As published in The View, March 2023:
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.
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