Questions About the Emergency Special Assessment?

During the Tubbs Fire, approximately 80% of our 234 managed acres were scorched, killing thousands of trees and shrubs, destroying irrigation and infrastructure, creating erosion issues, and introducing many new challenges.  To manage safety in a timely manner, the OSMA Board instituted an emergency special assessment of $960 for Year 2020.  The special assessment may be paid in one lump sum or spread over 12 months in $80 increments. Due to increasing costs and declining volunteer assistance, the OSMA has increased monthly dues by $5 to $72 per month.

For OSMA to continue to perform the work it has historically performed using volunteer assistance, professionals will have to step in to replace where the hundreds to thousands of hours of “free” help was supplanted by experienced, able-bodied volunteers.  Future dues increases can be mitigated if the OSMA can garner more hands-on volunteer help to manage and perform the operating functions of the OSMA.


This "Scorecard" may help provide information on why this money is needed.  Scorecard




Why $960?

The $960.00 assessment will generate $567,360, which should provide the OSMA with enough money for post-fire cleanup in the remaining 100-foot fuel breaks behind residential lots that have yet to be treated - a high priority. Those remaining fuel breaks requiring fire cleanup are in inaccessible areas and the cost to treat them will be more expensive than what has been completed to date. The assessment rounds to $80 per month. 



How will that money be used?

The OSMA Board, working with its consulting foresters, have identified 40 acres as a priority for fire cleanup with these funds. If there is money remaining, it will be used to treat the forest beyond the 100’ fuel breaks, which could aggregate another approximate 50 acres. At the Annual Meeting, the Board provided a handout called a “Scorecard” (link above) that highlighted some of the accomplishments, objectives and challenges. The Board has been able to clean up 73.7 acres from available funds, but estimates it has another other 90 acres to treat. 

The OSMA hopes to spend the $567,000 assessment within a year, but that could extend longer if acceptable pricing cannot be obtained from vendors. 


Why assess now and not two years ago?

The OSMA Board was faced with many unknowns: numbers and degree of long-term damage to the trees, vendor availability, and the cost to perform the desired fire cleanup. The Board decided to focus initial cleanup on critical safety/hazard issues and fuel breaks that were accessible to mechanical equipment to determine how much work could be accomplished with available funds before it enacted a special assessment. 

The damage to the forested wildlands is an evolving problem with regards to fire safety. Obtaining qualified tree or vegetation management companies to perform work in the rugged terrain of FGII in a safe and affordable manner is an ongoing challenge. Vendors are booked several months out and can be expensive if they have to quote difficult projects.

Incidentally, there is coverage available for special assessments under many insurance policies (it’s called loss assessment coverage). Property owners may want to check with their insurance agent to determine if they have that coverage. 



The monthly dues also increased.  Why?

The dues had not increased since 2016. Operating expenses continue to increase on an annual basis. The Board, per the Civil Code, has the ability to increase dues up to 20% without homeowner approval.  The Budget shows that about $3.00 of the dues will cover the contribution to the Reserve Fund in 2020.  

OSMA volunteers have been managing and working alongside vendors for years and performing many tasks to reduce vendor work and invoicing.  Most of the volunteer help has been associated with tasks that would otherwise have to be paid to professional vendors.  These volunteer contributions vary in saved costs anywhere from $55 to $300 per hour, whether it be field work or the administrative work that must be provided as part of OSMA’s operations (including OSMA’s Annual Report required by the City and its legal documents). 

Unfortunately, volunteer help was greatly diminished by the fire, and some volunteers who had helped OSMA for many years decided to reduce their time spent for personal reasons. 

Traditionally, volunteer duties have included managing and overseeing the work of all vendors and writing necessary contracts. In addition to vendor administration, the volunteers have worked with forestry consultants, civil engineers, surveyors, seismic engineers, landscapers, tree vendors, legal, etc. Administrative and hands-on tasks have significantly reduced vendor costs.  This is some of the work that the Board, as volunteers, performs.  Now, the Board also has to deal with the many new additional problems of encroachment from hundreds of contractors who damage Open Space property. 

If volunteers vanish and do not perform the tasks they have done historically, the OSMA will have to hire consultants/managers to perform all of the above tasks, which will significantly add to the costs of running the association.  The OSMA strongly encourages propertry owners to become active volunteers.  Everyone is “busy,” but the OSMA relies on able-bodied, interested property owners to become more involved to help solve the problems we face.  



Aren't there grants available for OSMA?

OSMA has received some funds from grants.  The Scorecard references the amount of money OSMA has received. 

Unfortunately, the OSMA is not a qualifying organization for grants from FEMA, along with many other grant opportunities. The grants for which we may qualify are highly competitive (hundreds of applicants competing) and extremely labor intensive to complete (from gathering information and bids for filling out the application to managing work and reporting data to the grantor through completion of the project, if awarded).  The volunteers necessary to tackle these tasks have not stepped forward.