Comment from the SOA President

Following is a comment on SU’s “A Look Back at 2020” Post from the SOA Board President Mark Capalongan. An unusual but welcome occurrence for a Board member. A little long for the “Comment” section, so we have taken the liberty of publishing it here.

“As always, SU provides some great perspective and comprehensive information into the workings of the SOA. We appreciate the energy and organization that goes into the tracking and assembling all this info.

Just a few observations from the inside. First off, I am honored to have been elected to the board on Nov. 16th and subsequently appointed as the SOA president. As you pointed out as of Nov. 16th, 2020 there was a new board majority and newly stated goals for the SOA. 46 weeks in 2020 were under the previous board and the last 6 weeks under the new board, which is an important distinction because the new board inherited a big list of ongoing challenges. Let’s look at that top down in terms of the list in this article.

1. Assessments: Much has been made about how Somersett has an aging infrastructure and will certainly be needing more attention and expense in the near future. I believe that at the same time we can be smarter and more diligent about our expenditures to ensure we spend our money wisely- only on what is truly needed to maintain our beautiful community. If we cut our waste and spend more mindfully then I believe we can also avoid or delay future increases in assessments. It’s now January 1st, the first day of our annual 2021 budget. By next November it will be interesting to see where we stand and what adjustments to assessments will be needed, up or down. I’m working for the latter.

2. Common Areas: Monitoring of our rock walls will always be with us, but lets make sure the effort we make is timely and needed and the output of those inspections is useful and acted upon.

Our landscape company (BrightView) is the largest in the nation with $2 billion in revenue and 20,000 employees. If we’re not diligent they can push us around. In addition to the contract, there are many add-on landscape proposals that traditionally have been approved as a matter of course. These days we’re getting out there with some hands-on monitoring and regular communication with our landscaper. When winter is over we’ll also be looking more closely at water use and water waste.

Many projects were approved in 2020 including the rock fall at the entrance, curb replacements, and others. Some were essential and money was well spend. I’m not convinced that was always the case and the way we identify these, the means of getting engineering advise, and our methods of bidding these projects are now each under scrutiny. I believe there is room for improvement and with that some better cost controls.

3. Litigation. There were three active cases on November 16th and by Thanksgiving we had successfully settled the lawsuit with the SGCC.

The second lawsuit is the Rockery Wall Appeal which was filed and paid for by the previous board. Since there are no additional SOA funds being expended for this, we have chosen to see where the appeal goes before deciding on further action. If the court approves the appeal then the board will weigh legal options at that time, however, our stated goal is to resolve lawsuits while keeping an eye on the costs and risk-adjusted benefit of any action.

Finally, there is an ongoing settlement offer with Preston Homes that seeks to resolve disputes regarding the gate access on Back Nine trail, and also resolve assessment disagreements from Preston Homes lots. This negotiation is still ongoing despite good faith efforts by the SOA board. I never would have guessed the pace of this settlement would be so slow, but with some exceptions the court is mostly inactive due to Covid concerns.

4. The TCTC: In 2021 adding to the convenience of reservations and scheduling will be new homeowner features built into the website which is rolling out this month and going live in February. Our facilities committee us also looking into check-in system for the club, pool, and C9 Golf Course so we can make sure our facilities are properly reserved for our homeowners.

5. Governing Documents: A heroic effort was made in 2020 by committee members to update our governing documents after 20 years. That effort culminated with revised versions of the SOA Articles of Incorporation and SOA Bylaws. The revised version were sent out for homeowner approval in November with the polling closing on December 30th, 2020. By next week we should have the results of that vote. Full transparency here: sometime things don’t go quite as planned and there were numerous problems with this effort including a delayed launch, some proof-reading problems with the documents and with the ballot instructions, and possible issues with the way the ballot was presented via email to homeowners. Redline versions were initially omitted, as well as other reported issues. It’s a complex problem- errors are understandable, even if regrettable. So at my urging the board decided not to continue subsequent voting efforts beyond the 30 day period, until we’ve had the chance to go over the document revisions, gain legal opinion, ensure they are corrected to everyone’s satisfaction, and then learn from these issues before we repeat this process. It will happen again because we are bound by certain upcoming legal requirements. But if this doesn’t pass, then let’s take a breather and get this exactly right next time! Those heroic efforts I mentioned can be archived and preserved so that nothing is wasted when its time to pick this up again. I’ll be setting some relationship building measures in motion to try to get the Declarant onboard to adjust the CC&R’s so that we can get everything done at once the next time around.

The AGC guidelines were updated in October, and as pointed out it seems needlessly confusing. The AGC committee as mandated by our CC&R’s has seemed to grow in size and complexity to the point where our application and approval process is needlessly and imprudently complex, and that committee sometimes studies issues that go well beyond aesthetics or the charter. In 2021, this board intends to investigate how we can gain the same level of compliance with a simplified and less costly procedure, one which serves all homeowners better, respects beautification efforts, and lessens the potential liability of the SOA as a result of over-reaching decisions.

6. West Park – dog park and community garden. The West Park community committee has done an amazing job at oversight of this development and working with the city of Reno. They’ve upgraded the soil and mitigated other problems with the garden plots and the completion of the dog park areas. There is still work to do as the money runs short. A big question relates to what happened with the money earmarked for this park, as it it managed by the city of Reno. There are still questions as to if there are funds remaining, or funds that were donated for this park but which haven’t yet been spent. Bill O’Donnell has agreed to engage with the city to resolve these questions. With luck this park will continue to see progress on the remaining improvements. Meanwhile, this park is a beautiful addition to Somersett with large grassy areas, expansive views, playgrounds, ample parking, two dog parks, and a large community garden area.

7. Development. Many folks were shocked to see the hillside converted to homes at the entrance 1A. This village has been a part of the PUD from the beginning some 20 years ago, so there was little that could be done to prevent this. Our present task will be to ensure that aesthetic requirements are met including structure diversity and proper landscaping, as well as minimizing the disruptions during development. One day in the not-to-distant future the development in Somersett will be complete, our gates can be closed, the developer signs will come down, the sales trailers and Mini-Mobile containers hauled off, and we can concentrate on the homeowner enjoyment of a fully complete community.

Thank you for your time and attention and please let us know if you have concerns or comments.”

-Mark Capalongan
2021 SOA President