HORSETHIEFCANYON.COM is dead
Today I received a "cease and desist" letter from Harle, Janics ,and Kannen, general counsel for the Horsethief Canyon Ranch Maintenance Corporation which basically told me to remove the page or be sued. At least I assume they meant this site. The letter I received indicated I owned the domain wmc.horsethiefranch.com which of course is not the site you are viewing now and is not owned by me. I suppose legally the cease and desist should actually contain the correct domain name, but why bother to argue? Then again, I shouldn't blame the law firm. Someone (and I think I know who; see THE PROBABLE CAUSE) probably complained about the site and the firm must act in, what it feels, is the best interests of the association. The letter went on to state that I may be "cybersquatting" which is "the unlawful practice of buying domain names reflecting the names of existing entities with the intent to sell the names back to the existing entities when they commence the development of their websites." I find that statement insulting. My website has been live for at least a year longer than the "official" website, is updated frequently, provides more useful features (at least in my opinion-but I admit bias), and has never been considered to be sold to the association. I don't see any of the charges as valid, but since I don't have the time to make this site what I really want it to be nor the inclination to fight for its existence, I have succumbed to the firm's request and removed the site.
My intention for this site was to give the current owners links to useful information like weather, traffic, utilities, TV guides, youth sports, and other information. For future residents I had hoped to provide a glimpse of the schools, parks, and community as well as links to the builder website and real estate listings. Basically, a way for potential residents to see what a great community we have and to invite them to join. I have received many inquires for purchasing homes that I have directed to William Lyons or local realtors. When petitions were being signed to prevent a high-capacity development at Horsethief Canyon Road and De Palma, I offered the website as a means to inform people of what was happening. When a resident called on his neighbors to write or e-mail Supervisor Buster and the Fire Chief to increase the fire protection service in HCR, I put out the same request here. When someone contacted me seeking to purchase a specific model home I put out a call to anyone in Horsethief who might be selling such a model. There were features that were never implemented (classified ads) and those that were not implemented as well as I would have liked (e-mail and message forum) but I always did the best I could with the time and resources I had. I can assure you that registering the domain, hosting the site, and maintaining the site were not profitable by any stretch of the imagination . I did place ads at the top of each page in an effort to break even, so let me disclose how much money I made from doing that. $0. Not a penny. This site has cost me money every month and every year and I never once considered offering it to the association in an attempt to profit. As such, the allegations made by the association's firm and the order to remove the site are more than a little troubling.
THE PROBABLE CAUSE
My site has been operating for about 3 years and the letter from the association came one day after a certain event, so the timing of the two suggests that one may be caused by the other. Yesterday, 2/12, my wife received a call at my home from, in her opinion, a rude woman. The woman complained that my website was displaying the contents of the sign at the entrance to HCR for the entire world to see and that such sign was "private." When my wife told her I was at work, the woman had the nerve to request my work number. Although I'm sure everyone reading this can appreciate the complete ridiculousness of the woman's argument, let me say this.
It is completely beyond me why someone would think to call my home, take a RUDE tone with my wife, and then demand my number at work. My home number is NOT the customer service number for horsethiefcanyon.com, and any rational person would realize that it is inconsiderate to call a person's home and speak to them in the manner in which this woman spoke to my wife. Furthermore, it is completely ignorant to think that the information on the marquee at the front of HCR is somehow private or protected. Any person who drives by can see the information on the sign, and any person who cares is going to be someone who drives by. John Q Public in Indiana is not going to care when the Sweethearts dance is, but Jim T Anybody in Lake Elsinore who DRIVES BY on his way home from work might have some interest. By the way, how this information could be used in a negative way is completely beyond me. If anybody should be concerned about something on a HCR website, they should be concerned about the name, address, and phone number of the 360+ residents that is freely available for anyone to see on the official site. "But you have to register to see that information" you might say; True, but you can register with any name and address you want, there is no validation to see who lives at what address or even if the address is in Horsethief. I view that as a much bigger privacy problem, but maybe that is just me.
To that woman, let me say that this webpage has had well over 1000 unique hits. That means that there are people who have found this site interesting or helpful. If your complaint caused the cease and desist letter then I congratulate you on a job well done. Your ignorance has taken away something that many found useful. Perhaps in your abundance of free time (after all, if you have nothing better to do than complain about web sites, then you must not being doing much else) you might come up with something better.
To all who used this page over the few years it operated, I apologize for the loss and thank you for your usage. If there was something you particularly liked about the page, perhaps you could lobby for the association to incorporate it into the "official" page.
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