Twilight in High Desert
The following letter was mailed to all High Desert homeowners the week of August 21, 2017 regarding a new policy adopted by the High Desert Board of Directors:
21 August 2017
Dear High Desert Homeowner:
Your Board of Directors wants to make you aware of a very important change in the way our management company (HOAMCO) will handle communications, particularly telephone calls, with you.
The Board of Directors has been made aware of the fact that some homeowners who call the HOAMCO office resort to vulgar, abusive, and entirely inappropriate language when communicating with staff. At least one compliance officer has resigned, citing the continual verbal abuse as the primary reason.
Your Board of Directors deems the practice unacceptable. To address this issue, a Policy Regarding Inappropriate Behavior was adopted at the August 2017 Board meeting. A copy of the new Policy is attached to this letter.
Effective immediately, all HOAMCO telephone calls will be recorded. The Board of Directors will not condone abusive behavior from anyone in High Desert directed towards anyone for any reason. You should be aware and understand that any conversation you have with HOAMCO is being recorded. Should the call become abusive, the HOAMCO employee has been directed to end the call, and forward the recording and a call report to the Board of Directors for review and possible sanctions. The Board regrets the need to initiate this policy. It is being done of necessity to maintain civility within our community.
For the High Desert Board of Directors
Enclosure: Policy Regarding Inappropriate Behavior
“Interested homeowners will need to fill out a Statement of Interest (SOI) form included in the package we mailed out to all homeowners in the ten villages undergoing elections,” he said. No new volunteers have submitted an SOI as of Monday, September 18.
The statement of Interest forms are also available here. For information about the duties of Voting Members, see the Policies page and scroll down to "Voting Member Information" and click the pdf.
Wilderness Cañon developers presented an update on the subdivision Wednesday night, September 13, saying the work was progressing well and a model house is under construction.
The brief meeting was scheduled at the James Dwyer APD substation to inform all High Desert homeowners, but particularly adjacent neighbors, of the progress of the new village which is located off High Desert Place. About six households were represented at the meeting which was also attended by High Desert Board members and HOAMCO.
Scott Patrick Schaibor, President of Scott Patrick Homes, and Trace Salley, Financial Controller with Scott Patrick Homes, were on hand to speak to the group.
Scott said the project is going well. Most city inspections have been completed with just a handful remaining for some upcoming concrete and drainage work. The model home framing is underway now with the house set for completion in four to five months. “The model home is 2,845 square feet, four bedrooms, two and a half baths and will sell for $775,000 to $800,000,” he said. The subdivision, with 19 various sized lots, could include houses up to 3,500 square feet priced at up to $900,000. Other houses on smaller lots might be built at 2,200 square feet and sell for $600,000, he said.
Presently, there is a contract for a home on Lot 18, Scott said. It will be built as a single-story house although the lot allows a two-story structure. Altogether, two contracts have been signed with three others “in serious discussion” and another five to six possibilities for development, Scott said.
Homeowners asked how long the subdivision would take to be “built out,” and Scott suggested about three years, depending, of course, on sales. Landscaping questions also were presented and Scott told homeowners the plantings would be “blended” with the community in a similar way as other villages. The developers have worked with the High Desert Landscape Advisory Committee and the New Construction Committee, Tom Murdock, Board President said.
Concerns about construction trucks parking on adjacent streets were presented by homeowners. Scott replied that “we are working with them and we want to be good neighbors. We are aware of your concerns and are talking to all of our suppliers and contractors to park in designated areas.”
Photo (Left to right): Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager; Kerry-Lynn Goto, Great Boards; Camille Singarajum, Sunset Ridge homeowner.
The scheduled review of all High Desert assets was completed earlier this month, reported Christopher Lopez , Community Association Manager for High Desert.
“It went very, very well,” he said. “Homeowner volunteers worked with HOAMCO and our reserve advisory company Great Boards representative Kerry-Lynn Goto. During those two days, we walked through every single village and identified all the assets owned by the association.” The group observed any needed repairs to stucco, gates, sidewalks, lighting, walls, signs, landscaping and streets. “I now have a pretty good ‘to-do’ list I’ll be working through for the next several months,” Chris said. He noted that Kerry-Lynn was impressed the list was not even longer considering the size of the community.
The review of assets is required by the High Desert governing documents to ascertain the amount of money allocated for its reserve funds. The reserve funds are used to maintain High Desert common assets with spending projected out over future months. The ‘to-do’ list will be itemized with estimated costs and reserve spending amounts adjusted as needed, Christopher said.
The two-day village-by-village review took place September 6 and 7. A number of volunteer homeowners signed up to help with identification of assets in their community. Christopher singled out one volunteer, Camille Singaraju, Sunset Ridge and a Landscape Advisory Committee member, as particularly helpful.
Voting Members Learn About New Spain Entrance Project at Quarterly Meeting
Margo told Voting Members that the area now lacks layering of plants (trees over shrubs over perennials) has missing and dead plants, has boulders not buried well, lacks color by season, little water capture and several bare spots. The new design by the design firm of Dekker/ Perich/Sabatini replaces the grass area with plants, adds terracing boulders for soil and water runoff, adds a stone bench below the cottonwood trees, and adds native grasses and low shrubs and perennials as ground cover. The project will also rework the drip irrigation, create layering and provide a good mix of plants and color across the seasons. The upgrading of the Spain Entrance was identified as a major area of concern during the 2015 Master Plan study. Reviewers considered the entrance unattractive and in urgent need of revision. Work will begin on the Spain Entrance project in early August and should be completed within four to six weeks. The project should not interfere with traffic but if any interruptions develop, homeowners will be notified.
To see the architect design for the project, click on the photo at left or click here to download the pdf.
New Voting Member Training
The July meeting was proceeded by an hour of New Voting Member Training conducted by VM Chair Caroline Enos. Several new Voting Members attended the session which included a presentation about the governing process in High Desert, committees and contact information.
Board of Directors Update
Tom Murdock, President of the High Desert Board of Directors, spoke to Voting Members about a recent water leak along Imperata Street. The leak was identified by Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager, through increased water bills. High Desert’s landscape contractor Heads Up had crews dig until the leak was found and repaired.
Longtime Voting Member Martin Silver from Chaco Compound (currently an Alternate Member) was recognized for his service to High Desert by Tom. Martin is leaving New Mexico to move to Florida. “Martin has been a Voting Member since Year One,” Tom told Voting Members. “He is one of the original group of homeowners that met in the portable building owned by High Desert Investment Corporation.”
Tom said the association will begin receiving assessments from Mesa Verde, Wilderness Cañon developers, in August at $61 per month per unit. Wilderness Cañon is the newest and last village to be developed in High Desert. He said Mesa Verde will also deposit $2,500 as “seed money” into a new reserve account for the village.
Tom presented a history of Wilderness Cañon beginning in 2005 when Track 13 was sold to Mesa Verde. The initial proposal by the development company included 26 houses which was pared down to 19 by the association. The New Construction Committee approved the project in 2013 and Supplemental Guidelines for the village were written. Construction began in March of 2016. A number of nearby residents have objected to the development, he said, resulting in hundreds of emails to the Board and $3,000 in legal fees to date. Because of threatened litigation, the Board recently decided to have its attorney, Lynn Krupnik, handle all future concerns about Wilderness Cañon. Tom said any future inquiries about the project should be directed in writing to Lynn for review and response.
Party in the Park
Last year, homeowner volunteers led by Peter Strascina, held a community-wide event in the High Desert Park with music, games and food trucks. Tom said a homeowner is needed to coordinate this summer’s event and funds are available. Interested persons should contact HOAMCO at email@example.com.
Dr. Jim Cole, II, Board Treasurer, presented Voting Members with the Financial Report for the recently ended fiscal year. Voting Members had already received by email the financial statements and Dr. Cole reviewed the numbers and answered questions. He ended by saying “High Desert is well positioned to meet its financial obligations as we head into the next fiscal year.”
It was standing room only in the living area and outside patio of Amy and Bill Stein's Wilderness Estates home Saturday evening, Sept. 9, as newcomers gathered to be welcomed by the High Desert Welcome Committee. Three dozen new homeowners, Board members and Welcome Committee members were on hand for the twice-yearly Wine and Cheese party hosted by the Welcome Committee. (Photo above is Bill and Amy Stein with their children, Quint, 12, and Ava, 10.) The Steins are the new co-chairs of the Committee with Amy and Tom Hudak. A wide variety of wines, cheeses, fruit and crackers were on offer as oldtimers met newcomers to the community. Tom Murdock, President of the Board of Directors, spoke to the crowd, explaining the governing of High Desert and encouraging newcomers to volunteer in the community.
Marsha and Carl Johansen (photo, left) are two of the newest members of High Desert. They recently purchased a house in West Highlands where Carl has a home recording studio. Carl worked in the oil and gas industry in Texas but now that he is retired, he will continue to pursue his longtime passion as a musician, playing the guitar and singing. He has released several CDs of his music. Marsha is a writer and poet.
Other newcomers to High Desert include Lucy and Scott Sinkluar (photo, far right) who moved to Desert Mountain in late June from Carlisle, Pennsylvania where Scott attended the U.S. Army War College. Scott works on Kirtland Air Force Base in the area of Defense Threat Reduction and Lucy is an attorney with Attkinson and Kelsey law firm in Uptown. The Sinkluars lived here in Albuquerque 20 years ago and say they are very happy to be able to call the city their home again. "We chose High Desert because of its proximity to Open Space and the protection of the association's CC&Rs," Lucy said.
Vickie and Ed Poon, (photo left, bottom) new residents of Mountain Highlands, were on hand at the party along with their two daughters, Dana and Jenna. Vickie is in the regional research department of Bayer and Ed is a physicist. Other newcomers included Michelle Davis who arrived at the party with the youngest newcomer, 7-month-old Lydia. Michelle's husband Matthew is a firefighter and Michelle works out of their home in the area of finance for the Air Force Research Lab. Matthew's mother is also a resident of High Desert.
Welcome Committee members also include Joan Newsom, Thea Berg, Nancy Lindas and Beverly Ride.
For Input on New Zoning Ordinance
The City Council’s Land Use, Planning and Zoning Committee is holding three public hearings during August and September on the new zoning ordinance known as the Integrated Development Ordinance. The meeting’s purpose is to present an overview and take public comment. The first meeting was held August 16. A second hearing will be held Aug. 30, at 5 p.m. in the 9th floor Committee Room. A third meeting will be held on September 14, at 5 p.m., at City Hall in the Vincent E. Griego Chambers.
High Desert homeowners met with city officials at a special meeting May 24 to hear about the new plan and any impact it may have on the community. (For details on that meeting, see the story on the Community News page.) The Board recently hired a real estate attorney, Tim Flynn O’Brien, to represent High Desert’s interests as the city moves forward to update its zoning. There have been some questions about two tracts within High Desert and the zoning of Open Space adjacent to High Desert. The zoning approval process will take place in two phases over the next year.
“This is a very complicated issue,” said Tom Murdock, President of the Board. “We definitely need Tim to represent us.”
Click here to go to an updated zoning map comparing existing and proposed zoning districts.
For information about the project, go to the city's ABC-Z website.
With mail theft an ongoing concern for Albuquerque citizens, the U.S. Postal Service is now offering an online service that sends you an e-mail with a scanned graphic of what to expect to find in your mailbox each day. You can learn more and sign up for a free, confidential account on a secure USPS server at: https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action
Photo above by John Ledwith, Overlook Voting Member.
It was National Night Out throughout the United States August 2 and several villages in High Desert joined in the organization's annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safe.
APD Officer Lorenzo Garcia visited the Overlook Village (see photo above) to meet homeowners. He talked about security and policing issues. In the photo above, he explains to homeowners some of the protective gear used by officers.
A number of other High Desert villages held block parties and potlucks to participate in National Night Out. In Desert Mountain, homeowners met for an outdoor potluck and heard information on crime statistics
Below, Desert Mountain Voting Member Troy Stevens (in cap) introduces a representative from the District Attorney's office. Photo by homeowner Mary Martin.
In the case of Section II, the changes provide more timely fines for recurring issues. The intent of these changes is to maximize compliance through more immediate fines for recurring issues. Upon determination that an owner has violated the non-monetary provisions of the governing documents of the Association such as visibility of trash containers, landscaping problems, etc. the Association will use the new system of penalties to secure compliance by the owner in violation.
A courtesy notice, first notice, second notice, or third notice will not result in a monetary charge to an owner’s account. The fourth notice will result in a charge of $100 to an owner’s account, the fifth notice will result in a charge of $250 to an owner’s account, and the sixth notice will result in a charge of $500 to an owner’s account. Each of the notices after the courtesy notice will apply if the same or similar violation occurs again within 6 months of prior notification.
Section IV changes primarily consist of an updating of requirements for Site Operations and Maintenance Violations, Construction Violations, and Completion Violations.
All members of the HDROA will soon receive by mail a copy of the revised HDROA Enforcement Policies and Procedures. Please read this document carefully to ensure complete compliance.
Click here to view the updated policy.
As the weather continues to be dry and hot, wildlife will be forced down from the mountains in search of food and water.
In late June Pinion Point resident Jamie Kaplan was alerted late one night by her dog Gracie. Gracie led Jamie to the back door where she watched a black bear snack on trash pulled from the garbage cans stored along the side of her house.
Ms. Kaplan describers the bear as being “quite large” and apparently “showed little concern" as to her presence.
High Desert resident John Ledwith also reports “clear signs” of bear activity in June at his Overlook residence, as did Highlands property owner Brenda Gossage.
James Gage site supervisor for G4S reports that his officers will be on the lookout as they patrol High Desert.
Rick Winslow, Bear and Cougar Biologist with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish says that it is not at all unusual for bears to venture into High Desert. He says it is important to remember that “this was their home long before it was yours.”
Winslow offers this advice specifically for High Desert residents:
Bears are attracted to anything that is edible or smelly.
Use the checklist below to help bear-proof your home:
- Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
- Don’t leave trash, groceries or animal feed in your car.
- Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
- Store garbage in the garage.
- Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
- Only provide bird feeders outside during November through March and always hang feeders so they are inaccessible to bears. This includes hummingbird feeders.
- Don’t leave any scented products outside, even nonfood items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
- Keep barbecue grills clean.
- Keep pet food and pets inside.
- Keep doors and windows closed and locked. Scents can lure bears inside.
A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear:
Once conditioned to human sources of food bears will seek them out, creating conflicts with humans. Attracting bears to urban areas can also increase risk of vehicle collisions, harming both humans and bears. The bear’s behavior will not stop voluntarily, and unless the nuisance behavior can be corrected, bears may be killed to ensure public safety. In order to avoid these deaths, food sources must be removed. People have a responsibility to the wildlife whose habitat they are sharing!
The Department of Game and Fish has extensive bear encounter information posted on its website. Click here to download the pdf.
High Desert Property Manager Chris Lopez reminds all residents that “It is High Desert policy that trash cans be stored out of sight and set curb side on the morning of scheduled pick-up.” It is also Association policy that trash bins be returned to an appropriate storage area as soon possible once emptied.
If you observe a possible violation of these rules, please contact the Community Association Manager ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) who will contact the realtor and request that the signs be removed.
Those precautions include putting your mail out as late as possible before pick-up by USPS mail carriers and picking it up as soon as possible after delivery. Other alternatives include choosing to have your mail delivered directly to the Steve Schiff Post Office at 9719 Candelaria Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87111; (505) 346-0985.
Albuquerque Police Department’s Crime Prevention Specialist Jill Garcia issued two documents to neighborhoods concerned with mail theft. One of the documents deals with mail theft of tax documents as people begin filing tax returns and anticipating refunds through the mail. She advises filing taxes online, dropping off documents at a secure receptacle or site, and picking up mail daily as early as possible at a cluster box.
Jill also advises residents to advise their mail carrier if they plan to be out of town so that mail can be held.
Or, alternatively, have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail daily.
Click below to see both mail documents issued by the police department concerning mail.
Protecting Your Mail
Pets are a part of life here in High Desert. For some homeowners, a pet is as much a member of the family as any human. For others, pets are an important tool in deterring crime. Owning a pet carries serious responsibility. Maintaining their health and wellness is one example. Cleaning up after them is another important obligation.One very important aspect of owning a pet is ensuring that they exist harmoniously within our community. Allowing a pet to bark incessantly destroys the tranquility we work so hard to achieve in our community. Sound carries. One barking dog can disturb literally dozens of households.
City law is clear on the topic:
§ 9-2-3-7 Animals Disturbing the Peace.
No person shall allow an animal in his possession or control to persistently or continuously bark, howl or make noise common to its species, or otherwise to disturb the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the city or keep or maintain an animal in a manner which produces noxious or offensive odors or otherwise endangers the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the city.
('74 Code, § 6-2-6G) (Ord. 40-1987; Am. Ord. 71-1989; Am. Ord. 33-1992)
Pet owners can keep the peace and avoid hefty fines by taking measures to control their pets. Those affected by barking dogs have options as well. Concerned homeowners can visit the City of Albuquerque website and fill out a complaint form. Click on the link to file a complaint: http://www.cabq.gov/pets/programs-services/animal-noise-complaint/
The city will want a written log and/or a statement with dates and times of disturbances. Animal Control may then investigate. An Animal Control officer will want to know if you are willing to file criminal charges against your neighbor. The officer will also want to know if you have exhausted all means of dealing with the problem, such as talking with your neighbor or contacting the city's Alternative Dispute Resolution office for help through a mediation process. If there is sufficient evidence, charges may be filed and you may need to testify in a criminal trial. It is not a quick process. It can be several months before a trial date is even set.
The High Desert ROA and G4S security patrol cannot investigate or file complaints on behalf of residents. The city indicates that it must be done by the affected resident.
Are you already renting your High Desert house to tenants, or plan to rent it soon? If so, you are now required to notify the association and provide tenant names and contact information— and you may not rent your property for less than six months at a time. Short term rentals, such as those done on vacation rental online sites, are now prohibited in High Desert. Information on tenants must be provided to the association. Continued failure to comply will result in a series of escalating fines, possible court action, liens and even foreclosure.
The new High Desert Rental Policy was approved by the Board of Directors December 15, 2015 after Voting Members acted last autumn to amend the Use Restrictions of the CC&Rs. The amendment added a new subsection prohibiting rentals of less than six months unless approved in advance by the Board. The new Rental Policy spells out the procedure for renting homes in a four-page document that includes a "Tenant Information Sheet" to be completed by the homeowner with contact information on all tenants.
Failure to comply with the new policy will result in a $200 fine after 10 days following the second notice, and a $500 fine 10 days after the third notice, along with a series of actions outlined in the new Enforcement Policy adopted in January. The Rental Policy can be viewed as a pdf on the Policies page. All homeowners were recently notified of the new policy by mail.