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Santa Barbara Stage 3 Drought – New Regulations

Stage Three Drought Declared in Santa Barbara, Water Use Regulations Adopted

On May 5, 2015, the Santa Barbara City Council declared a Stage Three Drought Condition in response to the driest consecutive four years on record. The Stage Three Drought Condition requires a 25% Citywide reduction in overall water use, with mandatory regulations on specific water use applications. These regulations apply to all customers using City of Santa Barbara water. We want to make sure all our owners & tenants are aware of the new water restrictions and regulations.

Water Use Regulations
• Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle when in use.
• Irrigation with potable water is prohibited between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. for automatic systems. If manually operated, such irrigation is prohibited between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
• Irrigation with potable water that causes runoff onto adjacent property, non-irrigated areas, private and public walkways, roadways, parking lots, or parking structures is prohibited.
• Any excessive, unnecessary or unwarranted use of water is prohibited. All leaks must be repaired as soon as reasonably possible.
• Irrigation during and within 48 hours after measurable rainfall is prohibited.
• Washing of pavement and other hard surfaces is generally prohibited, with a few exceptions such as for health and safety purposes.
• Vehicles and boats must be washed with a hose equipped with a shut-off nozzle or washed at commercial facilities that recycle the water.
• The use of potable water in all non-recirculating ornamental water features and fountains is prohibited. Recirculating fountains with a water surface area greater than 25 square feet are prohibited unless located indoors, on residential property, or are home to aquatic life.
• Pools and spas must be equipped with a cover when not in use. No draining or refilling of pools by more than one third, unless authorized. Pool cover rebates available.
• Drought notices are required in restaurants and other eating and drinking establishments; water served on request only.
• Hotels and motels must post a drought notice in each guest room and provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily.
• Gyms, pools, and other businesses providing showers must post drought notices and promote limitation of shower use.

For more information on regulations and exceptions, click here. The best way to reduce water usage by 25% or more is to evaluate landscape water use and check for leaks. The City’s Water Conservation Program is here to help everyone save water; for assistance evaluating water use and conservation opportunities, receive a free water checkup. To schedule, call (805) 564-5460.

Section 8 Changes: Housing Authority of City of SB

Here are some changes that will be great news for Santa Barbara owners that accept Section 8 Vouchers through the Housing Authority of the City of SB. They are doing a great job trying to work with property owners and landlords, and are making changes to their policies that will make their clients more appealing as potential renters.

The Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) has implemented some exciting changes the its locally run Section 8 Program! While all of the changes are listed in the attached Landlord Link, two of the most exciting changes are:

·        Section 8 Unit Damage Protection NEW! – reimbursement to the owner of up to $2,000.00 for unpaid unit damages, rent, and related court costs in excess of the tenant’s security deposit. The amount of this payment will be calculated using the higher of the actual security deposit amount paid -or- the equivalent of one month’s contract rent (if the owner has collected a security deposit of less than one month’s contract rent).

·        No-limit rent increases NEW! – rent increases will not be limited to a maximum amount as long as the rent increase is based on rental market data and is considered rent reasonable (equal to non-subsidized housing rents in comparable units).

For more information, visit their website:

Pest Control: Getting rid of Ants

As many tenants and owners know, ants can be a huge and annoying problem when they start invading your home. Especially during the warm summer & fall months we get a lot of complaints about ants, as they start looking inside for food. Here are some tips to Get Rid of Ants Naturally, if these don’t work, try ant traps and sprays, and then call your property management company for more pest control options.With over 12,000 species of ants in the world, only a small handful of them insist on invading our homes in search of something tasty from either the sweet foods or flesh and greasy foods.[1] Ants commonly found indoors include the Argentine ant, the pharaoh ant, the thief or grease ant, the pavement ant and the odorous house ant.[1] And if you’re really unlucky, you might have the carpenter (red) ant, an ant insistent on destroying the wood that holds up your house, so get professional help fast in that case!

However, it would be unbalanced to see ants as bad on the whole. Most of the things ants do are good for us and the environment, including eating the larvae of fleas, spiders, bed bugs, flies, silverfish and clothes moths.[1] From that point of view, aiming to control them and prevent them from accessing your food is a better approach than seeking to completely eliminate them and natural approaches are best for this purpose. For the ants you need to control, there are some very easy, natural and effective natural methods to either ward off or remove ants from your home areas.

Method 1: Taking care of the advance scouts

  1.   Heed the scouts. The first signs of ants in your kitchen is a warning to you. These are the scout ants checking out your kitchen for signs of suitability to invade and their job will be to return back to the nest to inform the other ants that your kitchen is blooming with potential.[1] Waste no time in getting to work cleaning your kitchen, sealing all food and removing all sources of sticky, sweet, greasy and flesh foods from their access.
    • Don’t leave out any dirty dishes. Wash all dishes as they’re used or place them into the dishwasher and shut the door tight. Wipe down all of your cupboard and benchtop surfaces with vinegar; this cleans, disinfects and leaves a nasty smell as far as ants are concerned. Remove all sources of garbage and keep the kitchen bin shut tightly. Rinse all recyclable containers before putting them into storage.
    • Sweep and vacuum the kitchen area daily.
    • Rinse off any jar, container or bottle that has a sticky or leftover residue. In particular, check jam/jelly jars, sauce bottles, pickle bottles, cordial bottles and honey and syrup containers. Place your honey jar and any other very ant-attractive foods inside a bowl of water (see How to keep ants out of honey and How to keep ants away from cat food for more details.
    • Seal every food item in containers. The containers need to be of the sort that ants cannot get into. Be relentless about this for 3-7 days. The ants, having nothing to eat, will go elsewhere. This works because the ants are following the chemical trails left by other ants, who did find food.
    • You may also need to seal fragrant items such as cleaning powders, deodorants, and the like in case these attract the ants’ initial attention. Just be alert to any congregations around non-food sources.

Method 2: Preventing access

  1.   Seal off all entrance areas. As part of your big kitchen clean, do some of your own scouting work. Can you tell where the ants are entering the house? Follow the first ants to see where they’re entering and leaving from. Seal all the entrance holes that you can find using silicone caulk, putty, glue or plaster. Temporary methods can include petroleum jelly or poster tack. If you use a temporary sealant (such as poster tack), only do so until you can purchase a more permanent solution, as it will deteriorate over time and open up the gap again.
  2.   Load the soapy water. Soapy water will both kill the ants it hits and it will destroy their chemical trail, preventing more ants from following in their tracks.[1] This cheap and easy method consists simply of putting one teaspoon of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle and filling it with water. When you see ants, spritz them and that will be it!
    • Additions to the water for added potency include mint oil or citrus peels or citrus rind oil.[1]
    • Adding soap to water barriers can make them even more effective than simply using the water.

Method 3: Using barriers and deterrents

  1.   Put up defensive barriers. There are a number of barrier methods that you can put into place to really terrify the ants and keep them at bay. Many of the products that form these natural barriers are probably already in your kitchen; they just need to be deployed properly. A barrier doesn’t need to be wider than a quarter of an inch (6.35mm) but it must be an unbroken line.[1] Be clear that barriers won’t work on ants already in the kitchen (indeed, you’ll be trapping them inside) but they will prevent any more ants from coming in. Some of the items with which to make barriers include:[2]
    • Powdered charcoal
    • A line of chalk
    • Turmeric
    • Cinnamon
    • Citrus oil
    • Black or cayenne pepper (hotter is best); or try red chili pepper
    • Vaseline (great for doors and windows)
    • Baby powder
    • Powdered cleanser
    • White vinegar and water
    • Desiccating dusts such as diatomaceous earth or silica aerogel.
  2.   Sprinkle around deterring odors. Ants dislike various scents such as peppermint and camphor and garlic. These can be used fresh or in oil form to disturb the ambiance of any area that ants have been making their way to. The great thing about these fragrant deterrents is that your own preferences for scent can be used to improve the household odors in general, all the while making your kitchen, pantry and other areas very ant-unfriendly. Here are some ideas:
    • Crushed mint leaves; and grow mint near the entrance areas. Dried peppermint is also effective.[3]
    • Garlic Clove (rub garlic clove over ant trail and ant entrance)
    • Lavender oil; and grow lavender near the entrance areas.
    • Oil of clove or crush cloves and sprinkle as a barrier.
    • Camphor.
    • Use laurel/bay leaves to keep the ants away from a specific food. Ants are especially attracted to sugar, paprika and flour. Put laurel/bay leaves in your sugar can, flour canister and paprika jar. You will be amazed!
  3.   Sprinkle Splenda where you see ants. This is not a danger to the kids, so it’s great for use where children congregate, such as at school.
  4.   Use coffee grounds. Empty coffee grounds on ant hills and along your house foundations. This safe material confuses the worker ants because they lose their scent trails. Thus the hatched young in the ant colonies have no food and starve. You need to be persistent and patient; it may take all summer at first but after a time, you won’t get ants in the house and the lawn will be mostly clear of anthills.
    • It is important to reapply grounds every year but that is what makes this safe, as there are no residue effects. Clean kitchens are also a must.
  5. Use dish soap with baking soda. Combine a small amount of Dawn dish soap and baking soda with water. Spread a thin line along area where ants are coming in. This is a great solution for dealing with ants on windowsills.
Method 4: Using baits

  1.   Create your own ant baits. You can buy ant baits but they’re chemical preparations that don’t fit well with natural attempts to control ants in the home. It’s straightforward to make your own ant baits and a particularly successful one is made using boric acid. A natural derivative of the mineral boron, boric acid is used in borax and some saline solutions. Boric acid is a stomach poison – when ants walk in it and then clean their feet or antennae, they ingest it. Bearing in mind that removing too many ants from your local environment can harm the good they’re doing in keeping down pests for you, here is how to make a boric acid bait:
    • Buy boric acid at the local drug store (it’s about USD$2 a bottle).
    • Pour about a tablespoon of real maple syrup (or anything you know ants love) on a flat plate or saucer.
    • Sprinkle the boric acid around the syrup so that the ants must walk through it to get to the syrup, you may even use a q-tip to ensure a good distribution of the powder around the the syrup.
    • Place wherever the ants are frequenting. Keep out of the reach of children or pets. Be patient as this method can take a week to take effect.[1]
  2.   Use food against ants. There are several techniques that can get rid of ants through their inability to digest the food or through expansion and death. It’s not very pretty to think about but these methods do work. As with all methods, put the bait food where the ants are appearing:
    • Use corn meal. This method is especially great around pets or children, as corn meal by itself is not poisonous. The ants will carry it home and try to eat it, but they can’t digest it properly. Be sure to put corn meal wherever you see that the ants like to frequent.
    • Put out cream of wheat (farina). Don’t cook it – use it raw. The ants eat it and it expands in their stomachs, killing them. Put the food somewhere you know there will be ants and just leave it.
    • Ants are extremely susceptible to caffeine. Leave coffee grounds (used works) where the ants are and they will carry it home and eat it. This method takes a few weeks to see.
  3.   Deal with carpenter ants in as natural way as possible. An invasion of carpenter ants is serious as they can damage your house structure. Be alert for their invasion – piles of broken wings can be one sign and it is longer than most ants.[1] You may also see their fecal pellets (these appear like sawdust) and they can sometimes be heard rustling in the walls. Some ways to deal with them include:[1]
    • Bait them. They like sugar, so you can turn this against them; use the boric acid method described earlier.
    • Vacuum their nests out of the wall if possible.
    • Have an exterminator drill holes in the wall and blow in diatomaceous earth, silica aerogel or boric acid. A professional exterminator specializing in natural pesticides can also use pyrethrin spray or boric acid baits of their own concoction.

Online Rent Payments: the options

Cochrane Property Management, Inc. is a big fan of Appfolio property management software, which we have been using for almost 5 years now, and it keeps getting better. It allows us to provide our tenants and owners a lot of great money & paper-saving options. We really encourage all of our tenants to pay their rent online, and there are so many easy options! Check it out

Renting is taking the place of buying

There are some really great articles and discussions going on about the housing and rental market right now. Younger generations, “millenials” are opting out of necessity to rent instead of buying a home. And renting can be more affordable and flexible in these economic times. This is a real opportunity for property management companies to step in and provide the quality rental units and customer service that new renters need and want. As a member of the CA Apartment Association, Cochrane Property Management, Inc. adheres to CAA’s Code of Ethics and Code for Equal Housing Opportunity

An article by the New York Times about young adults opting to rent:

A discussion about home ownership n NPR’s On Point:

City of SB Utility rate increases 2014

Fiscal Year 2014 Utility Rate Changes
A Public Hearing was scheduled for June 11, 2013 by the City Council to discuss the details of proposed utility rate changes.  A 4 percent across the board rate increase was proposed for wastewater rates to offset the increasing costs of maintaining, operating, and rehabilitating the wastewater system.   Trash and recycling rates reflect changes due to implementation of a new contract with the City’s hauler, Marborg Industries. All rate changes, will take effect on utility bills dated July 1, 2013 or later.

Water Rates
During a drought, the City relies on its customers to preserve remaining water supplies through extraordinary water conservation. At the same time, the City faces increased costs to maintain essential water service, including more expensive capital and operating costs to increase drought water supplies from groundwater and water purchases.

The City is proposing drought water rates to provide a portion of the revenue needed for the City’s cost of water service, and to encourage extraordinary water conservation to ensure the City maintains sufficient drinking water supplies for its customers. You can see the proposed rate changes on our Water Rate Changes webpage.

Wastewater Rates
(Applicable only to customers billed by the City for sewer service).
The proposed wastewater rate change is a 5.5% percent increase to the City’s current charges for all customer classes. The maximum monthly charge for a single family residential customer would increase by $2.22 under the proposed rates. The proposed increase will fund operating costs, as well as replacement and repair of the City’s aging sewer system. This includes replacement of critical facilities at the wastewater treatment plant. The City will expand the number of non-residential customer classifications during FY 2015. All non-residential accounts will have the same 5.5% rate increase during FY 2015 as for residential accounts.

Trash and Recycling
(Applicable only to customers billed by the City for trash/recycling collection).

The proposed rate schedule includes an increase for all customer classes (Single Family Residential, Multi-Unit Residential and Business) of up to 1.6%, comprised of the following components: 
    1) 0.9% which represents an an increase in the amounts paid to the City’s contracted hauler tied to the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and, 
    b) increases to the “tipping fees” charged by the processing and/or disposal sites that receive City waste.

The City is contractually obligated to compensate its franchised waste hauler for these increases; as well as a new fee of 0.7% to fund the long-term repair and replacement of the City’s public trash and recycling containers.

In addition to the 1.6% increase described above, rates for Multi-Unit Residential carts and cans will increase by 2%, and Multi Unit dumpsters will decrease by 2%. These adjustments are part of the City’s long term plan to bring Multi-Unit dumpster and cart/can rates to an equivalent price per gallon regardless of the type of container serviced. The impact of this change on actual bills will vary depending upon each Multi-Unit Residential customer’s specific mix of cars/carts and dumpster service.

Find more information on water & sewer rates online on this link.  You can also find more information regarding trash & recycling rates at this link. 
Questions regarding water and sewer rates can be directed to (805) 564-5460. 
For questions on solid waste rates and recycling, please call (805) 564-5631.

Experian | Rent bureau: update


Update Bulletin
Rental Tradeline Reporting Change

Through our software Appfolio, we are currently reporting residents’ positive rental payment history to the Experian consumer credit file, however there is an upcoming change regarding how rental tradelines will display on Experian credit reports.

What’s changing?
As of June 30, 2014, all active and newly reported leases will display as an “Open” portfolio type, defined as an account with one scheduled payment due that must be paid in full each month. In the past, rental payment tradelines typically displayed as an “Installment” portfolio type. In this type, the recent balance was determined by calculating the sum of up to 12 remaining lease payments, e.g., 12 months x $1,000. In certain cases, lenders misunderstood this value. Going forward, for the recent balance field, active and newly reported leases will now simply display the monthly rent amount on the lease, e.g., $1,000.

What’s not changing?
All leases closed prior to late June 2014 will remain as originally reported. These historical leases will display as a paid or closed account with a zero balance.

Click on the links here to view an updated resident brochure and sample tradeline that reflect the change in reporting. Please feel free to distribute these documents to your residents and let me know if we can help with any additional materials.

We hope that this change will be well received by you and your residents. We have heard your feedback and feel the change in reporting now represents a renter’s obligation on a lease more accurately. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or anyone on the Experian RentBureau® team with questions.

SB City Declares Stage 2 Drought

SB City Council Declares Stage Two Drought
SANTA BARBARA, CA – 5/20/2014

A Stage Two Drought was declared by the Santa Barbara City Council today, May 20, 2014.  The City is requiring a 20% reduction in water usage from our community to help reduce the projected water supply shortage. 50% of our water used in the City is for landscaping. Customers watering their landscaping are encouraged to reduce water usage by more than 20%.

Santa Barbara is experiencing an unprecedented drought, with the driest consecutive three years on record. Currently, City water supplies are severely reduced in capacity with Lake Cachuma at 37% and the State Water Project deliveries are projected at 5%. We have no water to waste.

As part of the Stage Two Drought Declaration, the City Council adopted Water Use Regulations which are:

  • Hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle
  • Washing of pavement and other hard surfaces is generally prohibited
  • Irrigation is limited to evening and early morning hours – For specific hours, see website
  • Cars and boats must be washed at commercial facilities that recycle the water, or by hose with shut-off nozzle
  • Use of water in ornamental water features and fountains is prohibited except:
    1. if located indoors or on residential properties;
    2. for fountains that have a total water surface area less than or equal to 25 ft.²;
    3. or as of May 20, 2014 are home to aquatic life
  • Pools and spas must be equipped with a cover when not in use
  • No draining of pools by more than one third, unless authorized
  • Drought notices required in restaurants and hotels; water served on request only
  • Gyms, pools and other businesses providing showers must post drought notices and promote limitation of shower use

The best way to reduce water usage now is by evaluating landscape watering and checking for leaks inside and out. The City’s Water Conservation Program is available to help everyone save water. For help evaluating water use and conservation opportunities, call 564-5460 to schedule a free water checkup.

For more information, visit

City of SB Water: public hearing, increasing costs

On Tuesday, June 10th at 2:00 PM, the City Council will hold a public hearing regarding proposed increases to water, wastewater (sewer), and solid waste collection rates charged by the City. Increased rates would be effective on monthly utility bills dated July 1, 2014 or later, effective for water usage as early as June 1, 2014.

Additional information regarding the changes, including detailed notices of public hearings, can be found attached and at

Water Increase Notice
File Size: 168 kb
File Type: pdf

Download File

File Size: 127 kb
File Type: pdf

Download File

What is a GFCI? 


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