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Canyon Lakes Fountain
Posted on 05/08/2019
Canyon Lakes Fountain

SUMMARY OF ISSUE

The Canyon Lakes Fountain, located at the corner of Bollinger Canyon Road and Alcosta Boulevard, was drained during the last drought and has been inoperative for over five years. The fountain has extensive cracking and components that are in need of replacement. In order to restore the operation of the fountain, a complete refurbishment including resurfacing is necessary. The adjacent landscaping is also in need of significant maintenance and replanting.

The costs for fountain replacement and operation and the costs for landscaping are borne by the residents of Zone 3 of the Landscaping & Lighting District through an annual special assessment on their properties and a 30% contribution from the Citywide Landscaping & Lighting Special Zone. In anticipation of repairs to the fountain and other landscaping improvements, City staff established a Capital Improvement Project (CIP 5478) and built up funds within the Special Zones reserves. Currently, available funds are as follows:

 

CIP 5478:

$412,000

Zone 3 Reserves:

$400,000

Any additional use of Zone 3 reserves would also include a 30% contribution from the Citywide Zone.

 Repair of the Fountain

The current estimate for replacing the fountain and refurbishing the adjacent landscape is approximately $755,000. Once installed, the new fountain and landscaping would cost approximately $130,600 per year for operation, maintenance, and eventual replacement. The combined costs present a significant impact to the overall budget of Zone 3 and a future increased assessment for property owners would likely be required.

Replacement of the Fountain with Landscaping

As an alternative to repairing the fountain, City staff has proposed an alternative approach that would replace the fountain with landscaping and a space for public art. The landscaping would include filling the fountain with soil and planting it and the surrounding area with drought tolerant plants, decorative boulders, additional trees, a space for public art, cobblestone-lined dry creek bed, new rock outcroppings, and/or other landscaping features. The existing monument wall would be updated and retained. The estimated cost for this alternative is approximately $470,000. Staff believes that this would be the best alternative. Advantages of this alternative include:

  • Affordable with the current CIP with only minor reduction of reserves;
  • It would leave funds available for improvements in other areas;
  • Operating and replacement costs, although increased due to water and labor costs, would be substantially lower than the fountain; and
  • The cost savings from replacing the fountain combined with the lower annual water costs would help maintain the existing reserve fund levels and reduce the need to increase the Zone fees in the near future.

A self-contained smaller water sculpture or kinetic art piece could be installed as an enhancement to new landscaping to provide an artistic vertical element at the additional cost of approximately $100,000.

A current condition photo and a conceptual photo of the enhanced landscaped corner and are shown below.

April 11th Public Meeting and Public Input

Staff held a public meeting to discuss the project on April 11, 2019. At the meeting attendees asked many questions about the Zone funding, fountain operations and costs, and various alternatives.

  • Attendees asked for additional details regarding the costs of repair and replacement options. Financial details are shown here.
  • Many attendees expressed an interest in repairing the fountain provided that it would not result in assessment rate increases; or if that alternative is not viable, adding an alternative water or art feature. As an enhancement, a smaller self-contained water sculpture or kinetic piece could be installed as a public art feature at the additional cost of approximately $100,000.

  • During discussions with representatives from the HOAs, two other options were considered: operating the fountain using recycled water or leaving the fountain in an inoperable state while installing minor landscaping improvements to the area. The primary issue with using recycled water is that East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) does not allow recycled water for fountain use due to the potential for direct exposure and odor issues. In addition, recycled water would likely increase the repair costs for pumps. The option of leaving the fountain inoperable was not favored as the representatives expressed a preference for the area to have the same quality of landscaping found throughout the rest of the Zone.

  • Meeting attendees also requested the wording on the existing wall be changed to “Canyon Lakes” (removing the words “Country Club”) since there is not a country club on site. There was also strong support for removing the concrete plaza and amenities from the enhanced landscape option.

Next Step

City staff will present this Project to the City’s Finance Committee on July 22nd. The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. in the EOC Room located at City Hall, 7000 Bollinger Canyon Road.

Do I Live in the Canyon Lakes Special Zone?

The Canyon Lakes Special Landscaping & Lighting Zone (Zone 3) contains 2,471 residences across 13 Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) and is the largest special Landscaping & Lighting Zone in the City. The following tools can be used to help determine if your property is located within Zone 3.

Click on the following links:

Enter your address or parcel number to display a copy of your current tax bill. Under the "Special Taxes and Assessments" portion of the bill, look for the line item "San Ramon LLD". If the amount is either $156.12 or $208.16 for FY 2018/19, your property is located within Special Zone 3 - Canyon Lakes. Please note, if you own multiple units within a single parcel number, the total assessment will be the number of units multiplied by $208.16.


Zone Background

The Canyon Lakes Special Landscaping & Lighting Zone (Zone 3) contains 2,471 residences across 13 Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs) and is the largest special Landscaping & Lighting Zone in the City. The Zone was established around the time when the first subdivision was built and is responsible for maintaining 31 acres of landscaping, 1,440 trees, one decorative fountain, and all maintenance activities that support the landscaping features. Maintenance activities include: fertilizing; irrigation repair; weed abatement; plant/tree trimming and replacement; water; power for irrigation controllers/lighting features; and maintenance of the fountain.

Maintenance activities of the decorative fountain at the corner of Alcosta Boulevard and Bollinger Canyon Road include: refilling the fountain with water due to evaporation and leaks; replacing pumps and filters; repairing lighting fixtures and decorative rock; and resurfacing when cracks are beyond repair. In recent years, two factors have significantly increased the cost of operating the fountain: 1) rising costs of water; and 2) State restrictions on decorative fountains during drought conditions. During droughts, the State restricts water use for decorative fountains, causing the City to drain the fountain for extended periods of time. The lack of water increases the cracking and accelerates the timeframe for a complete resurfacing.

Revenue and Expenditures

Revenue

The Zone is funded through a special assessment on the annual property tax bill. The original assessment began at $155 per year in the late 1980s, increased to $182 from 1991 to 1996, and was reduced to $80 in 1997 with an assessment cap of $110. The assessment amount has fluctuated due to the number of residential units in the Zone, and the budget projections for each year. The assessment amount and cap were established to comply with Proposition 218, which established limits on special taxes. Currently, the total revenue generated for the Zone is around $475,000 per year. Due to the assessment reaching the cap, the projected annual revenue is expected to remain flat for the foreseeable future.

Expenditures

The annual budget is divided into two categories - operating costs and capital projects. Operating costs consist of water, electricity, labor, contracts, supplies, and administration. The current operating budget is approximately $400,000. However, operating costs are projected to rise due to annual increases in utilities and labor costs. A recent reserve study indicates that the costs for operating will exceed the annual revenue within the next 10 years.

Capital projects include: new plants and mulch; conversion of turf into drought tolerant landscaping; replacement of irrigation equipment; tree removal and replacement; annual tree trimming; and fountain repair. The annual budget for capital projects can fluctuate. A typical budget for capital projects averages $100,000 per year. However, when a major expense occurs, such as resurfacing the fountain or landscape renovation, the budget can spike significantly.

Reserve Fund

In previous years, revenue for the Zone exceeded expenditures during a typical year where no major capital projects were required. The excess revenue is placed in a reserve fund in order to offset future expenditures. The current reserve fund balance is approximately $400,000. With a static level of revenue and expenditures increasing to match, future projects will draw down the reserve fund level. As projects are funded out of the reserve account, the Zone will struggle to fund future projects resulting in a decreased level of service. Decreases in levels of service could include reduced tree maintenance, not replacing dead trees and landscaping, and less frequent weed abatement. 

Revenue Options

Two options are available to address future revenue shortfalls and avoid service reductions. The first is an increase in the annual assessment amount. In order to increase the assessment, a majority (50% + 1) of residents would need to vote in favor of an increase. The second option is to implement cost saving measures to reduce maintenance and operating costs for the Zone. Cost saving measures include installation of water efficient landscaping and discontinuing the operation of the decorative fountain.

Concept Art
Before Enhanced Landscaping:

Canyon Lakes Before

After Enhanced Landscaping: 

Canyon Lakes After
For more information contact Theresa Peterson, Associate Engineer at (925) 973-2685 or tpeterson@sanramon.ca.gov