October in High Desert, by Clay Wright
The City’s Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) is headed to the full City Council for its first hearing on Monday, October 16 at 5 p.m. in the Vincent E. Griego Chambers in City Hall.
The City Council will hear public comment and review the IDO Draft as amended by changes approved by the Land Use, Planning, and Zoning (LUPZ) Committee at hearings on September 27 and October 11.
Written comments are still being taken for City Council consideration and considered for amendments to the IDO.Send written comments to Crystal Ortega, Council Clerk via email: email@example.com or by mail: P.O. Box 1293, Albuquerque NM 87103.
In January 2015, Mayor Berry announced the start of ABC to Z – https://www.abc-zone.com/ an ambitious two-year project to update the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan and to integrate and simplify the city’s zoning and subdivision regulations to implement the resulting plan. It will also create a new Integrated Development Ordinance that, City officials say:
- Is simpler, more user-friendly, and highly illustrated
- Is better aligned with Albuquerque planning priorities
- Protects established neighborhoods
- Promote more water-efficient and sustainable patterns of development
- Updates and removes inconsistencies in outdated engineering and technical standards
- Streamlines the city’s procedures for reviewing and approving new development
Questions on the City’s plans? Click here to see answers on the city’s website:
Photo above by Peter Rosandich
Hundreds of High Desert homeowners and their families danced to the Pink Flamingos, ate a wonderful variety of food, played games, surveyed the giant police horses and petted the sheep and goats at the 2nd Annual Party in the Park Saturday, September 23. Despite the gusty, damp weather, more than 500 people were estimated to have been served by the five food trucks during the four-hour event, said Brenda Gossage (photo right), the event organizer and High Desert resident.
The Pink Flamingos and Artrageous Experience provided ongoing entertainment with fast-moving music and giant on-the-spot paintings of celebrities. The paintings were sold via a silent auction which helped defer costs.
“We couldn’t be happier with how everything went,” said Brenda. “Despite the weather, we had even higher attendance this year compared to last year’s event.”
Along with the entertainment, games and petting zoo, Brenda decided to incorporate educational opportunities for homeowners into the event since September is National Preparedness Month. “We had fantastic representation from our first responders and emergency management,” she said. Organizations represented included Albuquerque Fire Department’s Station #16 with their fire truck, Albuquerque Police Department’s mounted police unit, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, the Office of Emergency Management and the Community Emergency Response Team with educational materials on emergency preparedness, New Mexico Game & Fish, and the Sandia Mountain Bear Collective with pelts, scat and information about wildlife.
“In addition, Foster Legal Advisory Group provided free child fingerprinting kits,” Brenda said. “We also received generous support from HOAMCO which donated money towards the event, from Heads Up staff who handed out hundreds of bottles of water and seed packets and provided a clean-up crew at no charge, and G4S who donated an additional security guard to assist with traffic control for our event.”
Brenda thanked the following High Desert homeowners who volunteered: Susan Camp, Camille Singaraju. Joan Schueller, Tim Peterson, Juliet Coquia and Sue Darnell. She added, “This event was a success because of the excellent support I received from Chris Lopez and Kathy Blythe of HOAMCO.”
Having another Party in the Park next year depends on a volunteer stepping forward to organize the event. “It requires volunteers to make it happen,” Brenda said. “No amount of volunteer time is too small and every little bit helps,” she said. Brenda has volunteered in other High Desert areas, including serving as an Alternate Voting Member for the Highlands and as a member of the New Construction Committee.
Brenda volunteered at summer’s end to head the event when she learned that no other volunteers had agreed to spearhead the Party. “I didn’t want to lose it,” she said. “The event was created last year and organized by Peter Strascina as a homeowner appreciation event and I was happy to build upon that and support High Desert homeowners by creating the opportunity for us to come together as neighbors and celebrate our beautiful community.”
To see more photos, click here.
(Photo, left) High Desert homeowners dance and sing along with the Pink Flamingos. By Peter Rosandich
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
Christopher Lopez, Community Association Manager, encouraged homeowners to consider stepping up to serve as a Voting Member or Alternate for their Village. Any questions should be directed to Christopher at 505-314-5862 or via email at Clopez@hoamco.com.
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.
The 9th Annual High Desert Studio Tour will take place this fall on Saturday, November 11th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A total of 11 artists will display their work and answer questions in High Desert studios. There is no charge for the tour.
The Studio Tour is sponsored by the High Desert Welcome Committee as a way to introduce High Desert homeowners to their artistic neighbors. Thea Berg, homeowner, oversees the Tour. Amy and Tom Hudak are Chairs of the Welcome Committee.
No Studio Tour signs will be displayed in High Desert on November 11, but purple balloons will highlight each address.
Click here to see a pdf of the Studio Tour map.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 ( email@example.com ) 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.
You may also wish to consider signing up for the U.S. Postal Service's new Informed Delivery™ 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
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.