By Rusty Bradshaw
Changes in focus for the Sun City Home Owners Association approach to CC&R enforcement appear to be generating results.
SCHOA officials have been working closer with other jurisdictions in the West Valley. That outreach has not only given SCHOA officials opportunities to learn different techniques, it is drawing more attention to covenants, conditions and restriction enforcement, according to Tom Wilson, SCHOA general manager.
SCHOA’s own outreach within the community also appears to be creating more interest from residents, according to Carole Studdard, SCHOA marketing director.
“We are looking at doing our CC&R workshops monthly rather than bimonthly because there seems to be a lot of interest and need,” she said during SCHOA’s Feb. 28 board meeting.
There were about 60 people at the most recent CC&R workshop in February. The next workshop is 10 a.m. Monday, April 24 in the meeting room at the SCHOA office, 10401 W. Coggins Drive.
The workshops were started in 2014 and were conducted quarterly. Due to increased interest, they were changed to every other month at the end of 2016, according to Ms. Studdard. Those participating on a regular basis are representatives from Maricopa County Department of Planning and Development, the Registrar of Contractors, SCHOA’s Compliance Department, representatives addressing condominium concerns, a local realtor and, most recently, an insurance agent was invited to assist with insurance questions and concerns, Ms. Studdard explained.
SCHOA officials also hope to get the Sun City Condominium Owners Association representatives involved in the workshop as well.
“Most of the concerns residents have raised in the workshops involve condos,” Ms. Studdard said.
SCHOA’s CC&R workshops bring not only residents but real estate professionals together to talk about the CC&Rs, their importance and to share concerns.
“For the past several years, there have been approximately 2,500 homes sold in Sun City each year,” Ms. Studdard said. “SCHOA recognizes the need to provide continuing CC&R education to new homeowners as well as those wishing to have a better understanding of the value of the covenants, conditions and restrictions.”
The CC&Rs are designed to protect the property values for all Sun City residents, she added.
SCHOA is the organization designated by Maricopa County to enforce Sun City community CC&Rs. SCHOA membership is voluntary, but CC&R compliance is mandatory for all Sun City homeowners.
Mr. Wilson has been meeting with code enforcement professionals from neighboring communities monthly in the hopes of learning as much as possible. The group has conducted two meetings and the enthusiasm has been exciting, he said.
“We have more communities taking part every meeting,” Mr. Wilson explained. “Some are taking examples of what we are doing and using them in their communities.”
An Arizona Department of Agriculture representative will speak to the group during its March meeting.
“No one seems to handle termite issues,” Mr. Wilson said. “But the Department of Agriculture does, so we’ll have an opportunity to learn.”
The idea for the code enforcement group came from Mr. Wilson’s fire department background in Illinois.
“Every department had fire prevention people, but I never knew who they were,” he said.
Netrworking meetings, similar to what SCHOA is now involved in, were started. The idea was so helpful, it grew to be a statewide effort, according to Mr. Wilson.
Sun City CC&R violations are down nearly across the board this year compared to last year. Total violations in January 2016 were 684 while they were 656 this year. Cases closed in January 2016 were 234 but were 245 this year. Nearly every category of violation is less this year compared to last year. Only in the categories of dwelling conditionsetbacks and vehicles were the violations higher in January 2017 than the same month last year.
“We can’t really pinpoint why the violations are down, but we’ll take it,” Mr. Wilson said. “I like to think it is because people are taking more pride in their homes and the community.”
SCHOA officials are also reviewing and revising their procedures.
“We are making them consistent and updating them where necessary,” said board member Steve Puck.
Jim Stark, SCHOA board member, believes the HOA’s efforts could be improved by the defeat of some proposed legislation, such as prohibiting HOAs from being awarded attorney fees when they have to take someone to court over a violation. Mr. Stark believes that adds “teeth” to HOA enforcement.
“We need the ability to recoup attorney fees because that gives us some leverage,” he said. “When people know we can get attorney fees, that may encourage them to comply.”
He also believes CC&R enforcement would be easier if the responsibilities of Sun City’s two major governing bodies — SCHOA and Recreation centers of Sun City — and other jurisdictions were not confused. He related a recent incident in which a resident was waiting at Mr. Stark’s home then dressed him down because SCHOA was not doing anything about neighborhood problems.
“Most of his issues were about trespassing and other things that are in Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s purview,” Mr. Stark explained. “When he complained that he was paying $500 per year, I knew he also thought we were RCSC.”
IF YOU GO:
What: Sun City CC&R workshop
When: 10 a.m. Monday, April 24
Where: Meeting room at SCHOA office, 10401 W. Coggins Drive