Starlight Mesa Homeowners Association

Board of Governors' Meeting Minutes

2-11-15, 7:45 p.m.

Sylvia Paz House


Present – Greg Goeckner (GG), John Andraos (JA), Sylvia Paz (SP), Derrick Pan (DP), Alex Benderskii (AB)

Also present - Joe Bergen (JB)


Renovation Requests


Bergen-Penner Solar Panel Proposal:  JB presented his proposal to install solar panels on the upper section of the roof of his and his wife’s house.  The panels will face south and west and will be on the front upper slopes of the roof.  He had circulated the permit package with detailed drawings to the Board in advance of the meeting.


GG raised concern about the aesthetic effects of the installation and about neighbors’ reactions, especially as the panels would face the street and neighbor houses in two directions.  JB advised that they had considered putting the panels on their garage but that was not feasible.  The panel mounting will be flat black and the panels will be dark blue to limit the visual effects from the panels.  JB pointed out that his house’s roof is a dark brown.  There were no color options for the panels that were closer to the house roof color.  The panels will be covered with anti-reflective glass.  The cabling and conduits for the solar panels will be painted to match the roof. 


The panels also will follow the slope of the existing roof.   The panels will not extend above the roofline.  The roof has only a very limited flat portion and utilities and vents already take up that flat portion, so installation of the panels on the flat portion of the roof (as has been done on other houses in the neighborhood) would not be practical.


JB noted that the law is strongly in favor of solar installations, that no government organization can prohibit solar installations and that HOAs cannot place restrictions on solar installations that significantly limit their efficiency; any limitation greater than 10% is prohibited.


JB reviewed numerous proposals for this solar installation.  The efficiency of the system would be reduced drastically if the system were reconfigured from the submitted proposal.  A Southern exposure is best for solar panel efficiency. 


JB is buying rather than leasing the panels and believes that the quality of the panels will be higher than leased panels.


GG noted that he had reviewed the law and agreed generally with JB’s description of the legal standards for HOA action on such proposals.  The Association should have a solar panel policy.  It is important for the neighborhood to understand the legal standards and what to expect as more solar installations are made in the neighborhood.


JB has spoken to the Gerbrachts about the installation plans, but not to the neighbors across the street.  He is waiting for the city to issue a permit for the installation.  DP urged JB to talk to those other neighbors across the street before starting the installation.


After discussion, the Board unanimously approved the proposal.


Maintenance Report


Pool/Tennis Court hillside brush clearance and replanting for 2015:  SP reported that Jose’s bid to cut back the plants on the hillside is $1814 and to mulch that area of the hillside would be $3200 for labor costs (the mulch is available for free).  Putting in new native plants would cost $500.  GG asked whether the Board should proceed if it is too late to replant this year and whether we will need to install sprinklers in the replanted area.  SP will talk to Jose and circulate answers to the Board by e-mail. 


JB noted that the Board had adopted a plan 5 years ago and that Jose had never done any of this work; his prices were too high.  JB believes that Jose’s costs creep up over time.  The plan should be implemented quickly; if the new planting is late the survival rate for the native plants will be very low.  Also, new plants are cheapest in November or December, so that is a better time to start the project.  JB said that the Board shouldn’t do anything on this project this year, as it is too late. 


JB said that converting these hillsides to native plants would limit future brush clearance and fire danger.  The project needs to be continued around the tennis court.  When this area is finished, we can do the same thing in other areas of the Mesa.  The new native plants will need to be watered regularly in the first year.   JB did not think that the rest of the project area should be completed in a single year, as this would involve the removal of too much of the old ground cover at once.  He pointed out that the Board also needed to take out the honeysuckle on the opposite hill; some of that could be done this fall, perhaps in October.  The honeysuckle can be sprayed with herbicide in October and removed in November and December.


SP remarked that this was a big cost and that she would like to use a licensed contractor to do it.  DP and AB observed that there had not been much rain any of the last three years so there shouldn’t be that much brush to clear in these areas. 


Brush clearance – Lower Stardust:  AB noted that we will also need to do brush clearance in the lower Stardust area later in the year.  We will have to talk to the fire department to understand their requirements this year.  SP will take care of that and get approval of the Board in March.


Removal of dead trees:  SP reviewed a bid from Jose of $1840 to remove two dead eucalyptus trees and a dead pine tree near the gardener’s shed.  The Board approved the proposal unanimously.


Pool project:  JB raised the description of the pool project in the minutes from the annual meeting; he had not “suggested” that the pool could be done cheaper than the bids obtained by the Board, he had told us that it could be done cheaper.  JB then handed out annotated copies of the various bids for the pool work and discussed how some of the contractors were attempting to rip off the Association.  In his view, there are two parts to this job – replacing the piping and repairing/replacing the decking.  Replacing the piping should cost about $40k.  For the deck, we have a choice to re-pour the deck (~$40k) or to put an overlay on it ($20k); either solution will crack.  We did an overlay on the deck with the new pool house as a test.  So, the total cost for the job with the overlay would be ~$60k.  There is no need to replace the coping; that was done in 2007.  DP asked what it would cost to reconfigure and improve the pool, perhaps including a new layout, a walk-in area and more child-friendly features.  SP observed that a lot of neighborhood children use the pool and it could be laid out better for them.  DP would like to have a “beach” area in the pool.  JA observed that the pool is mostly configured for adults now, with the deep end covering too much of the pool area.  He would like to see a ledge for seating built inside the pool.  The pool is out of date.  DP suggested that the Board evaluate these options based on their costs.  A special assessment could be issued to finance the added costs of pool improvements, or the HOA could finance the excess cost and pay it off over time.  The Board needs to find out if the community is interested in paying for them.  SP wants the Board to look at various options for the pool and then decide.  GG noted that this is only the planning phase and that the pool project is likely to go forward in 2016.   JB observed that it took 3 years to complete the pool house project.


Gazebo project:  GG raised the status of the gazebo project; we could have a high quality gazebo built for $25k but we do not have that amount of funds allocated for the project.  None of the options reviewed meet both our quality requirements and our cost constraints.  JA suggested that we use money from the reserve account for the project.


Other:  AB advised that he needs help with the solar panel for the irrigation in the children’s park; JB will be happy to help.  He noted that the irrigation controllers used to be in peoples houses and were therefore hard to adjust/control.  SP advised that she had turned on the putting green irrigation.  JB had adjusted it.  GG noted that the area appeared to be overwatered.  AB will talk to Jose.  SP also submitted a proposal from Jose to apply fertilizer to the putting green park for $150.  The Board approved the proposal unanimously.  AB reported that he had tried to install the dog waste station but it would have to be put in concrete due to its size.  SP will get Jose to repair the sprinkler heads in the putting green.  SP talked to the trash company about the issue with mixing yard waste, recycling and garbage in the bins at the gardener’s shed.  The bins we have all are blue, but they are supposed to be separate colors to identify the type of trash.  She will get the company to provide us the right color bins.


Management Company:


JA observed that our management company should be taking on issues such as options for the pool renovation; they could obtain bids, evaluate them and bring the best proposals to the Board for consideration.  GG responded that this would cost more than our current arrangements and this would result in an increase in dues; the neighborhood had enjoyed low dues for some time and residents might object to an increase.  JA said that he would pay more for better services and that the Board shouldn’t have to do this level of detail work.  We should have someone working for us to come up with bids for the Board to review so we can make progress on these projects.  JA also said that Board members should not have to do all of the community maintenance projects, that we should hire a handyman to take on that work.  He will look into options and pricing.


JA also noted that the Board should limit discussion of individual issues at meetings. GG suggested that a time limit should be set for open discussion by community members at meetings so that the Board can focus on agenda items.


Treasurer’s Report


DP advised that he had not yet received the January bank statements so did not have much information.  The Association had incurred only $9k in expenses during January so had more than enough to cover those bills.  The Board completed new signature cards for this year.


Next Board meeting:


            March 25, 2015, 7:30 p.m.,  Goeckner house


The Board then met in Executive Session to discuss legal matters. 


The Board tentatively identified the weekend of April 11-12 as a target for the community meeting to review the draft proposed revised CC&Rs.