OVA Told Sub-Association Problems Pose Looming Threat

Al Haggerty

A raft of problems facing Oakmont’s 37 sub-associations could threaten the long-term well-being of the community as a whole, according to a report delivered at the July 16 Oakmont Village Association board meeting.

Jeff Young, chair, and Bob Spaulding and Mary Engflish, members of the board’s Aid for Sub-Associations Committee, outlined a situation in which they described some of Oakmont’s sub-associations (generally known as HOAs or home owner associations) as “on the brink of failure” and some others facing “critical” and “distressing” problems.

The committee recommends creating a new position of Sub-Association Board Advocate who could be “an expert bridge” between the associations and their property management companies. It suggests that OVA fund the position.

The committee estimated the annual cost at $200,000. That includes $184,950 for a senior property manager and an assistant, plus benefits and other costs. Office space, if needed, would add $19,800 a year. It concluded that having the sub-associations pay for the service would cause adoption of services “too small to effectively address Oakmont’s systemic problem of having unhealthy sub-associations.”


 Marianne Neufeld, an OVA board member, said: “It’s time we step up and help.”

She suggested that the sub-associations might pay half the cost and called for the board to hold a workshop for the sub-associations. “We need to work out a way to accommodate you,” she told the committee.

A second recommendation of the committee “since many smaller sub-associations struggle to find board members and enough resources to properly manage their communities,” is to work with a lawyer “to create a clear roadmap for how smaller sub-associations might merge.” Merging, it acknowledged, presents difficult challenges.

An audience member’s suggestion that struggling associations dissolve was met with considerable skepticism. Young said association homes have common space rather than separate yards and joint water and sewer bills, making them difficult to dissolve.

Spaulding outlined the problems facing the Twin Lakes Home Owners Association, the largest in Oakmont with 92 homes. As a board member, he said, they’ve tried for three years to get someone to run for the board with no success.

Young said a survey, which produced only 18 responses from the 37 HOAs, revealed that almost 9 of 10 are having difficulty finding new board members and do not have a succession plan for their board.

Part of the problem, Young said, is that state and local laws and regulations affecting HOAs are more and more difficult to understand and comply with and many board members aren’t even aware of them, leading to “significant legal exposures.” He said board members are not interested in becoming experts in governing laws, accounting needs and property management functions. “They did not come to Oakmont to become professional level property managers,” he added.

Compounding the problem, Young said, is the gap between the services provided by property management companies hired by HOAs and what the law requires. He listed 20 separate areas in which board members need a basic understanding. These include CC&Rs and what they define, by-laws, the role of management companies, pertinent Davis-Stirling Act state law provisions, sample agendas and minutes and insurance policies.

(Watch a video of the meeting at oakmontvillage.com/videos)