By Chris Frost
Port Hueneme-- Residents at Anacapa View Condos held a critical meeting at the development's clubhouse, Feb. 29, to discuss a $32,300 assessment that will be placed on each unit.
The crowded meeting all agreed that few people could afford the assessment, and some people are worried that the action will force them into foreclosure.
A tour of the facility revealed broken railings and stairs, along with the most glaring issue, a second floor that was held up by temporary metal poles, and dry rot on a lot of wood.
The proposed project will replace the stairways, common walkways, guardrails, siding damage, and support beams that will eliminate dry rot and termite damage.
The project also needs all the electrical panels and recessed lighting replaced, according to meeting documents, new perimeter fencing, and fresh paint.
Homeowner Roger Schultz opened the meeting and said he bought his home in 1978 when it was approximately five years old.
He enjoys the property and said it's primarily used as a rental, although he has lived at his location.
"We're all concerned about this situation," he said. "My background is in sales, marketing, management, and later in my career, I was doing business consulting. When Mary set up the meeting, I contacted her, and we worked together to gather the documents and get as much information as we could to express our concern."
Homeowners have the choice of paying the $32,300 in one lump sum, upfront, or in monthly installments of $281 per month for the next 15 years. That drives the cost up to $50,580.
Schultz asked the group if they have to pay the large sum.
"We do have to eventually, but we have to do it in a proper sequence," he said.
Steve White has been a licensed contractor for 29 years and has dealt with multiple sets of plans, but not on such a grand scale.
"When this came up, the cost seems to be a lot of money, but is it justified," he asked. "I'm not sure, because the factors that enter into it are the scope of work that is given to us, and we were not able to see a set of plans. They said sign, and we'll show you."
White went to the City of Port Hueneme and said they have a set of plans for one building, number 229, but they do not have a complete set of plans for the project.
"That was my first question, can I see the plans," he asked. "They said they're not sure where they are, but they will check on it. I did inquire with a couple of their building safety departments, and the way that it works is they are not considered an official set of documents until the permit is either paid for or documented."
Even though the city has them, White said the average guy on the street couldn't look at them because they're not considered official at that point.
"It's not like they're trying to hide anything," he said. "That's the way the law is, but, along that same line, every other project I've worked on for 29 years, I've worked closely with owners and architects. The guys that are paying for the job, the owners, are always working closely with the architect and contractors and have questions, and everything is out in the open."
The group was united and said Anacapa View Condos need a lot of work.
"I truly believe the HOA (Home Owners Association) Board is on our side with that," he said. "There is a situation here, and they know a lot of stuff has to be done, and what they did is they probably went to Gold Coast and said we've got this project, we're not experts, we're not contractors, can you help us with this? As far as I know, Gold Coast said we could help you with this; there is a firm that we've used before, Design Build Associates, and they can handle the thing for us."
He called that a good thing.
"They're doing the right thing," he said. "They're on our side."
The owners got a scope of work, he said, which contained a lot of "loopholes and things that weren't addressed.
"After Design Build told me that the contract was going to be let out to a firm called CAS, I looked it up on the web page, and CAS is Concrete Asphalt Specialties," he said. "I called them and said I think I might have the wrong number because it says concrete and asphalt, and their website shows parking lots and stuff. They said we're going to be doing that project. We have another division that does general building."
White questioned the perimeter fence, which doesn't appear to be on the plans.
"When I called CAS, they said they were putting up temporary fences during construction to keep people out and make them safe," he said. "It doesn't really say anything on the plans about a perimeter fence."
The fence is not on the plans submitted to the city, he said, and if it's not on the plans, the contractor can charge extra.
"We'll get a bid, but it is going to cost you more money," he said. "In looking at the scope of work, many of the things on there say replace beams as needed. Typically, you would have a structural engineer come out, walk the property and say I see this one is bad, that one is bad, and give a scope of work, so when it goes out to the contractor, he can plug in the necessary stuff. A lot of these things, to me, don't make a whole lot of sense because they're not addressed as a question to the contractor. Therefore, we don't know what's on there."
He said that some things could run up to $3 million.
"Nobody wants that kind of surprise," he said. "As homeowners, if we knew what the scope of work was, and what was on the plans that were sent out to bid, the contractor can look at those and make his price based on that."
White acknowledged that there will always be problems and things the contractor didn't see, but if they know in advance that they can see 45 balconies with rot on the outside and that's included in the bid, it says woodwork repair, elevations front, and rear, to all buildings.
"They're saying that's included in the work," he said. "If a structural engineer goes around and writes a report on the obvious things, that should be put in the original bid. The contingency is for unforeseen items."
At the last homeowners' meeting, White said someone asked what the management fee was going to be, and the answer was 10 percent.
"It's going to be about $750,000," he said. "When Design Build was contacted a couple of days later relating to a contractor bid price, we see a price of $6.6 million. The question was, is that the actual bid from the contractor? The answer was yes, and then right after that, it was if that's the contractor's bid price, where is your 10 percent? I don't see it on any of these items here."
He was told there are a lot of factors that go into bidding and contracts, and they "lumped their fee in."
"The question was what was the contractor's price," he said. "We need to know what's in the bid, in detail, so we can make a decision and not get bit in the end by all the extras."
White said the development made repairs in 2007 on several buildings, and he's noticed on the vertical posts on the stairwells, and the bottom six to 12 inches are dry rotted out.
"It's easy to see and not a problem," he said. "Design Build is saying we're going to tear all that stuff out and replace them. That's fine, but it is rather costly, and some of the posts have dry rot, and they, for sure, have got to be replaced. Probably not the whole post. On quite a few of them, only the last foot has dry rot. In looking at the previous work that was signed off by the city, and we've got copies of what they did, they cut off the rotted wood and made a joint. It was a fix approved by the city and is structurally sound, according to the structural engineer. We could save a boatload of money if some of these were repaired."
White wants an independent third party to tour the development and answer the questions.
Construction Supervisor Lee McElvaney said they haven't yet seen the plans and don't know what the scope of work is, which is different from what he sees.
"When a job gets handed to me, I have a complete scope of work," he said. "The plans dictate what we're doing, and if they don't, we're asking questions. In the proposal state, there are a lot of questions that get asked. We haven't seen the plans, the board hasn't seen them, and that's a huge factor. When a job gets handed to me, it is completely vetted. We don't know what we're paying for here. This is a large amount of money. I want a second opinion, and I want to know what I am going to get for that dollar amount."
After the meeting, Home Owners Association Board Member Judith Cross said part of the money the homeowners pay each month goes into a contingency fund, but she walked away when asked if the money for the repairs exceed the homeowners' fees.
Mary Mooney said Gold Coast Management told the homeowners they could vote yes for the project, or they will do the project anyway and increase the association fees immediately by 20 percent this year and do emergency five percent assessments and repeat that procedure each year.
"I am an owner, and I live in my unit myself," she said. "I feel like I am being coerced into paying this enormous sum of money that I don't have. If I don't vote yes, the consequences of us voting no is worse than if I vote yes."
She called it a lose-lose scenario.
"We came together as homeowners to say we want to come up with a positive solution," she said.
The community has $1 million in its reserve, Mooney said, and the project costs $6.5 million.
"A community this size should have $2 million in the reserve fund," she said. "I've only lived here for six years, and when I moved in, you could see the damage. The board is not experts, and they are doing their best. The can has been kicked down the road a lot."
With all the repairs being neglected and costs rising, foreclosure is a real threat, she said, and Mooney fears that some owners can end up being homeless.
"I am not going to be able to sell my home with a $32,000 assessment sitting over my head," she said. "I am not going to be able to keep paying the monthly fees if they keep increasing. We don't have options."
The homeowners have asked to see the plans for improvement, and they were told no.
"We were told they are proprietary," she said. "They are the property of the board of directors and the homeowners association, which we are paying for."
She said Gold Coast Management offered no public outreach or discussion.
"They presented it as this is your plan," she said. "You pay us $32,300 by May 1, or we are going to immediately start the work, increase your HOA dues, and do emergency assessments. There was no negotiating, and there is no other offer, and we are not going even to discuss anything else."
Leslie Knotek said capital improvement projects like dry rot and poles holding up the second floor on one building had been put off.
"They put off things that should have been done before, but the excuse now is they are going to have a project, and it will all be addressed," she said. "We failed on regular maintenance before, and we created this problem, and we failed on it intentionally. Now that the problem is here, we have this big project to address all those things and fix them. The maintenance does not appear to still be done because they think they're going to fix it first."
Leslie said the capital improvement projects have been kicked down the road since they built the project.
She accuses Gold Coast of mismanaging the development.
"It's the same problem we had with AMS and the previous board," she said. "We're fighting the same fight every five years."
Matt Fozard moved into Anacapa View in Sept. 2010 and said the development was at the tail end of a poorly managed renovation project.
"There were a lot of foreclosures, and this place was in pretty bad shape," he said. "It's the same now as it was then. The biggest problem we have is paying $500 a month for a homeowner's association. That is enough to keep this complex in good shape. Where's the money been going? It must have been mismanaged over the last however many years to get us in this situation. I haven't seen any repairs being taken care of in the time I have been here."
He, too, believes the management association is kicking the can down the road, which created a severe problem.
"If they did this piece-by-piece over the last 10 years, we wouldn't have this problem," he said. "They keep putting it off. I'm sure there is enough money to spend $10,000 a month in repairs as we went along."
A call to Gold Coast Management seeking comment on the situation was not returned.
451 West Fifth Street
Oxnard, California 93030
1000 Town Center Drive
Oxnard, CA 93036
(Walk-in & Drop-off)
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.