559-658-7466
By WILLIAM MILLER
YLOA Communications Consultant

Nearly 90 YLP residents showed up Oct. 23 at the clubhouse for the first of a series of quarterly Town Halls — this one focusing on getting community feedback, including suggestions on visible improvements that can be made quickly and affordably.

After a $10 meal of pasta, meatballs and salads, General Manager Jonathan Penrose led the session.

He started by doing a word-association exercise with “YLP,” “YLOA,” and “YSPUC.” YLOA board President Rebecca Brannon wrote down the ideas on big sheets on the wall.

Penrose then covered issues related to our community as A Place to Belong. Highlights of each topic follow.

Trust & Transparency

  • He has an open-door policy, and invites YLP residents to make appointments to come in and talk to him about things they’re concerned about — or just ask him when he’s out and about.
  • He said he has an excellent staff, and the comment was followed by applause.
  • A lot of what they do goes unnoticed. “Do you see trash on our roads?” he asked. “Almost none.” Road crews clean up along with their other tasks.
  • Employee morale is affected by negative comments on social media, a lot of the time based on inaccurate information. “If you have complaints, please speak directly to managers so we can address your concerns.and answer your questions”
  • Water Company recently passed an independent audit by the California Public Utilities Commission

Communications

  • Multiple initiatives to improve communication with the community: including new website, printed newsletters (enclosed with your water bill), new uniforms and vehicle branding making it easier to identify YLOA/YSPUC employees
  • A new phone system is going in by the end of November.
  • In answer to a question, he said paperless billing for water is under review.

Financial integrity

  • New financial forecasts that show our current financial status and how it compares to our annual budget
  • Updated reports that provide more details about the status of our pipeline replacement project
  • Better reporting on our receivables and collections
  • Updated financial software that will provide more flexible and detailed reporting

Smart spending Focus on projects that save money by reducing costs: examples:

  • Looking at replacing air conditioning system in the clubhouse would pay for itself in 3-4 years, new units are 70 percent more efficient
  • Also, wireless water meters at homes are being investigated
  • New tools and equipment that make work more efficient, like pressure washer and jack hammers for pipeline project

Balanced priorities

  • Need to address short term needs with longer term projects
  • Multi-year financial planning
  • Engineering Committee will start meeting twice a month to review Reserve Study and asset replacement
  • Find projects that produce visible changes and make a difference to everybody: like replacing all street signs with bigger, reflective signs.

If you had $1,000 to spend, where would it be? Some of the answers:

  • Online payments for water bills
  • Look into solar power (Engineering Committee is doing that)
  • A dog park
  • Heated swimming pool
  • More family oriented evening events
  • Fix the sign (on the parkway at) the Equestrian Center, remove dead trees
  • Ceiling fans for the patio
  • Pull out a booth in the Fairway Café, replace with chairs and table and see how that works. (Replacing booths is being considered)
  • Put out for bids every three years for tree companies to do trimming work, sanction just one company to get good rates.

Community feedback — some comments:

  • Audience: Need to be accountable
  • Audience: Things don’t get done.
  • Penrose: If you eat at our restaurants once a month you will save more than it costs to fund them.
  • Penrose: Subsidy for the Blue Heron is down significantly over last 4 years
  • Penrose: Golf course costs are going up. We want to drive increased play, advertise that it’s open to the public. We have a plan to bring in outside tournaments and players.
  • Penrose: Make golf course nicer, we want people to have good experience so they come back and increase our revenue. It cost $500 to fix the bathroom. We had a high school girls’ golf tournament this fall.
  • Audience: The can’s been kicked down the road on road repairs. Penrose: “Yes, this is a challenge we have to face together. Historically we have not set aside enough money to do this”
  • Director David Mahan: There is a plan to replace roads. “We’re going to do all we can, but it’s going to take money and time.”
  • Audience: White lines on roads need repainting, hard to see edges in fog. Mahan: We have an old machine for painting roads. Penrose: We may want to consider outsourcing the painting.
  • Audience: In answer to a question about the pipeline project, Penrose said “we have more leaks than any other system in California.” Crystal Cave is the next section for pipeline replacement, because it affects many other parts of the water system.
  • Audience: Have we looked at making special assessments, maybe a subgroup of homeowners in one area might be willing to pay more in dues to get improvements quicker in that area. Another person said he was willing to pay more to get pipes fixed quicker.
  • Audience: The reserve fund is inadequate. Penrose said that was a great question and will be addressed in the next town hall on financial issues. Mahan said the Engineering Committee will start in January on the reserve study.
  • Audience: The CC&Rs signed when we bought, need to be enforced. We have a neighbor with a yard full of junker cars.
  • Penrose: Dues went up significantly with the pipeline project. But if you remove the project and roads spending, the rest amounts to about $750 a year or $62.50 a month for all the amenities and other services.
  • Audience: One of the reasons we moved here was because it is affordable. Penrose said an initiative called YLP Cares is starting up to try to help residents with trouble paying dues.
  • Audience: Set higher restaurant prices for outsiders, and lower for members. Penrose said liquor license restrictions won’t allow that, but other money-saving ideas are being considered for YLP residents.
  • Audience: Controversy is a good thing, you get resolutions out of it.
  • Audience: Distribute the agenda by email to homeowners ahead of meetings.
  • Audience: Farmers market suggested for new event.

Each person attending was asked to fill out a survey about our amenities and community events. Results will be shared next week.

The next Town Hall will be January 22nd with a focus on financial issues, including a review of three other HOAs similar to YLOA.

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