Community. It's not just where you live, it's how you interact. Here at High Desert, we believe communication is the number one way to build our community: communication between neighbors, among homeowners and with management.
This website is designed to keep every High Desert resident informed and up-to-date on the vital issues that affect us as homeowners. Here, you'll find quick access to our governing documents, policies and procedures, calendars of upcoming community meetings, copies of our latest newsletter, home improvement information, links to Village news and the e-mail addresses of your officers and directors.
We hope this information will provide High Desert homeowners with what they need to know...and when they need to know it.
For the latest news, scroll down. For more information on High Desert, see the Notices and Reminders page.
The positions of 22 Voting Members serving 10 High Desert Villages are up for election in September. Letters were sent to the homeowners in each of the Villages in late July but did not generate a sufficient number of candidates to fill the available slots. Here are the Villages conducting 2015 elections and the number of Voting Members authorized for each:
Aerie – 2 Voting Members Authorized
Canyons – 2 Voting Members Authorized
Chaco Ridge – 2 Voting Members Authorized
Desert Highlands – 2 Voting Members Authorized
Desert Mountain – 4 Voting Members Authorized
Highlands – 3 Voting Members Authorized
Mountain Highlands – 2 Voting Members Authorized
Trailhead – 1 Voting Member Authorized
Trillium – 3 Voting Members Authorized
West Highlands – 1 Voting Member Authorized
“It is vital that we fill every one of these positions to ensure full and equal representation for all the households in our community,” said Christopher Lopez, High Desert Community Manager, “and also because our By-laws set minimum quorum and voting participation requirements for certain actions to be taken, and those can be difficult to meet if we have large portions of our community unrepresented.”
If you live in one of the Villages listed above and have not already done so, please volunteer to serve as a Voting Member now! All you need to do to get your name on the ballot is submit a Voting Member Statement of Interest using one of the formats below:
|Click here to view the Blank Adobe PDF Statement of Interest for Voting Members.
Click here to fill out the Online Submission version of the Statement of Interest Form.
Click here to use the Fillable Adobe PDF version of this form
Please don’t delay; do it today!
The metal grate bars have been repeatedly cut, twisted and pried apart to enable intruders to access the tunnel. Once inside, they have painted graffiti and built campfires a full half mile from the entrance.
G4S, High Desert’s security patrol service, saw several trespassers who appeared to be adolescents running east from the tunnel area late Thursday night, August 6. Officers said there were no parked cars on streets in the vicinity, indicating the trespassers may live nearby, possibly in adjacent Desert Highlands or Mountain Highlands villages.
“This is an extremely dangerous situation,” Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager with HOAMCO, said. “The tunnel is made inaccessible for a reason. Anyone playing around inside that tunnel would likely be killed quickly in the event of a flash flood.” After this most recent incident, Christopher met with APD to arrange for surveillance of the area.
G4S will be paying extra attention to the area around the grate during nighttime hours this summer, Christopher said. In addition, the High Desert Board of Directors acted to allocate funds for extra patrols by Albuquerque Police Department through its Chief’s Overtime program.
Tom Murdock, President of the High Desert Board of Directors said it appears highly probable that the vandalism has been caused by teens living in the community. “We will find out who is doing this,” he said. “And when we do, we will present their parents with the bill for repairing the damage caused by their children.”
Contractors hired by the association worked Friday, August 7 (see photo) to repair the latest damage to the grate caused by intruders using a heavy car jack to pry the three-quarter-inch metal bars apart in order to gain access. Christopher said DeWalt tool batteries were found inside that probably operated cordless grinders used to cut some of the bars.
“When we catch the people who have done this, we will bring charges,” Christopher said. “We will prosecute this matter to the fullest extent of the law.”
Vandalism to the mouth of the tunnel was discovered by a High Desert resident walking near the tunnel in May. The homeowner contacted HOAMCO and Christopher inspected the grate. He discovered bent bars and graffiti painted on the walls inside the tunnel. “We called the City’s graffiti removal team but they said the tunnel maintenance and repair is definitely our responsibility,” he said.
Before the grate was repaired for the second time last month, Christopher and AMAFCA officials walked a half mile down into the tunnel using safety equipment, lights and ropes to make sure no intruders were trapped inside.
High Desert is responsible for repair and maintenance of the grate at the entrance to an eight-foot diameter tunnel that extends underground several miles. Surface water runoff from the Sandias pours through the grate which was installed to collect any large debris and to keep intruders from entering the tunnel. Once in the underground tunnel, the water is fed into a network of arroyos and tunnels that eventually empty into the Rio Grande.
The tunnel is part of an engineered system overseen by the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority (AMAFCA). When High Desert was originally developed, the community accepted some obligation for repair and maintenance of the arroyos, including the tunnel grate, in return for being allowed to maintain the arroyos within the development in their natural condition.
Photo: A construction worker climbs the tunnel grate to make repairs after the latest act of vandalism which included cutting and bending the metal bars in the lower left hand corner. The metal grate serves to keep intruders out of the underground tunnel and to stop debris in surface runoff from clogging the tunnel. High Desert is responsible for maintaining the grate.
It was a lively quarterly meeting Thursday night, July 23 as Voting Members discussed a possible change to the High Desert CC&Rs that would restrict rentals in the community. The proposed change states that house rentals less than 6 months are prohibited (except under special request to the Board of Directors such as rentals for filming movies), that any owners renting their property would be required to notify the property management company and to provide contact information, and that renters must be notified of the requirement that they abide by the CC&Rs. The proposed change to the Use Restrictions requires the consent of Voting Members representing 75 percent, or about 1200 High Desert homeowners. Each village in High Desert elects a certain number of Voting Members to represent their interests, averaging one or two Voting Members per village.
Presently, about 25 homes in High Desert are under rental contracts, Tom Murdock, President of the Board of Directors, told Voting Members. "But we can't be sure," he added. "We just don't know." He said one house in High Desert is being rented regularly through an on-line rental website while the owner lives out-of-state. The proposed change would limit such transactions in the future.
While many High Desert homeowners supported the change limiting short-term rentals, others were concerned that new rules would either not be enforceable or might inspire legal action against the community. Some Voting Members said they needed more time for discussion among themselves and their neighbors.
"We will keep counting the ballots and keep you apprised of the situation," Tom told Voting Members as the discussion ended.
New Parking Rules for The Trillium
Voting Members were notified of new rules going into effect shortly for Trillium Village. Trillium Voting Members and Board Member Dr. James Cole have worked over the last three months to set up new guidelines for parking in the gated village. Previously, Trillium had already prohibited parking on the street. The new policy allows temporary parking of a vehicle if a parking permit is obtained through the property management company (HOAMCO) for up to seven days. The parking permit must be displayed in the windshield. The new policy also prohibits parking of recreational vehicles, boats and trailers, except for loading or unloading for more than 48 hours unless the permit is obtained.
Caroline Enos Elected as New Chairperson
Voting Members unanimously elected Caroline Enos of The Trillium as their Chairperson. This is the second time she has been elected, having served in this post several years ago. Caroline (right) is shown in the photo with her predecessor Kari Stevenson (left).
National Night Out is August 4th
Voting Members were reminded that National Night Out is on Tuesday evening, August 4th. Neighborhood Watch groups who are planning block parties or cook-outs can contact the Board of Directors for financial assistance of a "reasonable amount." In the past, Neighborhood Watch groups holding special events on National Night Out have received amounts in the $100 range.
Dozens of High Desert volunteers were honored Friday night, June 5 at a party in the Highlands. The event was organized by the High Desert Board of Directors for the Association and held at the home of John and Maddie Shelton. Hors d'oeuvres and wine were served and volunteers from a variety of High Desert committees and projects gathered on the patio to talk, eat and watch a beautiful sunset over the Sandias.
Photo below, first, far left: Ray and Thea Berg. Ray is a former president of HDROA and currently heads up the Park, Trail and Highway Clean-up projects and also oversees the Landscape Advisory Committee. Thea participates in the clean-up projects, is active on the Welcome Committee and organizes the Studio Tour in High Desert each year.
Photo: second: John and Maddie Shelton hosted the event and also serve as co-chairs of the Welcome Committee. They host two wine and cheese parties in their home each year to welcome new residents to High Desert.
Photo: third: Con and Marcy Stahly, Trailhead, sit with Joann Francomano (far right), Desert Mountain. Marcy is a volunteer on the Landscape Advisory Committee. She joined four years ago to help with the landscape survey. Joann displays her art each year for the Studio Tour.
Photo, last Mary and Mike Robb, The Highlands. Mike is a member of the Modifications Committee. He and Mary moved to High Desert in 1998.
The new responsive design won't change how the High Desert website appears on a normal width desktop screen-- but on a smartphone, pages should scale properly and allow for easier and more intuitive navigation. Tapping the 'menu' button at the top right will drop down the High Desert website's normal menu items. Simply make a selection and go on to the next section. Each page of this website will have a 'home' button in the menu as well, making it easy to return to the main page.
The High Desert website content is maintained by HDROA which contracts with NORD Enterprises, a professional services firm that specializes in homeowner association websites.
High Desert homeowners considering replacing their roofs now have a simplified, abbreviated summary of HDROA's roofing color requirements, approved earlier this spring by the Board of Directors. The new one-page summary is suitable for sharing with roofing contractors as decisions on color and materials are made. The summary can be viewed by clicking here.
To read the full amendment to the Guidelines for Sustainability that this summary is based on, please click here.
The Modifications Committee is seeing an increase in requests for roof replacement as many High Desert homes pass the 15-year mark. Owners putting on a new roof are reminded that any High Desert roof replacement is an external change to the dwelling and therefore requires prior approval of the Modification Committee. The Modifications Committee has a “fast-track” process to approve roof replacements with specifications identical to the original approved roof. Proposals to change the roof materials will require full review of the Committee, which meets every month. See the Modification Committee page for more information on submitting a modification request to the Committee.
Christopher Lopez Named
New High Desert Community Manager
HOAMCO, High Desert’s association management company, has selected Christopher Lopez as the new Community Association Manager for High Desert effective immediately. Christopher has been acting as Interim Manager since February, following the departure of previous manager Sarah Hoey, who moved to Seattle.
Christopher is a native of Albuquerque and attended St. Pius High School. He graduated from Regis University in Denver with a BS degree in business management while obtaining a minor in business law. After college, he became a licensed contractor and real estate agent. He specialized in land development, working for Centex as a field manager. After Centex was bought by Pulte homes, Christopher left to open his own insurance agency, becoming an agent for Farmers Insurance.
In 2011, Christopher began his career as portfolio manager for 12 homeowner and condominium associations in the metro area, joining HOAMCO this year. “Being a community manager brings all my experiences in construction, insurance, land development and business together,” he said.
As Community Association Manager for High Desert, Christopher’s goal is to have more people participating in High Desert activities and government and to increase transparency of management. He said he is very pleased to have been named as new permanent manager of High Desert. “I’ve met some really good people in this community,” he said, “and I am very much looking forward to establishing more connections with homeowners here.”
Christopher is engaged to his fiancée Ashley and he has two daughters, ages 7 and 9.
Christopher can be contacted through the High Desert manager email address at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the High Desert office at 505-314-5862.
High Desert Park was full of families and music Friday afternoon, May 22. More than 150 people attended an "End of School" concert organized by High Desert homeowners Emily and Nathan Tarver, parents of a Georgia O'Keeffe student. Parents and students from the school, as well as High Desert residents were invited to the park to hear students and teachers from the Rock 101 music school perform. A trolley ferried families to and from the school throughout the event.
"We've never done this before so we didn't know what to expect," said Emily Tarver. "But this is a great turnout and I think everyone is pretty pleased."
The first hour of the concert featured students from the Rock 101 music school. The second hour highlighted the band instructors, including Kevin Herrig, head of the school. Some families brought picnic suppers, others purchased shaved ice from a commercial truck in the parking lot. There was face-painting for the younger children and the park's play area was filled with kids.
It was a full house at Maddy and John Shelton's home in The Highlands Friday night, April 17, as the High Desert Welcome Committee held its semi-annual Wine & Cheese Party for newcomers. Twice a year, the Welcome Committee, under the leadership of the Sheltons, welcomes new homeowners to the community with an evening of wine, cheese and conversation, along with a short talk by the president of the Board of Directors. Tom Murdock, current president, explained how the governing of High Desert is structured. He also encouraged the newcomers to consider volunteering for one of the many different committees now operating in High Desert and to participate in activities and projects throughout the year.
Photo far left: Lisa Staber, MD, (left) is a family practice physician who moved to her new home in The Trillium from St. Paul, Minn. Betty Cesarano (right) moved to her new home in The Aerie after relocating from Santa Fe where she is the Executive Director of Marketing for the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. She said that although she now must commute daily to Santa Fe, the rewards of living in High Desert more than compensate. Both women said the proximity of the mountains drew them to the community.
Center photo: Marcus Craig (left) is a long-time resident of Albuquerque who moved into his new home in Solterra late last year. He's a mountain biker who doesn't need to travel far now to enjoy his hobby. With him at the party was Sandia Heights resident Anna Schauer (right).
Photo far right: Evelyn Lockhart, MD, (left) and Zack Wheeler (right) are former residents of Durham, NC. They relocated to Albuquerque in 2014. Evelyn is Associate Medical Director at the UNM Hospital Transfusion Service and Zack is a web applications developer. They looked at more than 50 houses for sale in the city before settling on a home in Solterra in High Desert. "It was easy after we came up here," Zack said. "We knew immediately that this was where we wanted to live."
To view the entire Enforcement Policy, please click here.
High Desert residents should note that sprinkler irrigation is significantly limited in High Desert. The specific regulations for Estate & Premier homes and for Builder homes are outlined below. Click on the links to see the pages in full.
The Estate & Premier Guidelines ( pp. 42-43):
- Spray irrigated Private Areas shall be no more than 20% of the lot, exclusive of the house, in accordance with City of Albuquerque ordinance. This is exclusive of spray irrigation for native vegetation, which may be irrigated for germination. Spray irrigation outside the Private Areas may not be used to create a "green turf-like" appearance. (According to the ABCWUA Conservation Officer no ordinance limits spray irrigation to 20%.) However, they consider “any” turf that is spray irrigated to be “high water use.” So, the 20% limitation on high water use turf and plants covers this.
- Spray irrigation systems for native grass areas outside Private Areas may only be used for germination and very limited periodic use during drought periods. Over watering and use of spray irrigation outside Private Areas on native grasses may not be used to create a "green turf like" appearance.
The Builder Guidelines: (pp. 33-34):
- Spray irrigated Private Areas shall be no more than 20% of the lot, exclusive of the house, in accordance with City of Albuquerque ordinance. This is exclusive of spray irrigation for native vegetation, which may be irrigated for germination. Spray irrigation outside the Private Areas may not be used to create a "green turf-like" appearance.
- Spray irrigation systems for native grass areas outside Private Areas may only be used for germination and very limited periodic use during drought periods.
- Over watering and use of spray irrigation outside Private Areas on native grasses may not be used to create a "green turf like" appearance.
For more information on the City's restrictions, see the Water Utility Authority website page.
By Clay Wright, HDROA Board of Directors
The 2014 survey of High Desert residents is complete. 340 people participated. The survey asked 21 questions specific to life in the High Desert community.
The entire survey, including comments is available as a pdf. Click here to download. All personal information and inflammatory comments have been delete from this version.
The High Desert Board is carefully reviewing responses. The information will be used to make adjustments to its governance of the community in 2015.
While there were numerous comments made for each question, some general trends emerged.
Landscaping is an important issue among those taking the survey. Several comments questioned specific landscaping practices and future plans. Those very issues are presently being reviewed by a professional landscape architect contracted to develop a long-term landscape master plan for High Desert. Members of the Board, The High Desert Landscape Committee and some residents are participating in the plan's development.
An issue repeatedly addressed was speeding. In response to the survey, High Desert has asked the APD officers it hires under the Chief's Overtime Program to specifically watch out for speeders and those who don't stop at stop signs - be they motorists or bicyclists.
Another recurring item mentioned on the survey is dog waste. According to Communications Committee member Jay Hartfield, "This summer we co-marketed the 'There is No Poop Fairy' campaign with Bernalillo County. (http://www.bernco.gov/poopfairy) The idea is to humorously educate people about this serious problem." Board Vice President David Bentley says, "we have tried several different approaches, yet the problem persists. Quite frankly this perplexes the board. We spend thousands of dollars every year for waste stations yet some people still won't use them. It's a nasty problem."
Covenant enforcement drew many comments. On the issue HDROA Board President Tom Murcdock says “While the survey shows that a clear majority of our homeowners want the covenants to be enforced, we must continue to strive to find the right balance between too much and too little enforcement.”
The survey opened on September 1, 2014 and closed November 24, 2014. The survey was advertised in the Apache Plume, on this High Desert website, at the top of the quarterly billing in September, and at Voting Member meetings.
Request Security Patrol Watch of Your Home While You Are Away
Homeowners leaving on vacation can now fill out a new form requesting that G4S security patrol keep an eye on their home while they are away. In the past, residents were asked to call G4S directly (which can still be done). The form can be scanned and faxed to the HOAMCO office.
High Desert homeowners can ask for regular checks of their vacant home, walk-arounds, even removal and disposal of unwanted newspapers and ad materials left at your door. In addition, G4S officers can pick up and store any deliveries left outside (if under 35 pounds) your door.
The new form will be posted permanently on the Official Forms page, under Vacation Watch Forms. Click here to download form. To view an online submission form, click here.
Photo by Steve Hamm
In the February Apache Plume newsletter, columnist and homeowner Margo Murdock wrote about diagnosing problems in your garden. She provided a number of examples and directed readers to go the website to read more.
Click here to see Margo's Apache Plume article: "Diagnosing Your Landscape Gardening Problems."
For examples of those problems see her article: "Problem Diagnosis: Examples."
To see other articles by Margo, visit the Plants and Gardening page.
The Association has a new way to communicate regularly with homeowners through emails. Residents can sign up on the secure site (and unsubscribe at any time) to receive important Association news and updates.
The Board of Directors chose a free version of the online "MailChimp" service as the provider for the new email list so there is no added cost to the Association. Signing up is a secure, two-step process. Homeowners simply click the link below and are taken to the MailChimp site and asked to type in their email address and full name and select their Village. Once they click to subscribe to the list, they will receive a link in their regular email that confirms their subscription and told to "click to subscribe."
To subscribe to the HDROA email service, click here. A permanent link to the information is also provided in the menu list to the left of the homepage.
Homeowners who have already provided their email address to the Association have been automatically included in the email list. Subscribers can update their information online at any time. No passwords or usernames are required. (Note: any name or address changes made to the email subscription service will only affect the mail list and will not update your permanent information in the official Association ownership records. Owners should contact HOAMCO to update those records.)
The Board of Directors emphasized that the email list will never be shared with any commercial organization or used for any commercial purpose or any non-Association business. Owners may update their preferences or unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the links at the bottom of any email.
Do you have any terrific pictures of wildlife in High Desert that you'd like to share? Submit your photos (in jpeg form) to email@example.com and we'll post them on our Wildlife in High Desert page.
This photo of a juvenile Cooper's Hawk was taken in High Desert earlier this year by Lawrence Benson. It was perched on a fence post along High Desert Street north of the Emory trailhead parking lot.
Notices & Reminders
To see "Notices and Reminders" for High Desert, click here.