In the City of Oakley, there is one (1) City-wide landscape maintenance district and twenty six (26) sub-area landscape maintenance benefit zones, the maintenance districts and zones were created in accordance and through formation proceedings (also known as the affected property owners) pursuant to the legislation called “The Landscaping and Lighting Act of 1972, and or ‘ The Community Facilities Act of 1982’.” The purpose of the legislation and the formation of maintenance districts and zones is a financing mechanism to pay for certain improvements costs and operating maintenance expenses in public areas, such as parks, playgrounds, trees, landscape corridors, medians, etc.
An annual per parcel assessment, based on special benefit directly or indirectly to the property owners, is established at the time the district or zone is formed and is collected by Contra Costa County through an owner’s property tax bill and remitted back to the City of Oakley (minus a collection fee). The assessments pay for on-going services and continue as long as services are provided. This system continues to expand as new housing tracts are developed. New maintenance districts and benefit zones are initiated and created, usually by the property owner who is developing the land, to pay for certain improvements, without additionally burdening existing Oakley property owners.
Why do you see different levels of maintenance in the zones?
The City of Oakley desires to maintain a uniform level of maintenance throughout the landscaped areas and parks; however, by law, the City can only use funds collected from property owners within a district or benefit zone for the costs associated directly and specifically with that district or zone. In some areas the assessment is not sufficient to pay for the maintenance costs. The City has many zones that are currently “Under funded.”
Unfortunately, the assessment revenues in many of benefit zones have not kept pace with expenses, and are insufficient to adequately maintain their neighborhood landscape areas and have no reserve monies. Most of these zones were created by Contra Costa County with no built-in annual inflators. Many of the zones still pay the original assessment fee established anywhere from 15 to 30 years ago. As everyone is aware, the cost of maintenance increases each year, and therefore, the revenue is no longer adequate in many of the zones, especially when you consider the need that every landscape’s irrigation system, plants, and trees have a life cycle and eventually needs to be replaced.
To increase an assessment for maintenance costs in their areas, a majority of the property owners must favor an increase. During these tougher economic times, many property owners are unwilling to approve an increase. Therefore, when no additional funding in these underfunded zones occurs, and residents don’t step forward to assist with the maintenance, the City is forced to identify maintenance costs to eliminate.