Three items must be addressed immediately, and we’re going to need professional guidance to find the most cost-effective, proven solutions.

  • Maintenance issues, from roof leaks to sewage backups to replacement of damaged mailboxes
  • Safety and security, including uneven walkways, poor lighting, and easy access for intruders
  • Internal financial controls, such as inspecting work before paying invoices, documenting all expenses and instituting an approval process, and securing our records from unauthorized access

A fourth issue, the owner-renter ratio, affects the ability of our future homeowners to obtain FHA loans.

Woodside could once again be the beautiful community it was in the past. The reality, however, is that Woodside is a 60-year-old property. It has major infrastructure issues that have not been maintained and were not been covered by the reserves account. At a recent town hall meeting, it was mentioned that reserve funds are only determined for issues above ground. That does not address the antiquated hot water system that is underground, does not deliver adequate hot water to many of the residences in the property, and requires thousands of dollars in repairs every year. This cost cannot be sustained, but long-range planning to replace this system has not occurred. This issue will NOT go away.

Immediate Goal: A Professional Management Team

Woodside can no longer be effectively managed by two or three staff members and a volunteer Board of Directors. It is a $4.5 million business that is being run as a mom-and-pop business. The community needs a professional management company that will provide owners and the Board of Directors with the knowledge and expertise needed to make informed decisions and provide basic services to our residents to keep this community thriving and safe.

We need the benefits of a professional management company immediately.

Assuring Continuity of Operations. Boards members come and go. When a new Board is elected, a professional management company would ensure a smooth transition of all operational information, budgets, communications processes, procedures, legal expertise, etc. to the new Board. It should be seamless to the membership.

This did not occur after the last election. When the 2023 Board of Directors began their term, the employees of the “old” Board quit or became unavailable, leaving the new Board with no staff and no institutional history or knowledge about the current operations and status of the organization.

Lowering Costs of Services Through Economy of Scale. Woodside is a sizeable community with many maintenance issues. A professional management company can lower/reduce expenses with maintenance projects by using shared vendors and programs. The cost savings for a management company often come from bulk discounts with vendors, streamlined operations, and efficient resource allocation.

Improving maintenance project transparency is important. Management companies use software programs like Trello.com, Asana.com or Monday.com for managing tasks, projects, and workflow. These types of programs can allow residents to see project progress and track their work orders.

Consolidating services through a management company can streamline costs for Woodside. Management companies can leverage their network of vendors for various HOA needs such as maintenance services, landscaping, repairs, and more. Centralizing these services through trusted vendors will ensure cost savings and efficient operations for the Association.

A property management company will provide the Board with the umbrella mechanisms for managing both the fiscal operations and the maintenance operations of the complicated organization that is Woodside.

Financial Management. Woodside currently has an on-site bookkeeper who resigned after the new Board was elected and was later rehired.

The money management of the Association is the lifeblood of the organization. Everything is funded through this mechanism. Dues collection, bill payment, employee payroll, and contract payments are all part of this process. We cannot allow one individual and a volunteer Board to have sole oversight of all the funding and budgets that maintain our community. A professional management company, with a team of specialists for accounting, auditing, payroll, budgets, human resources, etc. is essential, ensuring that everything is done to the highest standard and with fiscal accountability. We need professionals who ensure that the CC&Rs are relevant, legal, and updated. The Board’s role should be setting policies and priorities, and directing the management company, not doing the day-to-day management. The Board’s responsibility will be to evaluate the performance of the management company by specifically developed performance criteria.

Operations Management. Woodside currently has an on-site manager who serves in both the fiscal and operational capacity. We need to separate these functions. We need continuous and ongoing review of the property’s fitness – is the community safe, are vital services being provided (hot water, sewers in working order, security), are the property and equipment well-maintained? We should only be using licensed contractors with good credentials and references, and we should be holding those contractors to detailed contracts – and not providing payment until all goods and services are delivered per those contracts.

The first step in turning Woodside around is to get a true picture of our financial situation and to build an enduring framework for administration and maintenance. For that we need a professional property management company.

Long-Term Goals

With the management company providing day-to-day services to ensure that all systems are operating smoothly and all basic services are available to our residents, the Board will then be able to explore more proactive and money-saving projects.

We will request a forensic accounting of the past several years in order to determine the actual cash flow and ongoing expenditures of the Association. It will help us determine an adequate figure for reserves and provide the basis for projecting costs for conversion of our existing antiquated, obsolete infrastructure systems (such as the boiler system, irrigation, landscaping, lighting). We must have real numbers in order to accomplish advance planning.

Long-Term Maintenance Plan. We must create long-term plans for not only fixing existing maintenance issues but also for scheduling future maintenance to reduce the costs of deferred maintenance. By painting fences and siding, removing debris from roofs and gutters, patching cracks in stucco, investigating the causes of standing water, and all the other standard tasks of good maintenance, we can extend the life of our structures. When structures do need to be replaced, more sustainable materials may prove cost-effective while retaining the Woodside’s architectural integrity.

Improved Security. We also need to create a plan for better security, determine the costs, and budget to implement the plan. It may be necessary to add layers of security in phases, but by planning we’ll ensure it happens. Possibilities include cameras, better lighting, license plate readers for the gates, and card keys for the pools, laundry rooms, and clubhouse.

Water and Sewage Infrastructure. Residents must have hot water and the ability to flush their toilets. We’ll need expert advice and research before discussing our options with homeowners. We’ll need to come up with costs for any proposed plan to replace the water and sewer pipelines, and funding methods to ease the burden on homeowners. We can no longer kick the can down the road, and this planning must begin soon.

Modernizing Power Systems. Let’s explore solar possibilities to economize our operations. We may be able to generate enough electricity to offset some of the Association’s energy costs, resulting in lower costs to our residents. We can work with SMUD to explore ways to convert aluminum wiring within units to copper so that, if appropriate, we can convert the gas boiler system to electric water heating for individual buildings. We have to find a way to make EV charging stations available within the community.

Landscaping and Local Flooding. We should be moving toward a more sustainable yet still beautiful landscape. All those lawns may be beautiful, but they use costly water and laws regarding water use getting stricter. By developing an overall plan with irrigation zones, we can gradually convert our landscape into a showplace sustainable community. The use of appropriate plants and diversion of rainwater to dry creeks and attractive rain barrels can reduce or eliminate flooded homes during a heavy storm.

Urban Forestry. All the trees on the property have been surveyed and evaluated for health and appropriateness. Let’s use those surveys. Our shady trees add value to our property by reducing cooling costs in summer as well as calming us with their serene beauty. Unfortunately, some of our trees are poorly placed and make walking hazardous. For instance, liquidambar trees are beautiful but release treacherous spiked balls along the walkways. Other trees have outgrown their planting area or have reached their life expectancy. A certified arborist should be helping us make any decisions about tree removal and replacement.