Tax Forms are Due
The City & County started to send out notices to all apartment owners at Foster Tower, along with 42 other condominium projects, requesting that all owners file a Declaration page, designating their condominium’s use. This designation will determine the basis for real property taxation for the upcoming 5-year period. Homeowners can fall into one of 3 use categories: Residential, Residential A (when the assessed value is higher than $1,000,000) and Hotel & Resort (for units that rent short-term defined as less than 30 days). Foster Tower’s governing documents strictly prohibit short-term rentals (less than 30 days). By falling in this category, homeowners will be assessed approximately $10,000 in additional taxes, on top of the taxes “Residential” and “Residential A” owners pay. Currently, 12 condo units are classified under “Hotel & Resort.”
Please pay attention to your mail and make sure to file this Declaration. The deadline is September 1, 2017.
Each apartment must file this declaration for their own unit. https://www.realpropertyhonolulu.com/forms (Download Form BFS-RP-P-41E)
The Homeowner Association cannot file for any individual unit. There is a common misconception that if any one unit fails to file or files under “Hotel & Resort,” in result, the entire building will be assessed at the higher rate. Robie-Ann Dorwelo from the City & County tax office confirmed that this is not the case. The tax office will review each and every one of the 141 condominium units and will assess them separately. I have filed the necessary declaration for units 204 and 1503, the two units the AOAO has interest in.
If you need additional information, you may contact the tax office at:
Real Property Assessment Division
842 Bethel St, Basement
Honolulu, HI 96813
Tel: (808) 768-3799
Surf Cage Update
Unfortunately, the Board of Directors had to remove the Surf Cage from the first floor of the parking garage in April 2015 in order to return the area to the owner of the stall that the cage occupied. When the affected homeowner discovered that the surf cage was built in their parking stall without properly trading the space for this purpose, the rack had to be removed. The Board is working on a permanent surf cage solution. A written request was mailed to all owners with an explanation of the events leading up to this situation. Unfortunately, the Association did not get the requisite amount of written requests returned in favor of making the temporary surfboard area a permanent amenity designation. Since the motion failed, the AOAO must remove the temporary surfboard rack from Stall 8.
The AOAO took out the required public notice ad to declare its objective to remove unclaimed personal items from the temporary rack. The statutory waiting period has ended, but before the AOAO disposes of the abandoned surfboards, we are asking everyone who stored boards in the surf cage to please identify their boards to management (invoices, pictures of board with owner, etc.) so that the boards can be returned to their owners.
Please note: the temporary cage will need to be taken down after May 26, 2017. All surfboards will need to be removed by this time. Any surfboard left in the area will be deemed abandoned and will be disposed of.
The gym is currently undergoing extensive renovations. The gym equipment was very old. In fact, most machines were either rusting or malfunctioning. The carpet was worn beyond repair. After careful consideration, the Board of Directors decided to properly address the issue. New equipment is on its way, along with new flooring. Titan Industries has just finished abatement of the finishes that contained asbestos. The staff already removed the old, tarnished mirrors and started patching the walls. In the coming weeks, the staff will finish getting the room patched, painted and, new light fixtures installed. The new flooring is specifically manufactured for fitness room applications and we feel that it will address all of our criteria of a soft and safe surface that is moisture resistant while providing sound and shock absorption. It is an 8mm thick recycled rubber floor tile made by Ecore, in a light gray color:
The room will have the following new equipment:
An Apollo 7300 Mutipress machine with Leg Press and Leg Ext/Curl
(AP-71MP Multi Press w/ AP-71LP Leg Press & AP-71LE Leg Extension/Curl)
A corner-unit dual functional trainer (TSCXT200)
A Vectrar VAPT assisted chin/dip machine
An Activate Recumbent LifeCycle bike with LED screen
An Activate Treadmill with LED screen
A dual flat/incline bench
A set of dumbells
Two different sizes of exercise balls
A flat-screen TV
For more information, check out the manufacturer's site at:
The gym committee worked very hard to come up with a design that aims to provide all of our residents with a small, but state-of-the-art gym that will suit everyone's needs, from novice enthusiasts to fitness experts. We plan on posting instructional posters for the new equipment, and several expert owners offered to teach our residents for the proper use of the machines.
The project was the result of months of work by the volunteer gym committee:
Bill Plewes, Committee Chair
Upcoming Major Building Projects
SealMasters Hawaii completed its very extensive exterior building survey. A SealMasters foreman visually inspected every single “drop.” (A “drop” is an exterior stack of apartments.) Contractors typically only inspect one or two drops to formulate a budget, but if the chosen drop is not a good representation of the building’s condition, the homeowner association may end up facing very unpleasant surprises – and change orders! -- mid-way through the repairs. We already suspected that there were areas of the building with significant spall damage, so it was important to us to get a clear understanding of the building’s condition. Although, we have not received the comprehensive report from SealMasters, their management has mentioned a number of areas of concern:
The worst problems are attributed to windows and post pockets. Some of the windows show failed caulking, broken hinges, frames that don’t square up, etc. Even more troubling are failing windows that are not original to the building, but were installed later. The windows are appurtenant to each individual unit, and they are the homeowners’ responsibility. Replacing windows is a responsibility and should not be taken lightly. The Board of Directors requires that homeowners ask for permission before replacing windows, which includes securing building permits. When the windows are uniform and comply with building codes, the building’s value is maintained. Conversely, when an assortment of window styles are installed in subpar manner, the building’s value and structural integrity suffer.
Incorrectly installed post pockets pose similar danger: if a homeowner removes a lanai railing and the post pockets are not sealed correctly, the area will take on water, rusting and expanding the rebar in the concrete, which -- in turn -- will force the concrete to break off. Removal of guard rails requires permitting, and permitting provides a “checks-and-balances” system that helps us maintain safety and integrity.
SealMasters also pointed out the large number of window A/C units that were installed improperly, many without being caulked in from the outside. As a result, rain water (and dripping condensation from higher A/Cs) can and has entered the building envelope, damaging the concrete.
Curtains and shades may have to be drawn to ensure privacy of the residents, as crews work from bosun chairs and rigs.
Depending on upcoming consultant surveys, some (or most) windows may have to be replaced, making this project more complicated for our residents.
Unfortunately, these projects cannot be delayed or ignored. Since Foster Tower is a condominium project, not a hotel or resort complex, we do not have the luxury of doing the work in phases and only working on empty floors or wings. Hotels are able to coordinate the work ahead of time and they will not book visitors for the wings that are under construction. We cannot follow their model, so it will be that much more important to plan ahead and factor in the inconvenience.
If you are renting your unit to vacationers, please make sure to pay close attention to future updates. We will announce the schedule of work as soon as a tentative schedule is formulated. We are hoping that our projects will be completed simultaneously with the church renovations next door, to get two noisy and dusty projects out of the way at once.
Once we have a tentative schedule, owners may want to consider notifying their prospective renters about the inconveniences of these projects. There are several things that owners can do to mitigate the circumstances:
Clearly disclosing these upcoming projects will ensure that long-term tenants and vacationers will not be caught off guard.
While no one appreciates noisy and dusty work, visitors often respond positively to incentives, such as discounted rental rates, as long as the issues are clearly disclosed up front. Most visitors are quick to acknowledge that they spend most of their time outdoors, taking in Waikiki’s – and Oahu’s – natural beauty.
Please check with your H06 insurance agent to see if you are adequately insured for lost income, in the event that the unit cannot be rented out at full rates.
You may decide to take advantage of the situation and renovate your own unit at this time. If you are planning renovations, it would be most beneficial to coincide with the downtime presented by the building renovations.
Of course, the AOAO will do everything in its power to contract with experts who will keep the interest of the owners and residents in mind by doing their best to make the process as painless and expeditious as possible. We are keenly aware of the consequences of this work and we ask for your cooperation to make it a win-win situation for everyone.
During the hallway renovation project, we upgraded all interior hallway overhead lights to LED lights. Because of a rebate program for energy efficient lighting, we were able to get these lights at an outstanding price. At the time, we calculated that we would recoup our investment in less than a year. In fact, as we compare our current energy costs to what it was over a year ago, the savings are obvious.
To continue this momentum, we also decided to replace all burnt out fluorescent tubes in the garage and laundry room with LED tubes. As we move forward, we will continue to increase our energy savings.
St. Augustine By The Sea Church has announced extensive plans to construct a new building adjacent to Foster Tower. Although, construction was slated to start with the beginning of 2017, we have not received any updates regarding the construction work. We will continue to update our residents as we learn more about this project.
If your apartment is on the 01-06-05-04 side (Diamond Head side of the building) and you are renting your apartment out, please make sure to factor in the upcoming project. Let your tenants know that their quiet enjoyment of the premises may be affected during next year. Make sure your H06 insurance policy includes loss of rental income, should the apartment become temporarily unrentable due to the noise or the dust barriers.
The garage gate’s curtain is showing signs of rusting. After one bar snapped, the gate was turned off to avoid the possibility of the remaining bar falling down. The gate curtain is 4 years old, so we are trying to get it repaired, instead of waiting for a replacement to be made and shipped.
What makes this gate particularly challenging is its size and usage. These “grill curtain” type gates are typically used to secure store fronts. A good example is all the stores at Kahala Mall: at night, the storekeepers pull down the grill and in the morning, they lift it. It has exactly two cycles each day, and it spans a significantly narrower opening. Our gate is much taller and much wider, making for an usually heavy gate. Additionally, our usage is extremely frequent: our fob reports indicate that the gate is pulled up/dropped down over 200 times on any given day. The barrel of the gate has a cycle count that corroborates these readings. Unfortunately, barrels that are this wide only come with a 100,000-150,000 cycle warranty at the most. That means, the barrel has to be changed out in less than two years.
The Board has looked into a number of options to reduce the necessity for gate repairs. The contractors suggested a number of options, like: using “lift up arm” type gates or leaving the gate up during rush hour, or splitting the gate into two gates, one for incoming, one for outgoing traffic. Unfortunately, none of these options are a good fit for Foster Tower. A lift-arm would not deter thieves steeling bicycles or surfboards; we don’t have a rush hour, as our residents are mostly vacationers and retirees; we cannot restrict the flow to two lanes, as it would be very difficult to make the turn from the ground floor level; and we cannot have a sliding gate because of the stairwell’s access next to the gate. In short: we have to learn to accept that the gate poses unique challenges. The only thing we can do to mitigate the need for constant repairs is to limit pedestrian access to the side door. Pedestrians should not use the gate anyway, for obvious safety reasons. Please heed the advice and the posted sign to only use the side door when entering or exiting the garage on foot.
Individual Surfboard Storage
Residents are welcome to store their surfboards in their parking stalls. This may be the only option currently available to many surfers, since Foster Tower’s House Rules do not allow surfboards in the elevators. There are a few points to keep in mind:
Surf boards must be stored in racks approved by the AOAO. The parking stalls are ‘limited common elements,’ which means that the use of each parking stall is assigned exclusively to one unit for parking their vehicles. It is also implied that others may have to walk through another unit’s stall to get to their stall. For this reason, it is imperative to consider the safety of everyone. We must pay close attention to storing surfboards securely.
We highly recommend tying down all surfboards and paddle boards. We have witnessed several boards sliding off the racks. We have also witnessed a numbers of strange weather phenomena, where bursts of gusty winds would sweep through the garage and driveway. This is a safety issue that must be addressed.
Please make sure that your parking stall is clean, paying particular attention to oil spills. Oil puddles are incredibly dangerous, especially in a garage where others are expected to carry surfboards, making it difficult to retain balance on oily concrete.
The AOAO cannot insure the personal property of others. In the event of damages, it will be imperative for the homeowner to rely on their own automobile insurance and H06 policy to cover both loss to their own vehicles or liability caused by their own unsecured stored items becoming loose.
The hurricane season runs from May 1 through November 30 in Hawaii. There is no better time than now to assess your apartment’s needs.
If you haven’t already done so, it is best to formulate a formal emergency plan.
Stock up on the supplies recommended by agencies such as the Red Cross.
Check with your H06 condo insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage in the unlikely event of rainwater entering your unit and damaging your contents.
Make sure that all of your windows close properly and the glazing and caulking are watertight. Although, the original windows are now over 50 years old and most hardware stores no longer stock parts, there are still some vendors around who can make repairs to your existing windows and lanai doors. Robert Mathias has done a lot of work for owners in the building and is very familiar with the window configurations. If you feel that your windows may not be able to protect your unit (and the ones below yours) in the event of major rain storms, contact Robert at 864-2202. The AOAO does not endorse any particular contractor or warrant their work, so homeowners must do their due diligence to find the best contractor and solution for their needs.
It is best to tie down all furniture on your lanai. Recently, we encountered a slew of flying pieces of furniture. We are very fortunate that no one was caught in the path of these items.
Please make sure to follow the building’s announcements in the elevators. In the event of a major storm or hurricane, the building will likely be without power. During the last hurricane, the island of Kauai was without electrical power for 6 weeks. The loss of electricity affects condominiums more than single family homes. We will not have working elevators, and worse, we will not be able to boost cold water to the higher floors and the building will not have hot water at all. The pool would have to be closed off due to inadequate sanitation. Our garage gate and sliding doors would need to remain open 24/7. At times of disasters, individual responsibility and cooperation will be paramount. But let’s hope that the next hurricane season will be uneventful and we will be fortunate enough not to have to test out our resources.
Storage in Parking Stalls
As a friendly reminder, we are asking our residents to only store their bicycles, motorcycles, moped and scooters in their parking stalls. Surfboards, boogie boards and paddle boards should be stored in the racks above the parking stalls. We have also received numerous complaints regarding residents storing their scooters or paddle boards across stalls, encroaching onto their neighbor’s stalls. Please make sure that no stored items go beyond the boundaries of your stall. Overhead surfboards should not reach beyond the stall boundaries, and leashes should be securely tucked in the racks. Dangling leashes are a nuisance to our neighbors. Thank you for your cooperation.
You got mail!
Our USPS delivery person asked us to remind everyone to please check their mail frequently. He is often forced to return mail to the senders, because the boxes are full. Similarly, he noted that parcels are often left unchecked for long periods of time in the parcel lockers. We have only 7 parcel lockers for the entire building, and when a few residents fail to clear the lockers, others’ packages must be taken back to the post office, and those residents must go to the post office in person to retrieve their packages. USPS handles federal mail, so the delivery person cannot leave those packages with our staff. The staff can only accept packages from private carriers (FedEx, UPS, DHL).
In recent Board Meetings, several owners voiced concerns over items stored in individual parking stalls. Foster Tower’s House Rules allow for bicycles, scooters, mopeds and motor cycles to be stored in the stall that belongs to the owner of these vehicles.
Unfortunately, there are a number of stalls that have other items stored, making the garage unsightly to our residents. Also, these stored personal items can become dangerous when airborne by high winds. We are in the middle of what is projected to be an unusually active hurricane season. Consequently, the Board of Directors decided to focus on this issue.
Please remove all items stored in the garage that the House Rules don’t allow for. Our property manager will be back next Wednesday to inspect the common areas. We hope to have no need to issue House Rule Violations when we walk the garage next week. Your cooperation in making Foster Tower the best place to live is always appreciated.
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