HOAs bridging gaps (literally) in King City
As small as King City is, it's still comprised of a rich mosaic of neighborhoods, each with its distinct feel.
If you move to one of these neighborhoods, you may become acquainted with its homeowners association, better known as an HOA. Generally speaking, an HOA is organized to enforce rules for these neighborhoods and its citizens.
Nestled aside King City Community Park is the Edgewater neighborhood, where the HOA president is Steve Stephens.
If you're not familiar with an HOA, Stephens said, "Any homeowner that moves into an HOA needs to be expecting to be paying dues and also be given those standards in which they're paying those dues for, which is key."
Stephens moved to the Edgewater neighborhood in early 2015 after serving in the Army as a medic. Born in Portland, and spending a period of time in Hawaii, Stephens was eventually sent to Iraq for almost a year and a half.
Stephens noted he was attached to the 21st Military Transition Team (MiTT) in Mosul, Iraq, and also served in Kenya.
"One of my special assignments in Iraq, besides being on the line, was also working with 500 Iraqi soldiers as part of the MiTT team," Stephens said. "We did some missions with them."
Finding his home in King City, Stephens joined the Edgewater HOA's board. After serving on the board for two years, Stephens moved up to vice chair, eventually becoming president.
As president, Stephens pointed out two concerns of his HOA.
"We have a very strong focus on phasing in of water conservation," he said. "We've just completed phase one of our water conservation project."
His chief concern, however, is sidewalk safety.
"Sidewalks are being elevated due to the roots of the trees," he said. "This is the biggest concern right now."
Stephens noted some people have fallen and hurt themselves on the sidewalks.
"It's the homeowner's responsibility to fix the sidewalks," Stephens said, but the city needs to be "given the blessing" to remove these problem trees. He hopes the city can craft an ordinance to address the problem.
Stephens noted, "We've already removed some of the trees and planted new ones."
He explained, "The board's current goal is actually to have these current oak trees removed in phases so that we can actually fix the sidewalks." He added the idea is to be proactive rather than reactive.
In addition to water conservation and sidewalk safety, Stephens said, "The overall goal, especially with King City's urban growth boundary expansion, is to not just hold onto the value of Edgewater homes, but to increase (the value)."
In King City, HOAs come in a couple of different of forms, according to Mayor Ken Gibson.
"One where the community runs it and is responsible for it," Gibson said. "An example of that is the KCCA (King City Civic Association, a 55 and over community)." The KCCA oversees the swimming pool and golf course.
Similar to that is the Highlands.
Gibson continued, "The Highlands has their own clubhouse. They have certain bylaws that the board of that HOA tries to maintain compliance within."
An example of another form of HOA is Edgewater, which has a management company that is responsible for maintenance of, for example, landscaping. The management company works with the board to "maintain the community at a higher level."
Gibson admits the relationship between the city and the HOAs could be improved.
"Two months ago, I had the first Zoom meeting where I invited the presidents of all the HOAs to meet with me so we could try to establish a line of communication," Gibson said. "We need to be on the same page, that we're all working toward making the city the best it could be and try to understand common issues between HOAs and the city."
Gibson said, "HOAs will always be concerned about street maintenance and those kinds of things."
Noting there was a recent Zoom meeting with the Edgewater HOA, Gibson said, "One of things they had talked about was concerns over expansion (of the city) and its relationship to Fischer Road. I explained to them that that's not an HOA issue. It's an issue that needs to be dealt with through the transportation system planning process and the master planning process."
Gibson added, "We're striving for a better line of communication between HOAs and the city."
Stephens serves with the Edgewater HOA as a way of giving back to the community.
"It was important for the fact of giving back and staying true to myself, as far as wanting to see change and be part of change," Stephens said. "To do that, you have to sacrifice yourself, no matter what you're doing."
Stephens continued, "You can't just vocalize what you want. You have to be part of that change."
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