Olive Trees in HOA

3 Things To Know About Spraying Olive Trees

Ah, the olive tree.

The summer-blooming Mediterranean natives are true beauties, growing up to 30 feet tall and spreading out nearly as far. It’s no wonder that these evergreens have become Arizona mainstays, soaking up the plentiful sunshine that allows them to thrive.

And while few people complain about the olives in a delicious tapenade or a beautiful Niçoise salad, unless you have a sprawling property or plan on committing lots of time to jarring homemade olive oil – they can be a major headache.

In fact, there are a few reasons why you should consider having olive trees sprayed before they start flowering:

 

Fruit Can be Bad News for Walkers – and Indoor Flooring

It’s frequently said that moderation is key, but olive trees didn’t get that memo, often producing an abundance of fruit that’s challenging to keep up with.When the olives ripen and fall from the tree, they can quickly cover the ground and sidewalks, posing a major, oily threat to those walking over them. Not only does the fruit create an increased potential for falls, but their color and oil can quickly be transferred from the soles of shoes to light-colored living room carpet.

Blooms Are a Major Irritant for Allergy Sufferers

Many people suffer from an allergic reaction to olive tree pollen, and their symptoms can be anywhere from mildly irritating to severe. When the pollen is released – typically in May and June – those with allergies can experience respiratory symptoms like runny, itchy, and watery eyes and noses, as well as sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and all sorts of olive tree-induced discomforts. Those with asthma must exercise extra caution even in the general vicinity of blooming olive trees. 

Timing is Everything

In order for spraying olive trees to be effective, the timing has to be right: annually, in the first quarter of the year, and well before the flowers begin blooming in late spring and early summer. It’s sometimes necessary for trees to be sprayed more than once, so it’s advisable to book your tree care experts in January.

The HOA Rookie's Beginner Guide

The Complete Beginners Guide for the Rookie HOA Board Member

Starting anything for the first time can be a challenge: tackling a new career, buying a new house, training in a new sport, maybe even bringing home a new baby. But when you find yourself a first-time elected HOA board member, things can be especially tricky: you’ve got a property (and its value) to protect, and fellow homeowners to represent. You’ve got obligations and responsibilities to fulfill, but you need to be – well, likable – as you’re doing it. This new position can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a couple of key concepts you can begin to think through that might make your early days less stressful.

HOA Board Leadership

 

It’s important to understand that your new role – to which you were elected by your peers – is one of service, not power. You’ll lead and serve on behalf of the homeowners, for whom you’ll be a representative voice, and on behalf of the property interests as a whole.

  • Glean wisdom from former and current board members you respect, whether from your HOA or another. Ask plenty of questions, and listen to their advice.
  • Talk to other homeowners – find out what their core concerns are, what’s important to them and their families.
  • Read up on books covering issues like communication, leadership, teamwork, and conflict management outside the realm of HOAs. There are also lots of great resources on these topics within the field, such as the Community Association Institute.

HOA Board Logistics

 

Any new job or volunteer position will require you to learn the ropes at some point, and an HOA board position is no different. There may be a learning curve, but do your best to educate yourself in the logistics of your new role as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

  • Study the homeowner’s association documents, and understand what your roles, responsibilities, and limits are.
  • Before you begin in your new role, pay attention to the details of how meetings run, how communication is managed, and how your current board operates.
  • Consider taking certification classes through homeowners groups like the Community Association Managers International Certification Board.

Remembering to serve with integrity and transparency will go a long way, too – and put you on the path to a rookie term that’s productive and fulfilling.

HOA Management App, the HOA Link

PDS Launches Mobile App: The HOA Link

We have launched the first app of its kind in the HOA industry!

 

After months of development, we are so excited to announce our new mobile application – “HOA Link”
We now offer an on-the-go option for our homeowners to have direct communication with PDS! The “HOA Link” is the first of its kind in the HOA management industry!
The easy to use application allows users to look up PDS community websites, make payments within seconds, and learn about upcoming community events all while on the go.
HOA members can quickly submit pictures to PDS and access all necessary forms such as architectural requests and violation reports using the HOA Link. Additional special features include a tip calculator, QR scanner, and a car finder.
PDS is structured to ensure accurate communication between board members, homeowners, and their PDS team of community managers. The development of the HOA Link application is a natural progression of our mission to communicate with homeowners and boards promptly and efficiently. The HOA Link is now available for download on iTunes! Android users can download it here.

Will you download the HOA LINK? Tell us what you think about the app!

Practice gratitude

Why Gratitude Is Sweeter Than Pumpkin Pie

“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant – a seed – this plants the giant miracle.”

That’s writer Ann Voskamp’s lovely take on being grateful: that thankfulness, even for the smallest parts of life – maybe the way a rain drop falls off of a leaf, or the way your child smiles at you from across the living room – opens the door to the “miracle” of a richer life.

As far as science and psychological research is concerned, gratitude (defined often as “the quality of being thankful” or “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”) certainly helps improve your physical, mental, and relationship health.

Here are a few ways that gratitude can improve your life and health:

  • Encourages better overall physical health: According to the University of California-Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center, practicing gratitude helps people manage stress, sleep better – even makes them more likely to hit the gym and get regular exercise.
  • Strengthens your ability to navigate the challenges of life: When times are tough, gratitude makes them a little easier to handle. Emiliana Simon-Thomas at the Greater Good Science Center said that, “Studies show that people who have gone through trauma have a greater resilience against post-traumatic stress disorder if they have a biological predisposition to be grateful — or if they go through gratitude intervention.”
  • Helps you look beyond yourself: Researcher Robert Emmons studies “positive psychology” at the University of California Davis, and says that people who focus on the good things in their lives also tend to be able to focus on other people and causes. If you’re not dwelling on or overcome by your own “negatives,” that’s much easier to do!

 

Don’t store your gratitude up for a once-a-year expression! Grab a journal or a friend this Thanksgiving and start counting your blessings, but don’t stop there. Keep it up all year long!

Living in an HOA

What We Learned About HOA’s From Justin Bieber

Whether he’s speeding, egging, or spitting in the face of both neighbors and common decency, Justin Bieber has been giving a bad name to Southern California “boys next door” for some time now.

He’s also become the worst nightmare of every HOA board from Columbus to Calabasas, where this week, he was required to fork over $80,000 in damages for hurling eggs (and obscenities) at the home of his neighbor in the gated community of The Oaks.

Though his behavior probably merits a collective public eyeroll, there are actually a couple of important lessons about HOA communities that can be learned from the pop star’s recent exploit:

Homeowners associations can help residents rally to take a stand against inappropriate and unsafe behavior.

HOAs often tout that they help build a sense of community, and it’s true. While the circumstances surrounding the incident are unfortunate, residents of The Oaks banded together when Bieber’s alleged habit of racing through the community in a Ferrari at 100 miles an hour crossed a line. After he zipped past a neighborhood BBQ full of children – and father/former NFL star Keyshawn Johnson – neighbors had enough. They approached the HOA board, which issued stern warnings toward those threatening the neighborhood’s safety, and reminding neighbors to call police when certain residents tear through the streets.

Homeowners associations can help protect responsible residents from negligent ones.

Even if 99 percent of your residents are responsible, respectful, law-abiding neighbors, all it takes is one bad apple to spoil the experience for everyone. A Beverly Hills condo community experienced Bieber’s un-neighborly behavior when the star is thought to have begun renting from a condominium owner. When “the Bieb’s” late-into-the-night parties became too loud and too much for residents to handle, reports say that the HOA board hired security guards to regulate the parties and protect residents – making sure the condo landlord was the one footing the bill.

There are many reasons to consider living in an HOA community, from protecting your investment to protecting your family. If you end up with a neighbor like Bieber, you’ll probably be glad you have the backup. 

Seal Coating in the HOA

Why all the Seal Coating?

Why do we keep spending so much HOA budget on seal coating? Just to make the HOA “look pretty?”

 

Some Phoenix Valley neighborhoods will be experiencing limited access to roads in the upcoming weeks due to routine seal coating. It’s a pain, right?! Why do we keep spending dollars seal coating so often? Just to make the HOA “look pretty?”

Quite the contrary. Seal coating is more than a pretty paint job to our HOA driveways, streets, and parking areas. Ultraviolet rays, water, and chemicals deteriorates asphalt. Driveway seal coating, even though the expense rears its ugly head each year, is a cost effective way to keep the asphalt from pricey repairs. Repairing asphalt from environmental conditions is VERY expensive.

Seal coating is maintenance and should be considered in your HOA budget planning each year. There are two common types of seal coating. Asphalt emulsion and coal tar emulsion, as well as a formula of blending the two together (which is less common here in the Valley, more common in colder climates).

Each manufactured seal coat is specifically designed, not only for location and use, but for the time of year it is applied. Therefore, it is critical that all the specifications for the seal coat are followed during the application process. If the seal coating process is not professionally monitored, you may be at risk for increasing chances your asphalt will deteriorate more quickly.

 

Make sure that your HOA hires a recommended and professional seal coating provider, and check all references before choosing. Your board may also contact PDS for a list of recommended vendors.

HOA's seeking legal advice | Phoenix

Three Ways to Seek Legal Advice for HOAs

With all the nuances and potential complications of governing a homeowners association, it’s no surprise that boards may need to seek legal advice on occasion.

But exactly where do you begin to seek legal advice for your homeowners association?

 

Your HOA management company can be a great place to start. With ample resources and experience in the industry, here at Planned Development Services we will not offer legal advice, but can often point you in the right direction.

You should also consult your association’s governing documents. According to Beth Mulcahy, Esq., of Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C. – and a 16-year veteran of the community association industry – if there isn’t a specific protocol in the association’s governing documents, you have the following options:

 

  1. The board can authorize a specific officer – like your board president – even a committee or employee (e.g. manager), to seek legal advice on behalf of the association at their discretion. It should be noted that if the board authorizes a specific officer, committee, or employee to seek legal advice, at their discretion, such authorization should be included in the association’s records, minutes, or board resolution. There should also be agreed-upon limitations, such as financial limits. If the board authorized only certain board members as the point of contact for legal issues, direction should be provided to the association’s attorney.
  2. The entire board can vote whether to seek legal advice in any given circumstance.
  3. A board member, ideally the board president, can likely go outside of an agreed-upon protocol or board vote in emergency circumstances, such as when immediate legal advice is needed. However, the board should also consider ratifying this potential authorization in meeting minutes.

 

Regardless of the method your board uses to seek legal advice, members should remember that it is being sought on behalf of the association – not on behalf of any individual board member or owner.  If you have any more questions before you seek a lawyer, feel free to contact your community manager to discuss the situation and we will point you in the right direction.

Thank you to Mulcahy Law Firm for contributing to this article.

Prevent HOA Theft and Fraud | Phoenix HOA Company

Preventing Theft and Fraud of HOA Funds

NOTICE: This article is important to the health of your HOA!

As Board Members you have more than likely heard the term fiduciary duty more than you care to remember. However, fiduciary duty is of the utmost importance, especially as a Board Member.  As a fiduciary your obligation to the association is to act in the best interest of the association, show good faith and act diligently.  Association management companies and Community Association Managers also have a fiduciary duty to the association and Board of Directors.

Most Board Members take their roles as community leaders seriously with integrity and understand their responsibility to the association. The same can be said for association management companies and Community Managers.

Unfortunately, there are and have been individuals that represent these groups with little or no semblance of integrity.  Theft of association funds is becoming somewhat commonplace.  News reports detail misappropriation of funds, a management company closing after employees made off with funds from several associations and a Board Member disappearing with a million dollars from an association.

If you are reading this, as stated earlier, you more than likely, have a firm grasp on your fiduciary duty to the association and Board you serve.

This notice is not meant to alarm it is meant to provide encouragement for your commitment to the Board and association and to give you confidence that Planned Development Services has controls in place to prevent theft and fraud in your Association.  

The following financial controls are standard practice for PDS:

  •  Association records are kept up to date.
  •  Monthly Financials and a Budget Variance Report are available for Board
  •  Bank Statements are reconciled monthly and provided to the Board
  •  Treasurer upon request.
  •  Operating Funds and Reserve Funds are kept separate.
  •  Funds are not co-mingled between associations.
  •  Invoices are approved by both the Community Manager and an  Accounting Team Member before processing.
  •  Vendors are verified for accuracy, licenses, bonding and insurance.
  •  PDS is bonded as well as each PDS employee.
  •  Delinquency Reports are provided monthly.
  • Annual review/audit/compilation of financials is conducted by third party CPA’s.
  • Insurance and Reserve Studies are reviewed annually with industry professionals and applied according to each association’s governance.

The community manager and accountant are available any time you have questions or need support regarding your association.

As a Board Member you are encouraged to review the monthly financials, review the delinquency report and ask questions.  Remember you are an integral part of the association you serve and PDS is committed to providing you everything you need to serve your community.

Problem Solving in your HOA | Planned Development Services

The Single Best Tactic for HOA Problem Solving. Here It Is:

In a scene from the movie “Office Space,” software company Initech brings in hilarious, generic consultants (“the Bobs”) to help soften the blow of corporate outsourcing and layoffs, and sends out an ominous corporate memo in advance. “You have to interview with this consultant,” worker bee Tom Smykowski warns his buddies, Peter, Michael, and Samir. “They call them efficiency experts, but what you’re really doing is interviewing for your own job.” Corporate silliness is played to an extreme – for a lot of laughs – in this late-90s cult classic.

 

In the real world, the most effective businesses and organizations know that when they’re running into internal problems that seem unsolvable, turning to a third party of actual experts can be their smartest move.

 

Whether HOAs are stymied by the roadblocks of personality clashes, a lack of expertise on the board, or almost any other conflict, turning to the Community Associations Institute (CAI) can be a sanity-saver. CAI is an international organization whose “mission is to inspire professionalism, effective leadership and responsible citizenship, ideals reflected in communities that are preferred places to call home.” The group is something of a one-stop shop for community associations, providing professional development courses (and professional designations), education programs for volunteer leaders, special events and conferences, networking opportunities, service provider directories, advocacy at the state and national level, and a huge, Web-based library of research and resources.

 

Of course, you can additionally turn to experts within your own community. Maybe there is a management pro who’s also a homeowner, and you could approach that person to volunteer (link to volunteer blog) and offer their expertise to the community. There is also a host of great leadership and interpersonal communication advice available at any bookstore – we even try to post some helpful problem-solving tips for HOAs here (link to peaceful HOA blog here). Regardless of where you look, know that there are resources available within and without the community management industry, and it’s always better to bring in help when it’s needed.

Good Attendance at HOA Board Meetings

How’d They Do That? 8 Secrets to Good Attendance at HOA Meetings

Ever feel like the odds of pulling off a well-attended hoa meeting is as likely as spotting a unicorn in a field of four-leaf clovers? There are lots of reasons people may not be able, or even want, to attend board meetings. Here are eight ways to make them change their minds – and adjust their schedules.

 

  1. Awesome refreshments. Don’t bother with standard-issuedrycookies and bad coffee.Is there a bakery down the street from your development with to-die-for macaroons? A hole-in-the-wall coffee shop that people clamor for, or a produce stand with delicious, seasonal fruit?  If you’ve got some popular establishments in town, use the refreshments themselves as a way to attract homeowners – and a good opportunity to support local businesses.
  2. Time, location? Mix it up! Maybe you’ve had meetings at the same time for years, but it could be that that time slot just doesn’t work for a lot of homeowners anymore. The community clubhouse location might make sense logistically, but a change in venue could be fun. Try moving your Monday evening meetings to a Thursday, and try moving from the inside a meeting room to the community pool deck, or even a board member’s backyard. See if mixing up the time and location isn’t a refreshing break from the norm.
  3. Change frequency: Sometimes less is more. Consider having less frequent meetings – if you’re scheduling too many, you’re not making the best use of your time, or anyone else’s. Holding fewer meetings could actually lead to more productivity (and happier homeowners).
  4. Free childcare? I’ll be there. A lack of childcare options can keep even the best-intentioned homeowner away. Hire babysitters to watch the kids in a nearby room, so that parents can relax and focus on their participation in the meeting. You can advertise for licensed babysitters in your community, or consider asking parents to volunteer and rotate childcare duties.
  5. Prizes and raffles! Everybody likes to win sometimes. Consider gift cards to local establishments – you may even have homeowners who are also business owners, and would like to donate a gift basket, certificate, or discount on services.
  6. Publicize, publicize. Utilize every medium available – flyers at their doors, community bulletin boards, social media, mailboxes, word-of-mouth – to let homeowners know of meeting times and dates. Let them know the times and dates well in advance, and let them know what will issues will be covered in that meeting.
  7. Use your time effectively. Keep your meeting on track! Stick to the items on the agenda, stick to the time allowed, and don’t get sidetracked by minutiae – those details that could and should be addressed outside of the meeting.
  8. Let everyone have a voice. Ensure that there is reasonable time allotted at meetings for homeowners to ask questions and voice concerns. Don’t be afraid, though, to gently reign in a person who is dominating the discussion, being a bully, or preventing others from having their say.