2020 Annual Meeting Wrap-Up

There was no quorum for the annual meeting. See a draft of meeting minutes here:

Traditionally we have held the annual member meeting and election of board of directors in September of each year. Due to extra planning required to conduct an online meeting, this year’s annual meeting and election was postponed to November.

All members of the Rio Crossing Homeowners Association were sent candidate application forms in September, and a meeting notice with a hard-copy ballot and postage-paid return envelope in October, with an early November deadline.

A quorum is normally described as the number of people that need to be present at a meeting in order to conduct business, such as an election. Arizona statutes (ARS 33-1812) state that absentee ballots also count toward a meeting quorum.

Our Bylaws state that one-tenth of the Eligible Votes constitute a quorum, and with all members eligible to vote and 345 homes in the community, the quorum requirement is 35. There were 28 absentee ballots to be counted as “present,” and only 3 association members present — all of whom had already voted absentee ballots, so their presence did not add to the number “present” for purposes of quorum.

What happens to the election? Nothing. The election is part of the business of the annual meeting, and there was no quorum, so no business can be conducted.

Who are the directors now? The incumbent directors — those previously in office at the time of the election — remain in office, per the association bylaws in section 3.1.

This is the second consecutive year with no quorum at the annual meeting. Quorum was present in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and historically not very often before that.

Thank you to those of you that took the time to send in an absentee ballot.

Backwashing or Draining Your Pool?

The City of Avondale doesn’t permit draining of pool water into the streets.

This isn’t particularly an HOA issue, but we often try to get the word out to folks on things like this. We’ve noticed a number of people lately just rolling the hose out to the street and letting it flow. Here’s the flyer provided by the folks at the city:

Annual Member Meeting

Information about the annual member meeting and election of board of directors was sent via postal mail to all owners mid-October. Deadline for receipt of ballots is 5:30pm Wednesday November 4.

The login information for the meeting was sent with the ballot packet. It is not published online due to privacy and “event bombing” concerns. Contact our Community Manager Lisa or one of the incumbent board members for information if you can’t find yours.

Community Garden Idea

One of our homeowners inquired about the possibility of establishing a community garden. What a wonderful idea! Many communities have done this, and at the July board meeting, the board approved the establishment of the Community Garden Committee to explore the idea and come up with a plan.

As you surely know, everything has its drawbacks and limitations, but with the help of a few dedicated community members, we hope to find ways to work around the issues and make this a reality!

Please use the Feedback page to indicate your willingness to help with the research and planning, or even just to indicate your support and hopeful participation!

Annual Meeting and Election Postponed

At its regular board meeting in early July, the board made the decision to postpone the annual member meeting and board election to Thursday, November 5, 2020.

Note: It was originally rescheduled for November 12, 2020, but that’s the day after Veteran’s Day; it was moved forward a week to November 5.

Like most people, we were hopeful and optimistic that the COVID-19 situation would be way better by now. While there is some indication that the situation may be improving, the board indicated an intention to move forward with an online meeting in November.

“But we usually meeting in September — don’t we have to meet every September?” While we’d love to stick with tradition, the association’s bylaws state “An annual meeting of the Members of the Association shall be held at least once each year…”, which is generally understood to mean once during each calendar year.

At the board’s next meeting (scheduled for September), we’ll review and approve an election process and meeting approach being worked on by the president, the community manager, and the association’s attorney.

If you are new to Rio Crossing, the process for the election usually goes something like this:

  1. The management company sends out a “call for candidates”, and anyone wanting to submit their name for the ballot fills out and returns a form.
  2. The management company prepares a ballot and a candidate information handout.
  3. The ballot, candidate information handout, and a postage-paid return envelope are mailed to each owner’s address (mailing addresses may be different than the property addresses for some owners).
  4. Owners submit a ballot (1 ballot per lot owned) per the included instructions via postal mail, email, or fax; alternatively, an owner can chose to attend the meeting in person and cast a ballot there.
  5. During the annual meeting the ballots are tallied and the results announced.

Obviously, if the meeting is online and not in-person, then it’s not possible to “come to the meeting and vote”. Also, there are some alternate methods of voting electronically, but to meet the security and processing requirements of an association’s governing documents and various state statutes, available suitable electronic voting technologies tend to be cost-prohibitive.

We’ll send more information out just after the September board meeting. We will do what we can to facilitate the election process and everyone’s attendance at an online meeting. The last few board meetings have been hosted by PDS using the GoToMeeting online service, and a few homeowners have “attended” the meetings successfully, so we’re confident that this will work well.

Anecdotal information from other HOAs is that online annual meetings have been much better attended than prior in-person meetings. We hope that is the case here in Rio Crossing, and look forward to seeing you online!

Dissolve the HOA?

In late June, some unknown person put handmade signs at each of the Rio Crossing exits:

The intention of the poster’s author is unclear, but rather than keep you in suspense, Ray Harwood researched the association’s governing documents regarding the requirements to dissolve the HOA. He documented the results of his research in a YouTube video, available here and by clicking the video’s thumbnail image below.

Just to be clear, the board does not support the dissolution of the association, but we felt the members should know the process through which it could be accomplished.

July 2020 Board Meeting

The July 2020 Board Regular Board Meeting will be held Thursday July 9 at 7pm. It will be conducted online, hosted by PDS’s GoToMeeting account.

Homeowners are invited to attend, as usual. Please contact community manager Lisa Riesland to register and obtain the login information.

Weeds Between Walls and Sidewalk

Our community manager recently learned that the association takes responsibility for weed control in the area between the walls along streets and the adjacent sidewalks. She was quite apologetic for having written a few weed notices for those areas recently… to owners on the adjacent lots.

Not to worry… those notices have been quashed, kaput, gone.

Want to know more about why the association takes care of them?

Hotly Debated at One Point

Historically, the board had always had the landscapers take care of this area (between the wall and sidewalk). I can’t remember the exact timing of when this happened, but at one point there was some notion to no longer do this (as a money-saving initiative, I think).  Homeowners caught wind of this potential change and (those that got involved – less than a dozen) spoke against it at a meeting. 

Governing Documents

Having studied the CC&Rs, I pointed out several items that — to me — made it very clear that these are the association’s responsibility.

The CC&Rs have two relevant definitions in Article 1:

1.12 “Common Area” means (a) Tract B, Tracts D through H, inclusive, Tracts J through N, inclusive, Tracts P-1 through P-9, inclusive, and Tracts Q-1 through Q-6, inclusive, Rio Crossing, according to the plat recorded in Book 676, Page 10, in the records of the County Recorder of Maricopa County, Arizona, together with all improvements situated thereon and (b) all land, together with all improvements situated thereon, which the Association at any time owns in fee or in which the Association has a leasehold interest for as long as the Association is the owner of the fee or leasehold interest, except that Common Area shall not include any Lot the Association acquires by the foreclosure of the Assessment Lien or any deed in lieu of foreclosure.

CC&Rs Section 1.12

1.2 “Areas of Association Responsibility” means (a) all Common Area; and (b) all land, and the Improvements situated thereon, located within the boundaries of a Lot or a public right-of-way which the Association is obligated to maintain, repair and replace pursuant to the terms of this Declaration, the Plat or other Recorded document executed by the Declarant or the Association.

CC&Rs Section 1.2

Farther down in the document in section 8, there’s this:

8.6 Maintenance of Walls other than Boundary Walls. Walls (other than boundary walls) located on a Lot shall be maintained, repaired and replaced by the Owner of the Lot. Any wall which is placed on the boundary line between a Lot and an Area of Association Responsibility shall be maintained, repaired and replaced by the Owner of the Lot, except that the Association shall be responsible for the repair and maintenance of the side of the wall which faces the Area of Association Responsibility. In the event any such wall encroaches upon the Common Area or a Lot, an easement for such encroachment shall exist in favor of the Association or the Owner of the Lot, as the case may be. Any wall which is placed on the boundary line between a Lot and public right-of-way shall be maintained, repaired and replaced by the Owner of the Lot, except that the Association shall be responsible for the repair and replacement of the surface of the wall which faces the public right-of-way.

CC&Rs Section 8.6

More of My Opinion/Interpretation

So the Tracts where the green belts are located are pretty clearly included in what the association must maintain.  We know the city maintains the streets and the sidewalks (except the sidewalks which are clearly on Common Areas – that means Rio Crossing maintains the walkway from Highland to the Roma Park area, and the sidewalks around and to/from the playgrounds and picnic Ramada). 

So in my personal opinion (not a lawyer, and not representing a board policy here), this boils down to the following:

  • Everything on a Lot is the responsibility of the owner.  Walls are situated on the property lines, making them “common walls”; the owner is responsible for “their side of the wall”, and the association is responsible for the side of any wall that faces onto Common Areas or Areas of Association Responsibility.
  • Everything on Common Areas is the responsibility of the association.
  • The city maintains our streets and gutters, street lights, and any sidewalks not on Common Area.  (A close examination of the properly lines shows that the sidewalks in front of homes is not on the Lot, but on “city property”.)
  • Everything else in Rio Crossing that is not a Lot and is not a Common Area and not maintained by the city is then an Area of Association Responsibility.

This means — in my opinion — that the following items are the responsibility of the association to maintain:

  • Gravel areas between walls and sidewalks – and any weeds or other living things that grow there!
  • All mailbox units.  (These are located on what is technically Avondale city property/easements. I believe the post office maintains individual boxes, but the unit itself, from the ground up – excluding the individual compartments – is the association’s responsibility.  I think of it like a condo.)
  • All doggie stations and garbage cans, and their supports and concrete pads, etc.

So, one more time: “I’m not a lawyer” and “these are just my opinions”, but it’s backed by facts I’ve checked out pretty thoroughly.  And I thought some of you might appreciate the information.

Update: Heatherbrae Entrance

If you’ve traveled through the Heatherbrae entrance this past week (since May 25), you’ve no doubt noticed a change.

Almost all plants are gone!

But if you’ve been paying attention to the association mailing list, you know that the current barren landscape isn’t going to last long.

Look again next weekend!

Watch this clip from the March video for more information. The goal is to revitalize the landscape for the entire community — and this is just the initial pilot project, which will soon look like this:

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me directly.

This site is one of the many official communication channels of the association. Those of you that know me, know that I’m a straight shooter and open communicator. You can go to other social media channels like NextDoor and get the opinions of your neighbors, but if you really want to know what’s going on, subscribe to the mailing list, look for these posts on the web site, visit our Facebook page, or subscribe to our (infrequent but important) Twitter feed.

There have been some comments made regarding the plants placed 4 years ago in the center median which have been removed — and will be replaced as a part of this project. The larger trees selected for the entrance were planted when very small, and now — just 4 years later — the amount of trimming required to keep them out of the roadway is actually detrimental to the plants’ health. The replacement plants are colorful but “appropriately sized” for the small median width in that location.

Playgrounds and Picnic Areas Reopen

From the Mailing List archive (subscribe here).

Hopefully by now you’ve heard that Governor Ducey has released additional executive orders which rescind, modify, or update previous orders,  In general, there is an easing of some of the previous restrictions along with additional guidance, and some timelines exist for future adjustments.

In accordance with his new executive orders, and based on numerous opinions from a variety of sources, Rio Crossing will remove the “caution tape” and prohibitive signs at playgrounds and picnic areas throughout the community’s common areas in the next day or so.

However, new signs will be placed which advises and reminds visitors to those spaces that certain precautions are still required, and that use of common area space remains at your own risk.  The following guidelines should be followed at a minimum:

  • If you are sick (not just with COVID-19,but with any potentially contagious disease), stay away from playgrounds, picnic areas, and other common areas to the extent possible.
  • Continue to observe social/physical distance guidelines of 6-foot separation in these areas.
  • Avoid these areas if you are in a high risk category.  This includes adults 65 or older and people of any age who have serious underlying conditions.
  • While visiting/utilizing these areas, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • After leaving these areas, use hand sanitizer and/or wash your hands (recommended washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds).

Additional public health guidance is available from sources such as the Center for Disease ControlArizona Department of Health ServicesUS Department of Labor, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

As situations warrant, we’ll continue to update you through this mailing list and the various community social media venues.

Please do your part to stay healthy and reduce the risk of becoming infected, and be watchful of those who need supervision.