STARLIGHT MESA HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION
December 10, 2016
STARLIGHT MESA SWIMMING POOL
1. Welcome address:
President Cynthia Smither (CS) welcomed the members and Board and introduced the other Board members.
2. Election of 2017 Board:
CS declared the polls open for the election of the 2017 Board. Peter Ryan of Cardinal Management introduced himself and advised that he and Muriel Horacek would be counting the ballots once voting was concluded.
3. Status of residents -- new and those who have passed:
Secretary Greg Goeckner (GG) reviewed the names of members who have passed away and moved from the Mesa, and of our new neighbors in 2016.
4. Financial report:
Dues and Budget: Treasurer Kirk Gerbracht (KG) provided an overview of 2016 financial results and reviewed the 2017 HOA Budget. He provided an overview of the Board’s discussion about HOA dues for 2017. The Association has been behind on raising dues for several years and the Board believes that dues need to be raised now to maintain our community assets. This coming year is the 50th year of the community. We have seen big increases recently in brush clearance costs as the County has imposed much stricter clearance standards. 65% of the 2017 budget is for landscape maintenance. Annual tree trimming has become more expensive. Jose Toribio has not raised his basic rate for 3 years and the Board has negotiated a new contract with him that includes an appropriate rate increase reflecting cost of living increases over that time. Other Association property has not been maintained (e.g. the recent plumbing problems with the pool). The amounts in the reserve will offset the expenses of some major improvements but we need to build up the reserve faster to deal with deferred maintenance issues. Some costs are totally out of our control – utilities, etc. Dues now are below what they were years ago on a real cost basis. The Board is aware that many members of the community are living on fixed incomes and is not trying to over-charge residents. Based on all of these considerations, the Board had voted to increase dues from $160/month to $180/month. Next year we anticipate undertaking renovations projects in the pool and the parks – these will be major costs. We will take as much as we can out of the reserves for those projects. The current reserve balance is $72k and we want to keep at least $20k after the pool and parks projects. Next year we also plan to add $1500/month to the reserves so that we can avoid special assessments in the future. $180/month is very low for the level of services we get – for example, we could not get landscaping services and the other services we pay for collectively for that cost if we did it individually. KG noted that the community had encountered some issues with crime recently and that Jose’s crew functioned as walking security for us by being present regularly in the neighborhood.
CS noted that no additional members still wanted to cast their votes and declared the polls closed at 10:35 a.m.
Plans for reserve study: KG noted that a reserve study is required every 3 years and we would need to do one soon. We plan to use an outside company. Glenn Cunningham (GC) provided an overview of the reserve study process. KG noted that the HOA also has an annual financial audit.
5. Maintenance report
Maintenance Issues 2016: Sylvia Paz (SP) and Brent Tweddle (BT) reviewed the annual maintenance activities. Tree trimming was completed in the fall. Tree trimming last year (2015) was pushed into January this year. After the recent big fires, we have to get the FD to check our brush clearance. Most of the brush was cleared, but this raises the risk of erosion during heavy rains. We replanted native plants on the hillsides, including 50 succulents on Lot 93 to protect our neighbors down the hill; those plants are growing well. In October, we cleaned the hillside culverts. This winter we will have our annual program to plant new trees. In early 2016 we planted 6 cedars and 2 citrus trees along Starlight Crest and in the putting green. We also had to replant some of the grass in the putting green park due to a pest in the grass. The bridge on Lot 93 over the creek was rebuilt. We removed the broken concrete walkways into the putting green and replaced it with decomposed granite. We also need to replace the concrete in the upper playground. We are looking at renovating the playgrounds. We consulted with Ronnie Siegel from Swire Siegel Landscape Architects about the playground equipment (her time was donated). We also replaced the furniture under the gazebo and installed a new net in the tennis court. We fixed electric problems in the pool area, including GFI issues. A new controller was installed for the sprinklers on the pool area hillsides and the old control was put in the putting green. We have not decided where to plant new trees this upcoming year, but will include some on lower Stardust.
Artificial Turf Standards: GG reviewed state law requiring HOAs to allow the installation of artificial turf and the artificial turf standards adopted by the Board following community comment.
Renewal of Toribio Contract: SP and BT reviewed the revised contract with Jose Toribio to replace the expiring agreement. A requirement to add mulch in drought tolerant yards was added. The real price of these services has not changed as the increased cost simply reflects changes in the cost of living. The previous contract had a point system for bonus payments, which was never implemented. The Board paid Jose a lump sum of $2k in lieu of those payments. Going forward, fees will increase annually based on the cost of living index.
Childrens Park Plans: BT reviewed the results of the survey on renovations of the children’s park areas. Most members support updating the parks. 71% are willing to pay $100 in a special assessment, even though use of the parks is relatively low. 30% opposed a special assessment, while 30% were willing to pay over $150 in special assessments for the parks. He has developed a rough design and budget for the upper park. Ronnie Siegel consulted on the design. Our current playground equipment is not up to code, there is not enough distance around the play equipment and we need softer ground cover. The upper park still has the original playground equipment installed almost 50 years ago. The plan calls for removal of the concrete, tetherball and climbing structure and installation of two new play pieces in the upper park. Plans for the lower park are still being worked on. Professional installation of the playground equipment would be much more expensive. Jose’s crew plus volunteers could do the work. We can hire an inspector to certify the work. The overall budget for the parks is $20k-$25k. We would use $10-15k from the reserve and ask the community to approve a special assessment of $100/home. Going forward, we will need to replace this equipment more often than every 50 years to stay in compliance with codes. We are using engineered wood fiber for mulch at a depth of 12” and that needs to be topped up every few years. GG advised that neighbors also need to consider liability concerns from continuing to have out of date equipment in the parks. We all own the parks in common and not through a separate company and any liability claim would likely be made directly against all of the neighbors. Insurance coverage will help but that does not prevent individual homeowners from being sued.
Pool Renovation Plans: GC advised that he is leading a homeowners’ committee to look at options for renovating the pool. We want to send around a survey for community input shortly. The committee members have talked to several commercial pool contractors for cost estimates. We have to hire a commercial pool contractor for this work. GC handed out copies of the pool project plan. He noted that the pool is our best community asset but that it suffers from deferred maintenance issues. The solar heater was replaced in 2010, the filters in 2012 and the pumps in 2009. However, the pool and its plumbing is now 50 years’ old. The copper plumbing is eroding. We want to avoid a catastrophic failure of the plumbing system and want to make these repairs when the HOA reserves are in good shape. The committee looked at a total modernization of the pool, including changing the pool shape, adding a wading area, providing support for lap swimming, eliminating the diving area, adding a spa, changing the plaster color, adding a BBQ, providing better lighting in the evening, re-landscaping the pool area and replacing the chain link fence along the hillside. Ultimately, the plan favored by the committee is more modest. We would drain the pool, open up the pool decking, replace the plumbing with PVC piping, replace the lights with LED lighting, add lighting in the deep end, replace the skimmers and the waterline tile, install non-slip benches, replace the water levelling device and re-plaster the pool shell. The remaining major option being considered is renewing the pool decking, which is cracked and badly marked. We could simply resurface the deck or replace all the concrete, which would be longer lasting, but would cost about $20k more. We need to determine if a handicapped lift is required by the ADA. We may use a single contractor for all the work or a separate contractor for the deck work. The current plan is to start the work about May 1 and to finish about Memorial Day. We are getting bids for the work now. This project has been pending for several years. Plumbing and plastering will cost about $45k, deck resurfacing about $20k. The total cost will be about $94k. This would be the second biggest project ever for the Mesa – the pool house cost $130k. We would take $45k from the reserve account and ask homeowners to approve a special assessment of $50k or $550/lot. SP noted that this work on the pool is not optional. The pipes are about to fail. BT commented that the focus has been on doing the critical work only and that the project could be a lot more expensive. We are also planning to do the work during the off-season; it would be a lot more expensive if we have to do it in summer. GC commented that resurfacing the deck might be more expensive in the long term than replacing the pool decking now. The community members present who spoke were in favor of going forward with the pool project and the proposed funding structure for that project.
Security camera options: BT reviewed discussions at the Board about placing security cameras in the neighborhood. The Board has looked at a number of options. There are 4 entrances to the Mesa (three streets and a walking path) and we would need to cover all of those areas. Cameras would need power and a way to store video and the video would need to be high enough quality to see details such as license plates. The price would be about $10k for equipment and $250/month in maintenance for each camera. We would still likely get videos that are not clear enough. Visible outdoor cameras on individual house are likely to be more useful as deterrents and to provide better results than having community cameras. GG noted that homeowners also had suggested making the Mesa a gated community. He had called the city, who advised that gated communities are not allowing in La Canada.
Solar Installations: GG reviewed the state law allowing solar power installations and the standards applied by the Board to review proposed installations in the neighborhood.
7. Announcement of election results.
Peter Ryan then announced the results of the Board election:
Albert Chang - 37 (elected)
Janet Edberg - 44 (elected)
Kirk Gerbracht – 30
Greg Goeckner – 66 (elected)
Sylvia Paz - 61 (elected)
Cynthia Smither - 45 (elected)