Dear Fellow Waterleaf Residents,
Given the recent discussion regarding the HOA, we wanted to reach out to you, our neighbors, to tell you a little bit about the Board, some of the significant items we have been working on, and our vision for the future.
As you may know, the Waterleaf Board of Directors (BOD) is a voluntary board made up of fellow homeowners. Our objectives are twofold: to protect the property values in Waterleaf and to exercise our fiduciary duty to this community with respect to contracts and vendors.
One of the means by which the first objective is carried out is weekly inspections. Elle (our Property Manager), drives the neighborhood to ensure homes and properties are in compliance with Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). Noted violations are then documented, residents are advised, and there is a protocol in place for disputes. The second objective is met by securing and managing contracts for necessary goods and services.
Please know that we take our responsibility to this neighborhood very seriously. We are, and have always been, committed to complete impartiality and transparency in how we carry out our duties. We are working diligently to serve the best interests of our community.
As homeowners, the value of our largest financial investment (for most of us) is directly affected by the overall appearance of our neighborhood. Homes in well-maintained subdivisions, with clear and enforceable covenants, are more likely to retain their value. Ensuring compliance with the CC&Rs is never a personal attack by the BOD or the Property Manager. It is simply a fiduciary responsibility in place to protect Waterleaf property values. Every homeowner agreed to the CC&Rs at the time of purchase, and is legally obligated to abide by them. Renters have the same obligation.
Last year the board decided to make several significant changes to help improve our neighborhood. These included changes to the Property Management company and the landscape company; improving the collection of assessments, and enforcement of the CC&Rs.
1. Property Management
The Board wanted to find a Management Company that would be more responsive to the needs of our neighborhood. We decided the best way to do that was to have an on-site Property Manager (PM) who works solely for our neighborhood. The board selected KW Property Management and Consulting and Elle was hired as our PM. She has been doing a fantastic job addressing the issues and concerns within Waterleaf. Additionally, through KW, we have hired a full-time Amenity Center Director (ACD) whose duties include maintenance of the pool and common areas as necessary. The ACD position consolidated several contracts that had previously been serviced by multiple vendors. It even eliminated some overlap of services and redundancies among those contracts. This consolidation of services under one position is aimed at saving our Association time and money.
2. Landscape Company
Most of us were dissatisfied with the appearance and maintenance of our common areas. In January 2017, the Board hired Gjon’s Expert Landscaping. Within a six-month period, it became apparent that Gjon’s was not meeting the expectations of the Board and the community. Bids were sought and the contract was terminated. In September, the Board hired Yellowstone as the new landscaper for our community. They have already begun addressing the common area problems, which include chemical application to deal with mole crickets and prepping soil for new sod.
3. Collection of Assessments
Neighborhood maintenance and improvements require funding. For many years, Waterleaf HOA has run in a budget deficit. The primary reason for this deficit is the failure of all homeowners to pay assessments in full and on time. Assessments are due by January 1st and July 1st of every year. Assessments are considered late as of the 15th. Unfortunately, late payments have become the norm. As an example, at the end of July 2017, two weeks after assessments were due, 1/3 of homeowners had not paid their assessments. Several years ago, the prior Board tried to address this on-going problem by employing a collection agency. The success rate of that company has been limited. This year, the board entered into a contract with a different collection agency, and there has been significant improvement in assessment collections. The Waterleaf HOA operates on a cash accounting basis, and it is imperative that all homeowners pay assessments in full and on time.
4. Enforcement of the CC&Rs
The handling of violations to the CC&Rs has been a long-standing issue in Waterleaf. In fact, it is the primary reason why the Board hired a new Property Manager. As mentioned previously, our on-site PM, Elle, drives the neighborhood weekly. She documents violations and informs homeowners (and renters). Residents in violation are given time to correct the violation. Uncorrected violations result in fines. Some common violations include: poor lawn maintenance, storage of unauthorized vehicles, parking on grass; property alterations without ARB approval and yes, improper storage of trash cans. The purpose of fines is not as a means by which to collect money for the HOA. Fines are in place to protect property values by ensuring compliance to the CC&Rs.
The HOA would like to address the parking and speeding issues in Waterleaf. As you know, Florida State Law and City of Jacksonville Ordinances regulate parking on city streets. While it is inconvenient that there are so many cars parked on both sides of the street in Waterleaf, it is not illegal. What is illegal, however, is blocking the sidewalks between our driveways and the city easement. It is a violation of Florida Statute (316.1945) to stop, stand or park a vehicle on a sidewalk. Incidentally, it is also a violation of Florida Statute (316.195) to park against the flow of traffic. We all know that our streets are narrow and that not all driveways can accommodate multiple cars. However, as a matter of pedestrian safety and compliance with the law, please park cars legally in driveways and on the street. Do not block sidewalks. Speeding is also a major concern.
Again, the HOA does not have the authority to reduce the speed limit or to put in speed bumps. In the past, the Board has petitioned the City of Jacksonville to install speed bumps. That request has been declined each time. However, we are currently working to determine if the City of Jacksonville will permit speed bumps if the HOA pays for them. In the meantime, the off-duty JSO Police Officers will continue to enforce traffic laws and issue citations as necessary.
We regret that some residents are misinformed as to the role the HOA plays in our community. Perhaps we have not been as proactive and informative as we could have been. While homeowner participation is ideal, we know not everyone can attend monthly HOA Meetings, and many people feel “disconnected” as a result. Like you, we have time and logistical considerations and are not able to change the meeting schedule. However, there are things we are able to do.
The agenda and meeting notice are available two days prior to monthly HOA Meetings. Look for them on the Waterleaf Facebook page, at Waterleaf HOA, Jacksonville FL and in the enclosed bulletin board at the pool. If you would like access to Meeting Minutes, they are posted under the “Resident Information” tab under “Minutes” on the www.waterleafhoa.com webpage. Please note that a password will be required to access the meeting minutes. After you register for the website and are verified as a homeowner, you will have access to these minutes.
As we move forward, the Board’s vision for our neighborhood is that it is a place where we all enjoy living and where others want to live. To that end, the Board will continue to work with our Committees on improvements like enhancement projects and social events. Most importantly, we will continue to work with our PM to ensure that we are managing HOA assets in the most fiscally responsible manner possible.
Waterleaf is a wonderful community to come home to. We look forward to working with you, our neighbors and friends, to do everything we can to make it the best it can be.
Waterleaf HOA Board of Directors