INFORMATION ON THE PROPOSED LMD
Driving along Espola Road through north Poway is a beautiful sight with an abundance of trees, walking trails, and open space. It sets Poway apart from other North County communities. That beauty is at risk because the funds to maintain and rehabilitate the landscaping are limited; residents already have begun to notice a deterioration. To address this issue, the City of Poway is asking residents in north Poway to approve additional fees charged on your property tax bill via ballot to maintain this area known as a Landscape Maintenance District (LMD).
If you live in the impacted area, you should have already received your ballot to vote on creating this new LMD and the increase in assessments.
The proposed changes
No adjustments to these LMD assessments have been made since 1998 due to the passage of Prop 218 which restricted the city from increasing assessments without a vote. Since then, the cost of water, landscaping, tree removal, living wages, etc. has steadily risen. The city says there are no longer sufficient funds being collected to adequately maintain this area.
The city proposes replacing the existing LMD 86-1 (encompasses more than one million square feet of landscaping and over 1,600 trees benefiting 954 assessed property parcels) with a new LMD known as 18-2, benefiting 1,137 assessed property parcels and increasing the assessments on most parcels located within the new LMD.
Proposed LMD 18-2 map
Existing and Added Properties to the Proposed LMD 18-2
The methodology to determine the new map
State law requires that when an LMD is modified, the city must review the proximity and benefit that surrounding properties may derive, and determine whether they should be included in the new LMD zone. The makeup of our city has changed over the years as neighborhoods have grown and shifted, and some properties were not included in the original LMD 86-1. Based on the assessment engineer’s report, staff has determined that additional properties should be included on the proposed LMD 18-2 map, and at different assessment levels, based on their direct benefit.
The GVCA addressed City Council at the March 6 meeting raising concerns about the zones and assessments not appearing equitable and rational resulting in a smattering of property owners bearing the full cost of funding maintenance and new landscape improvements that would seem to benefit all of north Poway.
Current and Proposed Assessments
How much additional revenue will be raised with the new LMD?
What you can expect if the new LMD 18-2 is approved
Landscape maintenance services help to maintain an aesthetically pleasing community, and also keep our thoroughfares safe and clean. The city says property owners should expect to see a generally higher level of service which would include more frequent tree trimming, leaf and litter removal, and general maintenance. However, there will probably be no dramatic, immediate impact.
The city has said it would begin to set aside a portion of funds for major landscaping rehabilitation that would be phased in after 4-5 years at which time the city proposes that they would engage a landscape architect to create a concept plan and incorporate the community’s input into the final plan to improve the appearance and health of the district.
What happens if the proposed LMD is not approved
If voters do not approve the new LMD, the existing LMD and rates of assessment will remain in place, and no additional property owners will be added to the district. City representatives have stated that they will do their best to continue landscaping and maintenance with the funds available, but warn that existing funding is not adequate to keep up with our current needs, and the situation will likely get worse as costs continue to increase.
Required vs. necessary
Most landscaping is not absolutely necessary in these areas, but provides an aesthetic benefit to the community. Well maintained landscaping can add to a community’s appeal and have a positive influence on home values. Services such as tree trimming and removal, however, are required for public safety.
Only the parcels located within the LMD which are proposed to be assessed are eligible to vote. The determination will be made by a majority of the voting parcels. Votes are weighted based on the dollar amount of each parcel’s assessment. The City Clerk will collect the ballots and present the tabulation at the May 1, 2018 City Council meeting. If a majority of the weighted ballots support the new 18-2 LMD new assessments will be imposed for the property tax bills effective fiscal year 2018-2019. If the ballot does not pass, the current LMD and assessement will remain unchanged.
LMDs were created many years ago by developers as a way for property owners to pay for enhanced landscaping and improvements beyond those generally provided by the city. The district is responsible for maintaining all irrigation and sprinkler systems, turf, trees, shrubs, and bushes in medians and public rights-of way. Monies collected from LMD assessments are set aside for the exclusive benefit of each district and can only be used for maintenance and improvement of that specific district.