For several months now, the Summit Park Homeowners Association has been in the process of trying to reform its Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), which have not been updated since they were instated in the late 1950s. After a recent neighborhood meeting, the HOA is still facing opposition from residents.
In order to take crucial wildfire mitigation steps and become a certified Firewise community, HOA Wildland Fire Coordinator Mike Quinones says Summit Park's CC&Rs must be updated. HOA fees are not mandatory except for on two plats and though the neighborhood can receive federal funds to construct a fuel break to address wildfire risk, it must use its own funds to maintain it.
During an HOA meeting last Thursday at the Sheldon Richins Building, several residents gave their thoughts on the draft CC&Rs that HOA members had written up. Quinones said there was a lively dialogue, with roughly 10 people getting up to speak, though he added the most vocal residents are those opposed to the draft CC&Rs and the idea of an HOA.
"Some people wanted to eliminate the HOA and the CC&Rs and keep [our] Firewise [goal], but we can't do that," Quinones said. "Who manages and oversees the Firewise program if there's no HOA? It's part and parcel, you can't take the two away."
The draft CC&Rs include a provision allowing a homeowner to file litigation against another homeowner for violation of the CC&Rs. It also prohibits trailers from being parked on roads and allows for "fire prevention maintenance" on the part of the HOA and for residents to create defensible space around their homes.
Addressing many residents' concerns, the HOA has made the Architectural Committee advisory rather than restrictive. On the neighborhood's blog and at the meeting, many felt that this committee would have unbridled power to enforce strict standards on people's homes.
The CC&Rs also include a mandatory fee of $50 (not to exceed $100, unless approved by a majority of residents) to address community wildfire risk. Quinones said the federal government and the state are both "burdened with the true cost of development" in what is a high wildfire risk neighborhood.
"They have to pay for the consequences of the lack of our actions," Quinones said. "We're on an entitlement. People that complain about big government and overspending, let's do our part and try to avoid the federal government having to spend $20 million in protecting our homes when a fire starts."
Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt was in attendance to "show support" for what the HOA is doing, he said. He added he is glad a group of homeowners want to get together to collectively address wildfire risk.
To help residents create defensible space around their homes, Hewitt said PCFD runs a chipping program that begins in June.
Ken Ludwig, Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator with the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, was also there and said that, for every dollar spent on fuel mitigation, $8 is saved in firefighting costs.
During 2012's Church Camp Fire in Duchesne County, Ludwig said nearly 90 structures were lost but many were saved because of defensible space that was created around many of them.
Quinones said Summit Park has submitted its Community Wildfire Protection Plan and should be Firewise certified by this summer. As for the timeline of adopting the new CC&Rs, he said that is uncertain, as some language in the document will be changed to address residents' concerns.