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Condo owners get hefty bill for renovations
December 04, 2012, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal Homeowners at Island J in Foster City will be assessed $20,000 each for needed repairs.

Homeowners association fees are set to rise 21 percent for residents of Foster City’s Island J development on top of a recent judge’s ruling that each of the community’s 174 property owners need to be assessed an extra $20,000 for necessary repairs.

The judge’s ruling is considered to be a bit of a victory for homeowners, however, as Island J’s HOA board was seeking up to a $40,000 assessment, said Marjorie Murray, president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, a nonprofit that counseled some of the homeowners through the assessment process.

Construction on the property could last up to eight months, however, and some residents are already listing their homes for sale to try to avoid the crush of construction.

Considering the high number of foreclosures in the county, the judge ruled for a lower assessment, Murray told the Daily Journal.

HOA dues will also rise from the current $676 a month to $811, a "backbreaking” number for some residents, Murray said.

Island J, also called The Islands, is located between Edgewater and Shell boulevards and accessed by Catamaran Street.

It was constructed in the early 1970s and won many national awards. It was also featured in Architectural Digest as one of the foremost condominium developments in the country. The first condo was occupied in mid 1975 and sold for $46,000, according to the community’s website.

Many large condo properties in Foster City are aging and some, such as the Admirality, went through major renovations the past couple of years as homeowners there also assessed themselves anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000, depending on unit size, to repair major dry rot, failing windows and doors and make improvements to the structure.

The assessment will hopefully keep property values high at the complex as several of the units went through foreclosure this past year, one homeowner told the Daily Journal.

The assessment process was not easy, however, as some of the HOA board members resigned in protest of the special assessment, Murray said.

In total, the assessment will raise about $3.5 million for major structural upgrades related to dry rot although the board was seeking $7 million, said Debbie Corazzelli, who sits on the board.

The board started looking into major upgrades about four years ago, she said.

Property values have dropped at Island J greater than the surrounding market, Corazzelli said.

"I think they’ll come back so we can return this property to be the jewel of Foster City,” she said.

Construction should start in the first quarter of 2013, she said.

The Center for California Homeowner Association Law works to get consumer protection laws on the books — laws that govern assessment collection and that rein in the use of foreclosure to force payment of assessments, Murray said.

The high HOA fees, mortgage payments and the special $20,000 assessment could be too burdensome for some homeowners, Murray said.

Bill Silverfarb can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 106.

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