Should SAMLARC Assessments be Reduced if Park Amenities are Closed During COVID-19?



Many inquiries have been received regarding should assessments be reduced as a result of some park amenities being closed through the COVID-19 situation. SAMLARC’s duties and responsibilities to its Membership extend well beyond the temporary closure of tennis courts, swimming pools and playgrounds. Because certain facilities are not available to the Membership during COVID-19, it does not result in a savings that allows for a reduction in assessments.


Read on to learn about SAMLARC’s legal duties and obligations its Membership, as well as the programs and services provided under its governing documents.


As a Master Homeowners Association, SAMLARC is classified as a not for profit corporation, governed by governing documents (articles of incorporation, CC&Rs, bylaws, and rules adopted by the Board of Directors). These documents create legal duties and obligations for the association to continue the preservation and protection of property values, as well as the health and welfare of all Members. To meet these duties and obligations, the Board adopts an annual budget with expenses that are determined in large measure as non-discretionary costs. These costs include insurance, management, professional services, maintenance, repair and replacement of assets and amenities. The federal government, and the Governor of California have recognized that the functions and services provided by the association are essential services. The association must continue to pay those costs despite the economic burdens resulting to homeowners resulting from COVID-19. By purchasing property subject to the CC&Rs, homeowners agree to pay all assessments, and also agree that the association would pursue collection of assessments if the homeowner defaults in payment.


These duties and obligations require staff and professional vendors to perform the ongoing and necessary operations that preserve the functionality, safety, and longevity of the Association. These services include both visible tasks and infrastructural work. Whenever possible, vendors and staff observe rigorous sanitation and social distancing practices in order to sustain the ongoing operations of the community while slowing the spread of COVID-19.


Parks

The SAMLARC parks are open, although certain facilities within SAMLARC parks are closed or have restricted use. Members are able to continue to enjoy the sidewalks and grass areas, while maintaining social distancing restrictions. As parks provide respite for Members during this uncertain time, maintaining the safety and cleanliness of these facilities is critical. Service providers ensure that trash cans are emptied, dog waste bag dispensers are filled, restrooms are cleaned, and that the longevity of the park landscape is conserved. These services are necessary to realistically address the community’s usage of the parks during this time, mitigating the spread of COVID-19.


Pools

All four (4) of SAMLARC’s pools are currently closed to reduce the spread of the virus. However, professional service providers continue to care for the pools in order to prevent costly repairs in the future. The maintenance includes balancing water chemistry to counteract algae growth, maintaining landscape to avoid debris obstructing the filters, and performing necessary janitorial services. Should these services cease, the window for repairing one (1) pool alone would span at least fourteen (14) days, further impacting Members’ access to the facility. Management is also monitoring the pool systems for opportunities to reduce costs, such as turning off all pool heaters.


Landscape

As the seasons change, the landscape and wildlife naturally respond. However, the overgrowth of plant material can pose a safety risk. If not appropriately managed now, overgrown plant material can cause pose line of sight issues on street corners, elevating the risk of vehicular or pedestrian accidents. Weeds will sprout in fields and on sidewalks, obstructing healthy plant growth and creating immense amounts of remedial work in the future. In addition, the vegetation will dry out in the summer months and could add fuel to a fire. Consistent landscape maintenance guards against future problems as well as unnecessary expenses in the future.


Nuisance Control & Visibility

The visible and productive work of SAMLARC and service vendors are a deterrent to unwanted activity. Mice, rats, and other animals who prefer to nest in stable environments, such as landscape and buildings, will be interrupted by the activity. The reproduction of insects such as the aquatic midge fly and soil gnats can only be mitigated by actions taken now, before breeding seasons begin. Additionally, the regular presence of SAMLARC staff and vendor teams throughout the landscape and facilities, along with proper landscape maintenance of overgrowth, can discourage the creation of homeless encampments. Continuously performing physical work in these environments now may protect Members in the months to come.


Administrative Services

SAMLARC staff facilitates professional services such as consulting, vendor supervision, project management, communications, and virtual lifestyle programming not only support SAMLARC’s current operations, but also nurture the Association’s long-term success. Though the Beach Club and Business Offices are closed to the public, Members are able to contact SAMLARC staff for assistance, conduct assessment payments, report community issues, and receive information on Association activities. These functions are a critical part of the infrastructure that makes SAMLARC a unique and successful community.


Architectural & Covenant Services

Although in-person meetings are not being conducted, homeowners considering home improvements can submit virtual applications to the Community Services team. Virtual review allows homeowners to beautify their homes while avoiding potential complications: failure to submit an application or executing an unapproved project can result in hours of repairs for the homeowner, as well as the costs of materials and any fines incurred for noncompliance. SAMLARC is also monitoring Members’ alignment with the SAMLARC Policies & Guidelines and Architectural Standards. While formal violations are not being issued, SAMLARC is issuing courtesy notices to homeowners and partnering with them to resolve the infractions and prevent fines.


The Board of Directors has adapted SAMLARC's services and operations so that Members may enjoy SAMLARC's unique combination of amenities and services to the fullest extent during this time. These services, ongoing maintenance and forward-thinking projects all aim to protect the community as well as property values as we face this season together. For questions regarding the Board of Directors’ response to the Coronavirus, as well as resources and activities to help Members virtually connect, please visit SAMLARC.org/coronavirus. Additional questions may be directed to Candice Fullenkamp, Community Executive Officer, at 949-709-0015 or candice.fullenkamp@fsresidential.com.

22342A Avenida Empresa, Suite 102A, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

(949) 709-0010

© 2018 Santa Margarita Landscape and Recreation Corporation