Vote on Proposed Increase in Landscape Maintenance District Fees
What’s the Issue?
In May, you will be asked via a mailed ballot to vote on whether or not to increase the landscape Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) fees in your district. The proposed fee increases are as follows:
- Scripps Ranch MAD: current, $84; proposed, $116; and
- Miramar Ranch North MAD: current, $127; proposed $230.
Why the increase?
Several factors contribute to the need to raise the assessments: inflation, water and power increases, and changing standards of maintenance. A ballot initiative a couple of years ago altered the way assessments are calculated and the amount of funds held in reserve.
These changes prompted the increase in the Scripps Ranch MAD. Also, this district uses some of its assessment dollars to augment maintenance of City parks and joint-use school field to ensure that more playing fields are kept in good condition and available for use by the many residents who want to use them.
The main reason for the significant increase in the Miramar Ranch North MAD is that the City under-estimated the buildout costs to maintain the large amount of open space, pocket parks, and street medians in this developing area. As homes are sold, additional landscape areas are added to the MAD, but the cost of maintaining the landscape is not well defined until the actual plantings and irrigation systems are in and being maintained. Also, the costs for these areas are paid for by the developer for the first two years, then turned over to the MAD.
This combination of factors resulted in the City-estimated costs for the Miramar Ranch North MAD to be much less than the actual costs have turned out to be. If the estimates had been more accurate, then the increase would have been part of the fee assessment determination by the City in 1997. Because they were not, a ballot vote is now required.
Are similar future increases likely?
Probably not. The affects of the ballot measure are now fully incorporated, and most of the Miramar Ranch North area is now developed. Costs can be estimated much more accurately than 5 years ago prior to the initiative and buildout of Miramar Ranch North. Future increases should be limited to inflation.
Why should I vote for this increase?
To maintain the aesthetics and property values we are accustomed to in Scripps Ranch.
What will happen if the increase fails?
If the proposed increase fails to garner sufficient yes votes, you may notice the following:
- Brown out throughout the flat areas of the district;
- Loss of groundcover and possibly loss of some shrubs;
- At least a 60% reduction in sweeping of streets, gutters, rights-of-way and center medians; and
- Parks will be affected by reduced litter pick-up and weed control.
Without the proposed fee increase, the landscape Maintenance Assessment Districts would make the above recommendations starting July 1, 2003.
Where do the funds come from?
The funds are derived from property tax assessments within the 92131 zip code. There are two landscape Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs): the Scripps Ranch MAD and the Miramar Ranch North MAD. Roughly, the Scripps Ranch MAD is south of the lake; the Miramar Ranch North MAD is north of the lake, as shown on maps on the facing page.
Where do the funds go?
All funds are spent on property in the assessment area; no funds leave the 92131 zip code. Funds pay for maintenance of open space, parks, and street medians.
What are landscape Assessment Maintenance Districts?
This is a group of homes that are assessment annually as part of their property taxes to pay for maintenance of nearby common areas. The amount of the assessment varies with the district and the assets that need to be maintained. Also, the assessment may vary within the district depending on whether an HOA maintains much of the open space, as is the case south of Pomerado Road and in parts of Miramar Ranch North.
Are MADs the same thing as LMDs?
Yes. Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) is the new term used by the City, and may appear with that terminology on your ballot. SRCA has used the term Landscape Maintenance District (LMD) for years, because that is what it does; and in fact Scripps Ranch formed the first LMD in the City over 25 years ago.
I thought my HOA maintained the open space?
It very well might. Commonly, there are open space areas near the homes that are maintained by an HOA, especially in Miramar Ranch North and south of Pomerado Road. The HOA is funded by a separate dues or assessment. Often the land maintained by the MAD is adjacent to the land maintained by the HOA. This is one reason that having similar standards of maintenance is desirable so that there is not a marked change from green, well maintained HOA land to brown, minimally maintained MAD land.
When is the Vote?
Please don’t forget to vote in May when you receive your ballot in the mail. A “yes” vote is a vote to maintain our quality of life.