Denver Water plans to implement drought restrictions

Denver Water has declared a PDF document Stage 2 drought, effective April 1, which means customers may water no more than two days a week, and must follow a set schedule.


Despite recent snows in parts of Colorado, most of the state is in the second year of a severe drought that’s not getting better. The drought has led to low snowpack, above-average temperatures and low reservoir levels across the state. As a result, the Denver Board of Water Commissioners has declared a Stage 2 drought, which means customers will have two assigned watering days a week beginning April 1. Commissioners discussed their intention during a recent board meeting. “We’ve never seen conditions like this, and we are concerned about our water supply,” said Jim Lochhead, CEO/manager of Denver Water. “Our reservoirs haven’t been full since July 2011. We need our customers’ help to reduce water use and keep as much water as possible in storage as we move through this year and into the next.” “Our goal this summer is to ensure water is available for public health and safety, while balancing the quality of life and economic vitality of our community,” Lochhead said. “Last year was dry, and this year has been, too. Ultimately, we need to be prepared for a potentially worsening situation in 2014.” The utility asks customers to be cautious with water use this spring. While April is a good time to get irrigation systems set-up and examined, they don’t need to be used yet. Instead, postpone turning on sprinkler systems and hand-water sloped areas of the lawn or sections that are receiving full sunlight. April is typically a cool month with some precipitation, so it may not be necessary to water lawns two days a week, which will help save water. Mandatory watering restrictions mean Denver Water customers may only water two days a week and must follow this schedule: Single-family residential properties with even-numbered addresses: Sunday, Thursday Single-family residential properties with odd-numbered addresses: Saturday, Wednesday All other properties (multi-family, HOA, commercial, industrial, government): Tuesday, Friday In addition, customers must follow these annual watering rules: Do not water lawns between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Do not waste water by allowing it to pool in gutters, streets and alleys. Do not waste water by letting it spray on concrete and asphalt. Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days. Do not water while it is raining or during high winds. Snowpack in the PDF document South Platte and PDF document Colorado River basins from which Denver Water receives water are 53 percent of average and 68 percent of average, respectively. That snow is what serves as Denver’s PDF document water supply. “This year, we all must do our part to save water indoors and outdoors,” said Lochhead. “Together, we need to save 50,000 acre-feet of water, or 16 billion gallons, by April 2014.” The utility plans to cut operating expenses, defer projects and tap cash reserves to help balance finances through the drought. A temporary drought pricing structure also is expected to be implemented, starting with May water use, to encourage customers to use even less water and help reduce revenue loss.  Use these conservation tips to help save water indoor and out.


The Sweet Smells of Selling Your Home

So your house is on the market and you’re ready to make a dynamic first impression on potential buyers. Besides ensuring that your house looks and feels inviting, making sure it smells pleasant can help generate interest during showings. While traditional wisdom suggests that freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies will add a homey and enticing scent to your abode, new research indicates that the smell of these baked goods may be overwhelming to purchasers.

According to The Wall Street Journal (“Using Smell to Make a Sale,” February 15, 2013), complex scents—like cookies and potpourri—can accidently distract potential buyers from focusing on your home because they could be subconsciously trying to decipher the aroma. Researchers tested this theory by adding various scents to a home décor store in Switzerland: Of the 402 people observed, consumers on average purchased 31.8 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent—such as orange or vanilla—than when it was scented with a complex scent; consumers on average purchased 23.6 percent more when the store was scented with a simple scent than when it wasn’t scented at all.

Eric Spangenberg, dean of the college of business at Washington State University and a member of the research team, says people selling their homes can apply the same principles as well. He recommends using simple scents such as lemon, pine or basil to scent your home for showings because it’s easy for people to process these aromas. Without having their focus pulled away by complex smells, potential buyers can give more focus to the house and in turn be more open to spending. To ensure you’re home smells great, try using cleaning products that have a citrus smell, or use vanilla-scented candles or sprays in your home. Better yet, use the real thing to freshen up your house by bringing a basil plant into the kitchen during showings. Try to stick to one simple scent that unobtrusively permeates the house, and make sure your scent matches the atmosphere of your home, such as adding a pine or cedar scent to a log cabin.

Due Diligence and Living Happily Ever After

We hear the term “Due Diligence” used in many different contexts, but what does it mean? According to Merriam Webster, it is the care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property. A common transaction where this term is used is in the purchasing of a home. While many of us think of due diligence as obtaining inspections, appraisals and checking out the neighborhood and schools, one should also research if the property is located within a covenant controlled community.

If the property is in a covenant controlled community, a careful review of the Association’s covenants, policies and procedures and any rules and regulations should be part of a prospective purchaser’s due diligence. It is far too common where the first time a homeowner has actually reviewed the Association’s covenants is after a violation has occurred or an assessment has gone unpaid and the homeowner receives a notice from the Association regarding the issue. For example, my friend recently expressed interest in purchasing a home within an HOA.  He has four pets and after reviewing the Association’s governing documents, he found a provision that only allowed two pets.

He really wanted to buy the house, but was not willing to give up the pets that he considers his kids.  He talked to the Association’s management company and found out that the Association had never enforced the pet limitation. However, while the Association had not historically enforced the pet limitation, it is not uncommon for new Boards to work to revive previously-ignored declaration provisions. It’s an Association’s obligation to enforce its governing documents.  The Board doesn’t have the power to eliminate a declaration provision without a vote of the membership, and my friend wasn’t willing to risk that the Association, under a new Board, would decide to enforce the limitation.

He managed to work it out with written assurances from the Board that, if ever the Association decided to enforce the pet limitation, his pets would be grandfathered in.  This protects him, while allowing the Association to undertake its duties under the governing documents.


If you want to live happily ever after too, make sure you do your due diligence before purchasing a home – read the covenants – it can save you time and money in the long run and help you to take pleasure in where you live.

Reposted from Colorado Homeowner’s Association Law


How to Protect a Board’s Personal Emails

Reposted from HOA Brief

Imagine this scenario: a person volunteers their time, and spends countless hours working for the betterment of their community. Many of these hours are late at night or on weekends. They and their fellow Board members exchange countless emails at all hours of the day. The emails are often sent from their work or personal computers or phones. One of the many decisions made by the Board is challenged by a member of the Association who files a lawsuit. In seeking to examine what discussion the Board members had with management or other Board members on the issue, the member’s attorney requests that the Association produce all correspondence related to the issue, and issues a subpoena to each Director requesting they produce all Association related emails.

The Director has been using their personal email for Board business, or worse, their work email, in which case the subpoena went to their employer, who is now asking why the Board member was using their work email for personal matters. The employer is concerned that complying with the subpoena will expose private, trade secret information to outsiders, and they are not happy, to say the least. Not to mention the fact that use of a work email address for personal communication, such as Board business, will often violate the employer’s email policy and expose the Board member to potential discipline from the employer. The employer is also faced with having to decide between spending thousands of dollars to have the employer’s attorneys review the emails to identify the relevant emails to produce and redact any information not relevant to the subpoena, or to file a protective order. If the Director has been using a personal email address, they will face a similar dilemma. How do they produce only the Board related emails without all their personal emails being revealed to others? The jokes exchanged between friends, bills, financial related emails, stories about children and spouses, all will be produced to the other side unless someone sorts through the emails to identify the ones that are relevant to the subject matter of the suit.

Associations are required to make certain corporate records available for inspection by owners. Several statutes specify the records to be maintained, and the conditions upon which the records must be available for inspection and copying by Owners in the Association. I am not taking a position on whether such emails would qualify as Association or corporate records subject to production by Owner request. Rather, it is litigation, where the ability to request documents is much broader, and the stakes higher, that Directors and Managers should consider in evaluating the risks of using personal or work emails for Board business.

What can a Director do to avoid the situation described above? What can a manager do to guide a Board before this all comes to pass? The first thing to do is rather easy. If you are a Director, do not use a work or existing personal email address for any communication with either the Manager or other Board members. There are other, better, alternatives. These include the free email services available from many providers. Sign up for an email address with Google, Yahoo, Hotmail or others, and use that address for Board business only. That will protect a Director’s private emails from disclosure should they ever have to turn over Board related emails to a third party. These services all offer the ability to sync or download email to a Smartphone and provide easy web access. Any burden that might be caused by having to send and receive emails from a separate email address used exclusively for Board business will more than be offset by the fact that should a Director ever have to produce Board related emails, they will already be separated from their work and personal emails.

Second, the Board and Management should consider an email policy addressing various factors, including whether Board members should be allowed to use personal email addresses for Board business, or whether Board members will be required to set up a separate email address for Board communications. The Board should keep in mind that email discussions between Board members could potentially be construed as a “meeting”. In places such as California, which requires that Board meetings be noticed and open to the membership, the Board should be careful to save such discussion for a properly noticed Board meeting which the members can attend (with some exception for items which can be discussed in closed or executive session). The Board should also consider what type of archival efforts it will make to keep emails for any length of time.

Lastly, the Board should consider whether it will set up and maintain an email service for all Board members. After all, Associations are essentially a business, and an email address is now a basic business tool. Providing email service to all Directors will provide the Association the benefit of having control over retention and archival of emails, and make it easier to respond to any legal requests for Board communications. The costs of providing such a service to Board members should be trivial compared to the cost associated with having to gather and identify the Board related emails from personal email accounts of Board members, or their employers. In order to increase adoption of such an email service, Boards should require that any service provide the ability to sync with all modern smartphones, and provide web access.

Taking these basic steps will go a long way to avoiding having the work and personal emails of a Director disclosed to anyone, even if only the Association’s lawyer. All Boards should discuss these issues with their counsel, and work to develop a policy that meets their needs. With these easy steps taken, a Board can go a long way to saving costs in litigation, and better control Board communications.

HOAs honored statewide

Five housing communities — big and small, suburban and urban, from Fort Collins to Aurora — have been recognized as Home Owner Associations of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.

The HOAs were honored for efforts on behalf of their residents to create vibrant, well-managed and harmonious communities, according to CAI-RMC.

CAI-RMC is the region’s primary professional association representing HOAs, management companies and the businesses that serve them. They have more than 800 members throughout Colorado.

Winners were judged on general qualities of the HOA, financial aspects of the HOA, involvement of the community members, and the fair, correct use of community policies and procedures. Each HOA had to demonstrate features that make their community exemplary.

“These associations truly serve as a model for other communities,” said Terry Jarrett, president of CAI-RMC.  “Each has made significant investments into its community’s long-term success and went the extra mile not only to effectively manage their respective communities but to bring residents closer together.”

The 2012 HOA of the Year Recipients are:

  • Very Small Category: Stanton Bridge Association of Fort Collins managed by the Colorado Association Services. This 19-home community impressed the committee with its demonstration of neighborliness, group cooperation, and open communication practices.
  • Small Category:  Reserve Patio Homes at Fossil Lake Ranch of Fort Collins , also managed by Colorado Associations Services. This community has multiple active committees that help everything run smoothly. Their social committee works especially hard to create events for all ages and is an impressive asset to any community.
  • Medium Category: Larimer Place Condominiums Inc. in downtown Denver managed by Hammersmith Management Inc. This luxury high-rise has worked hard to stay relevant and meaningful to its residents as the neighborhood around them grows. They have several “green initiatives” in effect, are regularly upgrading the facilities, and are constantly working to provide fun and useful social events for all.
  •  Large Category: Dam West of Aurora, also managed by Hammersmith. This community not only has extensive amenities, but also significant member involvement. The residents have worked together to develop a place anyone would be happy to call home, CAI-RCM determined.
  •  Very Large Category:  Windsor Gardens Association near Lowry in Denver is self-managed. This active adult community blew us away with the plethora of offerings for its residents, exceptional financial stability and ongoing community improvements. Windsor Gardens is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Tools for Handling Neighbor to Neighbor Disputes

By Mark K. Payne

Reposted from Colorado Homeowners Association Law


What happens when your neighbor blasts his music too loud? Complains about your trees covering his yard? Fills his garage with fireworks for Fourth of July – and shoots them off every night for a month beforehand until midnight? Gets angry with you and dumps garbage on your lawn? What should the Association’s Board or manager do, if anything, when they receive the call from the affected homeowner?

Oftentimes, these types of problems are referred to by Boards and managers as “neighbor to neighbor” disputes. They become defined as such because they are disputes, of one nature or another, lodged by one owner against another owner, but generally do not affect either the common areas or more than a few other owners. Other common examples, in addition to those identified above, include parking, animals, and smoking.

The behavior may indeed be a violation of the Association’s restrictive covenants or rules, but the question is whether the Association, through the Board or manager, has an obligation to step in to help resolve the dispute or take action. Most of the time, the Board will determine that if the behavior affects only one, or a small group of owners, it will not use the Association’s limited resources to bring enforcement action. Colorado courts have upheld the Board’s authority to exercise its business judgment in such situations. The Board may want to adopt a policy that addresses how it will handle neighbor to neighbor disputes.

But, the issue remains unresolved. What can be done by the affected owner?

There are a number of alternatives that the affected owners can pursue, and each should be evaluated based on the severity of the situation. First, if the violation is such that it constitutes a crime, a zoning violation or other violation of the local municipal ordinances, the police, zoning enforcement officer or other code enforcement officer can be called. As you might imagine, this approach should be used judiciously, as it will draw a permanent line in the sand, never to be erased so long as the owners continue to reside in the community.

There are alternatives to police or code enforcement protection. The first alternative includes neighbor to neighbor conversation or negotiation to resolve the neighbor to neighbor dispute. The following are some steps that the affected neighbor might want to consider:

1.         Find out the facts. Determine whether this disturbance is a one-time problem or a constant occurrence.

2.         Vent your feelings before you approach your neighbor: Talk to a friend or spouse, whack your bed with a tennis racket or roll up the windows in your car and scream. The goal here is to bring a rational approach to your neighbor, not one that is emotionally charged.

3.         Write it out. Get clear about what is bothering you and what you want done.

4.         Figure out who is responsible for the disturbance. You want to negotiate with the proper party.

5.         Talk to your other neighbors and find out whether they share your concern. This is simply for your information; try not to aggravate the situation by building an angry alliance.

6.         Introduce yourself. Arrange a time to meet with your neighbor and choose a neutral location.

7.         Ease into it. Describe the issue without inflammatory language. Try to avoid putting your neighbor on the defensive right out of the gate.

8.         Create a cooperative atmosphere. Rather than attacking your neighbor, ask for assistance in finding a solution. Listen to you neighbor’s viewpoint. Take appropriate levels of responsibility.

9.         Find common ground and focus on what you do agree on.

10.        Search for a solution that satisfies both parties’ needs. Compromise.[1]

If this personal approach does not yield results, there are some other alternatives, all of which require some type of third party intervention. While the Association does not need to be involved, it can provide a forum and a process for resolution of the dispute. It could request volunteers from the community who might be willing to serve on a dispute resolution committee to help negotiate a resolution.

The parties themselves could agree to take the matter to mediation. Mediation involves a negotiated settlement between the parties, that once reached, is legally enforceable. However, neither party, as part of the mediation, is bound to any suggestions of the mediator. Many local municipalities provide dispute resolution services for little or no charge. Typically this service is provided by people who have some type of training in mediation or dispute resolution. The owners themselves could agree to hire their own mediator.

Should mediation not work, the parties could agree to arbitrate the dispute. Arbitration typically involves a third party decision maker (not a court), who will make a decision as to what the parties will or won’t do. Submitting a matter to arbitration requires both parties to agree that the dispute will be arbitrated. One party cannot force the other party into arbitration. Like a mediated settlement, an arbitration decision is legally enforceable.

The last resort in dispute resolution should be initiating a lawsuit. Lawsuits are: (1) time consuming; (2) expensive; (3) public; and (4) emotionally expensive. The result of a lawsuit is often that neither party gets what they want, and the outcome can be similar to calling the police – there becomes a permanent line in the sand for so long as the owners are neighbors.

Disputes in higher density housing (whether in a single family home community or a high rise condominium) are inevitable. Methods exist to bring about dispute resolution, and each situation should be evaluated on its own merits to determine which process fits. In the end, if the affected owners intend to live in the community for the long term, some type of negotiated resolution will work much better than a resolution imposed by a third party.


[1] Thanks to for this list of suggestions


The Best Way to Welcome Neighbors

Reposted from Condo & HOA News


With today’s era of computer technology and “Going Green” many boards question if the benefits of sending out a Welcome Packet outweigh the cost.

There are several reasons that negate sending out welcome packets:

•Cost to the association for copies, envelopes, labels and postage

•Possibility of outdated information going out

•Too time consuming to do every month

•Additional trees killed to produce paper produces

•More waste products for the landfills

There are also several reasons to encourage a board to send out a welcome packet:

•Allows the new homeowner to establish a connection with the community

•Gives important association information including meeting dates and places

•Governing documents can be included to ensure the new owner has received the correct documents

•Local information is very useful; especially if the new owner does not know the area

•Maps and pamphlets can be included from the local Chamber of Commerce, City or County Office.

The board needs to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages. They need to look in depth at each reason before coming to a decision. The manager should provide the board with as much information as possible in deciding this issue. Yes, this will initially produce more work for the manager and the board, but in the long haul it may decrease their workload.

Items the board should consider putting in the welcome packet:

•Present some samples of free pamphlets and maps that can be obtained from the local Chamber of Commerce, city or county office, and fire and police departments.

•Letter of Welcome from the board and, separately, the manager, including time, date and place of association meetings, names of current board members, and meeting conduct information.

•List of local addresses and phone numbers for electricity, water, trash, city offices, county offices, school district and other useful contact information

•Governing documents including improvement forms and architectural guidelines.

•List of committees and a pre-addressed envelope for the sign-up sheet.

•Voter registration form.

•Homestead exemption application

•Home alarm application for the police department.

New homeowners often become offended when the first communication they receive from the association is a letter regarding a deed restriction violation or a statement telling them they owe money. Is this the type of first impression the board wants new homeowners to have or would they rather have the homeowner receiving a positive communication with valuable information? Remember the first impression produces a lasting impression.

Yes, sending a welcome packet will be additional work for the manager or committee. However, the information that is in the packet may prevent numerous phone calls and e-mails requesting information, forms or, worse, miscommunications and misunderstandings. The homeowner will not be able to say “I was not aware of the restrictions since I did not receive any governing documents when I closed.”

The person responsible for producing and sending the welcome packet can manage the time they spend on welcome packets by making two or three extra ones whenever they compile them. This will result in a stockpile of packets available when they are pressed for time. Preparing the packets and mailing them every two weeks will reduce time spent on the project and spread the cost.

An even more environmentally-friendly approach would be to upload the material to a CD saving the file as PDF. Think about how many trees you can save and landfills that won’t grow because of your “green” welcome packets!

The benefits of a welcome packet far outweigh the cost. Spending time and money to establish good relations with new homeowners is a benefit for the association, the board and the manager. Up-to-date information goes a long way in making homeowners feel they are an important part of an association – because the success of their community depends on them.