Welcome to the High Desert Residential Owners Association     Albuquerque, New Mexico
scrub jay by steve hamm

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.

Early Bird

    Photo by Steve Hamm

This Western Scrub Jay was photographed by High Desert resident Steve Hamm in the early morning light.


Voting Members Elect Five New Board Members at April's Annual Meeting
2015 Board of Directors 
Voting Members elected five homeowners to the High Desert Board of Directors at their Annual Meeting April 23, 2015.  Elected were: Dr. Janet Brierley (new director), Dr. James Cole II (previous director), David Williams (new director),  Nancy Winger (previous director), and Clay Wright (re-elected director).  They join Tom Murdock (current director) and David Bentley (current director) on the board.  All newly elected directors will serve two-year terms except for Janet, who was elected to a one-year term.

Each year, Voting Members elect new directors to the Board in April.  Earlier this year, the Nominating Committee interviewed interested homeowners.  After consideration, the Committee presented a slate of nominees to Voting Members at the Annual Meeting.  Nominations are always accepted from the floor at the meeting, but none were made this year. Voting Members unanimously accepted the Nominating Committee's slate by a show of hands.

The Board will meet later this month and elect officers. 

Justin Scott, CEO of HOAMCO, property management company for High Desert, spoke briefly to Voting Members.  He introduced Christopher Lopez who is acting as Interim Community Association Manager following the departure of Sarah Hoey who left earlier this year.  Justin said HOAMCO is continuing to search nationally for a suitable replacement, but is also considering Christopher's interest in the position.  Justin also introduced Kathy Blythe, new Administrative Assistant in the HOAMCO High Desert office on Montgomery.

Tom Murdock, President of the 2014 Board of Directors, presented Voting Members with the approved budget for fiscal year July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.  Homeowner assessments will not change this coming year, he said.  The Master Association fee will continue to be $57 per month.  Fees for gated communities will also remain the same.  All homeowners will be mailed copies of the budget and notice of next year’s assessments prior to May 1 as is required by our CC&Rs.

Tom noted that funds have been approved to hire a professional to assist the New Construction Committee (NCC).  A search for that consultant is presently underway. Steve Hamm, Chairperson of the NCC, said there are presently 23 houses in High Desert actively undergoing construction. "I am putting in 20 to 25 hours a week and we need professional guidance and help," he told Voting Members. 

Garage Sales
Tom reminded Voting Members that the Board has changed the policy on garage sales in High Desert. Garage sales are not allowed in the community and the new policy permits immediate closing of the sale and a fine of $100.  (See story on garage sales policy below.) He also said the Board continues to consider a rental policy for homeowners renting their properties in High Desert. Currently there is no list of properties with renters onsite.  "We really want to know who is renting in High Desert and how we can contact them in an emergency," he said.  An estate sale policy is another ongoing issue, he added.  "We are working our way through that one," he said. 

Toward the end of the meeting, several representatives from the City of Albuquerque made a presentation on bringing the sport of pickleball to High Desert Park. Pickleball is a game similar to tennis but played on a smaller court (or sometimes on an existing tennis court with alternate striping) with wooden paddles and a plastic ball. (Click here for more information about the game.)  The representatives wanted to know what Voting Members thought about converting the sandy area (originally used for sand volleyball) to a paved pickleball court.  The city would remove the sand and put in four inches of concrete slab and stripe the courts. Pickleball courts at the park could accommodate up to 12 players.

Voting Members raised a number of concerns particularly about the limited parking at High Desert Park.  "That parking lot is already full two or three times a day,"  said one homeowner. "Can it take 12 more cars?"  Some Voting Members worried that players would park on adjacent streets and endanger residents.

The city representatives asked by an informal show of hands if Voting Members would prefer to simply re-stripe the existing tennis courts for a co-use of the space with pickleball.  A few Voting Members raised their hands in response.  Several other Voting Members raised their hands in favor of  brand new concrete pickleball courts to be built in the sandy area.  But a majority of hands were raised when representatives asked if people would prefer not to bring pickleball to the park at all.  The city representatives said they would take this information back to City Councilor Trudy Jones for consideration. 

Photo of New 2015 Board of Directors (left to right):   Dr. Janet Brierley, David F. Williams, Jr., Clay Wright, Nancy Winger, David J. Bentley, Jr., Tom Murdock.  Not shown: Dr. James Cole II.


Welcome Committee Greets Newcomers at High Desert Wine & Cheese Party

IWine And Cheese partyt 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 Wine and Cheese partya 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.

Wine and Cheese party, AprilPhoto 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."


Board Strengthens Enforcement of Ban on Garage Sales
In response to requests from Voting Members and many residents, the Board of Directors recently acted to toughen enforcement of the ban on garage sales in High Desert.  Under the new policy adopted by the Board, any resident found conducting a garage sale will be immediately notified by the High Desert Security Patrol to end the sale.  Failure to do so within one hour will result in a $100 fine of the owner without further notice.
The governing documents of High Desert prohibit residents from conducting any "garage sale, moving sale, rummage sale, or similar activity” (see the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R) Exhibit D – Use Restrictions). This restriction has been in place since High Desert was first established.  Recent discussion at Voting Member meetings has reaffirmed support for this restriction, but also highlighted that the Association lacked an effective process for stopping violators.  This resulted in the new policy.
Specifically the enforcement policy has been amended to say:  
“…in the event that an active garage sale or similar violation of the Use Restrictions is observed or reported, the Board may authorize the High Desert Security Patrol to issue a warning notice to the Owner or other Person in Charge (PIC) demanding the cessation of all activity and the removal of all signage or other evidence of the event within one hour.  If the Owner or PIC refuses to comply within the stated time period, the Security Patrol Officer shall prepare and hand-deliver a Notice of Proposed Sanction including all required information noted in paragraph 4 above and provide a copy of the Notice, along with photographic evidence of the continuing violation, to the management company for subsequent processing as noted below."

To view the entire Enforcement Policy, please click here.
This restriction on garage sales does not prevent a resident from selling household items, however it must be done within the confines of the dwelling without any external evidence of the sale, including no signage.  For example, an estate sale may be held as long as it is conducted entirely within the home and has no street signage.
The overwhelming opinion of residents and Voting Members is that this policy is good for the community in that it reduces incidence of traffic congestion, damage to yards and common area landscaping, and may even help reduce casing of the neighborhood for future criminal activity.  
Please feel free to share this information with your neighbors or post it on your Villages's NextDoor.com page.  If you see a garage sale in progress, you may notify the High Desert Security Patrol at 505-506-5287.  They will take the appropriate action.

Watering Restrictions Now in Effect For Sprinkler Irrigation
beargrassWatering restrictions for all Albuquerque residents are now in effect April 1 until Nov. 1. Restrictions prohibit sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. in order to minimize water loss to wind and evaporation.  Violations can result in fines starting at $20 for a first offense.   Trudy E. Jones, vice chair of the Water Authority Board, said fines only apply to sprinkler irrigation, but it’s a good idea to limit all watering to the late evening or early morning hours to reduce the effects of wind and heat.  The Water Authority recommends that residents "Water by the Numbers,” and limit watering to just two days per week in April and May, three days per week in June, July and August, and then ramp down again in the fall.

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.

High Desert Survey Complete: Residents Can View PDF
By Clay Wright, HDROA Board of Directors 

piechartThe 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. 

Search Underway For New High Desert Community Manager:
Christopher Lopez is Interim Manager

HOAMCO, High Desert’s association management company, is in the process of searching for a new manager for High Desert. Sarah Hoey announced her resignation in late January, effective February 17, 2015.  She is moving to Seattle and taking a new position as Executive Director for an association.  Sarah joined HOAMCO in May 2009 and took over the manager duties for High Desert in the summer of 2013.

Paul Skojec, Vice President for HOAMCO, said “some momentum” in seeking Sarah’s replacement had been already reached due to a previous nationwide search for a community manager for a property in Santa Fe. 

Meanwhile, HOAMCO has appointed Christopher Lopez as Interim Community Manager for High Desert.  He can be contacted through the High Desert manager email address at: highdesertmanager@hoamco.com or by calling the High Desert office 505-314-5862.

Vacation Watch Form Now Available to Homeowners:
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.

Diagnosing Problems in the High Desert Garden Landscape
photo by s. hamm
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.

Voting Members Review High Desert Resident Survey Results & Discuss Regulating Estate Sales and Rentals at  Regular Quarterly Meeting January 22, 2015

Voting Member meeting January 2015
Voting Members listen to a presentation by Board of Directors President Tom Murdock, standing, at their January 22 quarterly meeting.

A review of the results of the 2014 High Desert Resident Survey were presented to Voting Members at their regular quarterly meeting January 22 by Board Member Clay Wright. The online survey, overseen by Clay, asked 21 questions specific to life in High Desert. A total of 340 people responded.  Clay reviewed the general trends emerging from the study, noting that landscape work and costs were important to the respondents.  For example, the survey showed that 66.47% of those taking the survey think money spent on landscaping is about right, 28.24% say expenditures should be reduced, and another 5.29% want money spent on landscaping.

The survey asked specific questions about security, management and communications. Homeowners responding to the survey also posted personal comments. An overview of the survey will be included in the Apache Plume and the final results posted here on the website in mid-February.

Resignations & Nominations
Tom Murdock, President of the Board of Directors, told Voting Members that Mary Kurkjian had recently resigned as Treasurer of the Board. Tom presented the Treasurer's Report to the Voting Members. Tom also spoke for Nominating Committee Chair Dave Bentley, who took over for previous Nominating Chair Dr. Jim Cole II, who resigned from the board in mid-January.  Dave was absent and Tom reported that the Nominating Committee had already received some submissions for the five positions opening up in April (see "Five Positions Open" story at top of homepage).

"If you know anyone who would be good candidate for the Board, please encourage them to submit a Statement of Interest (see top story above for links to the SOI)  by February 21," Tom said.  Voting Members elect the Board members at their Annual Meeting in April.

Fines for Garage Sales?
Tom asked Voting Members for input on the possibility of levying immediate fines against homeowners having garage sales in High Desert.  Community rules prohibit garage sales at any time. Presently, under the High Desert violations procedures,  homeowners who have any violation (including garage sales or other violations) are mailed a violations letter. Next, they are sent a follow-up letter 30 days later if the problem persists.  If the problem still isn't remedied, the owners are finally issued a fine. 

"But garage sales violations are usually a one-time incident, unlike a persistent failure to trim vines or stow trash cans," said Tom.  He added, "We have to deal with it differently."  He said the Board was considering a new policy that would levy prompt fines. "If a homeowner is having a garage sale, our security patrol G4S will ask them to immediately shut down.  If they refuse, we will add a fine to their homeowners account."  There will be no follow-up letters or grace period.

Voting Members were asked by a show of hands if they supported the Board in drafting a new violations policy and fine system for garage sales.  A show of hands indicated that most Voting Members were in favor. 

Estate Sales
Tom also asked Voting Members if they thought the Board should begin requiring a permit for any homeowner holding an estate sale on their property.   The Guidelines do not specifically prohibit estate sales which are held inside the home, often following the death of the homeowner.  Owners, or their executors, are free to sell any items they want, at any time,  if their garage door remains closed, items are not displayed in the driveway or yard, and there are no signs posted.  However, some recent estate sales have caused traffic and parking issues that could make it difficult for ambulances and other emergency vehicles to navigate High Desert streets.

"If we require a permit," Tom said, "it would list the restrictions on parking and traffic. We may  also require a security deposit." He said a higher fine for violators might be necessary since a low fine might be considered "the price of doing business" by those holding estate sales.

A discussion followed Tom's remarks,  with some Voting Members wondering if requiring a permit would be "over regulating" homeowners.  "We'd be creating an awful lot of structure and regulation for people at a time when they've just a lost a loved one," one owner said.  Tom acknowledged the concern but added, "Neighbors have their rights, too.  How can we balance that?"

Another owner said, "This comes down to signs and traffic. You can get excessive traffic with big parties, too. Why not just have a permit required for any special event? We should look at the behavior we're trying to target instead of tying it to a specific occurence like an estate sale."

A show of hands by Voting Members indicated support for the Board to proceed with drafting  a permit for estate sales and/or special events.  Tom said he would return to Voting Members at a future meeting to discuss any new estate sale policy or permit before a final Board vote is taken.

Finally, Tom asked Voting Members what they thought of requiring High Desert homeowners who rent their property to register with the management office. There are no rules or policies regarding rentals in High Desert.  "Right now, we have no idea who is renting their homes," he said.  "Who is living in the house, if the owner isn't?" He said a recent waterline burst highlighted the problem. "The house was rented out, the owner was out of the state, and we had no idea how to reach the occupants who were not home," he said.

Should High Desert also initiate new rules that limit the amount of time a house is rented, Tom asked.  "Six months?  A year?  Two weeks?" If a property is turned over often, it puts added inconveniences and disruptions on the neighbors, he said. New renters bring in moving trucks, service companies need to provide new hook-ups and deliveries, and often it takes time for the new residents to learn the community rules. He said a new rental policy could limit turnover times for rentals and require the renters to provide contact information to the management company.

There were some objections by Voting Members to providing the names of any renters to the High Desert management company.  "It is unfair to restrict someone who may be paid a great deal of money for a two-week stay (by renters)  in their home," one man said.  "We had to leave our home empty for a while.  Some incredibly famous people have lived there and they want to be left alone." If their names needed to be listed with the management company, he said, they would not have chosen to stay in High Desert.

Another resident agreed there should be no limit on rental periods. "I think people should be able to rent their houses out weekly if the renters follow the rules," he said.

Other Voting Members disagreed. "Having a house turn around every two weeks can be incredibly disruptive to a neighborhood," one said.  Another Voting Member suggested that if renters did not want to provide their names, another contact such as a property manager or similar professional be provided instead.

"And," Tom said, "if someone is renting their house out every two weeks...are they conducting a business out of their home?"

The Board of Directors will take the comments under consideration, Tom said.

Voting Members Workshop
Kari Stevenson, Voting Members Chair, announced a Voting Member Workshop set for Thursday, February 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the James Dwyer APD Substation, 12700 Montgomery, NE.  It will be a less formal event than the regular Voting Member meetings, she said.  "This will give us a change to provide orientation to new Voting Members, discuss our upcoming meeting schedule and set goals."  She encouraged all Voting Members and Alternates to attend.

Homeowners May Sign Up Now For New Email List To Receive Association Updates & News
mailchimp sign-up 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.

Time to replace your roof?  New Amendment to Guidelines for Sustainability May Help Clarify Your Options

The New Construction Committee has updated the Guidelines for Sustainability to accommodate new technologies in roofing materials that have come to market for residential properties since the Guidelines were first developed.  Click here to go to the revised Guidelines for roof color.


The Modifications Committee is seeing an increase in requests for roof replacement.  This is not surprising since many of the homes in High Desert are now more than ten years old.  Fred Gorenz, chair of the Modifications Committee (MC), reminds owners that putting on a new roof is an external change to the dwelling that needs prior approval of the Modification Committee.  He says, “While an owner may rarely see their own roof, it may be seen daily from homes at higher elevations.”


The Guidelines for Sustainability have restrictions on the materials and color of roofs.  Russ Welsch of the New Construction Committee, explains, “Our Guidelines are designed to minimize the visual impact of homes on the natural state of the land around us, including from higher vantage points.”


The color of a roof must meet the Guideline that roofs be non-reflective and, in general, darker in color and hue than the building’s exterior walls.  While traditional tar and gravel roofs are common in High Desert, new options today include single-ply membrane and spray foam.  Many single-ply membranes are white and some foam roofs are yellow or white; these materials must be modified to change their color to one that meets the Guidelines.  Homeowners should consult their contractor about the options for making the roof color compliant.


As Welsch reminds us, “Contractors may not know about our restrictions, so it is important for the High Desert homeowner to discuss the restrictions with their vendor to be sure their proposed roof will meet the Guidelines.”


The Modifications Committee has a “fast-track” process to approve roof replacements that are exactly the same as was previously approved.  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.


Billing Information For Residents
High Desert residents now have several options for paying assessments. Billing information and payment instructions can be found on the Billing Information page. 

Wildlife in High Desert
Do you have any terrific pictures of wildlife in High Desert that you'd like to share?  Submit your photos (in jpeg form) to eenews@comcast.net 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.


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