It’s been a busy month with unprecedented rainfall causing severe damage to our golf courses and common areas. A proposal to remove the resident Golf Loyalty Program caused considerable angst. Our Community Development Coordinating Committee presented arguments to the Indio City Council on the Pulte Desert Retreat Project. And finally, our budget is getting closer to being finalized for the 2024 year.
The last month of hard rain and flooding of our golf courses has awakened many of you to the issue of why SCSH is in litigation with CVWD. I cannot discuss the litigation details at this time. But the concerning issue is what would have happened if the water from CVWD had been connected during this event. Will the current plan adequately protect SCSH?
The Community Development Coordinating Committee made a terrific breakthrough with the Indio City Council concerning the Desert Retreat Project. The committee, along with our outside counsel, convinced the Council to add one important condition. Pulte is now required to adopt a wastewater plan that diverts sewage away from SCSH. In addition, the proposed roundabout at the Shadows Restaurant on Avenue 40 has been changed to a traffic signal. The CDCC was able to gather over 1,300 signatures from our community to apply pressure where it clearly had the desired effect. The latest estimate is that Pulte will be starting the project in 2024 with approximately 250 homes to be built in the first phase. The project is projected to be completed with 1,500 homes built around 2032. I want to thank the CDCC members Deborah Gmeiner, Chris Stevens, Fera Mostow, and Karl Delaney for all their efforts to ensure our community was fully represented.
Last month the Financial Advisory Committee, FAC, submitted a proposal to terminate the Loyalty Program our resident golfers have enjoyed over the last several years. The reasons are complicated but mostly concern the awards and how they affect the subsidy of Troon. I asked that all parties concerned meet and, after a couple of hours, it was decided to table the proposal and set up a sub-committee to find a solution. This is exactly what our community should strive for when we deal with contentious issues. I want to congratulate both the FAC and the Golf Advisory Committee as well as all the residents who took the time to communicate their thoughts on this proposal.
Please be sure to attend or listen to the last budget session on Wednesday, October 18, at 10 am. This is the final meeting of the Board, committees, and vendors before the final budget is determined. The goal is to keep any increase in the dues as low as possible while at the same time continuing to keep our amenities first rate. A delicate balance indeed.
Finally, residents interested in running for the Board of Directors must send in a nomination form by noon on November 30, 2023, directly to HOA Elections of CA, 1001 Avenida Pico, Suite C-496, San Clemente, CA 92673. If you are interested, please understand the demands on both time and energy that this position requires. Board members will conservatively spend 10-15 hours a week on Board business. The only qualification you need is the desire to work hard for the betterment of the overall community.
Hello, neighbors. When I think of September, I usually think of my upcoming anniversary with my lovely wife or maybe the beginning of the end of the hot days of summer. When I became a Board member, another thought entered my mind: the annual budget review. As you read this, the Board, the Finance Advisory Committee (FAC), and SCSH staff are working hard on the 2024 Budget; and the countdown to vote on it begins. Here is a thumbnail sketch of what is about to happen and how it may affect each one of us.
The Board will meet with the FAC and review past and present expenses. In these meetings, we will decide the future expenditures within the 2024 budget. The FAC members are the real heroes in this discussion. They bring many years of experience and expertise that the Board relies on to make the ultimate decision about how much and where to spend your monthly dues. The Committee and Board will meet formally at least three times, and have many informal meetings, to go over the numbers and how they affect the dues.
Speaking of dues, I know the rise last year was a hefty one. This year I am hopeful that, with careful control of spending and the $175,000 saved in insurance costs, we can limit the increase. There are no guarantees in this process. Costs are indeed going up, and there are several community “wish list” projects. I am not blind to the realization that Pulte’s Desert Retreat community will be built, and that will influence our restaurant and golf course. I am sure this issue will be reviewed in detail during our discussions.
One of the largest increases last year was in our Reserve Fund. This fund is vital to the health of our community and we must maintain it at the highest possible reasonable level. It is approximately 70% funded right now, which is incredibly financially solid. The FAC will be making its recommendation to the Board about what amount will be needed to continue this level of security.
Although our Association is on a very solid footing financially, I remind you that, in my first President’s Report, I mentioned that my philosophy this upcoming year would be to “tighten our belts.” My idea is to try to focus on those amenities we already have and make sure they are working to their best use.
When we discuss staffing, I believe that unless we seriously consider raising the income of our staff, we may not be able to attract new workers, and we will find it hard to retain the staff we have. To me, this is job one. That means, if dues go up, which seems more than likely, then let’s put that increase where it will have the biggest impact.
I encourage each one of you to read the financial information published monthly in The View and attend the Board meetings and budget meetings, so you will understand where your valuable dollars are being spent. An informed community is a healthy community.
JOIN THE UPCOMING BUDGET MEETINGS
September 20, 2023
10 am, Montecito ballroom, front half
October 18, 2023
10 am, Montecito ballroom, front half
Greetings to all my fellow community members. Each month that I am on this Board brings both joy and challenge. I know there are some who wonder why anyone would volunteer to be on the Board of Directors. As a member of the Board, I have been fortunate enough to witness the dedication and hard work of our volunteers. So many of you have made the decision to give back to our community and, without your efforts, our neighborhood would not be the welcoming, and tplace it is today. I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for your participation. Now for the challenges. As you know, Pulte is going to build 1,500 homes immediately next door to us, and it does pose certain potential challenges for our community. The CDCC committee is tasked with interfacing with the City of Indio to make sure that our interests are heard before decisions are made.
As I write this, Pulte and our City Council member (Glenn Miller) have given me absolute assurance that the proposed sewer line will not be upsized through our Sun City Shadow Hills community. The assurance is not written in stone, so we will continue to focus on keeping this from happening.
As another level of protection, the Board has engaged the services of a local law firm to ensure that our rights are protected involving the Environmental Impact Report and all aspects of this new development. This law firm has defended other communities facing Pulte developments.
The next difficult challenge the Board faces is when distinct groups within our community have different views on how our amenities should be used. For instance, the Pickleball and Tennis Clubs have differing opinions about how our amenities should be allocated. Trying to find the right answer is never easy, and this Board will continue to seek solutions that are a win-win for the community. I want to thank Pickleball and Tennis for their input, which has helped the Board with the decision-making process. The other party to this decision is, of course, the community. Your contribution will be decisive, so your input will be a large part of the answer. We will be soliciting your thoughts and desires concerning this issue soon.
By now you should be able to enjoy lite bites and drinks at the Montecito Café. The Board, Lifestyle, Food & Beverage, and Troon worked very hard to open the Montecito Café this summer. The concept was to stop putting off what we hope will be a successful return to rebuilding this amenity and expand that success in the fall. Please be sure to visit and see what Chef has prepared. Although I was initially involved with this project, I especially want to thank Scott Pessin, Board Vice President, for leading the way in this endeavor to give back to our community.
Finally, I want to thank all our vendors who make living here in Sun City a pleasure. Whether it is the security team, landscaping team, facilities team, or HOA team, please give a wave or say hi to those folks who are putting in the work during this sizzling summer to make our lives just a little bit better.
Hello, neighbors, I am writing this after having recently attended the Pulte Town Hall meeting about the Desert Retreat development (along Avenue 40 and Madison). I sent a recap e-blast the following day.
At the Town Hall meeting, Pulte announced they would no longer seek to enter our community to upsize the sewer line to accommodate the Desert Retreat development. I asked them twice to confirm their statements, and they did. But, as with any verbal announcement, the SCSH Board and the SCSH City Development Coordinating Committee will remain vigilant to make sure this will not be approved under any circumstances.
The main concern now is the Desert Retreat entrance location. Pulte insists the main entrance will be directly across from Shadows Restaurant and the South Golf Course, controlled by a traffic light. Their claim is one of safety, arguing that other options were less safe as well as incompatible with traffic flow. No evidence was presented to back this claim. Traffic flow probably will back up in the mornings during the school year if the traffic light is placed at that location. A more logical location would be further west on Avenue 40. My conversation with the City of Indio indicated the City’s traffic engineer will be involved with this assessment.
To be very clear, only SCSH residents are eligible to use our amenities. Our golf course and restaurant are open to the public. There will be other issues, like how we control the use of nonresident golf carts that are driven into the Shadows parking lot. Will nonresident golf carts be allowed on the golf course (presenting liability issues)? As these issues arise, the Board will address them.
Finally, here is the latest update on the CVWD project on Jefferson and Avenue 40. Chris Stevens, a SCSH resident and Chair of the Ad-Hoc North Channel Committee, is intimately involved with this project; and he shared a recent conversation on the topic:
Once the 40th crossing is completed, the next step is to construct the drain outlets into our property. Following the completion of the drains, the Jefferson Street crossing will be rebuilt. The City of Indio wants this work done before the start of school in the fall. The remaining work to be done within our property includes completion of the spillway into the pond; construction of the pond and a service access road and golf cart path on the east side of the pond; and finish grading of the site and landscape installation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Association is still in negotiation/litigation with CVWD at this time.
Your comments and concerns are always welcome. If you have not registered your email address to receive e-blasts, I highly recommend registering so that you will be informed of the important HOA events that directly affect our community. Register at www.scshca.com/emailsignup.
I started writing this article and thought to myself, do I want this to be more social in content or more about Sun City Shadow Hills business? Business won out.
What is happening at the Big Ditch at Avenue 40 and Jefferson? What I can tell you is the Association is in negotiations with CVWD on a disputed issue over agreements made when our community was built. The Board is working towards a positive outcome.
Last month CVWD discovered utility lines running under Jefferson during initial digging. The City of Indio directed CVWD to halt the digging in that area until a new plan is created. There will be no work on our side of the street until approximately the end of August. The goal is to get this work finished as soon as possible.
Next on the agenda is the proposed 1,500-home Pulte project set to be built across the street from Shadows Restaurant. This project is in its early stages. The City has not received an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to date. Your Board will be communicating with both the City of Indio and Pulte through our City Development Coordinating Committee. This project is particularly important to the Association as there are several issues which need to be resolved.
First, Pulte wants to put either a light or a roundabout at the entrance to Shadows. We oppose both. Second, Pulte proposes putting an unsightly electric substation on Jefferson. We oppose that. And most important, there is a proposal to run a sewer line south through our community to allow for a larger diameter pipe for the new community. Obviously, we will defend our rights aggressively. The Board will keep you informed as this project moves forward. Visit our website, www.scshca.com, for the latest updates regarding the proposed Pulte project.
These are the highlights, but I can assure you all that there is much more going on that has our attention:
How much do we water our golf courses? Too wet, too dry? What course conditions would our golfers like to see improved?
Reviewing the DRC rules. This is a very touchy subject as it affects every homeowner living in SCSH.
Will we have a charity golf tournament this year, or can we find another way to support charitable organizations? I’ve asked Troon to consider ways to generate money for charity without having to close the golf course and Shadows for a day. It appears that this may be possible so, again, stay tuned.
Do we spend money on new projects or strive to keep the current infrastructure working and beautiful?
How do we attract new staff and retain those we have?
How do we keep a dues increase within reason? One good piece of news is that our insurance costs for the Association dropped $175,000, which will help to keep dues under control.
I want to thank the staff and volunteers who make Sun City Shadow Hills the finest place to live in the valley. Without all of you working together, our community would just be homes with a wall around them. Please remember to say hi to all those who make our community both beautiful and remarkably efficient.
I want to mention that our community has a new Security Director. I am pleased to announce that Scott Bewley has come on board to help keep SCSH one of the safest communities in this valley.
Please contact me with suggestions, ideas and, yes, kind criticism that will help improve our community.
I want to thank the outgoing Board members for their volunteer service to our community during the last two years. Unless a person has walked in their shoes, they will not know how many sleepless nights and countless hours are required to fulfill the role of a Board member. Please remember that we are a community with divergent views, but we all have the same goal of making Sun City Shadow Hills a great place to live. Once again, thank you.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was raised in El Centro, CA, just 90 miles southeast of here. I grew up playing sports and somehow managed to parlay that into a career teaching tennis. I went to UC Berkeley and studied Physical Anthropology with the expectation of teaching someday. Little did I know that tennis would become my specialty. I met my wife (Lin) while teaching, and after a quick 40 years, we decided to move to Sun City Shadow Hills where I have made a home that I truly love. I have met people from all walks of life and experiences, and as a result, am a much better person.
I imagine this is a good time to give you an idea of my goals for our Association, which I hope will meet with your approval. The issues that face the Association are numerous. First, we have an ongoing project with CVWD concerning the runoff into our community. We are engaged in negotiations with CVWD at this time so I cannot relate a lot about that right now. I can say that there have been some missteps along the way in communication with the Association, and they are being addressed as I write this.
The Pulte project to build 1,500 homes immediately adjacent to our property is very much a sooner rather than later issue. There are several potential problems ranging from where Pulte will be allowed to put either a stop light or roundabout entrance, to sewage work that may encroach severely into our property south of Avenue 40. Where a new electrical substation will be located is another issue to be determined. The Board will be fully engaged in working on all these topics, and I hope the homeowners will also make their views known to the Indio City Council.
Finally, I want to give you an idea of my feelings about how we might address our needs as a community. With the difficulties that may face us because of a potential recession, the large increase in this year’s dues, and the issues I described above, I think a belt tightening is in order. Keeping what we have in good order and trying to find ways to answer our immediate needs should be our priority. I am not saying that I don’t want additional venues to be developed (like the Montecito Café), but perhaps a short step back from new spending is reasonable.
Please Vote and Participate in the Election of Your Directors
Your franchise is perhaps the most important right extended to you in our governing documents and is protected by law, so do not waste your opportunity to become involved in your community.
By the time this issue of The View is available on our official website (www.scshca.com/view) or appears in your mail tubes, we will be mere days away from our Annual Meeting, which begins at 9 am in the Montecito Clubhouse main ballroom on Tuesday April 4, 2023. I am reasonably certain that most if not all of you are aware that we are in the middle of our annual election of Directors and that the results will be determined at the Annual Meeting.
If you have not voted yet, it is now too late to mail your ballots to HOA Elections; but you can still deposit them in the ballot boxes at both the Montecito and Santa Rosa Clubhouses. Or you may drop them off with HOA Elections officials first thing on the morning of the annual meeting, from 9 -10 am. To ensure that your vote will be counted, make sure you follow closely all voting instructions included with your ballot.
Mark your preferences carefully. After completing both sides of the ballot, place it into the special inner Secret Ballot Envelope (#1) and then seal that envelope. Then cut or carefully tear off the Owner Information Insert identification material and place it into the larger outer Election Materials (#2) envelope so that the identification (name, address, and HOA) displays through the envelope window.
Seal the outer envelope and make sure that an authorized owner of record signs it. Then deposit the ballot or deliver it as described above. If you have multiple properties, each of your ballots must be submitted separately.
Elections can be a stressful time for all. Remember, notwithstanding the campaign, I and your other Board members have continually been at work together to protect your interests, which is the fiduciary responsibility of all Directors. No matter the outcome, SCSHCA is a great HOA; and our community is a great place to live, vacation, or invest. I have every confidence that it will remain so because we have many outstanding volunteers plus wonderful neighbors and residents.
Because this could be the last time I will be addressing you as your President, I want to convey my thanks for the opportunity to serve this community as well as my special thanks to all volunteers and owners who regularly participate and make their interests and concerns known to those they choose to represent them. All HOAs are works in progress and hopefully improve with age as we all continue to learn, even at this time of our lives. This is your community, and what you get out of it can be improved by what you put into it.
Potpourri (This and That: Musings, Exercising Your Franchise, Communication)
As I sat down to compose this President’s Report, it came to mind that with this article, I am completing two years of service as your elected Director and my two years of service as your HOA President. It has been a trip, sometimes difficult, always challenging, but mostly a joy for me in service to my fellow homeowners.
I truly appreciate everyone who has been of aid to me. Many have willingly donated their time and experience as Directors (there are seven of you), and many others have served on advisory and special committees. All these volunteers have contributed to making this community the best it can be at the least possible cost. As one former Board member said, board membership is not about power; it is about service. My thanks also go out to our dedicated staff and contractors who keep our community running daily, and without whom we would quickly grind to a halt.
We are now in the midst of another election of directors, which concludes at our Annual Meeting on April 4. It’s important that each homeowner unit (3,450) votes for their directors for a two-year term of service and any other items on the ballot. HOA elections are required by our Governing Documents and HOA law and cost more than $10,000 each year. Voting for directors and other ballot measures is not only a right but an obligation and is perhaps the best way for owners to impact the operation of SCSH.
By now, you should have received your ballot in the mail (if not, or you have misplaced it, contact the HOA office for assistance). You have until the morning of April 4 at our Annual Meeting to cast your ballot. You may deposit your ballot in the locked boxes in the Montecito and Santa Rosa Clubhouses or mail them to HOA Elections in the envelope provided. If you arrive at the commencement of the Annual Meeting, you can deposit your ballot directly with the representatives of HOA Elections. Please vote your preferences and participate in your community.
Communication - it has been said is the beating heart of any good community!
Our Association has many ways to communicate with homeowners and residents, and it is important to be aware of and utilize them to stay informed. I will list a few, and if you were unaware of them, please check them out and sign up. It is the best way to be in the know and understand how our community does and often must, by law, operate. Your HOA strives to be transparent and accessible when providing information about our community, but each person is responsible for being informed. I believe our communications have improved, and we do a good job, but your Board is always looking for new ways to improve.
When owners purchase their homes, they receive copies of our Governing Documents (Bylaws, CC&Rs, and Rules and Regulations). If you are a renter or guest, the owner should make you aware of the provisions that relate to your residency. It is a good idea to become generally familiar with these documents and consult them from time to time. If you cannot find yours, they are available on the official SCSHCA website (discussed below).
A very informative and useful Homeowners Handbook is provided to new owners at the periodically scheduled New Homeowner Orientation sessions. You can obtain a copy from the SCSH website or by contacting the HOA office.
The Sun City Shadow Hills Community & Telephone Directory can be obtained at the HOA office, the Lifestyle Desk in the Montecito Clubhouse and at the Santa Rosa Clubhouse. It contains useful information about your community, including a directory of homeowners who wish to make available their telephone numbers and personal email addresses.
It's easy to sign up for the Sun City Shadow Hills Community Website (www.scshca.com). If you have a smartphone, computer or tablet, you have full access from wherever you are in the world to everything mentioned above, including (but not limited to) past and current copies of the The View magazine (which also appear in your mail tube each month), podcasts, videos of Board Meetings and Budget Sessions, HOA governing documents, enforcement procedures and email blasts. Register online for access to the official community website by going to www.scshca.com or contacting the HOA office for assistance.
Once connected online, if you provide your email address to the HOA you can sign up for Email Blasts which are sent directly to you with current information, updates, announcements, and events of interest. If you provide your email address to the HOA you may “opt-in” to receive HOA notices by email as opposed to regular mail (except those which are required by law to be mailed, such as notices of assessments and ballots). This saves your HOA, and you, money by avoiding expenses which contribute to the amount of your monthly assessment. You may “opt out” from having the HOA share your private email with other homeowners if you desire.
Dwelling Live can be accessed from the SCSH website. It handles gate access for your vendors and guests. You must register with a separate username and password from the SCSH website. There you can list permanent and visiting guests, and your vendors so that they are granted admittance without having to call the gate. You can even receive text messages on your cell phone when either have been granted access.
There are Monthly Open Board Meetings and three Annual Open Budget Sessions to which all homeowners are invited. Opportunities to address the Board in open forums to speak to particular agenda items are provided at these meetings by submitting a question online or by appearing at the meeting and filling out a speakers form. The agenda for monthly Board Meetings and a Board Packet containing the same information available to the Board in preparation for the open meetings is available online the Friday before the Monday Meeting on the website. Reviewing the Board Packet takes time but makes attendance at the open board meetings much more informative. Our Governing Documents and HOA law require that certain matters are for consideration in closed Executive Sessions by your five-member Board, and they are to be kept confidential by all participants. This includes matters relating to litigation, the formation of contracts, member discipline, personnel matters, payment of assessments, and subjecting a member to a fine, penalty or other form of discipline. There are obvious and very good reasons for this and if you want to participate in such sessions other than by specific invitation or command performance you must be a board member.
In addition to all the above, each month a different board member attends a Meet a Board Member session to which all homeowners are invited. Homeowners and residents may also communicate with Board members by email. Just remember that responses to questions, comments or complaints can occasionally be delayed due to the volume of inquiries we receive. Sometimes investigation and research is required for a proper response and must be delegated to staff, advisory committees, or others. In addition, the Information Advisory Committee has an “Ask a Question, Make a Suggestion” page available on the website.
Your HOA conducts surveys, Town Halls on various subjects of interest, and Community Forums. Some of these events are scheduled during evening hours and most of the events are recorded so they can be viewed later on the website if you were unable to attend.
There are also social media sites such as Facebook and NextDoor, where owners and residents often comment on matters of interest and express opinions. These sites are not controlled by your HOA and have no official status, but sometimes can be informative, and a place to share personal views, or just vent. Some Board members access those sites from time to time, but they are not an official way to communicate information to a Board member.
Considering all of the above, I scratch my head when homeowners or residents complain about lack of transparency, and talk about keeping homeowners better informed, and am reminded of the saying “you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.” It is the responsibility of each owner and resident to become knowledgeable and avail themselves of the many opportunities to become informed. However, I, and your Board are always learning, open to suggestions, and attempting to improve upon things in the community.
When the Board considers a recommendation to change any of our Rules and Regulations, or receives a Board Action Form from any of our committees, the proposed change is communicated to the residents for the legally required 28-day comment period to obtain and review their input before further discussion, bringing to a vote, and potentially implementing such a change. Such things are never done in secret. Our Governing Documents and HOA law only require that such notices be posted on the HOA Bulletin Board, but they are also posted on the website. In addition, future such 28-day comment items will also be posted in an Email Flash Report. Though not legally required, it seemed like a good idea, so please consider signing up to receive email notices if you do not already subscribe.
Now that it’s 2023, as your Board President I wish to report to you that the state of our community’s union is strong. Sun City Shadow Hills is an affordable and great place in which to own, reside, and vacation. Let us count the ways.
Our facilities are being kept in tip-top shape.
Our Lifestyle events are many and varied (and usually sell out quickly).
Our management is working hard to increase communication with all owners about everything that is going on.
Our hard-working homeowner volunteer Advisory Committees are staffed and staying on top of everything necessary to run the small city that Sun City Shadow Hills is. These committees regularly submit suggestions to the Board to assist with operations and request Board action where necessary. We all should keep in mind that SCSHCA is the second largest HOA in the Coachella Valley.
Shadows Restaurant and our other food service amenities are staffed, maintain regularly published schedules, and have “cooked up” new menus. Offerings have improved greatly, and resident satisfaction is increasing.
Our clubs offer lots of special and regular events. These are fun and educational, and they help to build community spirit. If you have not found something you enjoy doing within our gates or on organized outings, then you are missing out on some great activities. All club schedules and upcoming events are published monthly in our View magazine, on our website (www.scshca.com), and in the weekly e-blasts.
Troon has our golf courses in the best shape they have been in a long time, and our Tennis and Pickleball Clubs are utilizing our amenities to capacity. Our facilities workers are doing their best to maintain our sports and common areas while keeping activity interruptions to a minimum.
After much hard work over the summer, including three open Board budget meetings and an exceptional amount of effort by our Financial Advisory Committee volunteers, even in these very challenging economic and inflationary times, the Board majority endorsed a 2023 budget that increases assessments by 9% ($28 per month).
By now, barely into this new year, most homeowners have experienced firsthand the inflationary pressures for utilities, insurance premiums, and higher prices for just about everything. Our HOA is not immune from such increases in keeping our common areas, clubhouses, and other facilities operating. Still, our HOA monthly assessment remains one of the lowest in the Coachella Valley ($337 per month, which includes bulk internet), particularly when compared to other HOAs with similar features and amenities.
Additionally, our operating account is at an acceptable level. We have a Capital Improvement (rainy day) Fund which will probably protect us from any surprise assessments related to the flood control project that soon will be tunneling under Jefferson Street. Also, our reserves for maintaining our community into the foreseeable future are at a very high level. All these factors contribute to the increase in our property values.
Any homeowners who may have had doubts about the flood control project and the advisability of planning to protect our properties from the “hundred-year flood” might want to consider what has been occurring in many other parts of California this winter. As they say, “There, but for the grace of God, go we.” Semper Paratus (“always ready”) is usually a wise approach.
So let us celebrate our good judgement when we chose to own, reside, and vacation in our “place in the sun.” In a future article, I hope to be able to identify some of our owners who have gone, or who are going, the extra mile to improve our lifestyle and facilities without incurring any additional cost to the HOA. These owners deserve recognition and our thanks. We are fortunate to have many unsung and generous “super residents” in our community.
To borrow from the lyrics of a great song, “Well, here we are again, I guess it must be fate.” By the time this message is available online on the official website or reaches the mail tubes in The View magazine, it will be the dawn of a new year for all of us and our Association. As President of the Sun City Shadow Hills Homeowners Association, I wish to offer my sincere best wishes to every one of our homeowners and residents for a happy, healthy, and successful 2023.
I also wish to extend my gratitude for being allowed to serve as Board President for the past 21 months. Many thanks go to all the other Board members with whom I have been privileged to serve. Special thanks also go to the volunteers on the many advisory committees, the staff of our management company, and other service providers – all of whom work together every day and night to make this community run as efficiently, safely, and economically as possible. Without all these people working in harmony and good faith in the community’s best interest, it would be much more difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to preserve, protect and improve our facilities and homes as well as increase our property values. I also want to thank our owners and residents for their understanding, support, cooperation, and participation in the many events that truly make this community a happy and pleasant place to live, vacation, and enjoy.
As we begin another year together, we are approaching another annual meeting of owners on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, when again, in accordance with our governing documents, we will have an election of directors. At that time, owners will vote to fill two board member positions for two-year terms. At our Board meeting on December 19, the Nominating Committee announced the candidates that expressed a willingness and interest to serve in those positions.
Home sales each year bring us many new residents who may not be familiar with the election process established by our governing documents. So, to review, our Board consists of five directors, each elected to serve a two-year term. As indicated, this year, we will elect two directors, and in 2024, we will elect three. There are no term limits for service as a director. After the election results are announced, the five directors meet to elect the president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, and member at large, each of whom will fill that position for one year. Thus, officers are determined and can change each year. Should a director or officer leave for any reason, the Board is empowered to determine, by a majority vote, who will fill the open position until the next annual election.
I strongly urge every homeowner to exercise their right to vote. At this next election, two directors will be elected; therefore, each home will have two votes. Votes cannot be cumulated (except when three or more directors will be selected, which will be the case in 2024). There will be many events that will assist you in determining whom you wish to vote for, including candidate forums, mailings, and homeowner gatherings. I encourage you to educate yourselves in order to cast an informed vote. The selection of directors is an important right, and perhaps the most direct way homeowners can influence the atmosphere and direction of our community. So, please participate in this vital task.
Sometimes elections (because they are competitive) can be seen as divisive. Still, the HOA strives to ensure that they are open, transparent, and fair to all candidates. Hopefully, our elections create opportunities for our homeowners to become informed and make wise decisions about who will represent them and make the hard decisions for no pay other than the satisfaction of contributing and a job well done.
Ho, Ho, Ho, and Happy Holidays to all owners and residents of SCSH.
Although I am writing this View article in mid-November, by the time it becomes available on the official website and hits your mail tubes, we all will hopefully have enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with food, family, and friends. In addition, we have the Hanukkah celebration and the wonderful Christmas season to look forward to as we come to the end of yet another year. Boy do they go by fast, and it seems to get faster each and every year. We will all be celebrating the coming of the new year, 2023, in the blink of an eye.
This time of year, I personally like to reflect upon the past year, and make resolutions for the year ahead. I am sure many of you do as well. In last month’s President’s Report, I cataloged some of the accomplishments achieved in our HOA during 2022. I will not belabor those again, although I do think it helps to keep them in mind as we move forward together as a cohesive community.
As I anticipate to the coming year, I am pleased to say that your HOA has a dedicated, hardworking crew and group of contractors, as well as a large number of wonderful volunteers who devote a vast amount of their two most precious commodities, time and experience, to help our Association operate as efficiently and economically as possible. Their combined efforts help maintain and improve our facilities and help us to appropriately manage our finances to get the best “bang for our buck” as we strive to enjoy our homes, our retirement, and our golden years, and perhaps most important, these efforts ensure that we are prepared for future contingencies that cannot always be predicted with any certainty, particularly in somewhat difficult economic times out of our control. Still, I am pleased to report that the state of our HOA (including its finances) is excellent.
In addition to our dedicated crew, contractors, and volunteers, I have been most encouraged by the increased participation by homeowners at Board meetings, townhalls, and community events. Lifestyle activities are almost always well attended and over-subscribed, and our clubs are very active and a credit to the Community.
In 2023, we will be focusing on maximizing the use of our present facilities and planning for potential improvements that will expand them to meet our owners’ desires, predicated upon economic reality and the support of the majority of our homeowners. That means we should all be prepared for more surveys and more open discussion of what we want and what we can reasonably afford. Through dialogue and exchanges of views we can create a better community together.
Your Board members, of which I am but one, are each individual, often with differing viewpoints, dedicated to exercising their best judgment to achieve what is best for the community. This is the obligation of each Director according to the law and our Governing Documents. We will not always agree on every issue or path, but it is through the exchange of ideas that good decisions result. As difficult as the process may sometimes seem to the observer, what is going on daily in the management of the HOA is in the interest of all homeowners.
My personal New Year’s resolution is that, for so long as I am one of your Directors, I resolve to work hard for this community. This is my home as well, and I want to see it continue to get better each and every day. I hope you will all join with me in that resolution.
At this time of the year, a successful budget is on everyone’s mind. We have had two successful budget meetings attended by many homeowners who participated in the process with the Board, HOA management, and the Finance Advisory Committee. In this challenging economic time, we made a major effort to keep any necessary increase as low as possible and as manageable as possible consistent with preserving the assets and lifestyle that this community enjoys.
At the time of writing this article, the last budget meeting and final vote by the Board have not yet taken place. But the probable increase necessary will be in the neighborhood of $20 per month per homeowner, accounting for the increases in costs set out below. Unfortunately, your Board has little to no control over these increases and worked very hard to keep them as low as possible.
Our recent Townhall was so well attended that we practically ran out of chairs, and it was great to have so much community representation. Your Board always wants to hear from you. Many had responded to the survey sent out before the Townhall, and many chose to speak at the event. Please continue to stay involved and speak out. This is your community, so please use your voice. We are listening. You will soon receive follow-up surveys regarding the categories set out below. Be sure to let your Board know your thoughts to assist with future decision making.
Five-acre lot development
Montecito Café renovation
Don’t spend money on non-budgeted improvements
Looking Back at 2022 Accomplishments
As we approach year-end, I would like to recap and highlight some of the many changes, upgrades, and improvements that have been made in our community this year, in no particular order:
Pond #1: Drained, cleaned, and removed all the reeds and vegetation that had overgrown the pond and installed a beautiful fountain that is lit up at night.
Pond #2: Was drained and filled with free dirt, compacted, and is now covered with beautiful grass. This project was necessary to save having to make a very large investment to rebuild the pond.
Landscaping: In our common areas, we are moving towards drought-resistant, desertscape landscaping with water conservation in mind. You can already see an example of this near the Montecito clocktower.
Pavers: Replaced large areas of concrete walkways around the Montecito Clubhouse, the clocktower, and the fitness center. The pavers allow our maintenance department to repair only the areas that show wear or damage, allowing future savings.
Montecito Pool Restoration: The pool was replastered and retiled, and pool furniture is being upgraded now.
Santa Rosa Fitness Center: The walking track has been resurfaced.
Gate: Jefferson gate cameras were updated. The much-awaited handheld tablets and printers have arrived. They are used to speed up guest/vendor entry and reports have been very positive.
Indoor Pool: Humidity at the indoor pool is controlled by a custom dehumidifier. We have commissioned construction of a new one which is in progress but takes many months. This is a reserve expense for which we have saved over many years.
Golf: Troon has hired a new General Manager and we welcome Phil Vigil. He has been in the Coachella Valley for 35 years. Stop and introduce yourself to Phil soon.
Golf: Troon continues to work within our budget to improve our courses and the value of golf amenities to the community.
Shadows and Other Food Services: Troon continues to work closely with your Board to keep the budget subsidy for these services as low as possible and to improve the quality of our food offerings and service. In your Board’s opinion, we are making substantial progress that we expect will continue.
Shadows: Join us in welcoming our new chef, John Dutra. He has introduced a new menu. We hope you will visit Shadows to try one of the new well-received dishes and enjoy a specialty night.
Santa Rosa Bistro: Has reopened with a new menu, be sure to stop in and enjoy the new offerings.
I am excited to share some great news about our Second Annual Sun City Shadow Hills Charity Golf Tournament. This year, Animal Samaritans has been selected as the local charity to benefit.
Animal Samaritans was founded in 1978 by local animal lovers determined to end the suffering, abuse, and unnecessary death of local shelter animals plus to educate the pet owners of tomorrow on responsible pet ownership. After more than four decades of service, Animal Samaritans has grown to become the desert’s largest, most-comprehensive animal welfare organization by adopting out more than 10,000 homeless dogs and cats; rescuing more than 14,000 adoptable, at-risk shelter animals; and spaying and neutering more than 200,000 pets. Animal Samaritans views all living creatures with compassion and respect, with a primary focus on dogs, cats, and the people who love them.
Sun City Shadow Hills Charity Golf Tournament will be held on Sunday, December 4, 2022, on our South Course. The event format is a four-person scramble. Please register at www.shadowhillsgolfclub.com. Registration began on September 19, with 144 player spots available. The registration deadline is November 18. You may register as a foursome or as an individual. The registration fee of $175 per player includes:
Golfer’s grab-and-go breakfast
Awards Luncheon at the Montecito Clubhouse Ballroom prepared by Executive Chef John, our fabulous new chef at Shadows Restaurant
6 am Player registration opens
7 am Putting contest
7 am Golfer’s grab-and-go breakfast (cash Bloody Mary bar will be open)
7:30 am Shotgun start
12 pm Awards Luncheon (cash bar will be open)
This year, the Awards Luncheon will include a silent auction providing all participants with a great opportunity to bid on something special while benefiting Animal Samaritans.
The Road from Budget Meetings to the 2023 HOA Assessment
In my July and August articles, I laid out how our HOA functions, including an overview of our financial operations. That now brings us to “budget season,” which happens every year starting in August with meetings open to all homeowners. I strongly recommend, if you have the time, desire to be part of the process, or wish to comment on the process to your Board, that you attend all of the budget meetings. Or, if you would rather, you can watch the meetings from the comfort of your home as each video is posted.
What is the process? Spreadsheets are prepared for the Board to review, detailing each budgeted category and comparing this to what has already been spent and what will be spent by the end of the year. The Financial Advisory Committee reviews the data ahead of time for accuracy and reasonableness.
The Board uses this historical data as the starting point for the 2023 budget. Evaluating the new budget begins with looking at the 2022 proposed budget and comparing the year-to-date actual money spent in each category. This will show us how realistic our estimates were for 2022. Then, we go line item by line item and evaluate all the factors affecting the future budget. We rely heavily on data that has been gathered for us by the Advisory Committee Chairs, Desert Resort Management (DRM), Troon, and others.
It is only natural that there will be differing opinions about how the Board should spend the HOA’s assessment dollars. Because the outcome of the total dollars budgeted determines the 2023 HOA assessment (your monthly dues), the budget is not final until the Board votes on it in an open session in October. Up until the Board votes, all homeowners are encouraged to submit questions and suggestions to the Board. After all, this is your money.
This year, we as homeowners are already experiencing many cost increases in all aspects of your personal daily lives. During the budget process, your Board will have to deal with many similar issues on a much larger scale that reflect our common community expenses that we all share. The Board already knows that HOA insurance has dramatically increased in the second half of 2022.
Another example is the big increase in the cost of grass seed, included in Troon’s part of our budget. In 2021, the cost was $1.96/lb. In 2022 we paid almost $2.75/lb. And in 2023 we expect to pay around $3.00/lb. We use about 60,000 pounds of seed each year.
These are non-negotiable expenses. We must have insurance, and we have shopped for the best economically available policies at this time. All insurance rates are increasing exponentially. And it goes without saying that we must buy grass seed to protect our golf course and to safeguard SCSH home values.
I want to be upfront with you, as I have been in all my interaction with you, going into this budget season. I am committed to the hard work of scrutinizing every item in the budget. Last year we were fortunate to keep the assessment increase low, but that is not likely to be the case this year. I am asking that everyone, please, remember this when presenting any “wish list” to the Board at the upcoming sessions. Every $40K that we add to the budget in new spending adds $1 to each homeowner’s HOA assessment.
The Board will be weighing all options during the budget process and doing its very best during this difficult economic period for every homeowner.
How, when, and why the Board of Directors spend it often is questioned, commented on, and can stir up a lot of controversy.
Last month I discussed how your Board of Directors and the Advisory Committees work together to deliver on Sun City Shadow Hills’ promise of a great place to live and vacation. Now, let’s talk about how our money is managed to make sure that we will not face sudden, unexpected, and costly special assessments.
HOA’s are governed by the state’s Civil Code which outlines much of what HOAs must do to address financial management. Despite these legal and fiduciary requirements, many HOA’s are mismanaged. At SCSH, we are proud of our Financial Advisory Committee. Our FAC members each have professional credentials in finance, business management, and law. They review all aspects of our finances on an ongoing basis. They are our financial watchdogs, and report directly and regularly to your Board.
Our HOA keeps its funds in federally insured accounts, and we reconcile each check we write every month. Every invoice paid requires approval by two Board members. The Board treasurer approves all invoices. The additional approval comes from any other Board member. Review and approval of expenditures rotates monthly so all Board members are familiar with and participate in the process. We have policies in place for purchasing authority, signing authority, and much more. We are constantly reviewing our financial procedures to make improvements and close any loopholes.
Our expenditures come from three different funds: the Operating Fund, the Reserve Fund, and the Capital Improvement Fund. Money is allocated to each fund during the annual budget process with input received from our various committees and arrived at through several public meetings open to all homeowners (usually in August, September, and October). These funds are not finalized until after the open meetings are held and the proposed budget has been posted on the official site for review. So, what are these funds and how is the money in them used?
The Operating Fund is used to pay for the cost of running the day-to-day activities of our HOA. Compare that to the cost of running your household and paying monthly bills.
Money in the Reserve Fund is set aside for big-ticket items; to periodically maintain, repair or replace things before they fall apart, have exceeded their useful life, or have become unsightly. Think of this as setting money aside to put a new roof on your house or to repaint and landscape at a future date.
A Reserve Fund value and estimate of its useful life is determined for each significant asset owned and maintained by the community at the time of the initial purchase or acquisition of the item. Thereafter prorated funds are set aside from the monthly assessments over the expected life of the asset so the necessary funds will be on hand when needed. Examples would be mowers for the golf course and air conditioners for Shadows and other facilities. Our reserve study is updated annually to make sure we are setting aside sufficient funding. This is what prevents us from having those dreaded special assessments, as we are constantly saving for the inevitable rainy day.
The Capital Improvement Fund is where we set aside dollars for even larger ticket items that the HOA and its members may decide to add to our facilities or to update the present facilities to meet unanticipated developments. In this past year, a portion of the capital improvement fund is being used for expenses related to the Coachella Valley Water District Flood Control Project, a long time on the drawing board but finally impacting our common area.
Each month we publish our limited financial reports in The View and give detailed reports at the Board meeting. In addition, we are supplied with audited financial statements annually. We want every homeowner to be informed and satisfied that the Board is dedicated to the sound financial management of our community.
We hope to see many of you at this year’s budget planning sessions or have your input communicated to the Financial Advisory Committee and your Board members. After all, we are talking about your money and your community.
Living in Sun City Shadow Hills is Pretty Special by Anyone’s Standards
With 3,450 homes, we are not just a Homeowners Association but a vibrant community larger than many cities in California and the second-largest HOA in the Coachella Valley. As such we are a self-governing entity with five-member Board of Directors (BOD) at the helm.
There are two important meetings that your Board of Directors attend: executive session and open session. Executive session is not open to the membership, and by law it is only during these sessions that confidential matters may be discussed, such as contract negotiations, personnel issues, matters of rules enforcement and collections, and legal transactions. There can be as many executive session meetings as needed during the month. Usually there is at least one.
The other important meeting is, of course, the regularly scheduled open Board meeting, where all homeowners are invited to attend in person or watch the video from the comfort of their homes when it is posted on our website. At these meetings, homeowners can offer their input by submitting speaker forms, submitted prior to the start of the meetings. As with many meetings, Board meetings may not be your idea of a fun way to spend an afternoon. But remember this is your opportunity each month to see how our community is being managed plus how our money is being spent, find out what plans are in the works, and make comments on agenda items or policies and changes you would like the board to consider.
Managing SCSH is a big undertaking, and everything can’t be done by the five members of the BOD alone. The Directors are assisted by volunteer advisory committee members. Our many committees investigate, evaluate, report, advise and make recommendations to the board. The work done by the many volunteer committee members assists the BOD in governing our HOA. Without the many hours of work that they invest and the reports they provide, the Board simply would be unable to manage the volume of work necessary to run the community.
The advisory committees include City Development, Finance, Safety Advisory, Facility & Services, Design Review, Covenants, Food & Beverage, Landscape Advisory, Health & Fitness, Golf Advisory, Lifestyles Advisory, Information Advisory, Emergency Preparedness, The View, and others.
In addition to our advisory committees, there are many homeowners who volunteer their time in the library, deliver The View, staff the Lifestyle desk in the Montecito, and elsewhere throughout SCSH. I invite you to bring your professional experience to a committee by letting us know of your interest.
Where Have All the Employees Gone? The Answer Is Simple, We Don’t Have Any. How Can That Be?
Who are the workers we see and depend upon every day to maintain our safety, trim the trees, clean the pools, and answer the phones?
Sun City Shadow Hills does not have employees. We are self-managed, but we contract with different companies to provide their services and their employees to do the daily tasks for our community. These are the folks you see every day doing the work, keeping things running, and making everything look nice while being efficient and friendly. Remember to thank them when you see a job well done. Here are the companies and the services they perform for us: Desert Resort Management (professional management services), Vintage (landscape), Troon Golf California (golf course and restaurant management), and Allied Universal (security).
Who Do You Call When You Have Problems?
You can find contact information on our website at www.scshca.com/contact. This information is also listed every month on the inside cover of The View for the various departments and the chairs of the advisory committees. Your board members are also listed and available to answer your questions. Remember to direct your questions to the responsible department or committee in order to receive a more timely response to your question or issue.
It is with great pride and honor that I address our Sun City Shadow Hills community as your newly elected HOA Vice President. The long campaign is over and now it is time to begin the work that our community has entrusted the five members of your Board of Directors to do.
The day-to-day decisions your Board members make range from feral cats, to speeding, to insurance and beyond. Throw in the Coachella Valley Water District Storm Channel, the five-acre parcel, and a budget that will be hit with 8%-plus inflation, and there will be many long and difficult decisions to bring to our community.
The members of this new Board must address these and other challenges in a cohesive manner that ensures each decision will benefit the good of our community. We must work cooperatively for our homeowners and put aside the personal agendas which might have been present during the campaign. We must move forward in a manner respectful to our fellow board members, as well as our residents, in order to maintain the premier status of our Sun City Shadow Hills Community.
This is a wonderful community in which we live with excellent resident volunteers. I am privileged to be the Board liaison to the Health and Fitness Advisory Committee, the City Development Coordinating Committee, and the Food and Beverage Advisory Committee. I have also worked closely with members of the Finance Advisory Committee and the Facilities Advisory Committee.
Each of these committees has such talented individuals in their areas of expertise. We have outstanding individuals who do the fact-finding for the Board and the community at large. They provide the checks and balances for decisions made by the Board. We could not have any better system than advisory councils. These advisory committees enable early identification of problems or concerns, plus support effective discussion and actions by the Board to advance the successful running of the community overall. These volunteers are exceptional in their dedication to our community.
It is my commitment, as your HOA Vice President, to be an active listener to our community members and advisory committees in order to achieve the continued betterment of our community. It is the obligation of your Board to “reason together” to make the necessary decisions entrusted to us by the homeowners and the Governing Documents.
If you have any concerns or would just like to chat, please join me on Thursday, June 9, in the Capistrano Room in the Montecito Clubhouse. I will be there at 3 pm for a Meet and Greet as one of your new Board members. I hope to see you there.
Fortunately, it is not very often that you lose a mentor, a friend, a neighbor, a kind and gentle man with a perpetual smile, and a hard-working volunteer for our HOA community all at the same time.
Johnny Goodrum was all those things to me. I, and many in our community, will miss him. It is said that, when we pass, we live on in the acts of goodness we perform and in the hearts of those who cherish our memory. Johnny was such a good man, and many of us will cherish his memory in our hearts.
I, for one, am a better person for having had the privilege of knowing Johnny. In his memory, I will continue to strive — along with my fellow Board members — to make our community the safe, well managed, comfortable, pleasant, and happy place Johnny worked so hard to create.
In Memoriam: Johnny Lee Goodrum February 7, 1951 – March 25, 2022 Board Member/Vice President
As we sit down together, your Board President and Board Treasurer, to compose this article for The View, we are doing so just weeks before our Annual Meeting and election on April 5, 2022. You will probably be reading this just days before it goes up on our website near the end of March or in the hard copy of our Association monthly magazine which will be in the mailing tubes April 1. Our Board meeting on March 28 will mark the completion of our first year of service on your Board.
It hardly seems possible that it has been almost a year since our election and we excitedly took our seats on your Board of Directors, replacing two previous volunteers. Hoping to make a difference, we began the necessary process of learning the intricacies of our operations. We quickly became immersed in the day-to-day decisions required to run our HOA in a manner that has hopefully been pleasing and respectful to the desires and wishes of the vast majority of our members. We always tried to do so by using good faith and judgment, while attempting to make the best possible decisions for the community as a whole.
In doing so, it was necessary to work with our three other Board members to make decisions that we felt were in the best interest of the community; hash out our differences as much as possible; and come to a consensus or at least a majority decision on one matter at a time. Whether you judge those decisions favorably or unfavorably, they were the decisions of a Board of five members in which all had a voice and an equal vote.
At this time, we wish to acknowledge our two departing volunteer Board members, our Secretary, Fera Mostow, and our Member at Large, Carey Thompson, and thank them for their service as they return to the ranks of homeowners. (We will officially thank them again later at an open Board meeting.) In doing so we recognize that, as a result of your votes that will be tabulated and announced at the Annual Meeting, three of the six candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring will join us in constituting a new Board, with a couple new faces for certain. As a result, there will necessarily be a new balance of views and thinking as the Board handles daily issues and as we arrive at decisions by consensus or majority. We both look forward to that process and will strive to work cooperatively with the new Board members selected by the homeowners as we continue in the second year of the terms we were elected and entrusted to perform.
At the time we are writing this, HOA Elections has advised us that only 554 out of a total 3,450 ballots have been returned. You can do the math but, with three votes per household for Board candidates and one vote per household on ballot measures, it is clear that many potential votes remain outstanding. So, if you have not yet voted, PLEASE do so. You may mail in your ballots to HOA Elections (they must arrive before April 5), deposit them in the ballot boxes in both clubhouses, or deliver them personally at the Annual Meeting by 9 am when the polls close.
This is your community and your investment -- your votes are important. There are six candidates for three Board seats, and you may cast your votes cumulatively (i.e., all three votes for one candidate, or two votes for one candidate and one for another candidate, or one each for three separate candidates). You may write in candidates, but before doing please have the approval of the person whose name you are submitting. You may recall that, in the past, the vote tally between winners and losers was sometimes very narrow, so each vote can be very important. We want all your votes to count, so please carefully follow the instructions provided with your ballot before submitting it.
There are also three ballot measures. The Board has submitted the first, proposing an amendment to the Bylaws section that would grant permission to future Boards to enter into multi-year contracts (for more than one year as currently specified) for food services as set out in the materials included with your ballot. This measure requires at least 1,760 favorable votes to pass. If it passes, we both assure you that neither of us would ever vote to enter into any such multi-year contract without substantial community buy-in and on terms favorable and protective of the HOA. Also, if any such contract has terms that are different from or that go beyond the provisions of the proposed amendment, we believe this would require another vote by the owners.
In no event would either of us support executing such a contract if it only had 260 favorable votes (a simple majority of a quorum of 518) by homeowners. Whether the proposed amendment receives the necessary votes for passage (1,760 favorable) or not, it will be a referendum of the owners indicating the direction the majority wish future Boards to pursue.
The second ballot measure regarding IRS Revenue Ruling 70-604 is placed on the ballot each year and simply authorizes our financial managers to obtain the best possible tax treatment for our HOA for member income; it also permits the HOA to potentially save money if passed. A simple majority vote will pass this.
The third and last ballot measure is the pro forma approval of the minutes of last year’s Annual Meeting. Again, a simple majority is required to pass.
Some homeowners do not like election season because of the many differing views that are often articulated about various community issues and concerns. We view it as a time of heightened community interest and involvement when many owners who are often silent come forward to express their views and preferences and participate in the management of their HOA by casting their votes and influencing the direction they desire their community to go. We both have endeavored to exercise our votes on each issue, one issue at a time, taking into account the expressed desires and best interests of homeowners consistent with the Governing Documents which bind us all.
The two of us have not always agreed on every matter, but we have worked together with the other Board members and pledge to do so on the new Board going forward in the best interests of the community as a whole. We appreciate those who have supported and complimented our past. We share the view that things have indeed gotten better, can get better yet, and will continue to do so on and after April 5. It is the constant obligation of all Board members “to reason together” to make the necessary decisions entrusted to us by the homeowners and the Governing Documents.
Finally, we believe that the state of our community is good and financially sound thanks to the efforts of the many homeowner volunteers who contribute their time and efforts to the management and operation of our HOA.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
At the October 2021 Board meeting, your five-member Board, by a unanimous vote, authorized establishing the new Capital Improvement Fund account of $1.5 million. All homeowners need to know why we took this step and the information that led us to this decision.
Your Board’s first concern is to protect Sun City Shadow Hills and every homeowner from future assessments because of major projects that are coming up. The money in the new fund belongs to all of us, and NOT ONE PENNY OF IT HAS BEEN SPENT. It is in the bank in a separate account so that we can keep track of it. All of it will be used for necessary major projects. And let me assure you that the actions your Board took comply with our CC&Rs, Section 4.3.2.
Your Board of Directors did not take this action lightly. SCSH is faced with a very costly Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) Flood Channel Project. We first brought this project to your attention via two town hall meetings held in the Montecito Ballroom on July 8 and July 12, 2021. You can view the videos at https://www.scshca.com/cvwd.
The proposal to create the Capital Improvement Fund out of funds already assessed and currently in our operating fund surplus was reviewed and investigated by our Financial Advisory Committee, outside legal counsel, and our independent auditors. After receiving their comments, the Board reviewed all the information and voted on how to proceed.
CVWD Flood Channel Project
After due diligence, the Financial Advisory Committee prepared a Board Action Form recommending that the Association transfer $1.5 - $2 million from the Operating Fund into a new Capital Improvement Fund. The Board then consulted our outside CPA (Wayne Carlsen), and he advised that the Association could move the funds from the Operating Fund to the Capital Improvement Fund with no tax consequences.
Your Board asked outside legal counsel to advise us about the legality of creating a Capital Improvement Fund from surplus funds already assessed and contained within the operating surplus. Legal counsel advised that such an action complies with our governing documents.
So why did the Board even consider this action? What would the money be used for? Soon we will be forced by CVWD to participate in an extremely costly multi-year rebuilding project here in Sun City Shadow Hills. This is a MANDATORY PROJECT, and we are responsible for the cost of much of what will be done on our property to bring us into compliance with current flood plain standards.
And why do we have to pay? Because Pulte, the SCSH builder/developer, had to agree that a flood control channel would run through the property in order to get approval to build the Sun City Shadow Hills development. So we inherited this, and have no choice. I urge you to watch the Town Hall video if you have not already done so.
Both Sun City Palm Desert and Sun City Shadow Hills are affected by this flood control channel. CVWD has already started construction along Avenue 40 to Adams Street, which you can see. CVWD is paying for that. On our property, CVWD will pay for rebuilding Pond #1 at is at the corner of Jefferson and 40th Street. But we must pay for all other flood control improvements along that proposed channel.
These improvements are very costly and necessary to protect the Jefferson Street entry and roadway overpass over the North Channel to Phases I and II. We need the $1.5 million Capital Improvement Fund. Although this is called a CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT, it is actually a CAPITAL NECESSITY.
The project starts now with Pond #2, which is on the right as you drive out the Jefferson gate on the north side of the bridge. Pond #2 must be completely removed, and the pipes supplying water to the entire golf course must be rerouted from Pond #1 to Pond #3. Pond #2 will be filled with dirt and covered with sod, and new irrigation lines will be installed. Just the reconstruction at Pond #2 will cost approximately $250,000. This is a capital expense that will be funded from the Capital Improvement Fund.
Additionally, we will need to build a road from Avenue 40 down into the North Channel so that debris removal vehicles can access this area during any flood event. This additional estimated cost is approximately $150,000. We are likely to face these expenses this year.
At a future date, the bridge at the Jefferson Gate will have to be retrofitted at a substantial cost to protect it from being washed out and collapsing during a potential flood event. These costs could well exceed $1 million according to current preliminary estimates, and these costs will also have to be funded from the Capital Improvement Fund if we have enough money in the fund at that time.
Hopefully, all of these necessary expenditures will not require an additional assessment upon homeowners. Facing these significant expenses, your Board decided (in a unanimous vote) that giving the surplus operating funds back to homeowners now was imprudent because this would likely lead to a special assessment upon homeowners in the future.
Please understand that no money in this fund has yet been spent. Nothing from the fund is earmarked to pay for any improvements to Shadows; nothing has been allocated for the completion of any future projects that might involve the five-acre parcel acquired from Pulte, despite what some homeowners have suggested.
As your President, I have always shared straightforward information with you. I know this is a lot of data about a very important topic. We will keep bringing you more information as the longer term planning continues. Please attend Board meetings and listen to the podcasts to stay informed.
As you may know, the President’s Report must be prepared almost a month in advance to be published in each month’s View magazine. As a result, some things I write about are predictable; but others are a best guess, as more and more it seems that life is unpredictable. And that is truly the case with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the end of last year, it looked like the mask mandate for inside activities would run through January 15, but at the time I write this, it has now been extended to February 15. The one thing all our residents can be certain of is that your Board of Directors is monitoring the situation closely; we will continue to act promptly to comply with all requirements while at the same time do our best to keep our facilities and amenities as open as possible. The Board asks for your continued support, understanding, and cooperation as we all attempt to navigate through uncertain and difficult waters.
I have read that the derivation of the name “February” comes from the Roman word “februum,” which means cleansing and purification, part of ancient preparations for the coming of spring. Hopefully we will all experience a cleansing and purification from the menace of COVID-19 as we progress through this year.
By now you probably know that our Annual Meeting will take place on April 5, 2022. At that meeting, three homeowners will be elected as members of the Board of Directors for two-year terms. This year we are fortunate to have six homeowners who have stepped forward and announced their desire to serve. By the time you read this, the campaign will have officially begun on January 24.
The first Candidate Forum was held on January 27, 2022. If you were not able to watch it broadcast live, I encourage you to view the video posted on our official website to get to know all of the candidates. In alphabetical order, they are: Mr. Jerry Conrad, Mr. Terry Coon, Mr. Johnny Goodrum, Ms. Kathy Lindstrom, Mr. Scott Pessin, and Mr. Reginald Powell. It is very important to the HOA that you take the time and make the effort to meet, hear, and evaluate each candidate as the campaign progresses.
As current President, neither I nor our HOA can or will tell you who to vote for. But I will stress that it is of utmost importance that you exercise your right to vote for the candidates you favor. Although only three candidates with the most votes will win Board positions, all the candidates deserve your consideration and appreciation for their willingness to serve. The fact that we have so many stepping forward is a sign of a vibrant and healthy community.
Under our Governing Documents, when three or more positions on the Board are up for election, cumulative voting is in effect. Each household/ownership interest has three votes it can cast. You can give all three votes to one candidate; two votes to one candidate and one to another; or one vote to each of three candidates.
Also, this year the Board has included on the ballot an important proposed change to our Governing Documents which would allow a future Board, where a majority deems it advantageous and appropriate, to enter into contracts for up to five years for the operation of our food services, including Shadows. In most cases, now, the Board is limited to one-year contracts (see Bylaws Section 9.2.2).
In practicality, a one-year contract makes it unlikely that a restaurant operator would have any interest in running our facilities. This is why, since the beginning of our HOA, Shadows and other food services have either been operated and subsidized by the HOA or under annual management contracts with operational subsidies paid by the ownership through monthly assessments.
In order to make any change to our Governing Documents, a vote of the ownership is required. Elections are costly events; they require $25,000 to $30,000 to print, mail, tabulate, and conduct. So it is advantageous and economical to include the proposed change to the Governing Documents on the upcoming ballot so we incur only minimal additional printing costs.
Amending the Bylaws requires the approval of 51% of the ownership interest (see Bylaws Section 14.4.1). Each ownership interest may cast one vote on this proposal. To pass, this requires a “Yes” vote of 1,760 owners. (51% of 3,450 = 1,759.5. Because we have no half ownership interests, 1,760 favorable votes are needed.)
If there are not 1,760 “Yes” votes, the Bylaws provision will remain the same. So it is important for all owners to vote on this proposal. Getting enough owners to participate has proven difficult in the past. But this is your community, and it is important for you to express your views. This will help guide your future Board members in the direction you would like them to go.
A ballot for the director positions and the proposed amendment will be mailed out to your address of record with the HOA on February 12, and you should receive it shortly thereafter. If you do not get your ballot, or if you need a replacement, contact the HOA office as soon as possible.
Please vote and tell your fellow owners to do so as well. If you are unsure or unable to vote for any reason, please consider giving your proxy to another owner.
By the time you read this, the chestnuts have been roasted on an open fire, Jack Frost has nipped at your nose, and yuletide carols were sung by a choir. New Year’s Eve has ushered in another year of promise, and the sun is starting to rise earlier in the eastern skies. The dark nights of winter are giving way to longer days. The morning sunrise is quickly becoming a sight to behold.
Because I am now in the second half of the second year of my Board service and, like the insurance commercial on TV, I have “learned a thing or two” as your Vice President, I would like to reflect a bit on what has transpired in the last year and a half and discuss the promise the future holds for all of us here at Sun City Shadow Hills.
I’ sure you all will recall the many difficulties presented to each of us individually and to your Board in managing our HOA during the COVID-19 lockdown. Despite the constant changes and adjustments, the volunteer homeowners on the various advisory committees as well as your Board continued to function and to do their best to manage the interests of all homeowners. Your fellow homeowners all deserve thanks for their efforts. Simply stated, this is how our community was designed to and must function if it is going to continue to be the place we want to live, or spend our vacation time.
I am very proud of the effort made by the residents, committees, and contractors of the HOA to keep COVID-19 to a minimum in our community, while still allowing as many of our activities to continue as possible. Unfortunately, we are not completely out of the woods, but we will continue to focus on what is best for the majority. As much as humanly possible, we will do so with good cheer and mutual respect for our individual homeowners and residents, and their rights in accordance with our governing documents.
I want to tell you that, during my Board service, I have concentrated on our financial health. And despite the difficulties of the past year and a half, I am pleased to report that our financial position is sound. Although there was a small increase in the monthly assessment, this was kept to an absolute minimum. As homeowners we should all be proud of our strong financial position and confident in our future fiscal health.
To name a few items, we have completed an update of our advisory committee charters; undertaken a reallocation of our reserve funds; and created a committee to study and advise about the best use of the five-acre parcel in Phase III obtained from Pulte with a view toward potential income opportunities. Should that prove possible, any future income would benefit all homeowners either by reducing HOA assessments or increasing and improving our amenities.
Also, I am pleased to say that, during our next election in April, your Board has included a ballot measure to allow future Boards, where appropriate, to enter into contracts for periods of up to five years. You will recall that our governing documents currently limit most contracts to one year. This has meant that, every year, the financial advisory committee and your Board must spend the time to review and determine whether to re‑approve our service contracts.
In the case of the Shadows Restaurant and other food service outlets, this unfortunately has limited the possibility of leasing out these outlets and their management to independent food service operators. Many have supported such a change to our documents in an effort to reduce our subsidy for Shadows.
The possibility of a longer contract term would also vastly increase the ability of the Board to negotiate more favorable service contracts. A minimum of 1,761 owners will need to approve this ballot measure. Whatever your individual view, I would urge each of you to take the time to educate yourself and vote on this ballot measure. This is your community; and voting is the best way to protect your investment and your future.
Personally, I wish to express my great hopes and wishes for the continued success of the Sun City Shadow Hills Community Association in the coming year. May you all enjoy and celebrate good health.
I have asked Fera Mostow, our former Vice President and current Secretary, to write this month's letter to the community.
When you read this, Thanksgiving will have just passed and we’ll all be looking toward the various holidays coming up in December. But in the midst of our celebrations, I hope we will all have a chance to take a minute to see how far we’ve come in the past year.
This was a hard year for all of us. The global pandemic took a toll on every one of us in one form or another. For some of us it was the inconvenience of not being able to get the things we need at the grocery or hardware store because the supply chain and distribution network for our desired goods was interrupted so severely. For others, the toll was a more serious one. We saw friends and loved ones become ill and, in some cases, die from this horrible illness.
But as 2022 approaches, it’s time to look forward to a better future. All we have to do is stop and take a look around us. And, although I don’t contend everything here in Sun City Shadow Hills is perfect, I do know this: we live in a beautiful community with wonderful amenities, lots of awesome clubs, fun activities planned by our Lifestyle Department, and great neighbors. We remain one of the safest communities in the Coachella Valley; and thanks to the diligent work of our Finance Advisory Committee and our Board of Directors, our finances are in great shape, with this year’s dues increase less than 1%.
We have people in this community who give their time and expertise by serving on the various advisory committees that help the Board keep this community running as smoothly as it does. And we can’t forget the employees of Troon, Vintage, Allied, and Desert Resort Management who are the backbone of the community. So, in spite of the difficulties of the past year, I still look forward to 2022 with the confidence that our community will remain a place we will all continue to enjoy and appreciate.
So as the year 2021 comes to a close, and we all celebrate our various holidays, I wish everyone a joyous season full of wonderful things, lots of laughs, and much happiness for each and every one of you.
– Fera Mostow
After the election in April of this year, the Board and I knew that there were going to be challenges as we worked to find common ground together. Many people questioned what my first steps were going to be as President of this large community, including the members of our new Board. This was a constructive phase in our Board’s relationships and, during this process, Fera and I have grown cooperatively together. She and I had some opposing viewpoints as many governing bodies experience, but we have been able to bridge these issues to find common ground for the benefit of our community as a whole. I have really enjoyed working with Fera these last few months, and I admire her strong dedication to the well-being of Sun City Shadow Hills.
Many of you have no doubt heard the quote, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Although its origins and author(s) are in dispute, that quote or some version of it has been variously attributed to many people including P. T. Barnum, who talked about “fooling people.”
In a Homeowner’s Association, it is the job of the elected Board of Directors, like our own – comprised of five of your uncompensated volunteer neighbors – to manage the affairs of the community. Naturally it does not call for “pleasing all of the people all of the time.” What it does require is a lot of time and effort by each director to become familiar with and educate themselves about all the issues which regularly arise.
From there, a vote by all directors is used to decide what is best for the community as a whole, while remaining consistent with the requirements of our Governing Documents, the law, and financial realities. The financial realities of many of the Board’s decisions about budgeting affect homeowners in different ways depending on their personal circumstances, and the Board must always consider this during the budgeting process.
By the time you review this article, the budgeting process which has been taking place during the late summer and early fall will have already been completed and communicated to our fellow homeowners. This is an intensive predictive process involving many considerations and compromises in which the Board gets assistance and takes advice from volunteer committees, paid legal and financial advisors, insurers, our contractors for various services, as well as our management company and its personnel. In addition, the budgeting process is also informed by communications from many homeowners.
I have been on your Board and privileged to function as President for approximately eight months now. I myself am not on Nextdoor, but what goes on there does from time to time come to my attention because others report it to me. Nextdoor seems to be a great vehicle for various matters, especially for information about common problems, services, suppliers, and vendors and for discussion by homeowners. On the contrary, Nextdoor is not a proper place for communicating with the Board or the management of our HOA.
You can find the addresses of the committee chairs, our management, and the officers of the HOA, including all five Directors, in the first few pages of each issue of The View magazine. Cut them out and put them on your bulletin board or next to your computer or phone. When you have something to add or suggest, please reach out by communicating through email or by the official site of scshca.com.
The word is mightier than the sword, and your volunteer neighbors on our committees and the Board, as well as those we contract with to assist us in the management of our city in the sun, will listen and respond. It may not always be what everyone wants or would prefer to hear. But your suggestions will be taken into consideration when planning for the benefit of the community as a whole.
I remind you that my main focus – even before I was a candidate running for our Board – has been to protect the integrity and financial stability of this community for all. The Board and I want to express our gratitude again to the volunteers who have stepped up to work hard for this community. You have shown a great desire and passion to complete the missions you have taken on as well as a beneficial ability to work well with others around you. Thank you very much.
By the time you read this in our October View Magazine, summer in our beautiful community will have passed, at least on the calendar but hopefully on the thermometer as well. Cooler days and nights will be the norm. Our neighbors will be back from their vacations, and our snowbirds will be starting to return. With the holiday season not far off, and “High Season” on the horizon once again, all the activities which make SCSH such a special place should be back and booming.
Fortunately for all of us, the world keeps turning; and your fellow volunteer homeowners who serve as Directors of your Board and staff the many advisory committees have kept working to preserve, protect, maintain, and improve our place in the sun. This all brings me to what I would like to focus on and get all our homeowners to begin to think about. We have many volunteers and important committees that help to keep our HOA dues from rising by working alongside the Board. But most of us are not aware that our Bylaws only provide for three very important “standing committees.”
Article 10 of the Bylaws provides for the Architectural Review Committee – now referred to as the Design Review Committee or DRC for short – which interprets and enforces the requirements of our governing documents respecting the appearance and beauty of our homes and lots. There is also the Covenants Committee that acts as “a jury of your peers’” to assist the Board in the enforcement of other rules and regulations which, in effect, comprise our community’s Municipal Code. Finally, there is a committee which we only see and hear about for a few months each year from October to the time of our Annual Meeting and Election of Directors each April. This is the Nominating Committee, which has the very important task of encouraging homeowners to step forward and run for the open Director positions plus to ensure that our elections are transparent, informative, and free and fair in accordance with the provisions of our Governing Documents and HOA law.
The Nominating Committee currently has the following members: Dan McFarlane, Pete Anderson, Robert Israel, Carolyn Collins, and Linda Strongin Grant. You will be hearing more from this Committee in the weeks and months just ahead. Their duties are specifically set out in Bylaws Section 7.4, but one of those duties is to make “reasonable efforts to recruit at least two (2) candidates for each position on the Board that is to be filled by vote of the Members.” There will be three Director seats to be filled by the three candidates receiving the most votes of homeowners. In accordance with the Governing Documents, because more than two positions will be filled, cumulative voting will be in effect.
Because some of our past Director elections have been uncontested, the Committee will be making efforts to encourage interested candidates to throw their hats in the ring, so to speak. Hopefully, there will be at least six homeowners stepping forward to run. By the way, no Member of the Nominating Committee may be nominated as a candidate for the election to the Board (Section 7.4.3).
If you have an interest in serving your HOA in the important position of Director, or if you know a fellow homeowner whom you would encourage to do so and support, please reach out to them and to the committee or any of its members about your interest, suggested nomination, or questions. The deadline for submitting Nomination Forms – at the time of writing this – has not been set but will likely be before Thanksgiving 2021 because it must be at least four months before the Annual Meeting on April 5, 2022.
So, my fellow homeowners, it is not too early to begin thinking about who you want to see leading our community, setting the tone, and making the important decisions on our Board of Directors.