Welcome to our FAQs! We hope you’ll find them informative and possibly even entertaining here and there. Although every effort has been made to be accurate, and source documents are referenced as appropriate, ultimately, the governing documents themselves are the final, authoritative word. (It is inevitable that there will be some bloopers, misspellings, or links that don’t work, in spite of the hours spent staring at our computer screens till the letters run across the page like insects. When you find one of these errors, or if you come up with another question, please send an email to the webmaster using the link found in the footer. We thank you for helping to improve our website!)
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GENERAL DIRECTORY (Well, we don’t actually know its rank, other than that it’s not private!)
I. “All A-Board” – the Board of Directors, committees, Board meetings
II. Architectural Control Committee (ACC)
III. "Associative Properties" - all about homeowner associations
prime time – stay tuned!)
IV. "Inspector Le(Balu)strade" – for folks living on the main drag
V. ”Keeping Up Appearances” – yard and house maintenance
VI. “Land(scape)-HO” – Association landscaping
VII. “Mr. Postman Look and See…” - mailboxes
VIII. ”Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (And RVs)
IX. “Spare change” - the process for changing things
X. “Uh-oh!” – complaints, compliance and collections (Started, but still under construction)
XI. “Up Your Assessment” – All about what our dues do and don’t
XII. ”All That Jazz” - Everything that doesn’t fit in another category
I. “All A-Board” – the Board of Directors, committees, meetings
Who can be a Board member?
-Our By-Laws state that Directors (the legal term for Board members) “must be owners of lots within Horizon Pointe, must be current in their assessments, and in compliance with the covenants and any rules and regulations adopted by the Board.” (You have to be named as a legal owner, not just the spouse of or related to the legal owner. Be sure the VIS account has the correct listing! Escrow companies don’t always get it right.)
What will I be expected to do?
-Attend as many regular monthly Board meetings as possible. Our target time is 2 hours or less. (Committees may also have monthly meetings, but committee involvement is voluntary; see below.)
-Prepare for the meetings by reviewing any information sent out ahead of time. This may include reports from the Treasurer, committees, and the manager, information on delinquent accounts and any waiver requests, and there may be things such as updates from the landscapers, auditor reports, bids for projects, etc. (The better members familiarize themselves with the materials BEFORE the meeting, the less time it takes in meetings having to go over it all.)
-Check for between-meeting communication on the web platform VIS uses, called Basecamp and/or on the dedicated Board email address you will set up – preferably daily. There may be discussion of issues or on-line votes on urgent matters.
-Respect the confidential nature of information you will have access to.
-Memorize the CCRs, By-Laws, and Rules. … Nah! Any homeowner should read through the governing documents to be at least somewhat familiar with them – especially the Rules - but it’s not expected that Board members will study them in detail. When questions arise, answers can be looked up. (The documents may be found on the VIS homeowner portal or on this website under "Homeowner Resources".)
What about committees?
It is helpful to have Board members active in committees, but as stated above, that involvement is voluntary. The Architectural Control Committee (ACC) is the only committee whose existence is mandated by the Covenants, and its chair is required to be a member of the Board. There is a Communications Committee overseeing this website. We currently have a one-person Social Engagement Committee. During the late spring and summer, a Finance Committee is established to create the next year’s budget. Other committees have existed at various times as there have been members interested or there has been a need.
How do I become a Board member?
There are elections for Board members held at every Annual Meeting each November. There is a nomination form included in the mailing that will be sent before the meeting. Nominations are also accepted from the floor. Read the By-Laws for the specifics on how the actual election and terms work. Between Annual Meetings, members may be appointed at any time if there are vacancies. (With a maximum of 13 Directors, there are virtually ALWAYS vacancies!) If it’s between Annual Meetings and you’d like to volunteer as a Board member, send an email to VIS at email@example.com and ask them to inform the Board of your interest. The Board needs all the good members it can get!
I can’t serve right now, but I do have some ideas for the Board or for a committee. Who do I contact?
You can always send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our manager will forward it to the appropriate Board/committee person.
Why doesn’t the Board DO something about …???
There are some complaints made that are about things that the Board has no enforcement authority over. For example, if your neighbor won’t pay their share to repair your fence, that’s a civil matter, not an Association one. There are some complaints made that are about things that are unrealistic to enforce. For example, the CCRs say residents should not park on the street, but it would be impracticable for the Association to attempt to keep track of, send violation letters to, and fine every household in our 844-lot neighborhood whose residents do so. There are complaints made that the Association cannot follow through on because of limited information. For example, if a complaint is made about a trailer parked on one of the side streets, if we do not know which residence it belongs to, we can’t send a compliance letter about it – and we don’t have the authority to have it towed. There are some things the Board would be willing to do more about IF they had enough people on the Board! The fewer the people on the Board, the more limit to what they can deal with. What about complaints that the Association IS following through on? If you read the Enforcement Policy under Homeowner Resources, you will see that what the Board can “do” is limited to sending compliance letters and issuing fines – and the process takes time. The house with a yard with grass and weeds high enough to lose a small child in may be many, many months into a series of compliance letters, or even foreclosure. Just because you don’t know what is being done doesn’t mean that nothing IS being done.
When are Board meetings held?
The Board meets on the third Thursday of each month via Zoom. The link may be found on your account portal under “Documents->Meetings Announcements and Info”. Since it is a recurring meeting, it is easiest to simply download the document to your computer rather than having to look it up every month!
Are Board meetings open to Association members?
YES! All Association members have a right to attend all regular Board meetings. Members are, in fact, ENCOURAGED to attend.
What happens at Board meetings?
Pretty standard stuff. The general outline is Homeowner Forum, President’s Report, Treasurer’s Report, Committee Reports, Manager’s Report, Old/New Business, then Executive Session. All but the Executive Session are open to Association members.
Are Association members allowed to speak at Board meetings aside from the Homeowner Forum?
Board meetings are not a “town hall”. Like citizens attending a City Council or other legislative body meeting, Association members are there as observers, not participants.
Why attend Board meetings if we’re not allowed to actively participate?
There is no better way to know what all issues are going on that affect the Association – what things are being done, why things are or aren’t happening – and, very importantly, to understand what all goes into the decisions the Board makes. Minutes are supposed to be made available on the homeowner portal once they are approved at the next meeting, but minutes will never give you the same picture that attending a meeting will.
What if I want to address the Board about a compliance notice received or a waiver request submitted?
If you want to speak to the Board about an issue that will be considered in Executive Session, then you need to contact the manager and let her/him know that you wish to do so. The manager will then notify the president, and you will be placed at the start of the Executive Session. Board members may ask you questions for clarification, but once this has been done, you will leave the session before deliberation begins or decisions are made.
II. Architectural Control Committee (ACC)
How do I put in an ACC request?
Sign into your account portal (the link is on the “Contact Us” page), then choose “Documents->Forms” and open the ACC form – fillable pdf. Fill out the form, then save it to your computer along with any other documentation, such as drawings or photos. Go back to your account and click on “Architectural” at the top, then click on the “Submit New Request” button on the left. Choose from the options in the drop-down menu. This will create your application number and open a small window with three steps, including uploading your filled-out ACC request. (At any time, you can close the window, and get back into it by clicking on that application number under the “Architectural” tab.)
What things do I have to put in an ACC request for?
The Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy states in Section A that you need to put one in for “all significant changes” to the exterior of your house or property, front or back. The following is not a complete list, and not all are listed specifically on the management company website menu.:
-Air conditioner, permanent (as in whole house type)
-Arbor/Gazebo/Trellis (free-standing structures)
-Basketball Hoops, permanent
-Clearing/Grading/Filling (this was more common when the development was first going in)
-Dog Kennel or dog run, permanent
-Fences and Gates IF changing location, design, color, or material (see Rules, Section B)
-Hot tub/spa (repeated “quality assurance” visits may need to be paid by deserving neighbors)
-Impervious Pathway (See Guidelines Section D. iv.)
-Major landscape revision
-Painting the exterior
-Patio or patio cover
-Play structure, permanent
-Shed/storage unit (Limit is 10’ x 12’ x 9’H. Guidelines Section S)
-Shutters (although the option on the management company portal says “shudders”….)
-Solar panels (Our restrictions conform to State regulations. See Guidelines Section T.)
-Tree removal (See more detail below)
-Treehouse (Not that many of our trees are big enough to support such yet, but we can dream…)
-Water feature, permanent
Where can I find the house and fence color palettes?
You can find them on this website under “Homeowner Resources”. They are also on your account portal under “Documents->Forms->Governing Documents->color schemes”.
May I use a color that’s not on the approved palette?
The colors in the palette are from Kelly-Moore, but while Kelly-Moore can still provide them, you may find something somewhere else that is a close match and submit the paint chips with your ACC application. If Lowe’s “Oo La La Lavendar” is close enough to the K-M “Why Would I Lilac?”, it is likely to be approved.
Do I need to do an ACC request if I’m repainting the exterior with the same colors?
The language of the ACC request form stipulates that you have to put in a request for “significant changes”. If you’re not changing the color, and your colors are within the approved palette, an ACC request is not needed.
Can the Association require me to repaint my house?
The HOA is legally able to enforce the various provisions of the CCRs which call for owners to keep their houses in good repair and well-maintained, so, yes, the Association can require you to repaint your house. Historically, inspecting house painting is something that has been done at intervals of several years, with owners being given up to one year to get the job done.
Am I allowed to use a window air conditioner?
Window A/C units do not require an ACC and are allowed between June 1st and September 30th. (Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section J. iv.)
Do I have to do an ACC request for a satellite dish?
No. FCC regulations trump associations. “The Association simply requests all satellite dishes are installed as far back as possible from the front of the home while allowing adequate reception.” (Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section G)
Is it ok to put in a fire pit in my backyard?
Not if it uses wood fuel. By ordinance of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency: “Outdoor burning — including recreational fires — is prohibited within Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater city limits. The exception is the use of charcoal briquettes, natural gas, or propane appliances.” See https://www.orcaa.org/outdoor-burning/recreational-fires/
I want to take a tree out of my yard. What do I need to do?
In addition to submitting an ACC request, since Lacey is a designated “Tree City”, anyone wanting to remove a tree also needs to get a permit from the City. The permits are free and simple to get. [See this link for full information: https://cityoflacey.org/tree-permit/ ] If it is an emergency – for example, the tree is storm-damaged and is leaning dangerously, posing a hazard to life or property – call the City Arborist at (360) 491-5642 to request emergency authorization. Put in the ACC request once the emergency has been dealt with.
I put in an application over a month ago and haven’t had a response yet. How long do I have to wait?
According to the CCRs Section 9.3, the ACC has thirty days to respond to your request with either a decision OR a written statement that they will need more time to consider the request. If neither of those occurs, the request is considered as automatically approved and you may proceed.
I put in an application, and it was rejected – but I see other people who have done the same thing I want to do. Doesn’t the fact that the ACC has let others do something automatically mean they HAVE to approve my request?
No. Per the CCRs, Section 8.3, the Association approving any particular plan doesn’t constitute waiving the right to deny another similar request. Your request may have had factors in play that differ from the others that were approved. Likewise, if others have done work without getting ACC approval, it does not force a “precedent.”
What happens if I DON’T put in a request, or my request is denied, but I do the work anyway?
The CCRs Section 9.10 gives the ACC the authority to require that unapproved work be stopped and removed. If the halt/remove order is not followed within 30 days, then the enforcement procedures in Section 18.1 shall be applied. Having an approved ACC request is your insurance that no one can question you, either now or later.
III. Associative Properties - the how’s and why’s of homeowner associations
How did we come to even have an HOA in the first place? Who wanted it???
The origins of homeowner associations go back in the very early 1900s. At their core, they have always been concerned with property value – real or perceived. For most of their history, the question of “To HOA or not to HOA” was up to the developer. However, major changes came about in the 1970s. Escalating land costs led developers to seek zoning law changes to allow for shrinking lot sizes. These changes were granted, but developers had to include “green belts” and other “common areas” to make up for the smaller yards. (See the map of our extensive common areas under the Resources->Maps tabs.) As these “common areas” were to be maintained by the homeowners rather than by the municipality, it was necessary that Homeowner Associations be set up to fund the maintenance. The U.S. Clean Water Act of 1977 required the inclusion of storm water detention/retention ponds to handle the run-off created by new developments; these areas, likewise, are designated as “common areas” to be paid for in aggregate by all the homeowners. (Our system includes the three storm water ponds along Rainier and south of Radius and all the Balustrade swales - those ditches in the middle down the length of the street.) It has become a standard practice for cities and counties to require the establishment of an HOA as a condition for developers seeking to obtain a permit to build a housing development. So it was with our development. The CCRs and the plans for our HOA were set in place by the developer before the first shovelful of dirt was turned – it only took getting some actual homeowners for the CCRS and HOA to kick in.
OK, I get the point about needing an HOA to pay for common areas, but what’s with all the RULES in HOAs?
Again, it comes down to perceptions of what enhances property value. Developers put provisions in their CCRs that they believe enhance the desirability of their development for the buyers in their target audience. Generally, the higher the comparative sticker price of a development, the more restrictive the rules. Some rules are purely subjective, such as those limiting the color palette or building materials to create a more “harmonious” appearance to the neighborhood. Some rules improve safety, such as prohibiting residents from parking on the street, which improves visibility for driving and makes it less likely that a child will suddenly run out from behind a parked car. Some rules serve both subjective AND public health purposes. Requiring that yards be kept mowed and in good order prevents the creation of eyesore yards full of derelict toys, lawn equipment, or cars and reduces rodent infestations by removing hiding and nesting places.
Then there are additional rules put in place by HOA Boards. Boards cannot create rules that contradict CCRs, but they may create additional rules to interpret their provisions. The provision against “nuisance activity”, in particular, found in most Covenants, gives associations wide latitude to create more specific rules such as ours regarding barking dogs. Additional rules may also have to do with situations or technological advances that were unforeseen by the original developer of the Covenants. For example, solar panels are a very recent issue. As long as the rules don’t contradict the CCRs or go against any provision of law, these additional rules are just as enforceable as those in the CCRs.
Why should I have to follow all these rules? I didn’t vote for them. I think they’re stupid. I think they infringe on my right to do whatever I want with my own property.
Just as by moving to any city, county, state, or country, a person is agreeing to abide by its laws even if the person doesn’t know all the laws, by buying a house in a development governed by an HOA, a resident is agreeing to abide by its CCRs and rules, even if the resident hasn’t read the CCRs and rules to know what all provisions they contain. It’s up to the buyer to know what they are getting into. Renters are held to the same standard. If their landlord doesn’t give them a copy of the rules, the renter needs to pursue getting a copy from the HOA or management. (This is part of why we created this website, too – so renters have access to all the information!)
IV. “Inspector Le(Balu)strade” – for folks living on the main drag
May I do my own yard care and not have to pay the extra assessment?
Our most common Balustrade question, but no, it’s not an option, as the CCRs Section 6.3 specifically delegates responsibility for yard maintenance of alley access lots to the Association, although the item is very broad in stating what that may or may not include. Although historically care has been very inclusive, this may change to a more minimal level in the future.
Who owns the plants in my front/side yards – me or the Association?
YOU do. Your extra assessment pays for the landscapers to care for your yard, but it does not give the Association ownership.
Can I change things in my yard?
You own your plants, so you have the same rights to do what you want with your yard as any other owner in the Association, subject to the same Association or City rules. You may take out bushes, put in new ones, plant flowers, take out trees, and so on.
Exactly what maintenance are the landscapers currently responsible for?
Historically, and under the current contract, the landscapers are responsible for mowing and edging your lawn, treating it for moss and weeds, and pruning bushes and shrubs and treating them for disease. Tree branches and shrubs may be trimmed only up to 12’, which is as high as the landscapers can go without specialized equipment. They are not responsible for watering.
Can I request the landscapers to do specialized work on how I want my bushes/shrubs trimmed?
In general, no. The landscaper’s contract is based on an expected amount of time to be spent based on an average per yard, pruning on a set schedule; it would be too complicated and add too much time for them to keep track of individualized treatment plans for all of the houses on Balustrade. If you are there when they are pruning bushes and you have a specific request (e.g. “Could you cut that pyramidalis off at porch rail height, please?”), you may certainly ask the workers – but if the request will not fit in their schedule, they are within their right to decline.
Who is responsible for doing the backflow testing for my irrigation system?
All irrigation systems must have backflow testing done each year by law to prevent contamination of the aquifers on which our three cities depend. Some years ago, the Association made a deal with the company that does the testing for the Association’s system to do testing for all Balustrade houses at the same time, in return for the company granting everyone a nice group discount. The fee for this testing is included as a line item in the budget for the Balustrade assessments. Scheduling is done by the management company.
What if I don’t want to use my irrigation system. Do I HAVE to turn it on?
No – but you are still under the same lawn appearance requirements as everyone else in the Association and must keep your lawn watered. Backflow testing must also still be done.
I don’t like just having gravel between my back fence and the alleyway. Can I put grass or other plants there?
Yes, but once you do, YOU are responsible for the upkeep on that strip and will be expected to keep it maintained like any other part of your yard. The landscapers are only responsible for keeping gravel areas weeded back there.
How “private” is my back yard as far as how I keep it up?
You are expected to keep whatever can be seen from driving through the alley to the same standard as elsewhere. This is particularly true of any areas immediately adjacent to your driveway.
Is it OK if my garbage cans are visible from the alley?
Your cans may be visible by your house while driving through the alley, but your cans should not be visible in the alley corridor itself looking from the END of the alley.
Is it ok to put a moveable basketball hoop in the alley?
No. You may not place any sports equipment of any kind in the alley. This includes parking bicycles there. These constitute a traffic hazard.
V. ”Keeping Up Appearances” – yard and house maintenance 3
What kinds of things are ok to have in my front yard?
For the full scoop, refer to the Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Sections D, E, F, I, and J under Homeowner Resources. Our front yards have to be at least 50% ground cover (not necessarily grass but definitely NOT weeds); the rest may be rock, stone, bark, or even left bare. Fountains, statuary, planters, and figurines – typical yard decoration stuff – is fine as long as it is “appropriate for general audiences”. Moveable basketball hoops are allowed in yards/driveways but may not be placed where they interfere with street or foot traffic. (They are not allowed in streets, alleys, sidewalks, or parking strips.) Garbage bins are preferred to be stored out of sight but may be placed by the sides of the house; they may not be stored in the FRONT of houses. Political signs are allowed by Federal and State law.
How picky do I have to be about my yard?
Grass should be trimmed often enough to look like a residential yard and not a cow pasture wanna-be. Lawns must be watered in summer enough to prevent dormancy, but exactly how green your lawn needs to be depends on your neighbors. The same barely-green yard that may get a compliance letter if its neighbors are all lawn-rangers and keep their grass lush and verdant might not get a letter if its neighbors are all as eco-minded and do a minimum of watering. There is no specific “weeds allowed per square foot” count, but a yard with a bunch of weeds allowed to grow and bloom so they can share the wealth to the whole neighborhood is far more likely to get a compliance letter than one where both lawn and weeds are kept mowed. Bushes and trees should be trimmed so they aren’t extending into the sidewalk where they will interfere with pedestrian traffic. Diseased plants and dead plant material (e.g. leaves in the fall) should be removed so as not to look junky; removing diseased plants also helps prevent the spread of contagious conditions to other plants in the neighborhood. (Sharing is NOT caring in this case!)
What things are ok to have on my front porch?
Furniture suitable for the outdoors, planters, other items of a decorative nature, or delivery boxes for grocery items or pickup of recyclable items are fine. Our porches are not considered an extension of the garage for general storage of sports equipment, yard tools, boxes, furniture, appliances, building materials, etc. By Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section J. iii., it is not allowed to have or use barbecues, smokers or “non-self contained outdoor heaters” on front decks or porches, either. (If you are doing a remodel and know you will need to use the porch temporarily during the day to move things out of the house while work is done, just send an email to the management company ahead of time and let them know. A manager driving by on a compliance check has no way of knowing when something is temporary.)
How soon can I put up my holiday decorations and lights?
Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section F.i. Seasonal decorations and light may go up no earlier than 6 weeks ahead of the pertinent holiday, and they must be removed within 30 days of the holiday. For the two biggest decorating events here, that means Halloween decorations are green-lighted from Sept. 19th to November 30th and Christmas ones may twinkle from November 13th to January 25th. Mark your calendars and start planning your extravaganza!
Who is responsible for the fences in the neighborhood?
Fences are owned by the homeowners on whose property the fence is located. In our development, everywhere but Balustrade, fences between houses were built bang on the property lines, so the ownership is shared equally between the adjacent houses. On Balustrade, some fences and even patios were built over the neighboring property line. Check the property description in the papers from when you bought your house or check on the Thurston County home page using the Geodata or Assessor’s Office links to the right ( https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/tchome/Pages/default.aspx ) If a shared fence needs to be repaired/replaced due to the actions of one owner – such as if their dog has pushed through some boards – then a reasonable expectation is that that owner should pay for the needed work. If the repair/replacement is due to aging or what insurance refers to as “acts of God”, both owners should share the cost.
Can the Association make my neighbor do repairs to a shared fence or share the costs of repairs/replacement?
No, the Association does not have that authority under our CCRs. If you have an issue with your neighbor about a fence and you cannot work it out in a friendly fashion, you will need to seek legal advice. It is a civil matter, not an Association one.
If I’m just replacing/repairing my fence with the same kind of fence, or just refreshing the same color, do I have to put in an ACC request?
No. See Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section B.
Can I do a different style of fence, such as chain link?
Not under the standards established in the CCRs Section 9.1.
Can I not put lattice on the top of my fence, are at least make my fence taller so my neighbor and I have more privacy?
No such exceptions to the fence standard set in the CCRs Exhibit D have been granted.
VI. “Land(scape)-HO” – Association landscaping
Just what does the landscaping contract include?
See the map of the Common Areas under “Homeowner Resources->Maps” to see just how big our development is. We have over 14 miles of parking strips (the area between the sidewalk and the curb), not to mention all the larger areas of grass here and there along them (called “pocket parks”) and at the main entrance on Rainier, the “tot lot” on Inlay, the Prism Park (the little undeveloped lot on Prism that was part of the original stormwater system before the final section of the development was built), the Balustrade swales (the grassy stormwater treatment areas down the middle of the road), and the entire length of Rainier Rd. on the east side from 66th Ave. SE to the railroad trestle. According to our landscaping contract: All of the parking strips, grassy areas, swales, and “pocket parks” are mowed and edged regularly during the growing season, as well as being sprayed for weeds and fertilized. The storm ponds are mowed a few times in the summer, and treated for Scotch broom, and the big hill running between Radius and the railroad tracks from the storm ponds up to Lintel Lane is mowed several times during the season as well. All barked areas and tree pits (no – not their underarms! The areas around the base of the tree where there isn’t grass) are to be kept free of weeds and suckers. The bushes in the swales are pruned a couple of times a year to keep them from becoming sight-blocks for driving. The seasonal color around the front entrance on Rainier Rd. is changed twice a year. Everywhere but the storm ponds and the Radius hill have irrigation pipes running in them. The system requires substantial repairs every year. Our many trees with their ever-growing roots are always strangling pipes or pushing heads out of position where they end up getting damaged or decapitated by the mowers. During fall, our 1500+ trees drop an ever-increasing volume of leaves. (See a detailed discussion of leaf pickup below.) The litter bags on all of our eleven doggy doo stations must be emptied. Trees are supposed to be trimmed to Lacey City Code to clear over sidewalks and streets, which is at the time of this writing 10’.
I have chemical sensitivities and don’t want spraying done in front of my house, or at least I want to be notified any time there will be spraying done of any kind. Is this possible?
Yes! The State of WA keeps a registry of chemically sensitive and landscapers must provide notification any time there will be a spraying event. Get all the information here: https://agr.wa.gov/departments/pesticides-and-fertilizers/pesticides/sensitivity-registry
Who is responsible for mowing the big hill between the HOA houses on Radius and the railroad tracks?
The Association is. If not mowed a few times in the summer, the dry grass presents a fire hazard. If you notice the grass there is getting high enough to lose a soccer ball, please notify the management company by putting in a maintenance request through your account portal (link is on the “Contact Us” page) then “Maintenance->Submit New Request”, sending an email to email@example.com, or by calling (800) 537-9616.
How often is new bark supposed to be put in?
Our reserves are set up to handle this every two years.
What if I see a geyser going off because a sprinkler head got cut off? What if I notice a really flooded area or water running down the street/sidewalk and it seems to be coming from the irrigation system? What should I do if I see a sprinkler head that isn’t aimed right or isn’t working?
For something urgent, call the management agency at (800) 537-9619 so they can get someone out to deal with it as soon as possible. If it’s not urgent, put in a maintenance request through your account portal (the link is on the “Contact Us” page) “Maintenance->Submit New Request”. This request form does not have an option to include photos, but you will have the opportunity to send them when you get an email response to your request. If you are a tenant, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org . In any case, be sure to give the address of the closest house, or, if it’s on Rainier Rd., give as many reference points as you can.
There looks to be a water main break/sewer back-up/flooded roadway/tree blocking the road. Who do I call?
Call the City of Lacey Utility Emergency at (360) 491-5644. After hours, call (360) 704-2740.
I found the lid open on some kind of underground utility. What should I do?
If you can tell it is a City of Lacey water or sewer junction box, call the City Utilities Department at (360) 491.5644. If it is an Association irrigation control, contact the management company at (800) 537-9619. For either, give the address of the closest house or as many reference points as possible for Rainier Rd. If you’re not sure whose box it is, call the management company. They will check it out and will contact the City of Lacey if appropriate.
I noticed a streetlight out. Who is responsible for them?
Streetlights are the responsibility of the City of Lacey Public Works Department. Please report the outage to them using the form at https://cityoflacey.org/lacey-311/ or call them at (360) 491-5644. They are limited on crews, so it may take time for the issue to be taken care of.
There is a tree that is blocking a streetlight. Who is responsible for trimming it?
The Association is responsible for any trees in the parking strips. Homeowners are responsible for trees in their yards. The Association has begun working on setting up a regular rotation for tree trimming now that our trees are reaching maturity, but any problem trees need to be reported to the management agency through your account portal or at email@example.com.
I noticed a section of sidewalk that is badly lifted up by tree roots. Who do I notify?
While we own the trees in the parking strips, the City of Lacey owns the sidewalks and is responsible for their maintenance. Please report all lifted or broken sidewalks to them using the City of Lacey Public Works Department form at https://cityoflacey.org/lacey-311/ or calling them at (360) 491.5644. The report form allows you to include photos. The City only has a limited crew for doing the repair work for the entire city, though, so it may take considerable time for repairs to be effected. If you report something, please also let the management company know so they can follow it.
Why is picking up the leaves such a big problem every year?
Leaf cleanup here is extremely complex. We have over 1500 trees on our parking strips and other common areas. Certain species of trees drop their leaves pretty much en masse, some early in the season, some late. Other species drop… their… leaves… slowly… over… several… months. In some places, the builder lined the whole street with the same kind of tree, so all the leaves tend to drop at once, but most streets have a hodgepodge, meaning there are leaves dropping for the whole season. Due to variations in weather, just when leaf season actually begins differs every year as does how long it lasts. Our trees are getting continually bigger and dropping ever more leaves; the volume is several times now what it was ten or even five years ago. Even if our contractor had nothing else to do but devote every crew and all their equipment to leaf cleanup of our 7 miles of streets and 14 miles of sidewalks from September to January – which is not the case - there would still be places where leaves would pile up. Cleanup is further complicated by the number of homeowners who leave cars parked on the street for days on end; the landscapers will attempt to clear leaves from under or around parked cars, but a lot of leaves may remain.
Is the Association responsible for keeping the sidewalks cleared of leaves?
No. Although our landscape contract does include having the landscapers pick up leaves in the Fall and to try to stay ahead of the worst of the pileups, ultimately the responsibility for leaves on the sidewalk lies with the homeowner. If you believe the leaf buildup on a sidewalk in front of your house poses a hazard for pedestrians, then please be neighborly and remove them yourself.
Is it ok to blow the leaves from my front yard into the parking strip or street for the landscapers to take care of?
Homeowners may blow/rake any leaves from their FRONT YARDS (not from back yards!) onto the parking strips for disposal by the landscapers. Please do NOT blow them out into the street.
An Association-owned tree has branches eating half my backyard/drooping into my driveway/hitting my house. What do I do?
Contact the management agency and let them know of the problem. If you are an owner, you can go through your account portal (on the “Contact Us” page) “Maintenance->Submit New Request” on the left side. This request form does not have an option to include photos, but you will have the opportunity to send them when you get an email response to your request. If you are a tenant, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The manager will need to determine whether it is a matter that can be handled by the landscapers or if an arborist will have to be called. (The landscapers can only work up to 12’.) If it is an emergency, call (800) 537-9619.
I see a number of dead or missing trees along Balustrade or in the parking strips around the neighborhood. Why haven’t they been replaced?
This project has been caught up in the management company AND landscaping company problems of the last few years. The Board is aware of the problem and will be working with the new landscaping company on it, getting dead trees removed and seeking recommendations as to what species of trees would be best for putting in to replace them all. However, trees of the size we need for putting in are expensive, and even more so is the labor cost associated, since the stumps have to be ground down to allow for the new planting, so the budget will determine how quickly the work will proceed.
There’s a hornet nest in an Association tree by my house. Who takes care of that?
If the nest is in a location where it could be inadvertently disturbed or provide too tempting a target for local young folks with more energy than sense, please call the management agency at (800) 537-9619 or send an email with photos to email@example.com .
I put in a complaint about a landscaping issue a couple weeks ago and nothing has been, or at least appears to have been, done. What’s going on?
Maintenance issues have to be prioritized, so sometimes delays are simply a result of having more critical issues happening with something else. If it is a sprinkler issue, taking time to get things fixed could be due to the landscapers having to wait for the Board to authorize funds for repair parts, waiting for repair parts to arrive, or your non-working sprinklers might be part of a larger problem that won’t be a simple fix. When you put in a maintenance request through your account portal, it creates a ticket number, and you (and the Board!) can track when issues are resolved. If a ticket is supposedly resolved, but you can still see a problem, put in another request about it, but be sure to reference your first request.
VII. “Mr. Postman Look and See…” – mailboxes
I just found a mailbox unit that has been knocked over or is obviously damaged. Who do I contact?
If the doors are open, so there is a possibility that mail has been compromised, call the City of Lacey non-emergency number (360) 704-2740 and the management company at (800) 537-9619 immediately. Give a precise location of the box – which street, which side of the street, the nearest cross-street or the house address it is in front of. If the doors are still fully intact, just call the management company. They will contact the Post Office to send a technician to assess the situation.
My mailbox door won’t open. What do I do?
If the key won’t turn at all, it’s likely water has gotten into the lock and caused some rusting issues. Try spraying the lock with WD-40 or another similar lubricant or rubbing the edge of your key on pencil lead to coat it with graphite to lubricate it. If we’re having a lot of ice, try heating your key with a lighter before inserting it. If the key turns in the lock, but only partway, then most likely there’s a large piece of mail, or a whole bunch of mail, jammed in. If you can’t jiggle it enough to force the latch to turn, you’ll have to contact the Post Office for help.
I lost my mailbox keys. Where do I go to get a replacement?
That depends. If you are an owner, you will have to contact the Post Office. They install the locks in the boxes. They may provide new keys or may put a new lock on the box; in either case, there will be a charge. If you are a renter, and you were issued only one key when you moved in, first check with your rental agency manager to see if they have additional keys. It is also possible that our management company has extra keys if your unit was replaced in the project of 2021; some investment companies and out-of-town owners had us keep them. If our management company has extras, you may present ID and proof of your right to have a key by showing your current lease agreement or showing that you can access an on-line payment portal or have the owner or your rental agency manager send written/emailed permission to the management company. (Post office regulations, not Association.) If neither your management company nor ours has extra keys, it will be up to the owner to get the Post Office to either issue new keys or replace the lock and issue new keys.
I lost my mailbox key. Can I just have the mail carrier hand me my mail until I get a replacement?
Alas, no. Even if you present full ID, the carrier is not allowed to give you your mail. This is between you and the Post Office, no matter how long the situation lasts. There is nothing the Association can do.
When they repainted the curb strips in front of the mailboxes, they made them even longer, so now we have even less street parking space. Why extend those curb strips???
This goes back to what USED to be a frequent question of "Why didn't the carrier deliver our mail to our box?" to which the answer was that our curb strips were actually too short to allow enough room for mail carriers to move safely in and out of the parking lane if cars were parked right up against the strip. When we had the strips repainted in September of 2022, we had them painted according to U.S. Postal Service requirements to ensure sufficient room for mail delivery.
VIII. ”Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (And RVs)
Are there any landing strips in the neighborhood?
Actually, there is a tiny privately owned, public use landing strip called Hoskins Field along Rainier Road across from the golf course! Its FAA LID is 44T.
What all trains use the tracks south of the development?
Mostly we get freight trains coming through, but several times a day we also get a high-speed passenger train heading to/from the Amtrack station down Yelm Highway.
Why do trains blow their horns sometimes but not others?
Other than at intersections (which we don’t have close by), train engineers blow the horns whenever they see someone on or too near the tracks. If the engineer is blowing the horn right by our development, most likely it means there are kids playing on the tracks. Not good!
Is it ok to park on the street here?
According to the CCRs Section 10.1(D) under Homeowner Resources, residents are not supposed to park on the street, or at least not for more than 24 hours without prior approval. Is this enforced? No. There are far too many cars parked on the street for an attempt to be made to trace them all to their owners.
I like to buy old cars and rehab them. Can I do that in my driveway?
Nope. See Guidelines Section K. You aren’t allowed to do anything but emergency repairs or minor tasks such as oil changes. No inoperable vehicles may be stored here unless they are kept out of sight.
There’s a car parked on the street by my house that hasn’t moved for weeks. I’m not sure who it even belongs to. What should I do?
Call the Lacey Police non-emergency line (360) 704-2740 and report it – location, make, model, color, and license number. The police will determine the owner and contact them. It’s possible that the car is stolen; neighborhoods such as ours are frequent “drop zones” for such. Even if the car belongs to a resident, Lacey City code does not allow for using streets as long-term parking lots.
There’s a car that is always parking right on a corner, making it even more dangerous to go through that intersection. It’s even blocking a fire plug! What can I do?
If you know who the car belongs to, first try approaching them in person and pointing out the hazard. If you don’t know who it belongs to, you can try leaving a note on the windshield. Failing either of those approaches, you may file a complaint with the management agency, since it does violate our Guidelines, but since it is also a traffic code violation, you could call the City non-emergency line (360) 704-2740.
I’m tired of cars flying by going way over the speed limit! I’m really worried a child may get hit. Can’t the Association see about getting some speed bumps put in or something?
Virtually every neighborhood in town has the same problems with speeding that we do – some even worse. The Association HAS looked into this option a number of times over the years, but streets belong to the City of Lacey and qualifying for speed bumps is a very intensive process. None of our streets meet the City’s criteria for installing speed impediments.
May I keep my RV or camper trailer parked in my driveway?
Other than the temporary trip prep/clean-up in the next question, no. The Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy Section M specifies that any “trailer, recreational vehicle, boat, boat trailer, panel truck, bus, camper or camping trailer” must be either kept in the garage or stored off-site. If you are new and are on the waiting list for a storage site, contact the management company at firstname.lastname@example.org and provide documentation, then keep them informed. As with so many things, communication can make all the difference!
I have an RV and plan to do a trip soon. I’ll need to prep my rig, then clean it out after the trip. How do I get permission to park it here?
Contact the management company at email@example.com and let them know the dates of your trip. Generally, you may park your rig for up to 48 hours before and after your trip if you have gotten advance permission. Please be considerate of your neighbors in parking. Our narrow streets are not built to accommodate big rigs!
I have a trailer I use for my business. May I keep it parked here?
No. It is no different than an RV - nor may you use the streets as a business parking lot for your extra company trucks, vans, etc.
IX. “Spare change” - the process for changing things
There are things I don’t like about the way the Association is run. How would I go about trying to get them changed?
Your first step is going to be to read the CCRs and the Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcements and the By-Laws under Homeowner Resources. This is important because the procedure for trying to change something will depend entirely on which document it is in or is affected by.
The CCRs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) were put in place by the builder as a condition for getting a permit to build from the City. The full details of trying to amend the CCRs are in Section 13.2. Basically, you first have to bring amendment to an Association meeting called for the purpose. It has to pass there by 67% of the total voting power of the Association. It then has to be approved in writing by 100% of the membership before it can take effect. In other words, changing the CCRs is … not happening. The CCRs will not expire until 10/14/2055.
The By-Laws govern the details of how the Association functions as an organization. The CCRs Section 2.3 dictates that the Association be managed by a Board of Directors, but it leaves the details to the By-Laws. By-Laws Section VIII allows for changes to the By-Laws by majority vote of the Board or by majority vote of the membership at a special Association meeting called for that purpose.
The Guidelines, Rules, and Enforcement Policy is a document created by the Board but not referenced in either the CCRs or the By-Laws. The Board created this document as a “Cliff Notes” version of the CCRs and to apply principles of the CCRS to new situations not specifically addressed (such as solar panels, which were not around when the CCRs were created.) Guidelines cannot be used to negate provisions of the CCRs but may be used to interpret how specific provisions of the CCR will be interpreted and enforced (such as the Barking Policy.) The document is changed on a simple majority rule by the Board.
How would I petition the Board to change something?
There is no specified process for this. A petition could be sent to the Board through the management company at any time. If you want to have the petition discussed at a Board meeting, you will need to submit it with enough lead time and ask to have it put on the agenda, but it would be the president’s prerogative to grant the request or not. Obviously, the more people signing, the more likely the petition would get consideration.
How would I go about calling a special meeting of the Association?
By-Laws Section IV. B. states that special meetings may be called at any time by the written request of at least 10% of the members (we have 844 members) or by a 2/3 majority vote of the Board. If a special meeting were to be successfully called, then a simple majority of the membership present at the meeting would be sufficient to pass a matter.
Note: If you want to change something about what is covered by a contract already in place (such as landscaping), it may not be alterable until the next renewal date. If the matter would affect assessments, then the matter must be raised before the budget for the next year is passed and assessments are set. (The Board generally finalizes the budget by August or September.)
X. "Uh-oh!" – complaints, compliance, and collections
(Note: all dollar amounts for fees or administrative charges are current as of March 2023. They are subject to change by the Board or the management company.)
My neighbor is being noisy late at night/accosting me when I walk by their house/doing something else that I think violates the CCRs. I’ve tried talking to them, but it’s gone nowhere. What do I do?
You will need to fill out the official Complaint Form that you will find on your account portal under “Documents->Forms->Complaint Form–fillable.pdf” and submit it to the management company. If the issue is one that falls under the jurisdiction of some government agency, you will need to contact that agency.
I put in a complaint, but nothing is being done/I feel like I’m getting “the brush off”. What now?
If you feel that a complaint is not getting the action it deserves, you have a couple of options. You may send a message to the management company specifying that you want the matter brought to the Board; the manager is obligated to bring forth any such request. You may come to a Board meeting (info is on the home page of this website) and request to speak during the Homeowner Forum. Board decisions are final. If you have complaints about the management company itself, and you have exhausted all attempts to work with them, documenting your contacts, Board member emails are available under the “Directory” tab on your account portal.
How does the compliance system work?
The management company sends out a representative once a month to do an inspection. The representative is expected to be familiar with our development, our governing documents, and any guidance given by the Board as to standards of enforcement. If the management rep sees a new violation, it will be documented with a photograph, and a warning letter will be generated. This letter will include a statement of the alleged violation, a copy of the documentation, and a citation of the relevant CCR/Guideline. For most violations, a homeowner will have 30 days to bring the item into compliance, although there are a couple that require immediate remedy. Other than those exceptions, these first letters are a warning only and do not incur an immediate fee. If on a subsequent inspection, the violation has not been brought into compliance, the process will be repeated, this time including a statement of escalation and notifying the homeowner of any fine that has now been assessed ($50 for a second letter, $50 for a third, and $100 for every subsequent violation until the issue is remedied), as well as any administrative fee charged by the management company. (Note: each separate issue is a separate violation, but it you have multiple violations, you will not be considered to be fully in compliance until ALL the violations have been brought into compliance.) The full Fines and Fees Schedule may be found at the end of the Guidelines.
I just got a letter that says I’m not in compliance with some rule, but ….
I think there was an error (“The photo of the violation is not MY house.” “The ‘toys’ in the garden are, in fact, a decorative wagon wheel and some garden gnomes.”)
If there is an actual error such as the example cited, email the management company and include any proof of the error. The violation will be deleted from your record. (Homeowners can check the status of any violation on their homeowner portal.)
I had some extenuating circumstances that I would like taken into consideration OR I don’t agree with the interpretation of the CCR/Guideline used. How do I appeal?
To appeal a violation letter or request a waiver, go to your homeowner portal, then look under “Documents->Forms->CCR Violation and Fine Waiver Request Form -fillable”. Download and fill out the form, then submit it as directed on the top of the form. The manager will then bring the request to the Board for consideration.
I’ve fallen a few months behind on my payments. I know I should have communicated sooner, but I didn’t. What can I do now?
Contact the management company as soon as possible!! As long as the account has not gone to the Association attorney or a collection agency, the manager can work with you on a payment plan to get you caught up and defer additional late fees and interest. On your account portal (link is on the “Contact Us” page here), under “Documents->Forms”, there is a “Payment Plan Agreement Form – fillable pdf”. The manager will go over it with you and submit any proposals to the Board for final approval/denial. There is a small charge for administration of a payment plan, but it is far less than the late fees, late fee letter administration fees, and interest incurred by doing nothing. You will be expected to be paying your current payments while you work on the payment plan to catch up on the delinquent amounts.
What is the difference between a “soft” cost and a “hard” cost when it comes to fees?
A “soft” cost is a fee that is charged by the Association solely at its own discretion. Late fees or compliance fees are considered “soft” costs because if the Board chooses to waive these charges for special circumstances, it won’t impact the Association’s finances. A “hard” cost is a fee that is charged by the management company to the Association, then charged by the Association to the homeowner to recover (e.g. a late letter administration fee. These are considered “hard” costs because if the Board were to choose to waive these charges, the Association itself would still have to pay it, which would affect the Association’s finances. It is exceedingly rare that hard costs are waived.
How does the collection process work?
You will find the official Collections Policy on this website or on your account portal under “Documents”. For full details, consult that document. What follows is a simplified outline:
- Assessments are due on the 1st of each month. Payments received after the 10th shall count as late and shall incur a $25 late fee. (If you are on the ACH payment plan through the management company and have a “draw” date on the 10th, it may occasionally shift due to weekends. You will not be charged for this.) An additional $25 late fee shall be charged on the 10th of each month for every month the account remains delinquent.
- Every late notice sent incurs an administration fee by the management company which the Association passes on to the homeowner. (This fee is subject to change each year with management contracts, but as of 3/2023, it is $15.) The 2021 Board noted that the majority of people who have a single late payment do get their bill paid within the month, so the Board decided they would not require that a notice be sent for a single late payment, thus saving homeowners that extra cost.
- Interest in the amount of 12% per year shall be charged on the unpaid assessments (not on late fees and administration fees) beginning on the first day from the day the assessment was first due until the date the account is paid in full.
- When an account has gone 60 days past due, then on the 10th of the following month, a delinquency letter will be sent informing the owner of the amount owing, including all late fees, interest, and administration fees, and demanding immediate payment. The notice shall warn that without such payment, a lien may be placed against the property, the account may be sent to the Association’s attorney for collection, or the homeowner may be taken to Small Claims Court. A similar letter will go out after 90 days.
- When an account has gone 120 days past due, one of the actions threatened in the delinquency letters will take place. Any and all costs incurred by the Association or its representatives in recovering the amount owed shall be charged to the homeowner. If an account is turned over to the Association’s attorney or sent to a collection agency, there will also be a $225 administration fee. If the case is taken to Small Claims Court, any management company costs associated will be charged to the homeowner.
- The Association’s attorney or a collection agent has the power to send demand letters (for which there will be a fee charged), to file a lien against the property (for which filing and paperwork there will be a fee charged), or to arrange a payment plan. Payment plans may not be for longer than 12 months without approval of the Board; homeowners will be expected to be paying their CURRENT assessments while also making payments on the plan for the past due amounts.
- Very important to know: Once an account has gone to the Association’s attorney or to a collection agency, ALL communication must go through that entity. Neither the management agency nor the Board can legally discuss it. (This includes bringing the matter up at a Board meeting during the homeowner forum.)
XI. “Up Your Assessment” – All about what dues do and don’t
What are my payment options?
Use the links or addresses given on the “Contact Us” page. Note: there is NO phone-in payment option.
ACH: This is a direct, automatic payment taken from your bank account. On your account portal, choose “Documents->Forms”, then open the ACH form – fillable pdf. Fill out and save the document to your computer. Go back to the home page of the portal and choose the “ACH/EFT” tab on the top, then the “Set up new ACH plan” button on the left and follow the instructions from there. This option is FREE.
DIRECT DEBIT: On your account portal, choose the “Accounting” tab on the top, then the “Pay” button on the left. Follow the options presented. Using this option rather than the ACH option above will cost you an extra monthly fee charged by the third-party company that handles the transaction.
CREDIT CARD: On your account portal, choose the “Accounting” tab on the top, then the “Pay” button on the left. Follow the options presented. Using your credit card to pay will cost you an extra monthly fee charged by the third-party company that handles the transaction.
CHECK: You may mail your check to the processing center listed on the “Contact Us” page or mail it to or walk it into the management company office. (The first will get your check processed more quickly, although you will need to allow time for mailing.) Include the coupon from the book you should have received. (If you did not receive a coupon book and want one, call the management company at (800) 537-9619.) You can also set up Bill Pay with your bank to do this without using the coupon book; Bill Pay may be free, depending on your banking institution. The check processing itself is free.
How much are the 2023 assessments?
The 2023 assessments are broken into three categories. The basic assessment for everyone is $63.00. Alley access lots (houses whose garages are accessed from an alley rather than from the street) pay an additional $13.00, for a total of $76.00. Balustrade lots pay $56.60 for Yard Maintenance in addition to the basic and Alley Access Lots assessments, making their total $132.60.
What do my HOA assessments pay for?
Using budget figures from 2022, it breaks down as follows. (Further explanations of some things are addressed in other questions below.) The figures for 2023 vary only somewhat due to a increases in the landscaping and management contracts. If you did not receive a copy of the 2023 budget, contact the management company.
Common Area Landscaping: 50% This is our single biggest cost. Look at the Common Area map under Homeowner Resources to see just how much common area the Association is responsible for taking care of. There are over 14 miles of parking strip alone, including over 1500 trees. Doing even the most basic of care for all of this takes a ton of work. (See Section VI. LAND(SCAPE)-HO in the FAQs for a detailed explanation.)
Administration: 17% Over half of this is the management company. (See below.) It also includes insurance, bad debt, the annual reserve study, the annual audit, this website, and some miscellaneous other stuff.
Utilities: 14% This is all the water for the 14+ miles of irrigation, the electricity used by the controllers for the system and for the lights at the entrance fountain, and the trash can at the “tot lot” on Inlay. (The doggy doo stations are taken care of by the landscapers.)
Reserves: 14% Reserves are our Association’s saving account to be prepared for major expenses – such as that project to replace 48 mailbox units in the summer of 2021. (See more detailed explanation below.)
Repairs and Maintenance: 3% This is for smaller, urgent repairs such as repairing the gate to the “tot lot” on Inlay, minor mailbox issues, entrance lights, and so on. Major repairs come out of reserve funds.
ALLEY ACCESS LOT RESERVE FEE
This is to cover repair/replacement of the asphalt alleys for all houses with alley access. For houses on 70th Way, 66th Ave. SE, and Lintel Lane SE, this is the first year they have had to pay this fee. (See explanation below.)
BALUSTRADE YARD MAINTENANCE FEE (percentages of this fee only)
Landscaping: 88% This covers all the front yard maintenance that the Association contracts with our landscapers to do, per our CCRs Section 6.3.
Bark: 12% This amount goes into the Balustrade reserve account to pay for new bark for Balustrade yards every two years. (This is separate from the reserves that pay for bark for the common areas.)
What all is the management company contracted to do?
They handle all customer service calls, maintenance requests, and complaints. They collect, post, and deposit assessments; prepare and post individual account statements; track and pay all invoices and payables; perform tracking, evaluation, and reconciliation of all Association bank accounts; prepare and mail delinquency notices and oversee payment plans for delinquent accounts; facilitate collection activity of delinquent accounts, including communication with our attorney; arrange for the filing of the annual tax return and completion of the annual audit and reserve study; compile information requested by banks, escrow companies, and appraisers. They do compliance checks, send letters noting violations, and track any necessary escalations. They oversee our other contractors, such as our landscapers and arborists, to ensure that work is being done, forward information on maintenance requests that residents submit, and relay communication between vendors and the Board when decisions are needed. They obtain vendors for smaller jobs and seek bids on large projects or contracts as the Board directs. They provide a secure website where residents may make payments, set up ACH plans, put in ACC requests and maintenance requests, and find documents. They host the monthly Board of Directors and Annual Members’ Meetings on an electronic platform. They handle all community-wide correspondence that the Board sends out through either email or hard copy, depending on the situation.
What are “reserves” and what is a “reserve study”?
Our reserves are our savings account. Just like a homeowner saves, knowing that appliances break down or the roof will need replacing eventually, HOAs and condo associations are required by law to have savings accounts which are called reserves. A reserve study is done by a company that looks at all the assets of an organization and estimates the amount of time before those assets will need to be replaced and the amount of money expected to be needed for that replacement, then makes a recommendation for where the organization’s finances stand in relation to that potential need.
What all assets do we have that we need reserves for?
Our assets include our irrigation system and controls, common area asphalt, the Inlay “tot lot” equipment, the doggy doo stations, 63 mailbox units, the bridge over the storm pond by Radius and Prism, the storm ponds themselves with their liners, and what has historically been a fountain but is being turned into a landscaped feature due to perennial repair issues with the pumps and leaks in the liners. Reserves also pay for bark replenishment every other year.
Who decides how much we should keep in reserves?
Reserves are a matter of risk. The healthier our reserves, the less likelihood there is that we would need to do a special assessment for a major repair. Every three years, the company we hire to do our study comes out and physically checks the condition of our assets; in the other two years, they take information we provide as to what repairs/replacements we have done. Every year, they issue new calculations for the amount of funds to set aside to fund the reserves at various percentages. The Board looks at those figures when setting the assessment amount for the year, aiming to keep our reserves funded at a level that puts our risk of a special assessment low.
I live on 70th Way/66th Ave. SE/Lintel Lane SE. Why do I have to pay an alley access lot fee?
When the original tiers of assessments were drawn up, for some reason it was not taken into account that there are non-Balustrade houses with alley access, so everyone with alley access who doesn’t live on Balustrade has gotten a “free ride” for getting their alleys sealed and resurfaced until now – which wasn’t fair to the rest of the community who doesn’t benefit from those alleys. In the budgeting process for 2022, an amount was set aside from regular reserves to begin the fund, and now non-Balustrade alley access houses pay into that reserve fund. Sealing is expected every 5 years, resurfacing every 30. Sealing was last done in 2020, so the fund will have some time to build up before it is needed again.
I’ve had a hard change in my financial situation and can’t pay my assessments right now. What should I do?
Contact the management company as soon as possible to let them know of your difficulty! The Association has contracted bills to pay, so the Board doesn’t have the authority to “forgive” assessment payments (thus putting a greater burden on the rest of the community) but it may approve a payment plan which may avoid incurring late fees and interest and the administrative costs of monthly late fee letters. Waiting until you are many months behind before asking for a waiver will not work in your favor.
I don’t agree with xyz decision/I’m unhappy with the Board/I’m not getting an answer from the management company/[fill in the blank] so I’m “sending a message” and not paying my assessment!
The only thing not paying your assessment will do is incur escalating late fees, administrative costs, and interest, landing you on the delinquent account list. (See the Collection Policy under Homeowner Resources) If you want to petition the Board to change something or want to call a special members’ meeting to consider an issue, you need to follow the process outlined under the FAQ Section IX “Spare Change”.
XII. ”All That Jazz” - Miscellaneous Other Stuff
GOIN’ TO THE DOGS
How many dog waste stations are there and where are they located?
We have 11 stations. (We’ll be getting a map of them up soon!)
I noticed a doggy doo station was out of bags or its trash receptacle isn’t getting emptied often enough. Who is responsible for these?
Please contact the management agency by either calling (800) 537-9619, sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or go through your account portal (the link is on the “Contact Us” page) “Maintenance->Submit New Request”. Whichever you choose, specify the exact location of the station by nearest street address or nearest cross-streets. The Association provides the bags for the stations and the landscapers are contracted to empty the receptacles.
One of my neighbors keeps leaving their dog out to bark for hours. Can the Association make them stop?
Unless you live way out in the country, this is a problem endemic to city life. Having our houses so close together so the back yards all form something of an “echo chamber” doesn’t help! The best option is to try to address the issue directly, without involving the Association, but we know that doesn’t always work, so our Barking Policy (see under Homeowner Resources or on your account portal under “Documents->Governing Documents->Barking Policy“) does outline a process where dog owners can be fined for excessive barking by their dogs. The process is not a quick fix! It is modeled on that of the City of Lacey and places the burden of proof on the complainants, of which two are required. You must also file a formal complaint with the Joint Animal Services of Thurston County. ( https://jointanimalservices.org/forms-information/ )
May I use the storm water pond area down by the track as an off-leash dog park?
Our entire neighborhood is subject to the City of Lacey’s leash laws, and that includes on the storm ponds, so, no, it is not legal to let your dog run free there. (As a stormwater treatment area, it is even more critical that dog owners who walk their dogs there be sure to pick up any “deposits” – which is why there is a doggy doo station right at the entrance off Radius and Prism.)
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Is it legal to set off fireworks in the neighborhood?
Nope. The City of Lacey does not allow the discharge of any fireworks within City limits. Please see: http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/Lacey/#!/lacey09/Lacey0920.html#9.20.030
ODDS AND ENDS
Why doesn’t the Board DO something about …??? (put in the FAQs under All A-Board)
There are some complaints made that are about things that the Board has no enforcement authority over. For example, if your neighbor won’t pay their share to repair your fence, that’s a civil matter, not an Association one. There are some complaints made that are about things that are unrealistic to enforce. For example, the CCRs say residents should not park on the street, but it would be impracticable for the Association to attempt to keep track of, send violation letters to, and fine every household in our 844-lot neighborhood whose residents do so. There are complaints made that the Association cannot follow through on because of limited information. For example, if a complaint is made about a trailer parked on one of the side streets, if we do not know which residence it belongs to, we can’t send a compliance letter about it – and we don’t have the authority to have it towed. What about complaints that the Association IS following through on? If you read the Enforcement Policy here, you will see that what the Board can “do” is limited to sending compliance letters and issuing fines – and the process takes time. The house with a yard with grass and weeds high enough to lose a small child in may be many, many months into a series of compliance letters, or even foreclosure. Just because you don’t know what is being done doesn’t mean that nothing IS being done.
Is it ok to walk out on the storm pond areas?
It is fine to go walking in or playing in the areas as long as you are not engaging in activities that could cause erosion or risk getting entangled in the power lines. Many of our residents love using the trails around the stormwater ponds. You can even walk all the way from the storm ponds over the hill up to the end of Lintel Lane across from Horizon Pointe Park. (If you do, please be polite and don’t stare down into residents’ back yards.) During the winter and spring, these stormwater ponds often flood and become a haven for wild waterfowl. We’ve even had ducklings! Kids won’t catch anything if they go fishing, but it can still be fun for the young’uns to try!
Who owns Horizon Pointe Park?
The park is owned and maintained by the City of Lacey and is public. The shelter is first-come,first-served but fields may be reserved for events. See https://laceyparks.org/facilities/sports-fields/
Who owns the fence separating Balustrade from the railroad tracks beyond our development?
That unenviable privilege belongs to Horizon Pointe 4/5. The fence is a perennial object of vandalism.
I saw someone taking pictures of my house. What’s going on?
There are several possibilities. While some people find it discomfiting, it is perfectly legal to take pictures of houses, although these pictures should not include people. Any person with a legitimate reason for taking pictures will be willing to tell you who they are and what their purpose is.
- If the person is in a car, it might be the management company doing their monthly compliance checks.
- Another possibility if the photographer is in a car is that it could be a real estate agent doing “comps” for a sale in the area. With as many sales as we always have going on here, this is fairly common.
- If the person is on foot and taking pictures of the ground and then of your house, it is for landscape/utility work. A picture of one section of parking strip or street is pretty much like any other, so it is industry standard to take a photo of the work area and then of the nearest house to serve as a reference point.
- Another possibility of someone on foot is simply a local resident who is gathering landscaping or plant ideas. One of the perks of this neighborhood is the variety of landscaping approaches and the wide variety of plants you can find, so more than a few of us have been known to snap some pics for inspiration as we're out on walks, without thinking what that may look like to someone else.
Am I allowed to run a business in my home?
Yes, with certain restrictions, since this is a residential area. According to CCRs Section 10.1 under Homeowner Resources, the entire business must be contained within your house, and you cannot have “employees, clients, customers, tradesmen, suppliers, or similar individuals” coming to the house.