As reported previously, we are in the final stages of our first lake rebuild project at Fields 3 – just waiting for the completion of landscape and lighting. We have about 18 water features in IPCCA, and the lake maintenance effort will continue for several years because many of the lakes have reached the end of their normal life – liners are leaking, pumps failing, etc. The next projects we are beginning on are at Royal Vista and Reflections, as these sites have been prioritized as most in need of repairs. This seems like a good time to talk about general guidelines for common areas in our HOA and our overall goals for these lake projects.
HOA Common Areas
In California, HOAs are primarily governed by the Davis-Stirling Act. This Act states that common area maintenance costs (lakes, satellite pools, etc.) are borne equally by all homeowners in the HOA and all homeowners are entitled to equal access to and use of common areas. Regarding the lakes, this means everyone pays for their maintenance and all homeowners are entitled to equal access to these amenities. No one may purposefully do anything to infringe upon common area access (i.e., blocking gates or fences, or plantings, being unfriendly to non-adjacent residents visiting the area, etc.). Access is also a function of the terrain – this varies but affects everyone equally. Adjacent homeowners usually pay a premium their homes because of the lakes, and in return they get to regularly enjoy ready access to and views of them. The Board manages common areas for the good of the entire community.
Goals for our Lake Areas
With the above in mind, we have several goals for the lake rebuild project. To name a few and give you an idea of the type of issues the Board considered in making decisions about what was in the best interest of the whole community:
- Cost effectiveness – i.e., it turns out to be less expensive per square foot to enlarge water area versus having more grass (this was a surprise to me); desertscape and grass take similar time for routine maintenance, but desertscape irrigation uses much less water and it does not need to be scalped and reseeded every year; fertilizer and grass clippings cause increased water nitrate levels, leading to more algae and more aquatics maintenance expense. This is a particular issue in areas with severe slopes going toward the water. Certain trees and plants have invasive roots that cause problems with the lake liners.
- Certain municipal and state rebates are offered for reduction of square footage of grass area.
- Reduced maintenance expense, both for landscape and aquatic needs, is a major goal. We also want more pump and general system reliability – we need to do all we can to prevent pump failures leading to flooding of nearby properties! Relocating certain pumps and improving access for maintenance staff is also part of this goal.
- Slope stabilization with certain hardscape (walls, boulders, etc.) and certain types of plants/trees is a high priority at certain lake sites.
- Overall environmental responsibility, including reduced water consumption because of irrigation needs and evaporation/leakage from the water bodies, and lower electricity costs, is an important goal.
- Improvement in line-of-sight access is desirable – much of the old landscaping is so overgrown it blocks views to no purpose.
- We want to maximize general community access, including taking advantage of opportunities the different sites offer for walking, disabled person access, golf cart access, and various other needs of all the members of our community.
- Maintaining and improving the overall aesthetics of sites is important – these water features are an important part of the IPCCA community.
- Drought periods regularly occur in our area – we need to anticipate handling these events in the future with minimum irrigation while preserving an attractive appearance of these common areas.
Shelly Ruegsegger at PPM, the Board members and the Lake Committee have all spent a great deal of time talking to experts, working with the various contractors (architect and engineer, building contractor, electrical and landscape contractors, and so on) to achieve the best balance of achieving the boards/HOAs goals and keeping costs under control. We also had to meet City of Indio requirements for permits and building codes. Thanks to all, I think we have ended with a wonderful result at Fields 3 and I urge our residents to visit the site when they can. I think people will be pleased!
Maggie Stern, President, IPCCA Board – 3/16/21