see if they were willing to assume responsibility. Negotiations went on for over a year with numerous ideas floated and numerous rejections. A deal was reached the end of 1981 and a vote was taken by residents that included a $2 a year increase in their assessment ($40 to $42) to cover the costs of maintenance. It was a trial period to see how it worked out and if it didn't the RCSC could back-out. The vote was close but passed and ownership proved to provide an invaluable asset to the community. It was deeded to the community in 1984.

    When i say our history is fascinating and compelling on so many levels, it's not hyperbole. This quick take is just a small fraction of how significant our development was in creating Sun City AZ and The Community That Changed The Nation. I have some final thoughts i will share with you in the next few days. There is one recurring theme in this thread, anyone see what it is?
  9. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    I used to take pride in my ability to communicate; i must be slipping. There's been a good number of you following the thread and yet, nary a comment on what i thought was pretty obvious. The recreation centers and our amenity's make up the sum total of the role of the RCSC. From the very beginning, when there was only one organization and through the evolution that led us full circle to yet again, a single entity, every step of the way, those decisions were being made by those living here.

    John Meeker understood better than anyone at DEVCO the significance of letting the cart be driven by the community. He knew the day would come when they (the company) would leave and the residents would ultimately decide if it flourished or floundered. He did everything he could in helping construct documents to building homes and amenities so those living here were given what they wanted. He surveyed the Sun City population on a regular basis. He was constantly involving them in every decision and choice they made. He knew it wasn't his Sun City. Even though it was called Del Webb's Sun City, he knew it belonged to those living here. He knew if it was to survive, it would only be because they took absolute and complete ownership of the process of self-governance and be willing to give back a portion of their retirement years to make it work.

    In John's summation in his journal, he credits the amazing staff working for DEVCO and all they did. He wasn't shy about taking credit for the creation of a "new way of life" and all it offered. Ultimately though, he credits the "pioneers," those first residents who refused to give up for it coming together. In an interview in the 90's he did with the museum, he was proud of what had been created, but more-so with the fact Sun City was still growing forward. He said he felt the community would always be vibrant and successful because of how it was built and how much those moving here loved it.

    Off to the museum for another tour, but i will wrap up this thread tomorrow with some concluding thoughts.
  10. CMartinez

    CMartinez Active Member


    You are an excellent communicator, and the followers of this thread will attest to this as fact. Your history of the community is always fascinating, and reminds us of what "community" can really be.

    It also shows us, up close and personal, how far the RCSC has fallen from its origins and the desires of those who toiled and created a new way of life for the members. There is so much to be learned from the history of Sun City, yet it can make one sad to think of all which has been lost. Those first residents had a "buy-in" not seen in todays new purchasers. The first residents got their gold watch and their retirement dream and came to Sun City with their ideology intact.

    Todays newest members are still working, will never see a gold watch, much less a retirement once known to be available to all who put in their 30 years. These people do care, but, for the most part, don't have the time to attend daytime meetings, and evenings are the only time to rest and prepare for the next day. Little time for family or grandchildren, much less the shenanigans of the RCSC.

    Hearing of how great the community can be makes me wish for the opportunity to muster the folks around the flagpole and have a meeting with all of our fellow residents and seek their input and support. Alas, The RCSC has all but made sure the members remain on the sidelines, unable to have a say in how their community should be run and what it should look like in for the future.

    Little to no hope there will ever be board with the backbone to actually take the bull by the horns and legitimately govern this community. Nope, the board is perfectly content to capitulate its responsibility to the GM, and continue to place retreads on the board to make sure nothing ever changes.

    Sorry for jumping in, I love your writings and stories of what Sun City has been, it always sparks a glimmer of hope.
  11. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Hey Carole, hope all is well. It's fun telling the story if for no other reason than is it truly fascinating. I also believe it is educational; a teachable moment if you will. Clearly we were built as a "retirement" community, but the truth is even back in the 60's DEVCO was advertising Sun City using actual residents in their marketing ads that included those still working. Of course back in those days the age was 50, rather than 55 but the simple reality is from the very beginning buyers have continued to work. Today, there's just greater numbers of them doing so.

    As i read back through the thread, i found myself longing for those times when residents took ownership. The history you don't see is the amazing amount of effort that went into helping make that happen. Once Meeker got here he was committed to the process of self-governance and every employee in the company was on board. As smart as John was, he understood if Sun City was to survive, it would only happen if he created and fostered a sense of ownership.

    In one of the threads i touched on the survey's he did. They were near on endless. He knew by asking people for their thoughts and expectations he would pull them further along than just making all the choices himself. As badly as he wanted the community to incorporate, he never shoved it down their throat. The battle went on for 30 years and those living here loved the way the community was constructed. It was theirs and they knew with incorporation, it would just become another city with a cumbersome bureaucracy where they would lose control of their destiny. He respected that in spite of how strongly he felt.

    There are truly glimmers of hope. A new GM is obviously a stepping off point. The other encouraging aspect to the RCSC is the incredible work the Long Range Planning Committee is doing. While on it, i saw the potential, but i refused to be used by a board member who elected to carry the GM's water. I'm just not built that way. There are some really talented people on the committee and they have laid out several plans to move forward on. The first being the importance to embrace our technological needs. They have summarized the goals and it appears as if there will be an assessment that is so badly needed.

    The second is a touch more troubling. The LRPC put together a well constructed survey that was brilliant in drilling deep into the concerns and interests of the membership. Unfortunately some of the board saw fit to reduce it to little more than toilet paper. Asking owners if they love Sun City is ludicrous. Creating buy-in is all about engaging people on levels way deeper than the surface nonsense they have reduced it to. I would hope the long range planning committee sticks to their guns and pushes for a survey that gets to the heart of what residents want/need/expect.

    There are well over 1000 age restricted communities across the United States. The only two i know of that are unique in their governance are Sun City and Sun City West. The others have morphed into what i call single entity governance. Even Sun City West has moved towards that when the RCSCW there changed the relationship with PORA (our SCHOA). Now the rec center has assumed processing and adjudicating CC&R violations. They still have the other support organizations like we do, so there are still similarities.

    Who knows, maybe the idea that we just pay our fess and the organization becomes big brother is what people want these days. It is one of the reasons an in depth survey is so important. We know people have become lazy to a fault, think of shopping online compared to getting our ass out of the chair and going to the store, so maybe the concept of paying someone to do everything for us is more attractive than putting up our hands and getting involved. Or maybe it is just a matter of time and people don't have any to spare.

    Everything evolves and changes. Is this one of them? I can make all kinds of arguments why we have become what we have become, i just wish we were willing to invest the time and money to see what people want rather than dictating it to them. Had Meeker done that, Sun City would not be what it is today.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  12. BPearson

    BPearson Well-Known Member

    Interesting. Yesterday i watched the video from the last long range planning committee and they are still struggling with the question of what the survey should be/say. Nope, not from the side of the LRPC's perspective, they long ago figured out their content and intent. Seems the board has issues; but listening to the 4 board members in attendance, i couldn't tell what those issues were. I know during my years on the board there appeared to be an inherent fear of meeting collectively with a committee or sometimes even dealing with them openly and honestly.

    The entire point of committee's are to expand from both the perspective and the knowledge base if there is only a board and a gm making decisions. Their role should never be frightening or threatening because the ultimate decision making process should be in the board's hands. Hopefully they will get this resolved and by the end of the year have the results compiled and shared with the community at large.
  13. Enquirer

    Enquirer New Member

  14. Enquirer

    Enquirer New Member

    Speaking of Committees, after how many years, the Board finally came to understand the importance of incorporating technology into the Community.

    The Board even went so far as establish a standing Committe
  15. Enquirer

    Enquirer New Member

    on Technology, in late 2020.

    Since that time has there been any mention of this Committee, besides a one minute blurb at the end of a Board meeting (that reached less than 1000 members)?

    This issue is too important to this community to just be pushed to the side.

    Can this Board possibly be that short-sighted?

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