2019 Budget and Assessments
A primary consideration for this assessment increase is the incremental increase to common area maintenance costs, such as sprinkler and monument repairs. The 2019 budget also includes an increased monthly contribution to the HOA's reserve account, which will be used to fund longer term projects such as new tree plantings or monument renovations.
For the past several years, increasing water rates have had a major impact on the budget. However, with some water conservation efforts, we don't expect water bills to increase in 2019 (see below for water conservation update).
Setting up Automated Assessment Payments
Currently, only 31% of property owners are using automated payments, with the remaining 69% still using coupon books. These coupon books cost the association $4.50 per homeowner per year (over $500 for all homeowners). Automated payments save on the cost of printing these coupon books and the overhead to handle checks. Automated payments also save homeowners the cost of a stamp and provide added convenience.
Our website page for financial information has been updated with instructions and a form to setup automated payments:
Click here for instructions and form for automated assessment payments
No Snow Day this Year
Although we didn't proceed with Snow Day this year, the HOA still has money budgeted for social events and we will definitely consider other social events in the future. If you have any specific ideas or suggestions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Water Conservation Update
In the summer of 2018, we conducted an experiment with a reduced watering schedule, consisting of the following:
- Until the end of June, water and fertilize as necessary to establish the summer grass (4 days per week)
- At the end of June, cut the watering schedule to only 2 days per week.
- During July and August, depend upon the Monsoon rains to supplement the normal watering schedule.
Under this watering schedule, the grass initially suffered some stress, but recovered with the monsoon rains. However, a promising finding relates to the large greenbelt on Mill Ave and Warner. The large greenbelt acts as a water retention basin which collects run-off from monsoon rain storms. After a rain storm, the large green belt receives a significant, deep watering. Coincidentally, the large greenbelt also represents the largest portion of our water bills; therefore, watering this greenbelt only 2 days per week represents a significant savings.
Next summer, we expect to continue this type of water conservation. Below are some pictures showing the grass at various times throughout the summer.
Longer-term Planning for Common Areas
- The irrigation systems in the monuments and greenbelts require frequent repairs. This past year alone we spent over $1700 to completely replace the drip systems in the monuments and over $1500 on sprinkler repairs.
- Over the past several years, many trees which were planted 30 years ago have died. Other trees have become overgrown, whereby their roots cause damage to sidewalks or common area walls, or the large canopy causes a nuisance to adjacent homeowners.
- Remove dead, dying or overcrowded trees - This past year, we removed 2 overgrown Eucalyptus trees on the corner of Carver Rd and Mill Ave. We also lost a Mesquite tree to a monsoon storm. Several other dead trees are pending removal. Moving forward, the board is considering a more regular and proactive program to periodically remove and replace old or overgrown trees.
- Planting new trees - In the future, the focus will be on drought tolerant trees which don't require significant maintenance (trimming). To this end, we recently planted 2 new Chinese Elm trees in the large greenbelt; more tree plantings are under consideration.
- Water conservation - Expecting future water rate increases, the board will continue to focus on water conservation. The goal is to water the grass just enough for it to look presentable. However, we don't water the grass to the point point we get diminishing returns for increased watering.
- Monument renovations - A number of options have been under consideration to improve the monuments' appearance. A short-term option is to simply add new plants to the monuments; this will add color and fill in gaps where other plants have died. The board has also considered alternatives such as architectural improvements or new lighting.
Trash Container CC&R Violations
Our CC&R's state that trash receptacles should be on the street for the "shortest time reasonable" for collection. For practical purposes, the board has provided guidance to our community management company to enforce the CC&Rs as follows:
Trash and recycling bins - these should be placed on the street no earlier than the night before pickup and removed from the street the same day/evening after pickup.
The rationale for the above is to try and limit the visibility of trash containers to 2 days (Tuesday and Friday). Without enforcing the CC&Rs this way, there is the potential for trash containers to be visible up to 6 days per week; in other words, there could be containers visible on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for Tuesday pick-up and Thursday, Friday and Saturday for Friday pick-up. The board appreciates these guidelines are somewhat stringent, but has erred on the side of keeping up the overall appearance of our neighborhood.