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Weeds!!

I asked resident and landscape-savvy Dan to give us some advice on getting rid of the pesky weeds that never seem to go away.

— Ray

Do you have weeds now? Everyone has weeds! Right!? But what are weeds? Weeds are simply undesirable plants, and they come from all over the world. Common weeds are known to steal nutrients & water from desired plants, spread & outcompete desired plants, become physically dangerous, and/or have poisonous or toxic materials. For instance, a Desert Broom can overtake a Texas Sage and the rest of the other desired plants in the yard, until only Desert Broom is present. Ask any adult who grew up riding bikes in the valley about why preventing Goatheads (dry Puncturevine fruits) is worthwhile.

Here’s a few methods to consider:

Quick & Dirty Method:

  • Buy & use a broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicide like RoundUp, generally available at local big box stores like Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, & Ace Hardware.
  • Be very careful when using broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicides like RoundUp, as they can easily damage or kill desired plants after contact.

Generally, the best method is to apply or have applied a pre-emergent herbicide to your entire landscape, usually in the end of fall and beginning of spring. Then use or have used post-emergent for the weeds found between pre-emergent applications. This ideally minimizes the weeds while also minimizing the amount of money spent to control weeds.

Delegated Method:

  • Search online for and hire an appropriately-licensed contractor to determine and apply the ideal controls. Licensed contractors with the appropriate spray certifications from the Arizona Department of Agriculture for residential work. Great ways to find such contractors can be through sites like Yelp.com, Nextdoor.com, or Google. Useful search terms to try would include “weed control” &/or “Avondale, AZ”.

DIY Method:

  • Photograph the weed(s) as best as possible and show them to the representatives at a reputable pesticide store such as Arizona Spray Equipment. Ask what the plant is and what product and method should be used to control it. Like Sissoo trees, some weeds are particularly tough and may require reapplication over a series of cycles to effectively kill them.
  • Most importantly, no matter what product you are using, it is very important to read and follow the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). This tells you how to use the product safely and how to mix if it is a concentrate. If the mix ratio is not followed, the product may not work as desired.

Useful points to consider when selecting an herbicide to control weeds:

  • Be sure you know what you are treating for. There are two types of weeds, grass/palm (monocots) & broadleaf (dicots). Photos of the weeds can be taken to a pesticide store to identify the type of weed.
  • Herbicide products are made to either target all plants (broad-spectrum) or to target monocots or dicots specifically. Monocot or dicot targeted sprays are helpful if broadleaf weeds are growing in the grass or palm trees are growing through shrubs.
  • They are either made to kill existing plants (post-emergent) or stop seeds from becoming plants (pre-emergent).
  • They may be effective when applied onto to the plant (contact herbicide) or after having been absorbed thru the roots of the plant (systemic herbicide).
  • Air and soil temperatures often improve or reduce the results. Some herbicides are specifically designed for summer or winter temperatures.
  • Herbicides should be applied carefully so as to not accidentally affect desired plants.

Recommended sources for further reading can be found online at:

What is a Reserve Study?

The association recently received an updated Reserve Study. What it that, and why is it important to you?

First of all, there’s the Reserve Fund. That’s a special account set aside where the association puts money every month for certain maintenance activities on community common areas. The Reserve Study is the association’s complete go-to guide for everything related to that fund, the maintenance activities needed, and how much we should be putting into it each year.

The most recent document is available for you to view and download here.

We’re planning a series of brief videos to explain the general topics of Reserve Funds and Reserve Studies, and also on the details of our own Reserve Study and what it means to you, an owner in Rio Crossing. Our Reserve Study has a description of a lot of this, but it’s in somewhat technical terms, so we’re hoping that the video series will help everyone understand more visually.

But we encourage you to download the study from the link above and read through it. Particularly interesting is the complete list of association assets in the “Component Detail” section on pages 14-65 (the page numbers at the bottom of each page; it’s pages 29-80 in the Adobe Reader window).

Also interesting is the table of annual financial projections on page 4 (page 19 in the Adobe Reader). The Member Contribution column shows how much of members’ assessment dollars will go into the Reserve Fund each year. While it looks like a lot, it’s not as big as you think! Take the number in that column and divide it by 345 (that’s how many owners/members there are); that gives you the annual contribution per owner. Then divide that by 4, and that’s how much of each quarter’s assessment goes into the fund.

Here’s the breakdown for 2020: the full amount is $56,114. Divided by 345 gives you $162.65 per year per owner. Divide that by 4 and you see that only $40.66 of your quarterly assessment goes into the Reserve Fund.

Want to learn more about the Reserve Fund, or other parts of your association’s finances? Let me know what you want to know by filling out the Feedback Form here.

Winter Festival 2019

Last year’s Winter Festival was a big hit… so we’re doing it again this year! Here’s a message from our Social Committee chairperson Andres, who has been working very hard behind the scenes to get this fantastic event ready for you:

We are excited about this year’s Winter Festival taking place in Roma Park on Saturday, Nov 23rd. We’re planning on having about 4 tons of real snow delivered, Santa arriving by Fire truck, a Bounce House, a professional DJ playing music, several activities including games and arts & crafts. The best part of this event will be the 40+ local vendors and food trucks, several of which are offering free services such as face painting, massages and food samples, and others will be offering their goods for sale.

We’re very proud to be able to produce such an exciting and elaborate event. Normally, such an event would be too expensive for Rio Crossing to put on. It’s for this reason we’ve opened it up to other nearby communities – to increase the event’s subsidization and sponsorship. By opening up the Winter Festival to others, Rio Crossing is paying a fraction of what it would have cost if we kept it enclosed. That’s not the only reason though.

In addition to being able to provide these great benefits to our community at a significantly lower cost, we’re marketing Rio Crossing as the family-friendly community that it is, to the rest of the west valley thus improving it’s desirability and home sales in turn increasing our property values. Lastly, we’re helping promote local businesses. The vendors at the Winter Festival are locally run or owned by people like ourselves. All Rio Crossing residents have the opportunity to participate at no cost to them so we encourage you to come out, whether it’s as a vendor selling or promoting your small business or as a guest who’s enjoying the music, snow and shopping.

We hope this brief message answers any questions or concerns you may have. If you still have questions, we encourage you to please attend our next board meeting.

— Andres

Bulk Next Week!!

Okay… now you can start putting out your bulk items. Technically you’re supposed to wait til Sunday… but around here it’s okay to set them out a couple of days early. Not a couple of weeks — don’t be “that neighbor”!

The signs at the exits have been changed:

Load Images to see the sign!

A reminder that bulk week is the week of the second Monday of the month, which is Monday October 14. That makes “Bulk Week” October 14-18.

No Bulk Yet!

I know not everyone gets the email list, and not everyone reads the web site regularly, and not everyone gets our Facebook or Twitter feeds… but here’s another reminder just in case you haven’t heard:

It’s not bulk week this week!

Bulk week is the week of the second Monday of the month, which is Monday October 14. That makes “Bulk Week” October 14-18.

New signs went up at the entrances – or more accurately I suppose, the exits:

Load images to see the sign

Hopefully “those neighbors” you just thought about will see it too.

2019 Annual Meeting Summary

The Quick Version

A handout was available to all members present, with agenda for this meeting, minutes from the 2018 annual meeting, and financial data as of August 31, 2019 (including the balance sheet and the monthly budget comparison statement). [download a copy here]

There was not enough “eligible votes” represented to establish a quorum for the annual meeting, therefore no official association business could be conducted. An informal discussion took place among those attending, which included incumbent board members, one homeowner, two guests, and our community manager.

The incumbent board of directors will continue to serve.

The More-Detailed Version

Background

The Annual Member Meeting was scheduled for last Wednesday, September 25. Every year an election for the board of directors is held in conjunction with the annual meeting. A call for board candidates went out in August, and ballots were mailed to the then-current owners in early September.

Though our bylaws permit proxy voting, Arizona statutes now prohibit proxy voting, but allow absentee ballots. “What’s the difference between proxy and absentee?”, you might ask. With a proxy vote, you assign someone else the right to cast a ballot on your behalf; what often happens is that someone goes around and obtains a proxy to vote on behalf of many homeowners and then casts all the ballots for one person, giving the advantage of choice to the person with all the proxy votes. With an absentee ballot, you make your own choice on the ballot and send it in, but you do not have to be present for your ballot to count. This way, no one person can cast all the votes based on personal choice.

Arizona statutes also dictate that absentee ballots “count” when computing the quorum present for a meeting.

What’s a Quorum?

A quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at a meeting in order to conduct official business. (Some people mistakenly think there is no meeting if there is no quorum. This isn’t true, according to most parliamentary procedures, like Robert’s Rules of Order. A meeting occurs when there is less than a quorum present, but only a limited number of actions can be taken by those who are attending.)

Our bylaws require 10% of the membership to be present for a quorum. With 345 homes in Rio Crossing, that amounts to 35 votes (rounding up to a “whole vote”). For this year’s meeting, the number of absentee ballots plus the number of members attending who had not voted was under 20.

Last year (September 2018) we had 46 members (mostly absentee ballots plus a few attendees).

Who Was Elected?

When there is no quorum, there is no election. The election is one of those items of business that can’t be done when there is no quorum.

“Then what happens?”, you might ask. There are a couple of possibilities:

  • One of the actions that can be taken without a quorum is a decision to reconvene the meeting at a later date, in the hopes that a quorum can be established then – either with additional absentee ballots, more attendees, or both. That is often referred to as an “adjourned meeting”. If a quorum is established at that adjourned meeting, the election (and any other association business) can proceed.
  • The members can adjourn the existing meeting without designating a future date for reconvening, and in this case, the incumbent board members (from the “current” term of office) continue as board members for the succeeding term.

In our case, only incumbent board members were on the ballot, so going to the effort of reconvening at a later date would not really have had a significant outcome other than just allowing the current board to continue. (There would have been one minor difference: one of the incumbent board members did not submit a candidate application for the upcoming year, and therefore if there were any write-ins, a write-in candidate could have been elected.)

If we were just a few members short of a quorum and could have made a quorum later by collecting just a few more ballots or with a couple more attendees, then we might have considered reconvening at a later date. But with barely half the number of required members and the fact that the pool of candidates was essentially the same as the incumbent board, the likelihood of having a quorum at a subsequent session was small and this option was not considered.

Bottom line: the incumbent board members will be retained on the board for the subsequent year.

The Results Are… In?

The Annual Member Meeting and election of board members for the next year was scheduled for last night. Before I give you the results, here’s a quick run-down of what you, as an association member, should know.

In order to “conduct business” at the annual member meeting, we’re required to have a quorum — a parliamentary procedure term meaning “the minimum number of people present to conduct business”. Our bylaws tell us we need ten percent of the eligible voters, and with one vote per lot and 345 lots here in Rio Crossing, ten percent of that is 35 (rounded up to the nearest “whole vote”).

Most parliamentary procedure rules (like Robert’s Rules of Order) say that a quorum has to be made up of people actually present at the meeting, However, Arizona statutes (specifically ARS 33-1812 subsection B) says that anyone who submits an absentee ballot for the election is counted in the quorum computations. This is probably because not many people actually come to HOA meetings, but in many cases, people are interested enough in what happens with their HOA to vote for the board members who represent them.

About Last Night…

Last night, there were under 15 absentee ballots, and only 4 members present eligible to vote (and 3 of them had already submitted their vote with an absentee ballot — just in case they were not able to attend).

So essentially we needed 35 voters, and we had less than 20.

Last year — September 2018 — there were 48 voters… more than twice as many as this year. And 2018 was the largest Rio Crossing HOA voter turnout ever. Why the difference?

I don’t really know. I have some ideas. Let me tell you my story about little Timmy…

About Little Timmy

Little Timmy was 8 years old, but had never spoken a word — not ever. But this one morning, his mother was getting Timmy his favorite breakfast: a nice warm bowl of oatmeal. Timmy dipped his spoon in the bowl, pulled up a nice spoonful of oatmeal, and proceeded to put it in his mouth, as he had done oh so many times before. All of a sudden, Timmy shouted! “Mom! This ^#%@$ oatmeal is too *@&#% hot!!” Both of Timmy’s parent were ecstatic that Timmy, who had never spoken before, was now somehow speaking. Curious to know why, after all these years, Timmy could now speak, his mother asked, “Timmy, why haven’t you ever spoken before?”

Timmy’s reply: “Because up until now, everything has been just fine.”

We Do Like to Hear from You!

HOA board members are always happy to hear from owners. Most of us are even pleased when our owners come to us to complain. Perhaps a bit like Timmy’s parents, we’ll ignore the emotional (and sometimes harsh) part of the message, and focus on the fact that we are getting input.

For elections at the national, state, and municipal level, there’s a lot of talk about “voter apathy.” The same sense occurs for involvement and awareness of government operations, things like budgets, rule making, administrative functions, and communication: nobody has time for that; besides, what can I do about it?

At the HOA level, we know you still don’t have much time. That’s why here at Rio Crossing we try to communicate frequently about as many things as we can fit into a relatively small space. You may not read every one of them, but you do hopefully scan the headlines and read the things you think are important.

If you are not on our mailing list, you should be. Click the link and subscribe!

Now, About the Election

Since the quorum requirements were not met by a long shot, and since the only candidates on the ballot were incumbent board members, the incumbent board members will continue for the next year.

I hope the lack of voter participation this year is an indication that everything is just fine. If not, you will let us know, right?

2019 Annual Member Meeting

The Annual Member Meeting for the Rio Crossing Homeowners Association is being held this month.

Date: Wednesday September 25, 2019

Time: Meeting starts at 7pm. Sign-up begins at 6:45pm. Meeting should last under an hour.

Location: Palm Valley Community Center, 14145 W Palm Valley Blvd, Goodyear, AZ. About half a mile west of Litchfield Road.

Members of the association — owners of lots in Rio Crossing — should receive an envelope in the mail with ballots, candidate information, and meeting information some time the first week of September. All members are encouraged to submit a ballot by mail to ensure that the association achieves a quorum (minimum number of votes + attendees to conduct business). See this page for more details.

Going from Summer to Winter Turf

Dan has written a number of landscape-related articles for us. Here’s another one, focused on what happens to our grass as we move from summer to winter. Thanks for the info, Dan!
— Ray

A lot of changes are likely to occur in your turf grass, as our environment enters the cool season. Bermuda grass will stop growing at 60°F and will go to sleep and turn brown by 50°F. Overseeding is an optional process which will render a Winter lawn to enjoy and appreciate, but preparation and timing are important to a successful overseed.

If you didn’t know, there are generally two types of turf grass used in our climate: warm season & cool season. Each have months of growth in their preferred (and labeled) season with a period of dormancy or intolerance. For example:

  • Perennial Ryegrass grows well in the cool season and often dies off before the high heat of July. Do not bother with Annual Ryegrass, unless it is intended for a large area where maintenance is of little concern. Perennial Ryegrass produces a superior lawn to Annual Ryegrass, although Annual Ryegrass is less expensive in comparison.
  • Bermudagrass grows well in the warm season and enters dormancy as temperatures drop in the cool season.

To Overseed: 

  • If you are intending on overseeding, August and September are usually key months for planning, checking the irrigation system, selecting and ordering seed and process related materials, and to gradually start transitional practices aiming to drop seed around the last week of October.

Process Summary

  1. 30 days before overseeding
    1. Stop nitrogen fertilization of the bermudagrass lawn
  2. 14 days before overseeding
    1. Raise the mowing height 30 – 40%
    2. Decrease irrigation by 30%
  3. 1 – 3 days before overseeding
    1. Stop watering
    2. Mow at the “old” height that was before raising 30-40%
    3. Just before overseeding, lower the mowing height another 25 – 30% and leave the clippings as mulch for the overseeded seed
  4. Day of overseeding
    1. Use ryegrass seed at 12 to 15 lb/1000 ft2
    2. Apply one-half of the seed by walking in one direction and the other half of the seed by walking in a pattern perpendicular to the first pass
  5. 7-10 days after overseeding
    1. Irrigate 3-4 times per day to keep germinating seed moist
  6. 14 days after seedling emergence
    1. Fertilize with ammonium phosphate (16-20-0) at 5 lb of product per 1000 ft2
  7. First mowing
    1. When ryegrass height approaches 3 inches

Do Not:

  1. Scalp the Bermudagrass to ground level
  2. Allow germinating Ryegrass seed to dry out
  3. Aerate or deeply verticut or dethatch
  4. Use dull blades, always use sharpened mower blades
  5. Mow the grass when it is wet
  6. Over-apply fertilizers
  7. Apply pre-emergent herbicide products until after first mow

For details on the process from turf expert Dr David Kopec at the University of Arizona, visit https://extension.arizona.edu/pubs and search for the publication PDF file “az1683-2015” entitled “Overseeding Winter Grasses into Bermudagrass Turf“. 

Not Overseeding?

  • If you decide not to overseed, your Bermudagrass will thank you. The process is not heavily detrimental, but involves a lot of activity in the soil around the Bermudagrass roots while they are supposed to be sleeping. Give it a break every 3-4 years or so. 
  • Like dormant trees, dormant Bermudagrass still needs water every 15-30 days, at least 12” deep. 

Recommended sources for further reading can be found online at:

August Board Meeting

Note date change! Meetings now on Wednesday!

The August Regular Board Meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 28, 2019 starting at 7pm. Meetings are now held at the Palm Valley Community Center, located at 14145 W Palm Valley Blvd, approximately a half mile west of Litchfield Rd.

A draft/preliminary agenda is available to view/download here, and is subject to change.

If there are pending Architectural Requests, the Design Review Committee will meet starting at 6:30pm, just prior to the Board Meeting. Homeowners with pending requests are encouraged to attend.

If you have been attending meetings at the Palm Valley location, please note a room change: go right once you’re inside, we’ll be in the conference room. (Previously we were to the left in half of the meeting room area.)

Meeting Dates

At last night’s special board meeting (see the announcement here), the board made the official designation of “fourth Wednesday” for regular board meetings, and the official designation of Wednesday September 25, 2019 as the date of this year’s annual member meeting.

See the preliminary meeting minutes here.

These changes were required because the venue where we now hold our meetings can no longer accommodate Thursday’s (when we’ve historically held our meetings). The changes were discussed informally at the June meeting, but the July meeting didn’t have a quorum of board members, so a special meeting was necessary to make the designations “official”.