Santiago Hills Assessment District
March 11, 2021 - IPM Survey Results
In February, the City solicited input from District homeowners regarding interest in maintaining the current Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program or evaluating an increase to assessment fees in order to transition to an organics only IPM as part of the new landscape maintenance agreement, which is expected to start in July 2021. A letter, dated February 9, was mailed to all District homeowners. An email regarding the letter was also sent to the Landscape Assessment email distribution list. The information was posted on the District’s page on the City’s website, and notification of the update was sent through the NextDoor app. Homeowners were asked to submit input through an online survey (Survey Monkey), via email, or mailing back their input.
The City received a total of 204 survey responses, of which 85% responding support maintaining the current IPM. A total of 12% of respondents would like to evaluate the option to increase assessment fees to transition to an organics only IPM. The remaining 3% either selected both or did not make a selection.
At the April 13, 2021 City Council meeting, Council will be presented the award for the new landscape agreement, with the recommendation of maintaining the current IPM, consistent with community input received. Once posted, the staff report for the agreement can be found here: https://cityoforange.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx. The current IPM is a holistic approach to sustainable landscape maintenance, focusing on managing insects, plant disease, rodents, and weeds through a combination of proper and timely maintenance techniques (i.e. water management, soil fertility management, and proper pruning and trimming). Application of pesticides is utilized as needed to achieve the standard outlined in the scope of work. Staff pre-approves all chemical applications and the City complies with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations. A licensed, contracted pest control operator holding a Qualified Applicator License (QAL) applies any chemicals for pest control as necessary. Before spraying occurs, staff place additional signage in the areas that will be treated.
Additionally, as noted in the February correspondence, the recommendation will include implementing the Consumer Price Index assessment not to exceed 3% annually for Overlay District Assessment No. 15-1 in order to sustain standard landscape maintenance (utilizing the current IPM) and capital improvement projects. The annual public hearing required to provide for the annual levy and collection of assessments for the District is set for the Tuesday, June 8th City Council meeting. Once posted, the agenda and information regarding participation can be found here: https://cityoforange.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Of those who provided comments with their response, respondents in favor of maintaining the current IPM noted several reasons for their input. The majority noted they opposed an increase to their assessment while others stated that the cost of an organics only IPM is too expensive. Several respondents also noted that they want to keep the landscaping as it is, and to continue using the current IPM.
Comments from those in favor of evaluating the option to increase the assessment to transition to an organics only option posed follow up questions including concerns about not being able to view all proposals received and the option of going completely pesticide free, similar to how Santiago Hills Park is maintained. The City will make public the responses to requests for proposals at the time the contract is presented to the awarding authority (in this case, the City Council). If a winning proposer has access to the specific details of other competing proposals, then the City is greatly impaired in its ability to negotiate and secure the best possible deal on its constituents’ behalf. Thus, the City’s interest in keeping these proposals confidential outweighs the public’s interest in disclosure until negotiations with the winning proposer are complete and, therefore, we were unable to share the proposals in advance.
The City did evaluate a pesticide free option, however, due to the labor associated with weeding, the cost to implement this option was not sustainable. While Santiago Hills Park is maintained pesticide free, the park is approximately 90% turf and 10% planters. The weeds currently growing within the turf are maintained similarly to turf maintenance (i.e. mowed) and provide an adequate green ground cover. Due to the small percentage of planters, the cost savings from applying pesticides is used to provide additional manual labor to remove the weeds from the planters. Conversely, the landscape in the District has a significant amount of planters, which would require an increase in services for manual weeding. As a result, the money saved by ceasing pesticide applications would not be enough to fund the manual weeding needed throughout the District.
Attached is a summary of the results of the input received, as well as a complete list of comments. We thank you for your feedback. For questions or comments, please email SantiagoHills@cityoforange.org or call the Community Services Department at 714-744-7274.
If you would like to be added to the Santiago Hills Landscape Assessment District email list to receive updates, please email SantiagoHills@cityoforange.org. Information provided in the updates is also posted on the City website, and a message is posted on Nextdoor notifying followers that the website is updated.
Santiago Hills Assessment District Landscape Maintenance Update-February 2021
The current landscape maintenance agreement for the District will expire in June 2021. The City issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new 4-year term, starting in July 2021 through June 2025. The scope of work includes general maintenance of the landscape, mowing, trimming and implementing the City’s approved Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM).
The IPM focuses on the long-term prevention and/or suppression of pest problems (such as insects, invasive species, rodents, and weeds) through a combination of techniques which includes pest identification, monitoring, prevention, and treatment tactics. The IPM is regulated and permitted by the Orange County Agricultural Commissioner and utilizes products approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which may include synthetic pesticides. To view the City's IPM Policy and Implementation Guidelines, please visit: https://www.cityoforange.org/DocumentCenter/View/8326/Integrated-Pest-Management.
At the request of some District community members, the RFP included an option to replace EPA approved pesticides with use of organic pesticides only, recommended by the nonprofit organization Organic Materials Review Institute. This option would continue to use a variety of techniques to focus on the long-term prevention and/or suppression of pest problems, including the use of increased manual labor.
To view the full RFP, please visit: https://www.cityoforange.org/bids.aspx?bidID=177
The proposed cost to continue with the current IPM for the new 4 year agreement is approximately 14% higher than the current agreement and with current assessment fees is financially sustainable through the life of the contract. The organics only IPM, on average, costs 50% more. Budget projections indicate the organic only program is sustainable for the first two years of the agreement. To maintain the use of organics only for the remainder of the agreement, an increase of approximately 45% in assessment fees would be required. The current assessment would need to be increased from the existing range of $394-$613 to approximately $566-856 annually (The figures are current estimates. If an assessment increase is pursued, the true increase would be determined through a contracted independent study.) Factors affecting the cost of the IPM include cost of the product, frequency applied, and labor involved in implementing the IPM. Both programs require the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 2-3% annually for Overlay District Assessment No.15-1 in order to continue with standard landscape maintenance and capital improvement projects. Please click here to see a detailed chart comparing the current IPM and the organics only program, including how each program will be implemented and expected results.
The City is seeking input from the District’s homeowners regarding interest in maintaining the current IPM or evaluating an increase to assessment fees in order to transition to an organics only IPM.
In order for input to be considered, the homeowner’s name and address must be included. Input is needed by 12pm on February 24. Homeowners may submit input by completing the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HVT6XYR or emailing Santiagohills@cityoforange.org with your selection to either:
- Maintain Current IPM
- Evaluate the option to increase assessment fees to transition to an organics only IPM
If emailing, please be sure to include your name and address.
Thank you for your feedback. The new landscape agreement is anticipated to be awarded at the April 13 or May 11 Council meeting.
If you would like to be added to the Santiago Hills Landscape Assessment District email list to receive updates, please email SantiagoHills@cityoforange.org. Information provided in the updates is also posted on the City website, and a message is posted on Nextdoor notifying followers that the website was updated.
For questions, please email SantiagoHills@cityoforange.org or call 714-744-7264.