Letter from the President:
Hiller Highlands II (HHII) has big water use and associated budget problems.
Water Use Issues... As of August 2018, water use is up 58% year-to-date. Last year water use was 8% higher than 2016, and 2016 was 18% higher than 2015. This is not a good trend. Year-to-date HHII is $11,833 over budget for water. Approximately 60% of water use is residential and 40% is irrigation. HHII has 4 EBMUD water services and all have significantly higher use this year. It gets worse. EBMUD raised water rates by 9% starting July 1. The water budget this year is $55,000, almost double what it was a few years ago. At this rate It could be over $80,00 next year. All residents need to be water wise and conserve starting now. Hopefully we can reduce usage and not make our 2018 budget problem worse. If you have good water saving ideas let the Board know and the information will be shared.
Irrigation system leaks are a problem the Board is addressing. The Board decided to do the following:
A) Install submeters and master valves in the three irrigation systems. Submeters will measure the water used for irrigation and help us detect leaks. They will also enable HHII to save several thousand dollars per year by eliminating payment of sewer and wastewater treatment charges for irrigation water use. Master valves will reduce loss if we have undetected leaks in the irrigation systems. They will be normally closed and will open only when we are irrigating, only minutes per day.
B) Change the time of day when the systems are on from night time to 6:00 pm and 8:pm, when it is light and people can see leaking and broken sprinkler heads. If you spot a leak, for instance a geyser shooting from a broken sprinkler head, call a Board member immediately and the system will be shut off.
In the future homeowners will be provided with information that will enable them to shut off the system. Periodic inspections will be done to find leaks and have them repaired.
C) Ask homeowners to volunteer to help read meters, record meter readings and participate in irrigation system inspections.
Investigate the feasibility of capturing groundwater flowing from hillsides onto Hiller and Grand View and use it for irrigation.
Landscape Committee... The HH-II Landscape Committee is a committee of one, the Landscape Chairperson, currently Tracey Perkins. HHII needs a real multi-person Landscape Committee to assist the Chairperson with the increasing workload. This committee will have important responsibility for developing landscape and irrigation improvement projects and managing the landscaping budget, landscape contractors and the irrigation improvement program discussed above. Please contact Tracey Perkins and volunteer.
Budget... HH-II has a 2018 budget problem, because of water and landscape maintenance costs. The Board will eliminate spending for the rest of 2018 that is not absolutely necessary. This means that landscape improvements requested by homeowners will most likely not be done this year. More significantly, quarterly assessments will significantly increase next year. Assessments are currently $800 per quarter. If water does cost $80,000 next year, assessments will have to increase $180/quarter just for that.
Additionally, HII still has to build its reserve to replace sewer laterals, repave Treasure Hill and continue tree and brush maintenance and removal to reduce fire danger.
Board Member Needed for 2019... At least one new Board member is needed for 2019, a President. I stayed on this year, because no one stepped up and volunteered, but this will be my last year. If no one volunteers HHII will not have a President. Please seriously consider volunteering and contact me or another Board member with your questions. It is not an onerous assignment. The new President will be very lucky, because he/she will have very experienced, competent and compatible fellow Board Members to work with.
HHII Needs Your Help and Involvement... As you see, homeowners are being asked to become more involved with the HII Association (HOA). The HOA totally depends on a volunteers to make it run, currently only the five Board members. More homeowners participation is desperately needed. The alternative is to hire and pay a management company to run the HOA with Board oversight. There was a record three homeowners at the Board meeting on Monday. Usually there are none. Annual meetings are attended by the same 15 or so people every year, plus the five Members of the Board. There should be at least double that. So get involved, volunteer. This is your HOA and neighborhood. Help make it better.
President, Hiller Highlands II Association