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Violations for July & August 2021

The violation chart I posted for April seemed to generate a bit of interest, so I thought I’d put up the charts for July and August.

Since we’ve had a bit of rain over the last month or so, you’ll obviously note that the Landscaping notices are up. But please keep in mind that we’ve instructed the management company to be very lenient on “short weeds” that have only recently sprouted due to recent rain. That does mean that the uptick in Landscaping violations represents a LOT of taller, long-term grass around the community.

And remember that the first notice really is a “Courtesy Notice”. The intent is to be a reminder that there is something on your lot that needs attention. I get it: we’re all busy, and sometimes too busy to notice something that we would normally deal with. Normally you won’t get a second notice for two weeks… and even that notice is not a fine. We don’t want you to put it off for several weeks before it becomes a huge issue, but if you have an extenuating circumstance, contact our Community Manager Lisa with information about your situation, and we’ll do what we can to accommodate, short-term.

Strict, or Lenient?

As your association president, I’m a little more involved with the community members than many HOA leaders in other communities. I generally get several emails a week from members and residents on one topic or another, and often hear about concerns relating to violations. Like our parking issues, there is a definite split in the feedback I get.

About a third of you really hate HOAs and violation notices and everything that does with it. I get it: you want to do your thing without being bothered by someone telling you what to do. There are neighborhoods not far from here with no active association and no violation notices, and they don’t look very nice. I’m sorry to tell you that HOAs are here to stay, like them or not.

Another third of the contacts I get are really information requests, people wanting to know more about where the rules are (our governing documents), who does the community compliance tours (our community manager and one other compliance person share responsibility), and what can you do if you have a specific issue or question (contact Lisa).

The other third of you want to know why we’re so lenient on violators. The folks with this sort of inquiry usually take great care in keeping their lot in good shape by spraying for weeds, watering their plants, repairing any damaged areas, etc., and they want to know why we’re not making everyone else do their part to keep the community looking nice.

We can’t make anyone do anything. But as you can tell, we send a lot of notices.

Escalation Happens

I’m in the process of rewriting our policies on violations and fines. (There’s a new policy out on Noise and Nuisance Complaints. Have you read it? See Policies here.) The main reason for revising a number of our policies is to make the processes more transparent. Right now they don’t describe the process very well, and with the revision, I hope to explain it so that anyone that wants to know can easily find out.

But even the current version mentions the first “Courtesy Notice” and the next “Notice of Intent to Fine”, which really is similar to the courtesy notice in that there is no fine attached… but a warning that the next notice will be a fine. The first fine amount in the current policy is always $25, and the second one is $50, and typically the notices are spaced 2 weeks apart for ongoing issues like weeds in the yard or parking on the granite area. if you don’t take care of the issue, and you don’t contact Lisa to discuss the situation, then you’ll like continue to receive additional notices every 2 weeks, with escalating fine amounts.

But what happens if we’ve sent out 5-6 notices and fines and you’ve done nothing? Please don’t let it get to this!! But if you do, the board normally will authorize a letter from the association attorney asking for your immediate compliance and contact – not with the community manager, but with the attorney. If by the next board meeting there has still been no communication and no resolution, we will likely authorize the attorney to request a court order for a civil injunction. Nobody wants it to get to this, but the association has no alternative if you refuse to respond to the notices.

Your best bet, if you get a notice of any type, is to send an email to our Community Manager Lisa explaining what you plan to do… even if it will take you longer than a week or two to get it done! Normally that’s all it takes, as long as you take care of the issue in a reasonable timeframe.

Annual Meeting 2021

There is a history of low attendance at Rio Crossing Homeowners Association Annual Meetings.

Okay, I get it: meetings in general are boring, and what could be more boring than an HOA meeting, right?

Except this is your association. You belong. You are a member (if you’re an owner of a home in Rio Crossing). You have a right to be there, and a right to vote.

Vote? Vote for what, or whom? There are five of us currently on the Board of Directors. According to our Bylaws, an election is held every year – technically “at the annual meeting”. But keep in mind that our governing documents were written back in 2004, when meeting in person was pretty much the only viable option for most people.

Fast forward to today. Everyone Zooms! Most people don’t want to “get presentable” and drive to a location they know nothing about and meet with people they’ve never seen before. Now you can meet with us via Zoom, see what happens at a board meeting (it can still be pretty boring – but not always!), and get to know those of us that represent you in the overall management of the community.

Details… You Want Details!

Call for Candidates – Responses Due No Later Than September 13 at 8:30am

Want to be on the board? We welcome new volunteers! A Call for Candidates is in the mail and should arrive in your postal mailbox around September 1, and is sent to the owner’s mailing address on record for each lot.

To be included on the ballot, your response to the Call for Candidates needs to be submitted no later than Monday September 13 at 8:30am, and can be submitted via postal mail, email, or fax. Submittal instructions are included with the mailing.

Owners Receive Ballots – Around September 20

The ballots and the official Meeting Notice will be prepped for mailing starting September 13, and normally take about a week to arrive in owner mailboxes, around September 20 or soon thereafter.

Ballots Due In – Date and Time Depend on the Method of Submittal

Here’s where it gets tricky. When your ballot is due depends on how you intend to vote.

If you’re going to physically mail it in via USPS or any other means of physical delivery, it should be received in the PDS office several days before the Annual Meeting. We all know that postal service timing of deliveries has not been very speedy in recent months, so we recommend you send some other means… otherwise, send early!

If you are going to send via Email or Fax per the instructions on the ballot form, your ballot needs to be received no later than noon on the day of the Annual Meeting, to allow time for printing (hardcopies are always generated) and processing.

ARS 33-1812 states that “The association shall provide for votes to be cast in person.” If you wish to cast a ballot in person, bring your completed ballot to the picnic area along Roma between 5pm and 6pm on the day of the Annual Meeting. I will be there along with John Lavin, another community member, to collect any in-person ballots. 6pm is a firm cut-off time, because then the ballots have to be scanned and sent electronically to PDS for counting.

Annual Meeting – Thursday October 28, 2021 at 7pm via Zoom

Last year’s annual meeting was virtual. This year’s will be as well.

Details of the meeting, including the Zoom link, will be sent by our management company via “E-Blast” to anyone registered on the RioCrossing.org web site. Information will also be in the ballot packet you’ll receive around September 20. If you’re not registered on the website or can’t find your ballot form, contact Lisa to get the information.

Overseeding Plans for Winter 2021

At the August Board meeting we reviewed the proposal from Stillwater, our landscape vendor, to do the winter overseeding of the community’s turf areas.

If you’re not aware, here’s some background. There is a perennial (grows year after year) grass in our turf areas called Bermuda, which really thrives in the summer, but tends to go dormant in cooler temperatures. Specifically, if daytime temperatures go below 65°, Bermuda grass pretty much turns brown. Within the soil – under the surface – the roots of Bermuda are still alive, and need minimal irrigation. But it doesn’t look good – and historically we get a lot of complaints from residents about how the turf looks in the winter, if only the Bermuda is there.

Ryegrass to the Green Rescue!

But there’s an annual (has to be replanted every year) grass that thrives in the cooler Arizona temperatures, which is called Ryegrass. To plant the Ryegrass, the irrigation is stopped for about a week when the temperatures fall below the 60s. The Bermuda grass turns brown, and the Ryegrass is planted, often along with aerating the turf and application of a fertilizer. And watered… a lot! The water costs almost as much as the Ryegrass seeding costs, in most years.

But you and your neighbors have spoken loud and clear for years: you want green grass in the winter! So each year we budget for the extra cost. Normal budget is just under $10,000 for the Ryegrass application, and about that much for the additional water. I have to admit I like the green turf in the winter too, and the cost – while it seems high – is well worth the better community appearance… and your satisfaction.

The Price is Up…

But this year, the price of Ryegrass application is considerably more expensive, primarily due to increased prices of the seed itself, which have doubled, by most accounts. The reason for the seed price increase is beyond the scope of this post, but see this article from the US Golf Association (they know a thing or two about grass growing!).

Another consideration is that many landscape professionals recommend not overseeding every year, saying that every 3-5 years there Bermuda needs to be left “uninvaded by Ryegrass” to maintain the long term health of the Bermuda. The consensus view of the board has been that the desire of the residents for green grassy turf in the winter is more important than allowing our grass to go brown in hopes of improving the underlying Bermuda.

And the Answer Is…

All of this came into the discussion, and the board decided to proceed with overseeding most of the Rio Crossing turf areas — but to experimentally leave two smaller turf areas undisturbed:

  • What we semi-lovingly call the “Jumping Wall Park”, the turf area west of the Roma/124th intersection.
  • The turf inside the turn/intersection from Devonshire to 123rd – the northwest corner.

We plan to monitor the health and vitality of the turf in those two areas for a year or so afterward, and determine whether there is – or is not – a good reason to allow other turf areas within the community to “rest the Bermuda”.

We don’t really want the main park area to look like this any longer than necessary:

Roma Park being set up for a community event in April 2018 – after winter Ryegrass went dormant but before the Bermuda was brought back to life.

But if the long-term health of the turf can benefit from one “rest year” out of every 5, I hope we’ll consider a rotating “rest period” throughout the turf areas. Doing one major or several minor turf areas each year would at least give us some nice grass around the community every year. Prior boards have taken the “all or nothing” approach to the rest periods… resulting in the entire community turf being brown. Our landscape company has recommended this approach for us, and I think it’s a reasonable alternative to “all or nothing” without never giving the Bermuda a rest.

Violations for April 2021

Every now and then an owner contacts me and wants to know why they’re being “picked on” for weeds, parking on gravel, trash and early bulk articles, and trash cans left out. The point to a neighbor’s house and say, “Why don’t they get a violation notice?”

If you got a notice, I won’t tell anyone. And if “they” got a notice, I won’t tell you. But I will put up this chart about all the violation notices sent out in April:

Violations by Category for the month of April 2021

You’ll see two “Thank You” notices were sent out. When the management company sees a home that looks extra spiffy, they do take the time to send out a nice note.

I know a lot of people think these notices are stupid. There are others in the community that don’t think we write enough of them. We try to find a balance between “hard line” and “oh my, look at that mess!”. That’s why the first notice is often called a Courtesy Notice. No fine, no pressure. In fact, if you’ve got an extenuating circumstance, call or email our Community Manager and explain, and she’ll let you know if there are work-arounds or other things we can suggest to help.

Are you interested in seeing more information like this? Give me some feedback…

Would you like to see more Violation charts?
Yes, more charts, please
5 Vote
No, not really interested
2 Vote

Help Stop Vandalism in Rio Crossing

We’ve had several incidents of vandalism on common-area property in the last week or so. Most of it is trivial, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore it. We’d like your help in stopping vandalism — both on common area property and on homeowner’s lots.

The best thing you can do is to call Avondale Police Department whenever you see vandalism in progress. But if you don’t see the vandals in action, please report vandalism on common areas to Lisa, our Community Manager.

There are a couple of organized Block Watch areas in Rio Crossing. Unlike the older Neighborhood Watch areas that encompassed an entire community, Block Watch areas are focused on smaller parts of a neighborhood… one where people are more likely to know each other and be willing to look out for each other. If you want to know more about the Block Watch program – to see if there’s one where you live, or to help get one started (it’s not much work!), contact Lisa.

If vandals see we’re not taking action on vandalism in the entry way, they’re more likely to come into the community and do damage on private property. Help all of us by being proactive.

Avondale Transit Study

I was asked by Maricopa Association of Governments to invite anyone interested in the future of transit service in Avondale to consider attending a community meeting.

I attended one of these a few weeks ago, and I was impressed with the forward-thinking approaches to enhancing transit in the Avondale-Goodyear area.

Zoom Transit will Likely Be Affected

If you are a current rider of the Zoom service that circulates around Avondale and connects to other transit resources, you should definitely attend, as there will likely be changes in that area.

Sign Up!

MAG’s Transportation Planner Jennifer Valentine wrote:

Please feel free to invite friends, coworkers, employees, customers, members of your HOA, etc. who have an interest in the future of transit service in Avondale and Goodyear. We’d appreciate your help in spreading the word about the community meetings. Meeting information can be found on the project website, at azmag.gov/Avondale-Goodyear, and below:

March 4, 2021 from 5:00 to 6:30 PM
https://azmag-gov.zoom.us/j/97465886384?pwd=MHA5a3hWOXZra09ERXlMSXlhajBWZz09
Passcode: 575516

March 10, 2021 from 9:00 to 10:30 AM
https://azmag-gov.zoom.us/j/97171711790?pwd=U2oxenhRS0E5V1FZTEZrN1JiY2lTUT09
Passcode: 388134

Social Event, Online?

I know this whole COVID thing has been dragging on for a year or more now. For those of you that liked getting out in the neighborhood for a community event now and then — we miss having “movie in the park” night, and especially our Winter Festivals!

I’ve been wondering… are there online events that Rio Crossing residents would like? I know some of you (or your kids) play online games, some of you would love to have a little “chat with your neighbors” night (while others may hate Zoom — understandable!).

I’m not sure what we could do, or who would be interested. But if you have some ideas about ways this could work, I’d love to hear about them. Use the Feedback page to let me know.

Do You Podcast?

I’ve done a few short-run podcasts in my day, and they’re actually easier to put together than most things I do for Rio Crossing social-media wise.

I’ve set up a podcast for Rio Crossing, more or less on a trial basis to see if there’s really any interest. Check out the Podcast home here on Anchor.FM, and if you’re a big podcast listener, you’ll find links there to podcasts on a number of popular sources, including Apple and Google.

If you really like podcasts and have suggestions for topics, or would maybe consider chatting with me on a podcast — any topic you like (within reason!) — send me a note from the web site’s Feedback page.