OCEANSIDE — On Dec. 17 City Council approved meeting the Rancho del Oro homeowner association (HOA) a little more than halfway in covering the costs of replacing hundreds of dysfunctional streetlights.
The agreement proposed by the city is to pay $830,250, which is the standard cost of replacing streetlights, and have the HOA pay $648,000 in upgrades and labor costs to install the specialty lights.
The HOA still needs to approve the agreement before it is final. If approved, Rancho del Oro homeowners will have a one-time assessment of about $200 per household to pay for the streetlights.
A similar agreement was previously proposed by the city, and turned down by the HOA.
Years ago the builder of Rancho del Oro selected specialty streetlights for the development. The original agreement between the HOA and city was that the city would provide routine maintenance of the lights, and the HOA would pay for needed replacement. That agreement has expired, which adds to the complexity of determining which entity should cover the cost of replacing the lights.
Some of the lights were installed too low into the ground, which has caused them to erode prematurely. Two hundred lights fell into such disrepair they fell down or were removed by the city due to safety concerns.
This has left residents in the dark, while the city and HOA work to determine responsibility and payment.
The city initially offered to pay half the cost of replacing the lights. The HOA refused the offer, took the city to court, and lost.
Courts determined the city did not bear the responsibility of replacing the lights, and recognized the city did not have funds at that time to do so.
The city began renegotiating with the HOA a few months ago, when extra city funds became available to help replace 200 streetlights immediately, and a total of 405 streetlights over the next few years.
City Manager Steve Jepsen said resolving the problem is a matter of the city’s obligation to care for residents who are left without lights due to a poor choice by the developer, and decisions by the HOA.
“The poles were selected by a developer who is long gone,” Jepsen said. “The way they were installed and handled they didn’t have a full life out of it.”
Jepsen said if the HOA does not accept the city’s offer, the issue would remain unresolved.
Council members asked that a clear agreement of further city and HOA responsibility for the streetlights be spelled out, if the city’s offer is accepted.
They added they do not want the action to set a precedent of HOAs expecting the city to pay half of costs.