Posted 5/14/18: Point San Pedro Road Median Landscaping Assessment District Update

The Point San Pedro Road Median Landscaping District was formed in 2012 to generate revenue to reconstruct, repair and maintain the 29 medians islands along Point San Pedro Road from Union Street to Biscayne Drive. Residents living within Assessment District boundaries voted to assess themselves an annual fee which is used to fund debt service on a loan with the City to pay for the initial capital improvements of reconstructing the medians and to fund the annual ongoing operations and maintenance of median. The City was required to hire a landscape maintenance contractor to perform the maintenance on the medians.

The initial assessment to cover these costs first implemented in 2013-14 fiscal year was $79.48. The assessment amount was based on an engineer’s estimate at the time of the annual cost of maintaining the medians. The voter-approved Median Assessment Agreement allows the annual assessment to be increased up to three percent per year, and in situations where the assessment is not increased, the ability to use that increase is carried forward into future years. Each July, the San Rafael City Council holds a public hearing before approving the Median Landscaping District Assessment fee for the coming fiscal year.

Since the median improvements were completed, the Point San Pedro Road Coalition’s Roadway Committee has served as a “citizen’s oversight” committee, working with City staff to insure the medians are property maintained and to review and comment upon any planned changes to the annual assessment prior to presentation to the San Rafael City Council.

The new medians were a significant aesthetic improvement over the previous medians which had fallen into a state of disrepair. Since the creation of the Assessment District, there have been a number of maintenance issues with the medians, including oversight of the maintenance contractor, issues with the soil conditions affecting plant growth on some of the medians, broken or damaged irrigation lines affecting the appropriate levels of watering, delayed replacement and removal of dead or dying plants and liter removal.

In the last two years, the Roadway Committee has made considerable progress dealing with these issues, much of that due to a greatly improved working relationship with City staff and the change in the maintenance contractor this past year. However, there is still work to be done and the Roadway Committee is committed to continue working with the City to resolve ongoing outstanding issues.

Since the initial assessment in 2013-14 and for the following four years, the Roadway Committee did not recommend that the annual assessment fee be raised because we wanted to work with the City to get a better handle on issues and actual costs associated with maintaining the medians to a standard that meets the community’s expectations. Thus, the annual assessment per parcel has remained at $79.48 for the past 5 years.

Now that we have a better understanding of the operation and controlling the costs of maintaining the medians at a standard acceptable to the community and the City, we are looking at applying a reasonable, annual raise to the assessment so that revenues can gradually rise to meet the actual costs of maintaining the medians.

The Roadway Committee’s goal is get to the point where the annual assessment fees will cover the debt service and maintenance cost.   Currently, the revenues collected are enough to cover the debt service costs, but not all the maintenance costs.  The balance of the maintenance revenue has been coming from the Assessment District’s Operating Reserve Fund. The Assessment District is at a crucial point now where those operating reserve funds are being depleted and a reasonable annual fee increase is necessary to cover the costs of maintaining the medians.

To achieve this self-sustaining goal, the Roadway Committee and City staff are proposing annualassessment fee increases of $4.50 (in FY 2018-19), $4.75 (in FY 2019-20) and $5.00 (in FY 2020-21). At the end of this period, the annual median assessment will be $93.73 which is less than the maximum assessment fee of $97.75 that would be permitted to be charged under the regulations of the Assessment District charter.

All Point San Pedro Road Median Landscaping Assessment District fees collected are legally restricted for use on the medians and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Commencing in 2021-22 FY, the assessment will be covering the annual debt service and maintenance cost and will then be able to begin building a reserve that will allow the Assessment District to fund a capital replacement reserve to replace the irrigation equipment once they reach the end of their useful life.

I think we can all agree that the landscaping of the Point San Pedro Road medians has greatly enhanced the appearance of the Point San Pedro Peninsula.  Our challenge will be to continue to work closely with the City to ensure that this important asset in our community is properly maintained at a reasonable cost well into the future.

Thank you for your support.  I welcome any comments or questions you may have regarding the above. Please email me at kevin@sprcoalition.org or Point San Pedro Road Median Subcommittee Chair, Jim Dickson, at jrd513@aol.com by Friday, May 25 and we will get back to you.

Kevin Hagerty
Chairman, Roadway Committee
Point San Pedro Road Coalition