1) What exactly is the name of the homeowner’s association?
Sector 2A at Snohomish Cascade Association is the name of the association. The neighborhood is commonly known as Gold Creek and the association was originally named ‘Gold Creek Sector 2A at Snohomish Cascade’ or simply ‘Gold Creek 2A’ but the name was changed to prevent confusion with the other divisions in Gold Creek. The plat names begin ‘Snohomish Cascade Sector 2A’ (Phase I, II, or III).
2) How many homes make up the association?
Sector 2A at Snohomish Cascade Association consists of 247 homes. The Gold Creek divisions to our west who now refer to themselves as Gold Creek 1 consist of 453 homes, so we make up about one third of Gold Creek.
3) Is membership in the association mandatory?
Yes, by taking ownership of a property you assumed a contractual obligation to be a member of the association.
4) Does the association have a property manager?
No, we are staffed entirely with volunteers who are fellow members residing in the neighborhood. Our neighbors in Gold Creek 1 use the services of McLarin Management. Most associations our size do use a management company and we have considered the option several times in the past.
5) What are the CC&Rs?
The term CC&Rs refers to the ‘Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions, and Easements’, also commonly referred to as “The Declaration”. This is a document that is part of the public records of Snohomish County. There are other governing documents for the association, including ‘Articles of Incorporation’, ‘Bylaws’, and ‘The Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee’, but in cases where these other documents don’t agree with the CC&Rs, the other documents are subordinate to the CC&Rs. Of course, if the CC&Rs conflict with the laws of Snohomish County, Washington State or Federal law, the CC&Rs are subordinate.
6) Can the Board of Directors of the association create new rules or amend the existing rules?
The Board can amend the Bylaws or the Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee with a simple majority vote at a meeting where a quorum is present. Such an amendment might be the addition of new rules or modification of existing rules. Likewise, the membership (247 members, not just Directors and Officers) can amend these documents at a meeting where a quorum is present in person or by proxy. Making a change to the CC&Rs is more difficult; requiring the affirmative vote of 75% of the membership (186 ‘yes’ votes).
7) Are our governing documents about the same as those for Gold Creek 1?
The original documents were created by the same law firm for the same developer so they’re quite similar but they are not identical. Not only are the documents different, the interpretation applied by each association and eventually adopted as ‘custom’ may be quite different.
8) How much are the dues?
The ‘dues’ or ‘annual assessments’ are calculated by taking the annual budget for the upcoming year and dividing by 247 to determine each member’s share. The annual assessment for calendar year 2022 was $540 that was due on January 1, 2022 with payments expected in the 60 day period after the due date (first month is a grace period and a late fee isn’t imposed for the second month unless payment is a full 60 days past due).
9) What do the assessments pay for?
For details, review the budget. The main expenses are the cost of maintaining or improving the common areas, particularly those that are landscaped. We also have to fund a reasonable reserve to cut down hazardous trees or deal with other safety issues on common area property. The next biggest cost is insurance coverage, primarily liability coverage for the common areas. We pay utility bills for water (sprinkler systems), garbage (pickup at the two play areas) and electricity (street light over parking area near the ball field.). Costing much less (relatively speaking) we prepare and mail the newsletter, purchase signs for yard and holiday decoration awards and have general admin expenses associated with bookkeeping, annual audits, conducting elections and the infrequent use of attorneys. We also put $40 per member per year in a reserve fund set aside for replacement or major renovation of our more expensive capital items, specifically the common area fence and two storm water detention ponds.
10) Do our common area parks belong to the public?
We allow use of our parks by the public but they belong to the association. We reserve parks for use by groups like the Little League to insure they are able to effectively schedule games and practices but generally the play areas are available for the shared cooperative use by members, their families and guests, and secondarily to other members of the public.
11) What is the Architectural Control Committee?
The Architectural Control Committee (ACC) is a group of three to five members who need not be homeowners appointed by the Board of Directors who are responsible for reviewing plans for home improvements or providing advance approval for certain activities, making sure there is compliance with the CC&Rs and other rules or granting exceptions or variances where appropriate. They also provide the first level of enforcement when rule violations come to their attention.
12) What types of changes to my property require approval of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC).
Changes that alter the appearance of the lot or structures on the lot or potentially alter drainage patterns are the main activities that require an advance approval. Painting the house exterior is a prime example. Other projects requiring approval would be building sheds, adding a room to the house, getting a new roof, building a new fence or changing the existing one, or adding a pool or hot tub, or adding solar panels. Minor changes to landscape don’t require approval unless the change includes new retaining walls, new patio or driveway or excavations that would alter the grade of the lot.
13) How do I submit a request to the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) and how long will the process take?
Requests or requests for information should be sent via email to email@example.com. The ACC has 15 working days to let the homeowner know whether or not the application is complete. What constitutes a complete application varies based on project but where appropriate should include a sketch showing relative location on the lot, drawings showing elevations and listing the type exterior materials used as well as all exterior colors and square footage. Once the ACC has a complete application, they have 20 working days to make a decision. Typically, the process takes a week to ten days total and the ACC may simply notify the homeowner that the project is approved without first alerting them the application was complete.
14) If a change is made without the required approval of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) and for whatever reason the ACC or Board of Directors fails to take immediate action (for example, nobody noticed the project) is there a time span after which the project would be automatically permitted?
No. The CC&Rs say (Section 3.7.5) that failure of the ACC to respond to the request constitutes a denial of the request. They also say (Section 9.1) that failure of the Board or Association to act in one instance in no way limits their right to enforce on the same issue later. The exception is when the ACC notifies the owner that the application is complete and fails to respond within 60 days of that; the CC&Rs (Section 3.7.3) says in that case the homeowner may consider that approval was given.
15) What criteria does the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) use in granting approvals or in deciding that a homeowner is violating a rule?
There are some aspects of the rules where a completely objective decision can be made. For example, fencing and exterior siding must be made of real wood, not vinyl, metal, or composite wood product. Many other areas, like acceptable paint colors for house or shed exteriors, require subjective decisions based on general guidelines in the CC&Rs. The committee allows considerable latitude when it comes to colors and color combinations and standards for things like yard maintenance. Allowing for different standards and tastes does not mean the ACC will shirk their responsibility to maintain the desirability of the neighborhood. As decisions are ironed out, new rules are created in the ‘Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee’ that reflect those decisions and insure when the same or similar issue comes up in the future the decisions will be consistent with the precedent set, to the degree possible.
16) What happens if the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) or the Board of Directors (Board) discovers that I’m breaking a rule?
For most rules, if this is the first time you’ve broken the rule in question, the ACC will send you a letter to make sure you’re aware of the rule and give you a time period to take corrective action. If you’ve broken the same rule in the past or if you fail to take corrective action after the initial warning you will likely be sent a letter by certified mail advising you that fines will be imposed. The CC&Rs permit the imposition of fines up to $500 per day. For most infractions, the fine begins at $25 per day, goes to $50 per day after 30 days and $100 per day after 30 more days. For more serious infractions, fines might start at $100 per day. An explanation of the fine structure can be found in the ‘Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee’. The association does not budget with the intent of receiving income from the imposition of fines but it is often the only effective way to get members to follow the rules.
17) Under what circumstances might a variance or exception to a rule be made by the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) or Board of Directors (Board)?
If strictly following one or more of the association rules would cause a severe hardship for a particular member, the ACC or the Board might grant either a variance or make an exception to the rule for that homeowner, with or without special conditions attached. Minor inconveniences or frustrations over differences in taste don’t constitute severe or extreme hardship. Even when the rule would cause a severe hardship, the greater duty of the ACC and the Board is to protect the collective interests of all homeowners. The granting of a variance or exception in one instance does not oblige the ACC or Board to do the same in the future (no precedent is established)
18) Can decisions of the Architectural Control Committee (ACC) be appealed?
Decisions of the ACC may be appealed to the Board of Directors (Board) and their decision is final (unless you can deliver to the Secretary of the Association a petition with signatures of 25 or more members in good standing demanding a vote of the entire membership or you file a lawsuit, either option giving you a possible final resolution). To appeal, you should contact the President or Secretary and request time at the next scheduled meeting of the Board. Board meetings are held at 7:00pm the second Wednesday of each month at the registered office of the association. If a conflict makes it impossible for you or a representative to attend the next Board meeting, the President can use his or her discretion and permit attendance at a later meeting but isn’t obliged to do so.
19) What should I do if my neighbor is breaking a rule?
Depending on your comfort level (and your neighbor’s personality), the best approach is often a neighborly conversation letting him or her know why their violation of the rule negatively impacts you or the neighborhood. If that fails or isn’t something you’re comfortable doing, send a letter or email to the Board of Directors (Board), preferably identifying yourself (even if you prefer not being identified to the violating neighbor). Don’t get frustrated if the Board fails to correct the situation in the manner you think best; the Board is given the authority to enforce the rules but also has the right to determine how resources are utilized to enforce the collection of all violations. In certain situations like parking in the street or chronic dog barking, the Board may suggest you take the matter up with the sheriff’s office or other appropriate county agency. Keep in mind that the CC&Rs exist for the benefit of all homeowners (not just the Board or the Association as a corporate entity) and you are entitled to file a lawsuit against your neighbor on your own, using the CC&Rs as support for your case, even if the Board has failed to act in a way you might consider adequate.
20) Can I keep a boat, RV, trailer, or recreational craft on my property?
A strict interpretation of the CC&Rs would suggest you could only do so if it were kept garaged so it was out of sight from the street or any other neighboring property. The Association follows a precedent based on an interpretation made by the developer of the community where the items will be permitted if they are screened from view by a 6 foot fence and the portion that can be seen is maintained so that it isn’t considered unsightly in the opinion of the Board of Directors (Board). During periods of packing, unpacking, or owner maintenance, these items may be kept in the homeowner’s driveway but never for a period longer than 3 days or more often than twice per month. See the ‘Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee’ for specifics on temporary parking.
21) Do I need Architectural Control Committee (ACC) approval to erect a temporary structure such as a metal frame canvas roof shelter for my boat or RV?
You need approval for any structure constructed or erected on the lot, permanent or temporary, from the main house structure down to something as small as a dog run. The ACC will generally insist that shelters for boats or RVs need to have the same roofing and siding materials as the main house, while glass might be permitted for greenhouses or sunrooms and certain other materials might be allowed as shelters over pools, hot tubs or picnic table areas. Even temporary structures must be erected with consideration to the county building setback rules which are 5 feet from side and back lot lines according to Title 30, the Unified Development Code for Snohomish County.
22) Can I run a home business?
You can but doing so requires the advance written approval of the ACC. There are forms for requesting approval on the web site from links within the ‘Rules and Procedures of the Architectural Control Committee’. The ACC will be interested in the number and type of vehicles that might be parked by the home because of the business, changes to the appearance of the home because of the business including signage, odors and noises from the business or any other factors that might create an atmosphere out of character for a residential neighborhood. Businesses with few or no employees other than the homeowner, visits from customers that are one or two at a time (or infrequent parties) and minimal deliveries from vehicles larger than FedEx or UPS trucks will generally be given approval.
23) Can I post signs on my property?
You can post political signs during an election season and a real estate agent can post a sign in your yard if you’re selling the house but otherwise you can’t. While not permitted by the rules, the Board of Directors (“Board”) has chosen to not enforce the sign rule strictly in the case of temporary garage sale signs if they’re removed promptly after the sale, lost pet signs taped to mail boxes if removed after about a week and temporary signs created and posted by young children as part of their play activities.
24) Can I extend my driveway with gravel or have a secondary driveway made with gravel?
In general, concrete is the only acceptable material for any driveway on your lot. The ACC will generally insist the concrete on the driveway extension has the same texture as the main driveway, the surface runoff water removal is not adversely impacted, and the work is professionally done.
25) When can I have my garbage and recycle bins visible from the street?
With the exception of a few Saturday pickups after holidays, Friday is our normal collection day. Bins can be placed at the curb after noon the day before pickup (generally Thursday) and should be retrieved and moved behind the house or fence or in the garage by noon the day after pickup (generally Saturday). Common sense also demands that homeowners be permitted to keep yard waste bins visible any time they’re working in the yard and filling the bin. After missed pickups by Waste Management or when you’re turning in a bin to the garbage company, the bin can remain curbside as required by the garbage company to get the needed service.
26) Can a homeowner specify an address other than the neighborhood property where official notifications from the homeowner’s association are to be sent?
You can specify a different address by notifying the Secretary of the Association in writing. Since, the Association can consider any certified or registered mail received two days after it is sent, you should have an address where such mail will be received and signed for. The burden of notifying the Association of changes to this address is with the owner. If no notification is given to the Secretary, all official notices and other correspondence will be sent to the address of the lot within Sector 2A at Snohomish Cascade (aka Gold Creek 2A).
27) What is the “Boat Park”?
Don’t get excited boat owners; we don’t have a storage yard for water craft. The “Boat Park” is the tot play area adjacent to our baseball field on Snohomish Cascade Drive west of 67th Drive where the iconic climbing toy is a colorful boat.
28) How do I deal with a hazardous tree in the greenbelt adjacent to my lot?
The first step is to check a map on the web site and determine who that part of the greenbelt belongs to. Many reports of hazardous trees are those in common area belonging to our neighbors in Gold Creek 1. If that is your situation, you should notify their property management company, McLarin Management (refer to the Gold Creek One HOA page for contact info). We also have greenbelt areas belonging to our water company, Silver Lake Water and Wastewater District and Cross Valley Water.
If the greenbelt is part of our neighborhood common area, either buffer area or Native Growth Protection Area (NGPA), use contact information on this web site to notify the Board of Directors (“Board”). If the tree is in a Gold Creek 2A HOA owned buffer area or NGPA, the first step is to have an ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified Arborist who additionally holds the Tree Risk Assessor Qualification (TRAQ) make the determination if the tree is a hazard to your home structure or property. ISA has a website here which can be checked to verify a credential (remember to check for both Certified Arborist and TRAQ).
The owner is responsible for the arborist's assessment which is typically about $300. Depending on the arborist’s report, the maintenance committee will make a determination of how much the association will share in the removal fee. If the tree is in an NGPA, the tree will need to be felled into the NGPA and as much of the tree that can be left standing should remain to provide habitat.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help or questions.
29) Can I attend a board meeting?
The board meetings are normally held via Zoom on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm (except in January and July). Please send an email to email@example.com to receive an email invite.
30) Do I need approval to paint my home exterior?
Yes, the ACC is required to approve all exterior modifications. Generally, the ACC requires which colors are intended to be used for the main exterior surfaces (e.g., siding), trim, and garage doors. Send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with the manufacturer and color chip/ID (e.g., Sherwin Williams, Hyper Blue, SW6965) of all of the intended colors.
31) Do I need approval to add solar panels to my roof?
Yes, the ACC is required to approve all exterior modifications but state law limits what HOAs can and cannot do. Send your request to email@example.com. Generally, the ACC requires:
- The panels must not extend past the ridge of your roof (i.e., they can’t be higher than the peak of the roof face they will be on).
- The slope of the panels must conform to the same slope as the roof (i.e., parallel to the roof surface).
- The top edge of the roof panels must be parallel to the roof ridge.
- Any visible support frames or brackets must painted/colored to match your existing roofing.