Monthly Archives: May 2014

New HOA Law is Tough to Enforce – Residents Need to Pay Attention

Posted by/for mfkaplan

In June, a new law goes into effect in New Mexico, SB497, which provides rules for HOAs. Unfortunately, there is no state agency designated to enforce the new law. On a national level HOAs are largely unregulated, and even when there is a designated enforcement agency (mostly in larger states with many HOAs such as California, Florida, and New York), responding to HOA residents’ grievances is a low priority.
The best thing residents can do is become active in their HOA: attend Board meetings and look at the budget and most importantly the expenditures. Financial irregularities are the most common complaints in HOAs. Your Board is answerable to you – if they do not satisfactorily answer your questions or treat residents in a demeaning manner, then they deserve to be voted out of office.
Below are the 15 most common complaints (not in any specific order) about homeowners’ associations:
1. Wasting association funds
2. Selective enforcement of rules
3. Unable to access records
4. Assessments too high
5. Communications are spotty or poor
6. Hostile environment
7. Management misuse of assessments
8. Fair Debt Collection practices not being followed
9. Elections being manipulated
10. Association attorney favoring Board
11. Withholding use of facilities or services
12. Poorly written documents
13. Meetings being held in secret
14. Maintenance of common grounds is poor
15. ACC Policies are not consistent
Source: APM News, Florida

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May Board Meeting: No Audits for 3 Years, No Transparency

Posted by/for jess4square:

It seems an audit has not been done for the association since 2010 (incidentally audits were done every year prior to 2010). This is a little concerning and I am baffled as to why for the past 3 years this was not taken care of by the finance committee, treasurer, or manager/managing agent. Due to this oversight, we will have to pay $5,800 for an audit.

Expenses are still not being approved by the entire board. The board president stated that she is following a policy from Patrick Thomas and/or the developer? I am not clear as to what this has to do with our association or with accounting practices. Our money is being spent however the board president and manager want to and with no oversight. In my 7 years of managing associations, board members always approved expenses for improvements, new equipment, legal opinions, or anything outside of normal expenses (utilities, minor repairs, etc.). This was the practice for RVS as well, but it changed in 2010.

Legal expenses are at $5,285.00 as of the end of April, with the yearly budget at $6,000, this line item will once again be over budget (Legal expenses for 2013 were close to $16,000.00). Also, $440.00 was spent on a transcriber for a legal meeting with the board and association attorney, in OCTOBER. However, this was not for minutes, but for a legal opinion, which the attorney charged $1200.00. So why did the association pay for 3rd party transcription services when the attorney should have had her staff do this work. Now this document is with the attorney and she is reviewing/correcting this document. I can only assume that she will be charging additional attorney fees for this. Since this is a legal matter, I do not know if all the board members approved all of these expenses.

The board approved to spend $5,000 to pay the association’s share for an infrastructure engineering report. Although I agree that this is necessary, I would also like to see better planning for infrastructure repairs, replacement, etc. It is unfortunate that some board members decided to eliminate the infrastructure committee.

At the monthly meetings we keep hearing that the newsletter is breaking even or making money. According to the year-end and/or monthly financials, this is not the case. Last year the newsletter was over budget by $2,542.05. As of April, income vs. expenses, the newsletter is in the red by $1700.00. It is time to re-examine this elaborate newsletter and perhaps get back to basics. The yearly budget for the newsletter is $13,200.00, this money could be used for improvements to our community.

The Safety, Landscaping, and Townhome committees do not have any homeowners while some board members are on multiple committees. I have applied to both the Landscape and Safety committees, my application was denied despite a call for volunteers. However, the board has approved homeowners to the finance and DRC committees where there are plenty of homeowners.

The board approved to meet every other month. I am not sure if this is a good idea. It means the homeowners will not know what is going on with the association/board or what expenses or actions are taking place until months later. It seems transparency is disappearing.

Call For Resident Action

Posted by/for glens@ufl.edu

LET’S WRITE & GET OUT TO AN IMPORTANT PUBLIC HEARING—On Case # 13-5380 Elevation, a Master Plan (MP) for a 214 unit apartment complex on 22 acres by Univest Rancho Viejo and Vedura Residential Operating. The third attempt for a Public Hearing on this complex before the County Development Review Committee (CDRC ) is scheduled for 15 May at 4 pm in the BCC Chamber at 102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe.

It is axiomatic that many things are conceived and initially created well only to be subsequently degraded and even destroyed by their creators. That axiom may now be underway with Univest in Rancho Viejo (RV). Over the past four months, this project has gone from 400+ units to 214, from a 57 acre parcel of land within Rancho Viejo (RV) to 22 acres outside RV via de-annexation by Warren Thompson, from a Master Plan Amendment (MPA) to a new Master Plan (MP) replacing the original College North Master Plan (CNMP), and from planned single-family to piecemeal apartment development. We will have to wait until about 8 May, when the Agenda would be posted, to learn the next scheme by disingenuous Warren Thompson. Residents of RV should write critical letters to the CDRC before 8 May so they would be included in Member Packets for the meeting:
http://www.santafecountynm.gov/committeescounty_development_review_committee_cdrc

More importantly, RV residents should attend the Public Hearing on 15 May and verbally express their concerns. However, each speaker will be permitted only 2, at most 3, minutes; so it would be advantageous for 4-10 speakers to join in planned presentations, with each speaker taking only one point of criticism and stating it well in short time. Warren Thompson is attempting to reject his original vision for RV, the vision we bought into as residents. He is threatening the integrity, physical and aesthetic features, and quality of life of RV. We need to stop his wayward ways and bring him and RV back to the original vision. The Community College District Ordinance (CCDO) and covenants over our properties and HOAs provide us negligible protection; we are almost totally at the mercy of discretionary powers of CDRC & BCC.

Below are some, but not all, of my criticisms of the new, bad approach Warren Thompson is pushing for the 57 acre parcel originally in the CNMP. The new MP would be an unconscionable departure to CNMP as adopted in February 1997 and presented to the public and original and subsequent buyers of 20 residential properties developed in Phase-1, College Heights, of CNMP. Granting the new MP would unrightfully disenfranchise those owners. The new MP would affect only 22 of the undeveloped 57 acres in CNMP, itself only 87 acres. That would be piecemeal development of land, all 57 acres of which should be developed as a single, unified entity, congruous with College Heights, and integral to the entire Rancho Viejo (RV). SF County should not pursue nor permit piecemeal development under the Community College District Ordinance (CCDO).

Residents of RV own and reside under strict covenants, including membership in and control by homeowners associations (HOAs). Membership and dues payment to an HOA would not be required of residents of apartments proposed in the new MP, yet they would have access to trails, open space, and other amenities of paying residents. That is unequal, and unconscionable treatment under law. Development of apartments under the new MP would not be governed by an HOA; therefore, it would not be subject to architectural and other requirements of an adjacent HOA and RV overall. We can be sure that Thompson and Univest would not impose on developer Vedura HOA-like requirements it imposed on resident owners. Apartments would be an independent, incongruous island in the whole RV, a morally and legally objectionable condition. Provisions of SF County’s new Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC) are inadequate to sustain quality communities like RV. Residents of RV need time to develop with Univest and BCC provisions in SLDC that will sustain features and quality-of-life in RV and other such communities.

The new MP application states that the applicant is ‘… seeking to bring the property into compliance with the CCDO by the MP’ and ‘…the CCDO designates the subject property as a Village Zone’. Use of those statements to justify the apartments is phony and deceitful, an egregious artifice toward getting their way. The 57 acres are far too small to be a village; they really are merely a portion of College Heights and a very small portion of the whole RV Community.
Before closing public hearing of case 13-5380, the CDRC must request of case manager Jose Larrañaga an explanation of the two statements in item 6 relative to provisions of the CCDO.

The RV developing on 2500 acres, already a fine community of 1300 single residences, abundant open space, trails, and vistas, should and must be treated as a single community, a single entity. Development of new, major segments of that 2500 acres must be done with architectural, functional, and social harmony. Already, Bicycle Technologies International and Easter Seals El Mirador are glaring, incongruous, and unwanted blights on the Community; RV does not need additional blight of the apartments proposed in the MP.

Very obviously, the site of Univest-Vedura’s proposed monolith apartment complex is a scheme to exploit future students of SFCC. As a resident of university towns over forty of my adult years, I know first-hand the deterioration of near-university neighborhoods caused by off- campus, student housing, both apartments and single family houses. Residents of RV do not want that deterioration to occur in their neighborhoods and community. Univest has land, e.g., near SR !4 or elsewhere in the 2500 acres of RV, much more suitable for apartments than the proposed site. For the welfare of Rancho Viejo, application 13-5380 must be denied with a request that Univest reapply for and complete College North Master Plan in the manner originally proposed and develop its other land north and east of SFCC via large master plans in conformity with the vision and intent of CCDO and the Rancho Viejo extant. Furthermore, CDRC must suggest strongly to BCC that it quickly amend CCDO and SLDC with regulations that assure compatibility of residential and commercial facets and sustainability of new communities like RV.

RV is a totally new community conceived and created by original land owners on virgin ranch land. Now only 13 years old, it is a special community of 1300 single-family residences, schools, churches, open spaces, trails, and superb vistas. It is a community of pleasing, harmonious structure and architectures of homes offering residents a high quality of life. Of my many concerns about this proposal, the greatest is the significant departure in community character and lack of compatible controls as commercial functions and structures are added to RV.

Until 2012, the vision of original land owners, who are among principals of Univest, was well achieved at RV and residents eagerly bought into that vision. Indeed, many of us paid lot premiums for that privilege. Univest now seeks to add commercial functions and structures to our Community, commencing in 2012 with Easter Seals El Mirador, BTI (Bicycle Technologies International), and now proposed apartment. We are not against commercial additions to RV; we are against the incompatible, degrading ways by which it is being done by Univest. Instead of working with residents to assure functionally, structurally, and architecturally harmonious commercial additions that retain superb qualities of RV, Univest works against us—against the Community.

What residents do with their properties is highly controlled by covenants and homeowner association fees and regulations that are good for the Community. No comparable covenants and association controls apply to commercial development in RV, and Univest is indifferent to, even against controls, aesthetics, and harmony. Easter Seals, BTI, and proposed apartments are in location, function, and architecture inappropriate, ugly, incongruous with, and degrading of the major portion of our Community, the large, adjacent residential units. Further commercial development in RV must be done in conformity with meaningful covenants and oversight by HOAs.

Santa Fe County is no help to us in adding well commercial functions to our Community. Its CCDO and new SLDC really do not address factors affecting harmonious development and sustainability of new communities. That major deficiency and irresponsibility of both ordinances is detrimental to RV and other new communities.

Board Proposes Violating ByLaws – Again

See “Proposed Record Inspection Policies” under “Behind the Curtain” to download the policies proposed at the March BOD meeting.