January 2016 has found San Diegans dealing with the fallout of record rainfall from an extreme storm
on January 5th, and heavy rain combined with gusts of wind in excess of 50 mph on January 31st. These storms resulted in millions of dollars in property damage throughout the county; few so hard hit as homeowner associations dealing with deferred maintenance and non-existent preventative maintenance programs.
For those of you who read my November 2015 article, HOA Armageddon, you have a good idea of just how wide reaching deferred maintenance is within California Common Interest Developments. While even pristine communities experienced loss due to high velocity rain and wind, damage was limited. Unfortunately, those Boards who have been kicking the can down the road or implementing Band-Aid fixes are staring at the aftermath and wondering where to start in addressing the damage and shoring up other common area components that were further weakened.
In speaking with Andy Henley, Vice President of Operations at ProTec Building Services, his staff responded to over 150 emergency calls between 4:00 p.m. on January 5th through the early morning hours of January 6th. Calls on January 31st were reduced by half, but this reduction was attributed in part, to their response earlier in the month. Within a 48 hour period of time, close to 7,000 sandbags were delivered by Protec and non-stop jetting of drains and other repairs continue to be made. This is just one company!
For months there have been warnings and free education programs on preparing for anticipated El Niño storms, yet damage reports include roof leaks, gutter clogs and drain back-ups, all of which were covered under daily e-mail reminders and on-going classes. These ignored warnings resulted in mild to severe loss and water intrusion throughout San Diego community associations.
Rotten and/or termite infested fences and fascia boards became projectile missiles as high winds had them flying through many communities resulting in broken windows, vehicle damage, and minor (thankfully) injuries. Downed trees were everywhere. A majority of these issues could have been avoided and many are now realizing that while preventative maintenance and repair/restoration is expensive, the costs for remediation and repairs resulting from loss are exorbitant. In addition to emptying pocketbooks, issues like this further bankrupt community morale and trust and create on-going conflict within once proud neighborhoods.
V-ditch failures within several communities resulted in landslides and major damage. In one case, the failure was so bad that it took out several decks in addition to filling homes with mud and water. In several of these instances, members have known for years that the culverts were at risk. Another community, who has been aware of water intrusion issues for years, and who knowingly halted their sump pump maintenance program several years ago in order to save money, are now dealing with approximately forty angry homeowners whose units suffered catastrophic water losses. The sitting Board also happens to be the same group who staged a successful recall when they felt the previous Board was spending too much money on repairs. A class action lawsuit is being filed as I type.
While a handful of communities did have flood insurance to fall back on, in most cases no coverage was available. Collectively, millions of dollars are being spent on remediation efforts that could have been avoided for far less money. The “penny saved” mantra in terms of necessary maintenance needs to be replaced with “pay now or pay later.”
The false sense of security experienced through mild weather these past years has now been ripped away in the face of reality. If nothing else, the recent storms should act as a wake-up call to every community in terms of instituting a proactive maintenance, repair and restoration program. Joining forces with a knowledgeable and experienced management company is a first step in putting a proactive plan together. Your management team can assist your Board in putting together a team in identifying need, budgeting and short and long term planning to address your maintenance needs.