Episode Two – The Apocalypse Cometh – The prequel

Yes, the title is my homage to Star Wars. Not the new one but the original seventies version where Luke Skywalker was young. OMG.  But I digress.

I am sitting on my boat, parked in Palma Sola Bay on a lovely warm day. 

I am typing on a keyboard that has no physical connection to my tablet. The tablet has more computing power than any computer that existed when I was a lad. Of course, at that time, a computer was a person’s job title and not a physical object. It is simply extraordinary how life has changed during my brief tenure on this planet. When I stop and ponder the cosmic significance of the iPhone and the ubiquitous computer tablet, it drives me to seek out an adult beverage. I digress again. 

The purpose of this letter is to familiarize the newer members of our community with some of the amenities that exist at Palma Sola Condominium (PSH) and the nearby area. Yes JS, condominium is not plural.

I feel a need to do this before the arrival of “The Apocalypse.” I am, of course, referring to the arrival of my daughter and her son. I love these two from the bottom of my black and stinking heart. They are wonderful but I swear to God that my grandson is not a carbon based life form as we know it, but he is composed of pure energy. My mental image is of a stainless steel room into which a ping pong ball has been shot. The kid bounces from one thing to another with great rapidity. He slows down for two things. One is to fish in the canal behind my condo and the other is to swim in the clubhouse pool. 

The canal across the street is pictured here because it appears to be the favorite hangout for the local manatee population. It’s an amazing thing for me, but most kids see this canal simply as a shortcut to be passed on the way to the pool. The awe and majesty of the seaborne life cannot compare with the wonders of a swimming pool. They view the pool as a space to be filled with every noodle, inflatable object and squirt gun inventoried by Walmart (2.7 miles east on Cortez Rd.) As an aside, there are actually four ways to get to Walmart or Winn Dixie (1.4 miles east on Cortez). Walking is one way, but I am a true American so I don’t walk anywhere. Of course, you can drive or use my favorite form of transportation and bicycle. Florida was built for the bicycle. It is flatter than most pancakes. I am using flatter as an adjective, the comparative form of the word and not the verbal form as “to flatter.” This conundrum helps you appreciate how difficult it must be for someone from another culture to learn English because English is full of such craziness. Anyway, pedaling cools you off and there are sidewalks everywhere which improves the safety factor. Finally, there is a great bus route right outside the gates of PSH.  

The bus goes east and west while the wheels on the bus go round and round. The west route is pictured here and goes to Anna Maria Island (AMI). Once on AMI, you can go north and south on the free trolley. BTW, AMI is 2.3 miles west of PSH, an easy bike ride. The east route goes by Walmart, Publix and within a block of the YMCA (2.4 miles). Next, I am going to show a picture of a real library. We have one at the PSH clubhouse and it contains lots of paper books and magazines and yes, once upon a time books were a physical thing made of paper. Amazing, isn’t it?

The bottom rows contain DVD movies. These exist so grandparents can nap while kids recover their energy supply. The hand is Marge’s. Say hi to Marge. What is cool is that the library is next to the Man Cave. I know, I’m not allowed to refer to it as a Man Cave so I’ll refer to it as a mail room and no, that doesn’t sound better, but it once again proves my point that the English language is nuts. Not nuts, the plural form of the plant based fruit and not the hexagonal threaded fastener but the crazy thing. The adjective form.  

The clubhouse also contains a gymnasium. ‘Nuff said. 

The gymnasium overlooks the tennis courts, the shuffleboard area and the pool. I should also mention that the clubhouse has an amazing wood shop. The shop is not made of wood but contains tools of every description. Personally, I only know how to use a hammer so all the other tools just look like nails to me.  Sorry.

By the pool is the ice machine. 

Fortunately, Blake hospital is only 2.5 miles away so “The Apocalypse” can get speedy medical care. When the apocalypse has passed, then I’ll be able to return to my favorite PSH pastime.

Good Night….

Silence Dogood

PS. I asked my teenage granddaughter if it was okay to refer to her brother as “The Apocalypse”. After she removed her earplugs, she shrugged and said “Whatever.” 

Life is wonderful 💕


Leaving Palma Sola Harbour….By Boat

This article is intended to serve as a semi-technical introduction to the canal system at Palma Sola Harbour condominiums (PSH).
In the interest of full disclosure, I am not an expert boater. I spent a large part of my life as a pilot so I became very familiar with the movement of air but water was simply something used for ditching a plane or washing. As retirement approached, my wife and I began to focus on relocating to Florida and boating became a part of the agenda. We were fortunate in finding PSH and the rest is history.
For my purposes, PSH is a nearly perfect boating community. PSH is situated between Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. It is close enough to Longboat Key Pass to allow for quick access to gulf waters, yet the canal waters also provide a calm harbor for boaters escaping storms. The canal system at PSH is a marvel. The system empties into Palma Sola Bay which empties into the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). My particular canal is a north/south facing secondary canal. A primary main canal also runs north/south and leads directly into Palma Sola Bay.

On the Suncoast of Florida, the prevailing wind blows from the north in the winter while summer winds are light and generally southerly. The canal waters at PSH stay calm to a light chop in even the strongest blows. Our canals are also basically bowl shaped with the shallowest waters near the docks. Most of the side canals maintain a depth of four to five feet in the middle during low (King or Neap) tides while two foot depths can be seen alongside the docks during low winter tides. The following pictures were taken during an extremely low winter tide. Notice that the water line is well below the normal tidal line shown by the oyster line.
The screenshot below shows the tidal range during a king tide day.

The red area shows a below average low tide. The blue depicts high tides.

This picture shows an extreme low winter tide. Notice that the water level is below the normal tide range shown by the oyster line.

When I first moved to PSH, I was a sailor. A few times, during winter low tides, my little sailboat would be grounded on the bottom of the canal for a few hours. My winged keel sailboat needed three feet to float. It was comical after a while to watch my boat balanced on its wing keel, awaiting the incoming tide. Somehow a grounded sailboat is always a sad looking affair.

My wife and I have recently moved from sails to a trawler. The little trawler is twenty-six feet of fun and is built for skinny Florida waters. So far the new-to-me boat has never been grounded at my dock. Even in my sailboat, once I was two feet away from the dock, I had plenty of water beneath my keel. I refer to our new boat as a “crawler” since it cruises at six knots. More specifically, it is a mini crawler, since it is small and slow. My pet name for the boat is Slowpoke. Anyway, all of the secondary canals lead into a main canal which has plenty of depth for any boat. I normally see six foot depths in the main canal. The main canal leads north into Palma Sola Bay.
I have never really been much of a water person. As I stated earlier, my adult life was spent in the air. When I retired, we moved to the water and I was amazed at how much I enjoyed all the activities associated with salt water living. It is not uncommon to see manatees in our canal system as well as dolphins. The following picture was taken of a young manatee who spent the better part of an hour scrubbing himself against my trawler’s bottom until he felt nice and clean.

One of my favorite things to watch is all the activity in the canals during the summer months. The winter months are a noticeably less active period. In the summer, it is not uncommon to hear the fish jumping at night while they attempt to escape becoming someone’s dinner. I have seen barracuda, red fish and rays in the canals. The diversity of life is still amazing to me. There always seems to be some activity associated with the water. The winter months, in Florida, are the sailors’ dream time. Winds can blow from ten to fifteen knots for days on end, while the summer months are generally calm except for the occasional thunderstorm. As much as I enjoy the mild winter temperatures that have made Florida famous, I truly love the warmth of the summer months. As a boater, I find that the warm waters associated with summer are a true delight. Ninety degree water is just made for a lazy soaking. I can stay in that water for hours and simply enjoy the relaxation. Also, my wife and I have discovered that we tend to use our boat as a kayak carrier and the calm waters of summer are tailor made for kayaks. I do not have a boat lift so I still have to clean my little crawler’s bottom and warm water makes the task much more enjoyable.
In short, the canals are a boater’s delight, providing quick access to the bay as well as storm protection during all seasons. It is such a wonderful thing to have my boat available for use twenty-four seven. I tried marinas and was unimpressed with their location and cost. With a canal type condo, I walk out to my boat several times a day to check on one thing or another. I can also hide in my man cave and waste an amazing amount of time. For me, that is what has made retirement a wonderful adventure.
I am currently planning a water trip north of Tampa to Caladesi state park. I’ll write more about this trip, later. Well, that ends my introduction to the canal system of PSH. My next article will continue to expand on this introduction as I discuss Palma Sola Bay and the surrounding water systems of Sarasota and Tampa Bay. Enjoy!

By Silence Dogood

Update and Response to Some Owner’s Assertions of Mismanagement

To: To All Palma Sola Harbour Owners

From: Tony and the PSH Board

Subject: Update and Response to Some Owner’s Assertions of Mismanagement

Date: August 3, 2018

Your current Board feels compelled to communicate directly with owners regarding misinformation and inappropriate attacks and/or written notes in circulation in the community. The accusations and slanderous language and threats of legal actions have made this memo a necessary obligation to those we serve. We will try to be brief and provide essential facts for owner’s awareness.

The personal accusations of conspiracy, mismanagement and FL Statute violations relates to 2 issues:

  • The recent 2018 flood insurance decision and its procedural methods
  • The governance approach to the recent Main Maintenance Building fire

The 2018 Flood Insurance Decision

PSH’s financial history is a reflection of a philosophical debate that continues to thrive among the diverse owners.

  • PSH owners have maintained basic insurance to manage risk as a result of the Florida Statutes that required them to do so by law. In general, the community expects that owners would be “self-insured” for risk beyond this and will be assessed for any losses (pay-as-you-go). This assumes all owners are financially able and willing to pay for shared losses as they occur.
  • In 2001, the PSH Board voted to eliminate flood insurance and transferred this financial exposure to individual owners (“Self-insured” model). The Board subsequently approved flood insurance for several years and then again, the risk for flood insurance on community assets was passed back to owners to be self-insured in 2007.
  • While historical monthly assessment rates appear attractive, the “Self-Insured” model has caused substantially depressed PSH condo prices compared to peers (17-49% down). It has also reduced the competitive buyer’s pool; as most banks will not extend a loan and refuse to be exposed to such a large risk of potential losses.

The influx of new and younger owners has introduced more diverse opinions and questions to the PSH Board regarding the old philosophy. There are many owners that have expressed concern about the high risk exposures and the pay-as-you-go budget approach with property located in such a high-risk flood zone. This triggered several owner requests to explore the options for flood insurance in 2017.

The Board’s Exploration Phase:

The owner’s request to explore adopting Master Association flood insurance coverage triggered several Board actions:

  1. An informal owner’s survey at the 2018 annual owner’s meeting to assess the level of interest to the issue.
  2. A request to the Treasurer and the Budget Committee to explore the possible options to make such a purchase, identify cash sources, and timing of when it could be adopted;
  3. A request to our insurance broker to explore the “ball park” parameters and prices that might be considered, as it had been many years without pertinent information. The options were very complex with many moving parts, many prices and many variables to assess.
  4. Establishment of an Insurance Committee to spearhead the education and expertise needed to make the best possible  recommendations to the Board.
  5. Consults and written opinions from Association’s legal counsel regarding the issue, risks and fiduciary obligations to the community. We were guided by their advice during the process.

The Board’s Transparency:

The Board believes that progress on issues can be solved using community involvement and established protocols. We have and continue to strongly solicit active participation of owner volunteers to contribute to managing our community. For this issue:

  1. The Budget and Insurance committee meetings were open to the owners and decisions were made with full debate and transparency.
  2. The Insurance Committee Chairperson made full presentations with Q&A to owners regarding risk tolerance, the budget (and cash) options and the complex issues involving the policies choices.
  3. Pertinent articles and documents were uploaded to the PSH web site for our remote owners to review.
  4. Each and every Board member responded to personal calls and queries throughout the process.

The Owner’s Petition and Accusations:

Some owners signed a petition to dispute the flood insurance decision. Responding to every misinformed claim would be excessive, as it appears owner’s passion regarding an appetite for risk is the primary driver for many folks. Key factual points are:

  1. The FL Statutes give full authority to the Association’s governing Board and documents to approve the budget and declare special assessments that are necessary to manage and protect the Association’s assets.
  2. In order to purchase flood insurance in time for the 2018 hurricane season, it required immediate cash! This one expense line item represents 26 % of the operating budget. The premium is due in full before the hurricane season starts. It was not feasible to record it in the operating monthly assessment; which then provides 1/12 owner payments and still be able to pay the full bill due in May.
  3. The Budget Committee assessed the available cash, the operating expenses and timing of payment and proposed that a portion of the premium could be paid within the monthly assessment because we had some available cash. The portion that was special assessed is the amount that was deemed to be absolutely needed in cash to still be able to manage the Association’s routine bills. It is expected that the cash and expenditure for future flood insurance can be further incorporated into the monthly assessment (1/12) and the transition to this routine cash payment can be completed.
  4. The FL Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) investigated the written petition that accused the Board and management of conspiracy and misconduct. It concluded the governance approach was acceptable and appropriate to meet the interests of the owners for flood insurance and and the case was closed.

The Maintenance Shed Fire and Rebuild:

The History and Facts:

  1. Pursuant to the Fire Marshall’s report, the Main Maintenance Building that burned down was an accident with unknown cause. Further conversations of the cause are purely speculative.
  2. The building was not part of the original developer plans. It was first built in 1982 and appears to have been later rebuilt in 1986.
  3. Within the Hazard Policy, the expert (Staebler) appraisal valued this building at a maximum of $14,116. The deductible in the Hazard Policy is $10,000. The coverage for the net proceeds required a premium rate that the Insurance committee deemed to lack practical economic value. This building, as well as other small buildings were evaluated for this risk exposure. Note, Golf carts are excluded from coverage under the Hazard Policy.
  1. In 2014, the governing Board and Insurance Committee chose to remove these small building assets from insurance coverage, as the maximum assessed value, premium and benefits of net proceeds seemed to be economically weak. The Insurance Committee again reviewed these specific items and concluded to continue to exclude them from the policy.

The building of a second Maintenance Building is in process, which was previously approved by the Board and owners in 2016. The rebuilding of the Main Maintenance Building is under consideration. Such an event provides an opportunity to evaluate the entire maintenance area and question what can be improved or changed to enhance the work done and perhaps also provide economical benefit. This assessment must be done while also keeping the maintenance services running daily. All options and creative ideas are in play. A reconfiguration can likely make the preferred options much different than the status quo layout. As always we will continue to ensure all appropriate authorizations and protocols are in compliance during this process.

Board Observations:

Generally speaking, we are disappointed in the destructive tone and would like to highlight several macro issues that warrant owner’s strategic consideration:

  1. A demand for an owner’s specific vote on any budget line item (in favor or not) has serious implications for the future ability to manage the dynamic needs of the collective Association. The question is, how much involvement do owners want vs. delegating to a governance board as per our documents to remain educated to manage day-to-day options in changing times?
  2. A key ongoing factor within our decisions is that that the level of risk tolerance and financial condition of our fellow neighbors (or their estate beneficiaries) impacts all of us collectively. A self-insured portion not paid by an owner must be reallocated and covered by the other owners.
  3. There is a campaign by a small group of owners to recall Board members based upon their affirmative flood vote and replace them with Board members that will overturn the flood insurance decision. Whichever position you favor, we strongly suggest you choose wisely those candidates that will represent your investment in the future.
  4. Lastly, share your talents and get active in the Governance process. While there are many voices and passions, Palma Sola Harbour is a great place to live with wonderful people.

An Update from our Association President on the recent Fire

Maintenance Building Fire

As many of you are now aware, a fire destroyed the maintenance building we have been using to house our tools and most other equipment. This loss is not covered by insurance. A decision was made years ago not to insure our out buildings due to the high cost to insure them, the high deductibles placed upon the structures, coupled with an extremely low valuation of these buildings. The recommendation was made by the Insurance Committee and was approved by the Board.

We are now faced with dealing with this situation as quickly and reasonably as possible. First of all, a special shout out to Matthew and our crew for their hard work and extra effort in getting the equipment we require up and running as quickly as they did. The most important tasks were accomplished in a minimum amount of time and all necessary services are back on line.

Next, we must make decisions as to what kind of building/buildings we want to construct – what size, material, location, what additional tools and materials will need to be replaced. A second maintenance building was approved by the Board and the membership previously, so we will move forward with constructing that building first. Two used golf carts have been purchased along with some critical tools. All this must happen while we continue to serve our community.

We realize you have questions that need to be answered, but we would appreciate your patience until we can respond. Very important is stemming the tide of rumors. Please do not feed into distracting and often destructive gossip. Our overwhelming priority is solving these issues.

Your Board wants to get all the ground work completed and finalized by the September Board meeting. That will give us the opportunity to share all the information gathered, gain input from the residents and make the decisions necessary to get this unfortunate incident behind us.

Tony Jurcik

Hurricane Irma

Thought I would do a little blog update with pictures of PSH and how Irma left us. Several you have seen before but I have added pictures taken by Rhonda Harder of the empty Palma Sola Bay.

You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Below are the pictures by Rhonda of the empty bay taken I believe on Sunday morning, Irma hit us Sunday night.

Tropical Storm Emily vs PSH

Thought Palma Sola owners would like to see the effects of a simple tropical storm on the North end of PSH.

Tony’s Thoughts

Slow down you are going too fast! The speed limit in our community is 15 miles per hour-not 51 miles per hour. We have may spring-break children visiting. If anyone of them charged out, from a carport they could become unwelcomed speed bumps. Imagine how you or the victim’s family would feel if you injured one of your neighbors’ family or friends.

When walking in our community and you see someone going too fast ask them to slow down. When walking in Palma Sola you walk facing traffic. When riding a bicycle, you ride with the traffic. I would hate to ask the board to spend money on 6 or 7 additional speed bumps to slow down traffic. Be a good citizen of our community and obey the rules. It makes for great neighbors!

 

 

 

A Word from our Association President

FullSizeRenderThe Annual Owners’ Meeting is just around the corner – January 17th to be exact.

Several of the issues on which the owners will be voting on are two separate amendments, two articles of section 17 of the declaration.

The first is an amendment of 17.01 which incorporates a prior resolution of the board to preclude leasing units solely for a commercial enterprise.

If approved the proposed amendment to section 17.01 and section 17.04 would read as follows;

17.01 To promote and maintain the character of the condominium as an owner occupied community and to preclude unit ownership solely for investment purposes, the provisions of this section shall apply to all transfers of the ownership of a Unit or right to occupy a Unit.

No transfers, as defined herein, shall be approved for transfer to any corporation, IRA, or any other legal entity or commercial enterprise which by its structure cannot itself occupy a unit as a single family residential dwelling.

17.04 The approval of the Board shall be in recordable form, signed by an officer or agent of the Association, and shall be delivered to the transferee. If the Board fails to timely act on a proposed Transfer as required by Paragraph 17.02, the Board shall still be obligated to deliver to the transferee the required written approval. The Board shall not approve any Transfer, other than by inheritance, which will result in any individual having an Ownership Interest in more than two (2) Units . The term “Ownership Interest” shall include ownership of stock in one or more corporations, ownership of a membership interest in one or more limited liability companies, ownership of a partnership interest in a limited or general partnership, the beneficiary of one or more trusts, ownership of a unit jointly with any other person or entity, or any combination of the foregoing. The intent of this Paragraph 17.04 is to prevent any individual from having any ownership interest, other than by inheritance, of any nature or extent in more than two (2) units the limitations set forth in this Paragraph 17.04 shall only apply to Transfers which occur after this Amended and Restated Declaration has been recorded among the Public Records.

The Board joins the unanimous recommendation of both the legal and document committee that these two amendments be approved at the annual meeting.

On a lighter note the women’s main bathroom at the Clubhouse came in on time and under budget so we will be moving forward with the renovation of the men’s main bathroom at the clubhouse.

fullsizerender

The exercise room renovation is almost complete. Here is a look at the progress….. check out the rowing machine!

fullsizerender-2I will see everyone in the New Year!!

Tony

A Word from our Association President

FullSizeRenderGreetings from Palma Sola. I traveled down to attend September’s Board Meeting. Our community looks great and appears to have survived Tropical storm Hermine with one exception. The exception being a section of seawall which collapsed behind a few units on El Dorado Cove. Fortunately there was no damage to the units themselves. The Board approved $50,000 to repair the damaged seawall. The backlog for these repairs minimally eight to 12 weeks. So be patient.

img_3387How about some good news on roofs? Our manager has found a new roofing material manufactured by Sherwin Williams. The Board has reviewed this roofing process and has approved its use on the next two roof projects. The cost of using this product will lower our roofing replacement expense by approximately 50%. This will allow us to accelerate our roof replacement schedule significantly. My personal goal is to live long enough to attend a Board meeting and not have any roof issues on the agenda.

On a brighter note, progress on the clubhouse continues. The pavers are in and if you haven’t seen the pictures on the blog, please check them out. Also a water line has been installed from the clubhouse to the plantings in the center of the road as well as the plantings in front of the clubhouse. This should eliminate the need for constant hand watering.

img_3429More good news, we will be replacing all of the workout room’s equipment with updated equipment which we are obtaining from a company that refurbishes used equipment. We expect to be able to obtain these items at a very reasonable price. Thanks goes to the Memorial Committee for donating $3000 to make the purchase. A modern fitness center will improve the value of our entire community.

I will be back in Palma Sola to attend the October 20th Board meeting. Following the Board meeting, I would like to schedule an informational meeting to begin discussions on next year’s opportunities that will be voted on at the annual meeting.

My goal is to insure everyone can offer their ideas and thoughts on what we want our community’s future to be.

Also the audit for 2016 is available in the members areas.

See you in October.
Tony