Friday, December 29, 2017

The Royal Flush

If you have a dog, the toilet is their favorite drinking fountain.

If you like to post nasty Tweets, the toilet is the ideal setting for this nefarious activity.

And of course, there’s the toilet’s main purpose: perusing the Victoria’s Secret Catalogue in private.

Short history of the toilet, per Google:

Hole in the ground, outhouse, the indoor flushing extravaganza! Yay!

At Pacific Tower our toilets originally used massive amounts of GPF or Gallons Per Flush.

Then politicians became enlightened and agreed it was important to reduce sewer flows and decrease the amount of potable water the City had to import, and the Water Conservation Movement was born.

In 1994 all toilets in California were required to switch to low-flow using only 1.6 GPF.

In 2017 all toilets in California were required to be only 1.28 GPF.

IN PACIFIC TOWER: If you bought or sold your unit between 1994 and 12.31.16, that transfer required your toilets be updated to 1.6 GPF either by the seller or the buyer.

If you bought or sold your unit in 2017, that transfer required replacement of your toilets to 1.28 GPF either by the seller or the buyer.

You have 90 days to comply with these state regulations, as stated in Pacific Tower CC&Rs.

How do you know if your toilet is compliant? Open the top of the tank. Most low-flow toilets in Pacific Tower use the Sloan Flushmate air-assisted device that makes a lot of noise and forces the water down (and with so little water in the tank, you need the device to make the brown go down. Otherwise you have to flush twice – which defeats the entire purpose). The sticker on the device states the GPF. (See photo)

Flushmaster Conversion info

Out-dated toilets use the familiar gravity system where there’s a rubber ball floating in a sea of water and chain that opens a hole that lets the water out of the bottom. These are antiques that use way too much water and are ineffective in a high-rise building.

In conclusion: If you care about the environment and you want to be compliant with the Pacific Tower CC&Rs, you need to check your toilet. If your toilet needs to be swapped out, the Building Manager can provide a list of several plumbers who can do the job.

Soon you will receive a special mailing regarding the Pacific Tower Water Conservation Policy and new Rules and Regulations concerning that policy.

Water Conservation Policy

The following was adopted by the Board at its meeting on November 21, 2017.

Pacific Tower Community Association

Board Meeting November 21, 2017

Report From Legal Committee

Re: Considerations for Water Usage

· WATER CONSERVATION – in Southern California – semi arid desert area – everyone needs to be aware and helpful as it is a major social and environmental issue.

· POLITICAL AGREEMENT – even the politicians have agreed by passing legislation to encourage and require conservation of water especially in the use of toilet flushing. The law says its purpose is to reduce sewer flows and decrease the use of imported potable water in the City.

· REDUCED STANDARD FOR USE - since 1994 the law has required installation of toilets that only use LESS water per flush

o From 1994 ……….only 1.6 gallons/per flush (gpf) until 12/31/2016

o From 2017 ……….only 1.28 gpf

· LEGAL OBLIGATION – State and local law since 1994 has created a legal obligation applicable upon the transfer of any unit in PTCA on the Seller or, if agreed, by the Buyer to install toilets that comply with the applicable usage standard. If not done by the Seller, escrow documents usually provide for the Buyer to assume that obligation. So the Buyer (new Owner) has the legal obligation to make the change in compliance with the law.

· NON-COMPLIANCE with the law- if the toilets in a transferred unit were not changed within 90 days then the unit is NOT IN COMPLIANCE with the law.

· VIOLATION of CC&Rs – Sec 16.3 states as follows:

Section 16.3. Violation of Law. Any violation of any state, municipal or-local-law, ordinance or regulation, pertaining to the ownership, occupation or use of the Project or any part thereof is hereby declared to be a violation of the Governing Documents and subject to any or all of the enforcement procedures set forth herein.

· PTCA CONCERNS – our Association has self interests to protect for the common welfare in assuring the integrity of the building by compliance with the LAW as well as its own economic benefits through lower expenses for water and the perceived value of the toilet upgrades in the Building.

· USAGE – in the region toilet flushing uses millions of gallons a day. In our building, “old toilets” that do not (or did not) comply with the applicable usage standard when last purchased may be using perhaps 5.6gpf or 3.6gpf instead of the standard of 1.6gpf (applicable for many years 1994 - 2016) or the new current standard of 1.28gpf. Every day – every time - those “old toilets” are flushing more than 4 times or almost 3 times the amount of water currently allowed as the desirable water conservation usage.

· PTCA COSTS – the cost of all the water in the building is an Association cost because it is not separately metered for each unit. Our regional water resource agencies try to limit usage through conservation efforts and must also increase costs in the cycle of supply / demand. Our assessments have had to cover INCREASING COSTS for the building water usage as follows;

o HOA Budget Year Amount Increase

o 2015 $44,400 $5,100

o 2016 $52,200 $7,800

o 2017 $61,600 $9,400

With non –compliant toilets our building is using more water than we should and we are facing increasing water rates. We are also subject to public criticism and adverse reputation as non-complying with public law.

· BOARD ACTIONS – when brought to its attention, an issue that involves enforcement of a clear provision of the CC&Rs (Sec 16.3), some actions by the Board may be expected as a matter of performing its duty. Perhaps the Board should consider the following program of steps to act in behalf of the general welfare of the Pacific Tower Community:

o Resolve to recognize the law and the benefits of enforcement to the Pacific Tower Community as a matter of urgency.

o Effectively communicate the requirements of the law -- PAST AND PRESENT -- to all member/ owners so there is no misunderstanding of the legal requirements by authorizing a newsletter and / or a general letter to all members.

o Within a 120 day grace period, request voluntary compliance of affected Unit Owners whose unit toilets do not comply with the standard applicable at the time of their purchase and require compliance with the current standard.

o After the 120 day grace period has ended, the Association may make an inspection of each toilet in a unit and require compliance as a condition of approving any Architectural Application for a Unit, or as a condition for making any unrelated entry into a unit for any reason requested by the Owner.

o If a Unit Owner needs such work to be done, the Association will provide the names of plumbing businesses that are familiar with the Building and are capable of completing the kind of work needed to comply with the applicable plumbing standards.

· CONFLICTS OF INTEREST – If it appears that a Board member has a unit with non-compliant toilet(s) and feels that any personal obligation to comply should affect a decision in behalf of the community interest, then that may be a matter of conflict of interest to be considered seriously.

· LEGAL COUNSEL – our counsel has provided the legislative history of the progressive efforts in the State and local laws to conserve water as they apply to the PTCA building since the 1994 Ordinance. Copies attached.

Addendum: Although the applicable law does not specify the use of an air assisted device with the required lower water volumes, their use is highly recommended by toilet manufacturers, toilet distributors, and all plumber organizations as a practical matter for an optimal flushing effect.
Tom Ward

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Drain You Clog May Be Your Own

Ever had that sinking feeling when you jam two dozen corn husks into your sink garbage disposal and it REBELS? It just grinds and grinds wimp-ily and you know it’s dead and YOU KILLED IT?
Newsflash: The HOA is NOT going to pay your plumbing bill. You dood it, you pay for it.  Save yourself some money by learning about the care and feeding of a garbage disposal.
Google: What Not to put down your Garbage Disposal or Disposer which is what the experts like to call it even though nobody else does. Or check the million YouTube videos on the same subject - (not as fun as funny cat videos but will save you mucho dinero in the long run.)
List of Nos
Drano or any caustic drain cleaners! This stuff totally wrecks the pipes and there’s a 100% chance you will STILL wind up calling a plumber.
Grease - solidifies inside your drain like plaque in your arteries and gives our pipes a heart attack.
Pasta and rice – uncooked expands with water, causes big clog-oramas.
Coffee grounds, apple cores, pits, and seeds get caught in the drain.
Eggshells – membrane can wrap around the blades.
Bones -  use your common sense.
List of Yesses
Cold water for at least 20-30 seconds before and after grinding food.
Liquids and soft foods, chopped foods.
Liquid dish soap.
Ice cubes  - grind lemon flavored cubes for a nice smell. Don’t you want a sweet-smelling disposal?
Use your common sense and if you have none, trust Google!



August 24.  Home after an exhausting day at the office, I parked my carcass on my couch when the Lobby Door rang on my office cellphone.  “Can you buzz me in?  My mom’s visiting her friend and I don’t remember the number,” said a teen girl’s voice.
               “Who’s the friend?  What unit?”  I asked.
               “I don’t remember,” she said.
               Having been the mother of a juvenile delinquent, I was suspicious.  “Can you tell me something about the friend?  Do they have a dog?”
No dog. “What floor?”  I asked.
               There was a pause, then, “I just know where it is!”
               Call me cynical but I didn’t buy it, “I don’t know who you are, so I’m not letting you in,” and I hung up.
               About five minutes later I was enjoying my pre-dinner snooze when I hear screams.  “No!  Stop!  Don’t do it!  I don’t want you to die!”
               That got my attention.  I scramble out onto my balcony and there, dangling over the 12th floor catwalk railing is a teenage boy doing his best Cirque du Soleil for the audience of six terrified teenage girls.  “Hey kid!”  I yell, “Get back over that railing NOW!”  I take this photo.  He climbs back.
Soon he’s scrambling away with his gaggle of female fans.  I pressed the button on my floor and hopped on the elevator with the young perps.  “What the hell were you thinking!” said the Mom voice coming out of my mouth.  No answer.  I pulled out my camera and started shooting video.  They instantly buried their faces in their phones.
               The voice of the Lobby Door Girl sing-songs, “Don’t you know it’s against the law to take videos of minors?”
               Soon we were in the lobby and they high tail it down Wilbur.
               I ran the security camera back.  Sure enough, just minutes before, they were calling me from the Lobby Phone. The girls went around trying the other lobby doors but the acrobat stayed behind trying every intercom button.  Soon, someone exited the building and the sly miscreant quickly tossed his backpack in the opening and motioned his rat pack in. 
               My reason for recounting this story is to warn you - if you see strangers in the outer lobby, please don’t let them in.
You might be saving a life!

Karyl Miller, Building Manager

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Is Your Garage Remote Naughty or Nice?

See the photo below? If your remote has a number on it, you are good to go. If your remote is bad and does not have a number on it, please visit the Lobby Office for a free swap upgrade to nice. Thanks.

Fire Inspection

June 15 we had our building’s annual fire inspection and are happy to report we passed with flying colors and with only a few tiny corrections to be made. Important to note again and again, – even though Pacific Tower is solid concrete so that flames seem unlikely - smoke can kill you. Smoke is the reason all laundry room and hallway fire doors must be kept closed, so that if there is a fire, the smoke won’t travel through the building.

Cleanest Pipes in Town

The HOA would like to thank everyone for their wonderful cooperation in tackling the task of entering their units for Hydro Jetting the sink drain lines. People who were at work, out of the state, or had a dog all contacted us and helped make special arrangements.

Safe Storage

The Lobby Office now has an actual safe for storage of your keys, if you would like the Office to keep one for you in case of an emergency. It also stores remote codes in the safe for those who have keypads.

Bye Bye Bye

Someone is always moving in or out at Pac Tower and we’re sad to see anyone go (usually).  Typically moving takes place during working hours at the end of the month.  The itinerant person reserves the elevator to load up their worldly possessions and has a professional mover come to take them away.  We LIKE that person and are sorry to see them go.

However, that is not always the case.

WORST CASE SCENERIO: A person moves out without telling the Lobby Office in advance.  They don’t reserve the elevator.  They move out on a weekend (not allowed).They move out at night (not allowed).They move out DO-IT-YOURSELF style.  Allowed, but not always appreciated and below explains why!
Since it’s too late to call Goodwill, they jam their lava lamp, antique hope chest, rocking and wooden spinning wheel down our preciously small trash chute (which is for FOOD trash).  This sets off an ear-splitting cacophony and ultimately creates a Mt. Everest pile of junk in our dumpster that will quickly and easily block the entire trash chute – sometimes going all the way to the 12th floor.  And on a weekend when there is no staff here to fix it!
Next, they use our gorgeous, brand new shopping carts to schlep their last incidentals to their car which is parked way down on Wilbur and Bayard.  Then they leave the cart on the curb for it to be adopted by its next owner, not Pac Tower.
So, owners or renters or owners who rent to people, please, we beg of you, please hear our cry when you kiss us good-bye.

Karyl Miller, Building Manager

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Don’t you just hate it when you’ve given yourself permission to take a little well-deserved nap in the middle of the day (even though you hadn’t done anything all that tiring) and you’re 30 seconds into that deep, luscious daytime dreamland when the screeching fire alarm starts ceaselessly jack-hammering in one of your ears and out the other?

On April 15, I was just about to take a little Saturday snooze, when HONK, HONK!  HONK!  Since we had had our annual Fire Alarm testing just the day before, I assumed it was a false alarm.  Nevertheless, I scrambled downstairs to head off the Fire Department (who come automatically).
In the lobby I read the Fire Alarm Panel, (which I had just been taught how to read) assuming it would say “low battery” or something, but NO, it said the dreaded words “Boiler Room.”  Then I instantly remembered our shower was not that hot that AM.  OMG, I thought, “Did 2 and 2 make fire?”

Heart pounding, I grabbed my keys and ran toward the Boiler Room, smelling burning metal.  Hearing a roar and feeling the heat, I threw open the doors and saw actual flames coming out of the boiler.  I could already hear the fire trucks approaching, but in my panic, I called 911 anyway.  No law against making sure, just in case that siren I heard wasn’t headed elsewhere.  My next panic call was to John McLean, our former trusty Building Manager who is my constant mentor and moral support.  Like ex-presidents, only John knows the tremendous responsibility of running this building and he remains a loyal friend to Pac Tower.

While everyone milled about on the sidewalk, the Fire Department examined the building from head to toe, making sure we were out of danger.  An energetic female fire fighter didn’t hesitate to scale 12 flights of stairs (two stairs at a time, no less). It made me feel proud and old at the same time.
The plumbers came quickly, accessed the damage and by evening, had disassembled and hauled off chunks of the charred metal thing affectionately known as “our boiler.”  It served us many years but now it was time for new.

So now the heat was on to get a new boiler (because cold showers are considered a torture by the Geneva Convention).  We needed a new boiler STAT!  No surprise, you can’t get a giant, room-sized industrial-strength boiler at Home Depot.  No!  It’s a SPECIALTY!  It has to be ORDERED and ASSEMBLED and TRUCKED to San Diego from the exotic location of OXNARD!  A FORKLIFT is going to be involved!  AFTER that, the entire operation is going to have to be piped and connected and heated up.  

As we patiently waited for the undertaking to be over, all of us became more and more demoralized and disgusted with ourselves, as we smelled more and more like Mount Everest hikers.  Finally the day came when we could all enjoy (although separately!) the luxury of a soothing hot shower.  It was a good thing!  Yes the showers were imperfect, but a part was ordered and tweaking will have taken place by the time you read this – so SHOWER ON!
Karyl Miller,  Building Manager

It’s Getting Hot in Here! AGAIN?

Just as we were putting this newsletter to sleep Tuesday May 9 at 6:30 PM, Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  - Our fire alarm went off – AGAIN!  Our wonderful fire fighters from Engine 21 put it out  - a very small dumpster fire in no time.  Did someone toss out a still-lit cigarette in there?  So please remember this if you’re throwing things down the chute:
1.     Make sure your trash is NOT on fire.
2.     NEVER leave your laundry room door open. Propping open or hooking your laundry room door open creates a genuine fire danger.  Staff will shut every laundry room door every day but we need you to do it too whenever your neighbor ignores this rule.  Thank you.

Five New Shopping Carts

               Guess what?  We got FIVE beautiful, brand new shopping carts!  They say “Pacific Tower” on their bright red sides, and “Return to Lower Lobby” on their handles (because that’s what we want you to do).  We want to keep most of the unused carts down there (and not all over the neighborhood).  These carts are for taking our groceries from our cars to our units, NOT for contractors to fill with debris or to use as mini moving vans when you move out. ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Dear Homeowners,
You are the Board’s eyes and ears.  We don’t notice everything in the building that you notice.  
So if you see something, say something.

Typical comments given to board members on the elevator
“The blue and green doors aren’t masculine enough.”
(Join the Interior Design Committee, have your opinions count.)
“My neighbor is making loud orgasms.”
(Tell them the honeymoon is over.  File a Noise Violation.)
“My neighbor yodeled in 1997.  The Board did NOTHING!”
(Problem must be current.)



“Can I throw a small pizza box in the chute?”  NO!  “Is construction  allowed on a Saturday?”  Yes.

“We should build a Jacuzzi by the pool.”  “Catwalk units should have picture windows.”  “There should be Wi-Fi in the gym.”   (We’ve got Wi-Fi!  See rec room refrig for channel and password.)


“Somebody is smoking cigars somewhere!” (Details, please!)


There’s graffiti on the alley doors.  (Take a photo, send to us.)

A good way to send the Board a message is to:
A.    Scream at them as they’re getting in their car (least effective)
B.    Tell Marvin in the OnSite Office (He LOGS every complaint)
C.   Leave a note in the OnSite Office (Sign it, add your #)
D.   Email
                        E.    Bring it up at a Board Meeting (No need to stay for the entire meeting)
F.    Drop a line in the PacificTowerHOA.ORG website Suggestion Box           

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It Makes Census to Us!

Are you now or have you ever lived in Pacific Tower? If you live here now then we need to know how to reach you in case there’s an emergency. If you rent your place out, we need to know who lives there and how we can reach them.

A few years back we started a fresh collection of this data and we have to admit we had to twist a few arms to squeeze the info out of some naughty owners. We even had to issue $250 fines to a few owners for not turning in the info in a timely matter. We did it before and we will do it again.

REST ASSURED: NONE OF YOUR INFO IS PUBLIC AND IT NEVER WILL BE. That said, there is now a new California State Law stating that an HOA MUST take a census and we have a couple of months to complete this task.

What do we want to know? Your name, phone number, email, names of renters, their phone numbers and emails etc. If you have an agent for your rental we need to know who they are and how to reach them.

There are other things we’d like to know that will be asked in the new Census Form (which we are creating now). For instance: Do you have an animal? (Yes, we know there’s a separate form for animals. See below). If you filled out a census form a few years back, we STILL need you to fill out the new form. We promise the new form will have more space for you to fill in your details so if you like to write bigly, that’s fine!

Doggone It!

Several years ago Pacific Tower HOA drew up new rules for those of you who have an animal. When you moved in or got a new dog, cat or bird, you were supposed to have been given a two-page list of animal rules and also a one-page form to fill out about your animal. A photo of Fido was also required. You were also supposed to give the HOA a $250 dollar deposit for that animal (in case that animal wrecks the common area carpet, floors, walkways or plantings). $125 of that deposit is refundable when you move out. Because of employee absences and turnover in our OnSite Office, a few bow-wows and meows slipped through the cracks. Please drop by the office and register your animal. If an Office employee asks you if you have filled out a form, please don’t be offended, that person is just doing their job.

Attention All Bikers

Got a bike in the basement? If you do, you may have noticed we are overrun with bikes! Did you buy a bike as a New Year’s resolution with all good intentions of getting in shape and then decided it was easier just to buy bigger pants?

You’re the person we are looking for. Soon we will be sending out a notice asking everyone with a bike to identify their bike. They will be given 60 days to do so, after which time unidentified bikes will be donated to charity. Hopefully that will free up lots of space for people to get their bikes in and out of the designated bike areas and for people now keeping their bikes in their units, to park them downstairs.