2009 Starlight Mesa Annual Meeting Maintenance Report
In 2009, we continued to make progress, both rejuvenating the Mesa and dealing with the unseen deferred maintenance.
In ‘09, we spent $3800 on culvert repair. This was unforeseen and postponed establishing a system of maintenance. On the upside, the $3800 was a considerable drop from the culvert repairs of the previous two years. In 2010, we will attempt again to start a system of crack repair to prevent the need for large section replacements. As a general note, bringing drainage from your property out to a hillside or culvert is harmful to such and is prohibited in the CC&R’s.
The Mesa irrigation system continues to be improved, replaced and made as efficient as possible. In ’09, the water main to the pool/tennis court area was replaced to coincide with the homeowner’s, whose property it crossed, back yard renovations. It was because of this water main replacement that the Board began to look at the Mesa water meter service differently. The pool and tennis court area is and has always been serviced by a one-inch water line, as are all our homes. The Board experimented, in conjunction with Mesa Crest Water Co. and changed the water service at 332 Starlane Drive from one-and-a-half inch to one inch. The result was still more than enough pressure to supply the sprinklers on that hillside. The financial break even for that change was ten months. There are four more inch-and-a-half services around the Mesa. They will be assessed for downsizing. The savings after the break-even is about $550 per year per meter. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it will allow the Mesa to keep our water bills close to level in the face of continually rising water costs.
Another experiment with our irrigation system in ’09 was a solar powered controller. This allowed the removal of the controller from a resident’s home and better at-will access by the landscapers and the Board. It was successful and at only a minor up charge to the cost of a standard controller.
The irrigation industry is moving towards “smart controllers,” which in some cases download site-specific satellite weather information on a daily basis for use with site-programmed soil condition, plant types and irrigation method to determine watering needs. Case studies by other California HOA’s and municipalities showed a surprisingly significant water savings. This may be something to continue to monitor for application in our two larger parks. Also, the state of California may soon mandate “smart controllers.”
In ’09, we completed the circuit of tree trimming. I will propose to the 2010 Board that it postpones re-commencing the circuit for one year and dedicate those resources to targeting the clearing of some specific areas of the Mesa for fire-safety. These areas pass inspection annually, but more could be done. I don’t think the importance of this needs more explanation anymore. The Board also continues to advise homeowners to keep brush and plantings on their own properties and at the edge of their properties in line with fire department suggestions.
Those of you that take the stairs behind the tennis court noticed the new banister installed this year. This is a significant improvement over the old one.
The pool will be brought into compliance with the Virginia Graham Baker Act. A diver will replace the main drain and skimmer equalizer covers and a new pump will be installed on Saturday. The pump will automatically shut down if it senses an increase in vacuum due to something or somebody being stuck to the drain. The pump change out was due to happen as part of deferred maintenance. We were able to move from two energy-inefficient pumps to just one energy efficient pump. It is expected that our electricity usage might drop, which will balance out adding more lights to the pool area as part of the renovation.
Redoing the entrance to the putting green was postponed due to budgetary reasons. We had unexpected expenses with the pool house brochure and ballot, plan changes and the Virginia Graham Baker Act modifications to the pool. These were paid for out of our operating budget to protect our reserves and keep the special assessment as low as possible. Hopefully, beautifying the putting green entrance will be achieved in 2010.
Hillside Maintenance Policy
This policy, passed by the 2008 Board and endorsed by the 2009 Board, was implemented. Small areas of the east and west end of the pool area hillside were planted. It’s estimated that we had an 80% survival rate. As always certain plants faired better than others. The planting scheme will take this into account as larger areas are planted.
Drought and fire resistant natives were also planted below Mariners View, lower Stardust and on upper Stardust. A local California company, Driwater, makes these plantings possible. Driwater manufactures gel packs, which slowly dissolves releasing water to the plant.
Efforts were begun to eradicate the fountain and pampas grass on our hillsides.
Part of the beautification of the Mesa this year, was reworking a portion of the Starlane Drive hillside. The wild growth that was there for many years was removed. The honeysuckle and jade plants were trimmed and limited in their spread. The hillside was then covered in mulch. This hillside, which faces the front doors of Mesa homes, now looks manicured and has the appearance that someone cares for it. The removal of the wild growth, establishment of spacing between plants and the mulch all contribute to making the hill more fire safe, which helps the homes that back out to the hillside.
This project should continue this winter around the corner to the end of the hillside.
Pool House Renovation
Permit applications have been submitted. Last minute plan adjustments have happened. Construction is scheduled to begin in December.
Last, I would like to say something about the passing of Hank Smithers. It was Hank, who pushed the Board to raise dues to an appropriate level in order to properly maintain and improve the appearance of the Mesa. It was Hank, who first voiced the opinion that if we are living in a neighborhood of million dollar homes, we should take care of the neighborhood as such.
On a personal note, when we, as a Board, would be dealing with a project or a homeowner’s feathers were ruffled, quite often I would seek out Hank on a Saturday in his garage, where he would be working on whatever project he had going, and I would use him as a sounding board. I appreciate what Hank did for our community and I will miss talking to him about the neighborhood.
Thank you for your time and support.