During our three decades providing HOA management services throughout Orange County, we have been deeply involved in helping communities handle the full scope of challenges that come with being located in this desirable – and fast-growing – area. We have helped HOAs successfully navigate the area’s unique set of challenges and opportunities, some of which have evolved over time. Here are some of the current issues your Orange County HOA might be facing, along with our expert advice on how to keep them all under control.
The toll of sunshine and salt air
80% annual sunshine and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean make Orange County an ideal place to live, work and play. However, the price of “paradise” can take a toll on properties. Salt air compromises metals, causing rapid deterioration of railings and staircases. Coastal fog and high humidity trap moisture in wood, creating a welcome host for Serpula lacrymans, the fungus that causes dry rot. Harsh sunshine with few cloudy days causes paint to fade quickly. These unique climate-related issues require more preventative maintenance and more frequent repairs than in many other areas.
Careful water management
The lingering drought that continues to impact southern California has created specific challenges for Orange County HOA management. Strict state, city, and county water usage rules affect all area residents. HOA boards are tasked with reevaluating common area landscaping plans, rethinking water features (ex. fountains), implementing water-wise landscaping, and drafting more conservative irrigation plans. Some of these changes require significant investment and can have a noticeable impact on community operating budgets. Meanwhile, enacting more stringent homeowner water use guidelines can lead to membership complaints that require thoughtful handling.
Short term rental challenges
The Orange County Visitors Association (OCVA) calculated that an estimated 48.2 million people visited Orange County in 2016. This massive influx of tourists, along with the rise of vacation rental services like Airbnb and HomeAway, have resulted in new challenges as HOA members offer their homes to short-term renters. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to this issue. Every association must create a framework that allows for homeowner flexibility while protecting the value of the association’s assets. HOAs must operate within state guidelines, so we advise Orange County HOA boards to consult their association’s legal counsel before making final decisions.
Coexisting with local wildlife
Many Orange County communities, particularly in inland regions, border large swaths of undeveloped land. Living in close proximity to wildlife requires HOAs to determine appropriate methods to keep the community and the wildlife separate in order to protect pets, children, landscaping, and the wildlife itself. These decisions will vary by community, with each deciding on the best way to protect home values without leaving a negative impact on the area’s natural surroundings.
Orange County is a beautiful and exciting place to call home, but along with the positives come a set of region-specific challenges. To mitigate these challenges, we recommended that community board members work with local companies that possess specific experience providing Orange County HOA management services. This expertise can reduce the risk of these issues compounding and ensure that community members receive the greatest possible enjoyment from Orange County living.