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Subject: Recurring costs of a gated community
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DarylF
(Washington)

Posts:157


12/24/2011 12:08 PM  
We have had a couple of car prowls in our neighborhood and now everyone is getting excited about adding a gate. I read a few old posts here and educated myself on how well they deter crime. I have a rough idea of the upfront costs, but I haven't seen much on recurring monthly costs.

How much do you spend on maintanence and vandalisim repair per year?

How much and how often do you need to reseal/stripe the roads and what does it cost? (we have about 2 miles of roads)

Do you have to maintain a reserve to cover emergency road repairs?

Also, has anyone added a gate to their community and regretted or loved it? I'd love to hear from you.
DavidW5
(North Carolina)

Posts:565


12/24/2011 1:03 PM  
The latest figures I could easily find are through Sept. 2011. Gate repair and maintenance costs were $8200. This is in addition to the ongoing operational costs of the gate. Those include the phone lines for the call box, the costs of the remote call box answering service, etc. Ours is a fully automated gate system with cameras and video archiving of footage.

Our gates are open during daylight hours and are closed from 8 pm to 5 am only.

The original cost of the gate hardware and installation was over $80,000.

At least here in Virginia, having the gate requires that the roads be private. This means the association must pay for all road maintenance and repairs, restripping, replacement of signage, snow removal, etc. We maintain a quite large reserve fund ($2M plus).

I have seen an article that said that having a gate raises property values, on average, 6%. I don't know if that is accurate or not.

The fact is that the gates provide only the appearance of security. They may serve as a deterrent but we have not found any way to prevent non-residents from "piggy backing" through the gates. The camera system did allow the police to identify and arrest the person who stole a car and drove it out through the gate and allowed us to identify the resident who drove thru and broke the "chop arm".

The main reason we maintain them is that the community was built and marketed as a gated community and most residents prefer that they stay in place. Their operation and maintenance costs are not a large portion of our operating budget so they are not a burden on the association finances.
PeterD3
(Florida)

Posts:708


12/24/2011 1:29 PM  
The cost depends on the scale of the installation. We have only two, single-arm, gates... annual maint. is about $1K per year.

The arms are deigned to break-away for those occasional impacts and are often reuseable.
DarylF
(Washington)

Posts:157


12/24/2011 1:56 PM  
Thanks for the info! Of that $8.2K what is the big drivers? Do you have more then one gate?
DavidW5
(North Carolina)

Posts:565


12/24/2011 4:02 PM  
Posted By DarylF on 12/24/2011 1:56 PM
Thanks for the info! Of that $8.2K what is the big drivers? Do you have more then one gate?




Yes, we have more than one gate. The entrance and exit road is two lanes each way. The developer put in two entrance gates, one for residents and one for visitors. There is a single exit gate. All the developer installed gates are heavy, slow moving wrought iron - very attractive but not too practical. While the developer was in control we paid for gate guard service. The so-called guards were often asleep, spoke little English and were not worth the steep annual costs.

After transition to homeowner control we canned the guard service and installed equipment to completely automate the gate including multiple camera systems, a call box with remote answering service, and "chop arms" on the entrance gates intended to prevent piggy backing.

We currently have two preventive maintenance contracts, one for the mechanical elements of the gate system and one for the electronics. Those two are the bulk of the $8.2K with additional costs for on-call service when something goes wrong.

We also have a gate committee with enough volunteers so that once each month one volunteer is on call overnight to go to the gate and open it manually if something fails.

If we were designing a gate from scratch it certainly would be simpler and easier and less costly to maintain.


KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


12/24/2011 8:37 PM  
Make sure the gate arm doesn't leave a line of cars hanging out in the public highway....then you're talking about installing a turn lane. This arose when my mom's HOA considered a gated system. They ultimately changed the contract on their human "guard shack" security.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10521


12/24/2011 9:47 PM  
Instead of installing gates, have you checked into organizing a neighborhood watch program? It wouldn't be paid for by the HOA but it would involve the HOA members. I organized one in my neighborhood. The city provided us with a "Neighborhood Watch" sign at our entrance area for free. Our local police helped set up the program with us. They spoked at our meeting to give us information. The neighborhood watch costs very little or no money to maintain. It just depends on how much involvement the neighbors want to put into it.

Keep in mind it's NOT part of the HOA but another volunteer effort within the HOA. It's best to keep the two separated if possible due to many reasons. We were able to get more information out there whenever crimes occurred to help catch the people doing the crime.

Gates may make you feel a bit more secured but it may be false security. Knowing your neighbors and yourself is watching out for eachother may be the better long term way to address crime and preventing it.

Former HOA President
DarylF
(Washington)

Posts:157


12/26/2011 7:57 AM  
Thanks all! All the "break ins" were unlocked cars. I'm not a gate proponent, I suggested people lock thier cars or park them in their garage. A neighborhood watch would probably be more effective. People are under the impression the gate will be a one time fee of about $20K and will solve the problem. I tried to explain it'll probably be double that cost, there will be recurring costs, and it won't stop anyone, but some are already convinced. They also seem to think a gate instantly makes their house worth 5-6% more.

I'm trying to put some facts together.

More questons:
I assume we'd need to construct a turn around in front of the gate too? we have pretty narrow roads and a school bus would need to be able to turn around if it couldn't get through the gate.

Our neighborhood is mostly surrounded be dense woods so fencing wouldn't be needed in most areas, but a couple areas do border another neighborhood and I'm guessing we'd want to fence that off too if we did this?

Any guess on the cost of resealling/striping? The only number i seen was $30K every 5-7 years. I don't know how big that communtiy was though? We have about 2 miles of road.

I'm guessing based on what i've seen, for one double gate repair/maint will run about $5K per year plus phone and electric (another $12-1500).

Remote fobs are about $40-50 each and we'd want 2 per house. Using just codes or cards are probably a bigger hassle?

Thanks!
BradP
(Kansas)

Posts:2640


12/26/2011 10:51 AM  
Daryl

from what you have described it seems your "crime spree" is basically an opportunity spree. Most criminals want an easy, no hassle job and leaving your car on the street unlocked doesn't get much easier. I would suggest before jumping to a gate try to educate people to park cars in driveways or garages, have them locked and have security lighting outside your home. that would be an easier solution and honestly people should do that anyway.
CarolR11


Posts:0


12/28/2011 3:34 PM  
I like Brad's suggestions. Sometimes residents and/or boards get overly exercised by one or a few incidents, which can lead to spending funds unwisely. Unlocked cars!!?? all of your members should pay for the carelessness of a few??

As Brad suggests, try an educational blitz first. Make sure that residents know the facts and that there aren't some exaggerated rumors floating around. See if the board will approve a 60 or 90 day "trial period.

KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1784


12/29/2011 6:33 AM  
Brad nailed this one! Our neighborhood, seemingly once per year, suffers from opportunistic criminals targeting unlocked cars.
DavidW5
(North Carolina)

Posts:565


12/29/2011 6:38 AM  
Posted By KellyM3 on 12/29/2011 6:33 AM
Brad nailed this one! Our neighborhood, seemingly once per year, suffers from opportunistic criminals targeting unlocked cars.




I agree. Despite our having a gate (see above) we have had this type of incident (stuff taken from unlocked cars) a few times. The cameras at the gate did help the police identify the culprits.
DarylF
(Washington)

Posts:157


12/29/2011 9:46 PM  
Thanks again! I posted on our community forums that rather then spend a lot of money on a gate, lets start a neigborhood watch, lock our doors, park cars in the the garage or behind the fence when possible, leave outdoor lights on... everyone seems to be charging forward with the gate still.

I also asked if anything was stolen from a locked vehicle/house/shed and no one replied.

A few years back we had a car stolen from the neighborhood, the keys were in the ignition... We are very easy pickings!

I think the hardest part is the biggest gate proponent is a sheriff deputy. Ironically, he didn't say anything about locking doors, neighborhood watch... Just that we need a gate.
TimB4
(Virginia)

Posts:17766


12/29/2011 10:25 PM  
Daryl,

Your doing the right thing, suggesting alternatives and providing actual facts on the true cost of having a gate. You may need to do a newsletter with some hard local numbers of costs (itemized) and indicate how much per lot assessments would need to increase each year to pay for the gate (don't forget the amount needed in reserves to replace the gate every x years) along with the alternatives. At Board meetings, be sure to push for a membership vote vs. leaving this as a board decision.

Tim
LarryB13
(Arizona)

Posts:4099


12/30/2011 2:49 AM  
Daryl:

I used to deal with automated gates in the self-storage industry and have a few words of wisdom:

First, you should have separate entry and exit gates. A single two-way gate always backs up traffic. Separate entry gates for residents and visitors is even better. Visitors never have the correct code and all it takes is one to jam up the gates.

Second, entry should require some sort of key or code but the exit gate should open automatically whenever a car approaches it. Holding people inside against their will is a good way to be known as "Defendant." If you are not willing and able to wrestle an armed criminal to the ground and hold him down until the police arrive there is no point in keeping him inside.

Third, in the self-storage industry the number one insurance claim arises from the damage done by automatic gates closing on or against customers' cars.

Fourth, in spite of all of your best efforts and good intentions, some people who do not belong there will still manage to get in.

Fifth, most automated gates are run from a PC. When the power goes out, someone may have to reboot the PC. Who's the lucky guy who gets to sit around 24/7 waiting for that to happen? Also, your PC may automatically reboot after an update. (That happened to me once. The management company I worked for had set all the PC's up with a password, so the gates would not operate until someone manually entered the password. I learned that when one of my 24-hour tenants woke me up when he could not get in at 3AM.)

Bottom line is a lot of expense for marginal protection but lots of potential added liability and grief.

BradP
(Kansas)

Posts:2640


12/30/2011 8:25 AM  
Daryl

i would ask your local police representative to speak to the group...i guarantee you they will say something to the following:

"the best way to prevent crime is to make it hard for them. Lock doors, remove valuables, park in a garage or driveway, turn on lights, etc. While putting in a gate may seem like a great way to reduce crime it really isn't getting at the heart of the problem, you all have an open invitation to criminals."

I think it would be a shame to spend all this money on a gate, not fix the real problem and find out later that it didn't help. A gate isn't going to stop criminal activity, especially if the criminals are within your own neighborhood.
CarolR11


Posts:0


12/30/2011 10:43 AM  
Larry's experience with gates is really useful to you, Daryl. We have one automated vehicle entry & one automated exit gate of our twin-tower urban 200+ unit HOA. The exit gate opens automatically. A security officer is stationed in a kiosk there 24/7.

Residents also have fobs to let themselves in, but the officer must let in guests for our secure visitor parking area, which is a part of our underground garage, but is separated from resident parking with an automatic gate, which the officer opens from the kiosk.

In the past couple of years, the gate has closed accidentally on 2 cars causing damage for which the HOA paid. During the past year, 2 residents have run into the entry gate for which they were fined, but the gate was out of commission for a couple of days each time.

Items were stolen from 2 cars several weeks apart in visitor parking a couple of years ago. In both cases the cars were unlocked and the items were visible on the car seats.

We had a power outage from about 4-10pm earlier this year so the gates had to remain open during that period.

The gates are indeed on our reserve schedule, and also must be painted every couple of years. We have budgeted $2000 for maintenance & repairs to these gates for 2012.

I like Tim's idea of a membership vote if possible. If your governing documents don't support a members vote, perhaps you can push for an advisory vote whereby members basically offer their opinions.
DonnaS
(Tennessee)

Posts:5671


01/02/2012 12:09 PM  

It is a proven fact that gates DO NOT keep out the bad guys. Gates impeded delivery, residents and authorities that need to access the community.

The only way that gates insure that the bad guys will not be driving into a gated community is to have the ENTIRE perimeter fenced, walled or landscaped with impervable materials such as big trees that a vehicle cannot fit thru. Gates are not guarenteed to keep out anyone except some person who lost his code card or remote entry device.
PatrickS7
(Florida)

Posts:7


01/05/2012 9:03 PM  
My experience so far with about 4 months with gates is they give the hoa and the property manager added control over the neighborhood. Anyone can follow someone into the neighborhood and bypass the gate, however we also added security cameras which deters most would be criminals.

I believe our community was having problems internally with tenants and guest who were stealing. Gates and cameras will drastically decrease this problem. Also if you have high turnover with tenants and typically these are the sketchy characters, having a locked gate forces them to get a transmitter, or key fob or sticker and register with the property manager. Manager has the opportunity to explain rules of community and obtain identifying information, make and model of car and license plate. When this is done you will likely have a more compliant tenant and their guest will be too.

I am guessing but most of the time the criminal is familiar with the neighborhood, either a tenant or guest who thinks they won't be noticed. If you have a reoccuring problem its probably internal. A true ousider driving through looking to steal will happen occationally but can easily be stopped by adding cameras.

My sugesstion is to restrip every 2 years and reseal every 4 years. 30k is about right on a tar reseal, however I would encourage you to look into grip-flex and liquid road. This is a rubber resealer that will cost twice a much but will last for 30 year and stay black if properly maintained.
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