The results of HOA1’s recent homeowner survey was released on Monday, May 23. In that survey, owners were asked, “Are you in favor of strategic discussions and investigations that could, over time, lead to the unification of HOA1 with HOA2?” Only 19 percent of HOA1 residents were opposed to having such discussions. The identical question posed in a 2020 survey to HOA2 residents showed that less than 10 percent of HOA2 residents were opposed.
So, it came as a surprise when, in a recent statement sent to every resident of SaddleBrooke, the presidents of HOA1 and HOA2 outlined their reasons why the current HOA Boards are against discussing a possible unification/merger of our two SB communities. Essentially, their opposition stems from their own assumptions about potential, yet unquantified, amounts of cost, time, and effort. It is important to note that no meaningful cost study or community discussion has been conducted to substantiate the objections presented by the Boards. More information is crucial.
Please also note the Boards neglected to include in their statement the many potential benefits that uniting our communities can bring. A long-term strategic decision about the future of SaddleBrooke deserves a careful analysis of both the costs and payoffs of merging. That analysis should include outside expert advice, community discussion, and resident feedback.
United SaddleBrooke believes the numerous benefits of being a single community will make living here more enjoyable and owning here more valuable in the long term. Obviously, it is difficult to put an exact dollar amount on the benefits. Some of these benefits could be achieved through greater cooperation between the HOAs. Others would more likely be achieved through legal unification.
Again, a thorough discussion of SaddleBrooke’s future involving expert opinions and considerable community input is warranted. We would like to begin the “What’s in it for all of us?” discussion by presenting a brief list of benefits that United SaddleBrooke believes we will see as we (hopefully) enter into a new era of increased cooperation and communication between the HOA Boards and eventual unification of our community. Although many of these items refer to a full-out merger, note that many of their benefits could be achieved through greatly increased cooperation between the Boards. Thus, when you see the term “Merger”, equate it in your mind to the phrase “enhanced cooperation between the HOA Boards”.
A Better Governed Community
SaddleBrooke’s government is fragmented and broken. It’s managed in pieces, planned for in pieces, and marketed in pieces. How can we deliver the best value to our community and compete with the many active-adult communities that have one governing entity and a single overarching vision? We can’t. Merging the two HOAs will establish a more efficient and effective association to oversee and plan for SaddleBrooke’s many facilities, amenities, activities, and gorgeous natural environment.
Return to the Original Robson Vision
Robson originally developed and marketed SaddleBrooke as one community, with shared amenities, roads, architectural standards, and CC&Rs. The unfortunate 1994 decision to separate into two HOAs created many points of friction to the detriment of all SaddleBrooke residents. It’s time to return to Robson’s original vision of one community with one government, and the simplicity and effectiveness it provides.
Guaranteed Amenities in Perpetuity
A single HOA removes the need for a Reciprocal Use Agreement (RUA) and guarantees the use of all amenities by all residents, in perpetuity. The two communities currently operate under an RUA that provides for sharing of amenities, but this document expires in seven years, and 42 percent of the residents of HOA2 voted against it in 2021! The RUA’s future is uncertain. A merger would prevent residents’ use of amenities from being subjected to the stress of periodic renegotiation.
Sense of Identity
Individuals buy homes primarily in SaddleBrooke, not SaddleBrooke One or SaddleBrooke Two. Homeowners expect that all the resources of the entire community are and always will be available to them, forever, and those rights should not have to be periodically negotiated and risk being canceled. Community identity would be greatly enhanced with one HOA board governing with one set of rules, standards, and policies for all.
Stronger Community Spirit
The different approaches of the two HOAs have led to antagonism, bickering, lawsuits, and bad feelings between the two communities, plus confusion, stress, and worry for homeowners. Instead, we should be united – as one community – in support of SaddleBrooke.
Uniform Policies, Rules, and Practices
Significant differences between the two homeowners’ organizations already exist in their approaches to rules, policies, and practices. For example, HOA1 does not open its amenities to the public, while HOA2 invites public participation. HOA1 does not allow homeowners to pay for goods and services with credit cards; HOA2 does. HOA2 owns their Fitness Center and offers classes with a choice of pay-as-you-go or a monthly unlimited pass; HOA1 uses an independent contractor with only a pay-as-you-go system. HOA1 passed a new short-term rental policy and HOA2 decided to put their changes on hold.
As time goes on, we risk having differences widen and wedges being driven into SaddleBrooke’s sense of community. A united HOA will provide a single, uniform set of policies, rules, and practices that will eliminate a lot of confusion and frustration.
Synergies and Economies of Scale
A single HOA would operate more efficiently and effectively than the current two-HOA system. A combined HOA would enjoy increased synergies and economies of scale to directly benefit all homeowners. A single entity of 5,200+ homes would yield considerably more purchasing clout than two existing, even cooperating, separate HOAs representing 2,000 and 3,200 homes respectively.
Better Long-Range Planning
Long-range planning is critical to SaddleBrooke to maintain its appeal, not only to existing residents but to new homeowners as well. How does SaddleBrooke offer the right facilities and amenities? What is the best use of our funds? Which needs should be met first? For every resident to have a voice in what SaddleBrooke’s future looks like, the answer appears to be one community, one HOA.
Shared Cost Burden for New Amenities
The RUA documents provide no basis for sharing the cost of new amenities, leaving that financial burden with one HOA, even though the residents of the other HOA can freely use those amenities. This patently unfair system leads to difficulty and substantial delays when planning and funding new amenities. A merged community would work as one, equitably sharing costs.
Benefits for Clubs
Clubs operating and meeting in both HOAs are subject to different rules, which place an unnecessary, confusing, and annoying burden on them. With a single HOA, all clubs would register only once, have a single set of policies and procedures, and have access to all the meeting rooms in the entire community.
Market as One Community
In truth, SaddleBrooke should now be presented to homebuyers as two separate communities that temporarily share amenities. We have two different governing bodies and no united marketing effort. What a dilemma for real estate agents who seek to present the positive image of a wonderful community yet must confront the reality of split resources and management. A single SaddleBrooke would send a clearer, more positive marketing message and help maintain our home values.
We must look at both the anticipated costs and benefits when making any critical decision. They are both parts of the Value Equation. There is a price to be paid for every investment opportunity we make, but if we make the right choices, the returns can be exponential over time. Instead of presenting only perceived obstacles to merging, we must work together to identify steps to take for our future. Instead of giving up at the first sign of roadblocks, let’s figure out how we can get around these obstacles to make uniting SaddleBrooke an achievable goal.
The many benefits listed above are compelling reasons to begin formal discussions on unifying SaddleBrooke. In the short run, much can be done through regularly held discussions aimed at greater cooperation between the two HOAs. In the long run, the full benefits of unification can be achieved when SaddleBrooke fully merges into one community.
ne through regularly held discussions aimed at greater cooperation between the two HOA’a. In the long run, the full benefits of unification can be achieved when SaddleBrooke fully merges into one community.