Why the Planned Unit Development Data Collection Act is Important

Jul 18, 2013
 

In late 2011, the Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission (JSGC) released its long-awaited report on Common Interest Ownership Communities. While the commission’s report falls short in certain goals outlined in the legislature’s resolution, the report is full of useful information and contains eleven policy and statutory recommendations to the legislature. These recommendations touched upon many areas of community associations, including methods of cooperation and cost savings for community associations with regards to stormwater management, sewer and water projects, road maintenance, trash and recycling, and disaster planning, preparation and clean-up. These are all areas that consume major portions of the budgets of community associations and that overlap with municipal services.

The one thing the commission was not able to produce is a list of all community associations in the Commonwealth, as directed by the legislature, and compile information on the types of infrastructure in these communities. Nor was it able to quantify the amount of taxes paid by those who live in community associations throughout Pennsylvania. While these results are disappointing, they were not un-expected, and the reasons why are discussed in the contents of the report.

The problem is, without such a list, how does one quantify the effects of legislative proposals if one cannot define the scope of the problem to be addressed? For many years, CAI's Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee (PA LAC) has talked about pursuing legislation that would mirror the rebate program in neighboring New Jersey. This NJ Municipal Services Act permits community associations to apply for a rebate to be reimbursed from their municipal government for municipal services provided by the association, such as refuse collection and street maintenance. Should legislation be proposed for this purpose in Pennsylvania, the lack of data on the number, type and location of community associations in the state would prevent the answer to the first question that will come from the mouths of many legislators - how much is it going to cost? Without the answer to that question, the legislation goes nowhere.

One cannot answer that question until the state ascertains the number of community associations within the Commonwealth. That's where Representative Mario Scavello's legislation comes in, requiring the collection of data on community associations by county. The Bill is being circulated now for co-sponsors and will be introduced shortly.

There are other reasons for this important legislation, from CAI's perspective. When PA LAC visits a legislator and lobbies him or her for or against a Bill that would impact community associations, we need to be able to tell each legislator how many communities and how many unit owners (constituents) the Bill will impact. That will weigh heavily on whether or not the legislator will support the Bill. At present, CAI is not able to produce that data.

 

For these reasons and more, CAI's PA LAC supports adoption of the Planned Unit Development Data Collection Act and asks all members to contact your state legislators to urge them to support and co-sponsor the Bill.

 


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