In March, the City of Poway will mail ballots to property owners who live in – and in some cases adjacent to – two Landscape Maintenance Districts (LMDs). One district includes the western portion of Twin Peaks Road and the other includes the northeast section of Espola Road. The City is communicating with those affected by the proposed changes, but we realize that the community at large has questions as well.
Here are 10 things you should know about the LMD ballot vote and how to find more information.
- Landscape Maintenance Districts are regulated by state laws and each exists as a dedicated fund. All the money that goes into the fund is collected from what’s termed as the benefitting property owners. The budget for how those improvement areas are maintained is set by the money available. Each district fund cannot spend more than it has collected.
- There are currently five landscape maintenance districts in the City of Poway. Properties within each district contribute to landscape improvements that are generally located along the streets, medians and entrances to a residential community.
- The City pays a general benefit contribution to LMDs under state law. The City’s contribution to each of the re-engineered LMDs receiving a ballot in March is higher than average because they each include main thoroughfares.
- This is not a special election. A mailed ballot will be sent to property owners who are in each of the re-engineered LMDs. Under the guidelines of Proposition 218, the majority vote of the ballots received for each district determines if the measure succeeds or fails in that district.
- This is not a new property tax. Property owners benefitting from the landscape improvements in their area are being asked to vote on a restructuring that, if passed, will appear as an assessment on their tax bill and benefit only their neighborhoods.
- The proposed LMDs provide a more accurate assessment and include the properties that benefit from the landscape improvements in their area. The restructuring that is proposed is based on an independent analysis and uses a formula based on the number of properties, the size of area maintained and types of improvements in that LMD. It is not based on a property’s value. The proposed LMDs add zones so that the rates more accurately reflect a property’s proximity and access to improvements.
- The proposed LMDs are our community’s best chance at stopping the deterioration of landscaping in these areas. The decision to ask property owners if they will pay more – and in some cases, join the district – would not be happening if there was another way. With each LMD, assessment rates were frozen with the passage of Proposition 218, but costs to provide services continue to rise.
- Not all LMDs are in the same shape. Some districts already include a Consumer Price Index provision, so annual assessments have kept pace with rising costs. If these LMDs had included a San Diego CPI adjustment over the past 20 years, they would have likely been able to maintain services at an acceptable level. Instead, services were cut as costs rose.
- Rising costs are not the only culprit. Mother nature has incurred its own toll on each LMD's finances. There is no financial safety net that covers the impact that years of drought have on the thousands of trees in these LMDs, nor the aging irrigation equipment that is close to the end of its useful life.
- LMDs will not dissolve if the measures do not pass. The properties who contribute to each LMD will continue to contribute to the LMD at their current rate. The amount of revenue will stay where it is, but the district will continue to see the level of service diminish.
For more information, including interactive maps that show the proposed districts and corresponding assessment rates, visit www.poway.org/LMD.
If you have more questions, or would like to organize a neighborhood meeting to discuss how the proposed LMD affects your property, please email PublicWorks@poway.org or call (858) 668-4700.