Starlight Mesa Homeowners Association

Board Meeting

Levins' House

9-30-14, 7:30

Board Members

Present – Greg Goeckner (GG), Alex Benderskii (AB), Karen Levin (KL), Derrick Pan (DP)

Not Present – John Andraos (JA)

Also Present – Joe Bergen (JB), Kirk Gerbracht (KG), Hsin-Hui Hwu (HHH), Edward Hwu (EH), Maggie Lin (ML)

Alteration Requests:

Hwu family renovation plans:  EH reviewed their proposal for renovations to their new house.  At the side of the front entry, they want to replace the sliding door with a window.  In the master bedroom they want to install a large window in the north wall; this window faces the wall of the neighboring house.  They may want to replace the fence in the back of the house – on the Putting Green Park – and clear up the bushes in that area, but plan to do so using the same location and design.  The current fence is about 6’.  The house has a pool so a tall fence is needed for safety.  JB suggested they speak to Western Fence Co.  The Board unanimously approved the proposed renovations and asked that they come back to the Board if they want to change the location or the design of the fence.

Gerbracht request to move fence:  KG showed the Board a drawing of his proposed back yard fence move and advised that he wants to find a compromise so that he can move his fence.  His property is between the Bergens and the Kims and is part of the commonly maintained area by the pool that backs on to the commonly owned land.   His neighbors (Kims and Zhaos) also want to move their fences back toward the swimming pool and sidewalk.  A tree at the border of his property with the Kims has split the wall.  He needs to repair or replace the fence.  He wants to move his fence back to just behind the oleanders that run along the community path to the pool.  He doesn’t want to change the slope and drainage in the area.  There are multiple trees over 40’ tall – he doesn’t plan to remove any of them.  The fence at the back of his property now is alternating wrought iron and cement blocks (possibly the original fence installed when the community was laid out).  It is about 5’ tall.  He will have to take out a tree that is undermining the fence.  He wants to have all of the fences along this walk at the same distance for all of the properties.  The Kims and the Zhaos are also willing to put in matching fences at the same time.  They don’t want to take up the walkway or change the drainage.  All of the fences would be south of the drainage ditch.  They want to put in fences ~5’ high.  There are no pools in their yards so they don’t need higher fences.  The walkway from the pool area to Mariners Crest is between the Zhaos and the Murphys – at end of the area where they want to relocate the back fence.  The Kims and Zhaos both have flat lots.  The Gerbrachts lot has a slope but they would not change the slope.  Timing of the project depends on the Board.  All three families would get the same contractor for their back fences.  The property south of the community walkway is not being used for anything.

KL noted that children play in the area that would be fenced off.   She asked whether the proposed fence would be continuous from the fence on JB’s lot.  AB noted that the oleander is only on the Gerbracht yard, not on the Kims and Zhaos lots.

KG noted that there was no specific issue prompting the timing of this request.  The Gerbrachts and the other families are not planning to move or to put in a pool in their yards.  The CC&Rs are clear about the treatment of common property such as lot 92. 

AB noted that there are both commonly maintained areas and common owned areas.  KG responded that the areas for common maintenance are totally different from the common lots.  He stated that the community was just being nice by taking care of the common maintenance areas.

KL said she was not happy voting on the proposal at this meeting.  KG said the area proposed to be fenced was not really maintained by the community.  KL responded that the community had maintained it for 50 years.  She suggested that the issue be brought to the community meeting so everyone could discuss it.  KG stated that many of the people who are vocal about leaving fences the way they are never use the pool or the walkway.

JB advised that there is history to the situation that no one is aware of.  The previous owners of the Kims’ house had approached the Board about 10 years ago to move their fence and were told that the Board owned the common maintenance area land and offered to sell that area to the homeowners.

AB said that he did not think that moving the Gerbrachts fence would make much of a difference, but he was worried about the impact of moving the Kims’ and Zhaos’ fences.  Moving those fences may impact landscaping in the area.  KG responded that the Kims are willing to leave existing trees and would move the existing bushes back to where the new fence would be.  They also would be willing to cap and move sprinklers in the area to be fenced in.  And the Kims would take the stones out of the area.  The current sprinklers in the common maintenance area are all along the walkway.

JB commented that the homeowners have to be responsible for moving the fences and the landscaping.

AB observed that there are strong opinions in the community about moving fences in these areas.  He did not feel that the Board could make a decision on the subject now. 

KG stated that all community members only own 1/90 of the common lots but do not have an ownership interest in the common maintenance areas.

DP commented that the solution in this case might be good, but that the Board is concerned about setting a precedent for other situations as well.  He did not think the Board has the authority to do that.

AB suggested that KG could make his presentation to the community through a mass e-mail and gather everyone’s opinion and see what they say. 

GG stated the he was concerned about approving a fence move while the CC&R revision process is underway, since that process will help to better define the standards for approval of this type of request. 

KG stated that he did not want to present his proposal to the community for input.  He believes the Board should act under the existing CC&Rs.  His attorney is Christianne Kerns of Hahn and Hahn; she told KG that he should just go ahead and build his fence.  What he is proposing are reasonable conditions.

AB noted that there was a lot of unhappiness in the community after JB moved his fence.  JB said that was not true.  He believes that Chari Gilmore had tried to move her fence and wasn’t happy with the Board’s decision and so was campaigning against him, claiming that his fence wasn’t built where he had put the stakes for the Board to see.  He didn’t think the Board did its due diligence when approving his fence move.  He also pointed to the Berrymans’ opposition to his “plastic fence” and said there are many instances of vinyl fences in the community.

AB observed that the current Board inherited the issue of proper standards for fence moves; there have been heated discussions on the issue.

KG commented that if he put in his fence as proposed, someone in the community would have to sue him to make him move it.  He had made his presentation to the Board and did not want to have to go to the community on the subject.  He had presented a fair compromise. 

KL commented that the proposal would involve changes to the landscaping and that all of the details of the proposal have to be worked out first.

AB noted that he did not think that a move of the Gerbracht fence would be that noticeable, but that the same would not be true of a move of the back fences on the Kim and Zhao properties. 

KG said that he did not plan to put a gate in his new fence for access to the common area.

JB suggested that the Board should go look at the area.

DP said the issue was not so much the proposed fence but that standards for this type of fence move should be set first.  He did not want to have backlash from the community over a fence move that the community thought did not fit with community standards. 

KL commented that many people were upset about JB’s fence move.  GG agreed that he had had people say they don’t like JB’s fence.

KG concluded by saying that he would let his attorney take over the matter.  She wanted to send a letter but he had told her to wait.  The same attorneys also represent the Kims.

AB repeated that the Board would be willing to make a presentation to the community about this proposed fence move and see if there are objections.  KG responded that a lot of the community doesn’t use the area.  AB said that all community members still have an interest in the subject.  DP stated that the Board needs to make sure everyone is heard.  GG suggested that there probably is an acceptable compromise on the subject, but the question is when to make it.  He pointed out that the Board represents the community and that it is important to have community support for a move such as this.  The acceptable uses by individual homeowners of common maintenance areas need to be better defined.

KG said that he doesn’t want to wait 6 months for the CC&R project to be completed.  GG responded that the Board hopes to have it done sooner than that.  He also pointed out that the Board could e-mail the community on the subject.

JB stated that he is concerned that the process will drag on endlessly.  KG did not see any point to sending the proposal to the community.

KL said that in any event the Board needed more information on the proposal, such as the proposed fence material, planting, etc.  AB suggested that KG send the Board an e-mail with the details.  KL said that the Board should get input from everyone.  AB said that the Board would send the proposal around for comment and see what the community responses were. 

GG also pointed out that the Board needed to hear from the Zhaos, since KG had made his proposal on their behalf but they had never indicated to the Board that they had any interest in moving their fence.  KG said he would talk to them.

Mulligan request to install artificial turf:  GG advised that Jim Mulligan had asked about putting artificial grass in his front lawn area.  KL commented that the Board should go to look at the area.  JB noted that there is no artificial turf currently in any community front yards.  KL suggested that artificial turf might be controversial, though there might be increased interest due to the drought.  GG suggested that the Board review the location and then confer further.  (Following the meeting, Jim Mulligan advised that he would withdraw the request.)

Maintenance Report:

Pool renovation update:  JB asked that the Board send him the Symphony Pools bid.  He said he would never do business with Mr. Carlos, which had supplied a bid for the pool work.  He felt that bid was trying to take advantage of the HOA.  The bid was not itemized.  The decking estimate was for twice the area of the actual deck.  JB had spoken to Ron at Ventura Pools.  They can do the work in two phases, starting with the pipes.  He wouldn’t redo the tiles or re-plaster the pool.  GG stated that there is no specific time planned for this work but that this is a matter of long-term planning for a big project.  JB said that in his view this project could be done for $50-70k.  He expects another bid for the work and then will come back to the Board.   The cost will depend on what we do with the deck.  The deck will crack unless we put paver stones on top and those are very expensive.  The biggest cost variance depends on whether we replace or resurface the deck – the cost difference will be about $20k.  AB said that resurfacing should be fine.  GG asked how this would affect the expected lifespan of the deck.  JB responded that it depends on the type of concrete used.  He was opposed to using stamped concrete; sand finish and light finish were better.  If the deck is resurfaced it will have to be resealed every two years at a cost of about $1500.  The deck area around the bar needs to be resealed now.  AB said that the pool deck resurfacing should match the pool house deck resurfacing.  JB said he was getting the bids adjusted for a lower finish cost.  He did not see any reason to redo the coping; there are only 2 cracked pieces of coping, which can be replaced.  The concrete and the coping can be stained with a penetrating stain.  Pool people are very busy now.  The pool company that brought our pool up to Virginia Graham Baker Act compliance is busy until November.  We shouldn’t do this work in the winter due to the location of the underground stream under the pool.  We may have to split the drains due to compliance issues; a new line may be needed for auto-fill.  This work can be done in two phases.  We should wait to replace the copper line.  The gunnite should be anchored with epoxy. 

AB asked if the project would cost more if done in two phases.  JB said that he was inclined to do it all at once.

JB pointed out that only one of the underwater lights is on a gfi circuit and this will need to be changed.  There is a simple way to fix this, by putting a gfi breaker in the power panel.

JB pointed out that the pool light is out in the shallow end of the pool and needs to be replaced.  He suggested installing an LED light, which would use less power.

JB will continue to look into pool renovation alternatives.  He may also get a bid from Mako Pool and Spa, which did the VGB compliance. Pool contractors sub out the concrete work and mark it up.  Dust is an issue with the pool renovation; the contractor will need to coordinate the work to avoid this.  JB will write up a report when all bids are in.

DP noted that the Board still is in the discovery phase on this project and was not ready to make any decisions.  JB commented that with $49k in the reserve fund at the end of the year and continuing regular deposits, we should have enough money for this project in 2016.  He anticipates that the total cost of the job will be $50-70k.  The deck area is the biggest cost variant.  He will know more in November.

General Maintenance:  AB reported that there were not many recent developments related to maintenance.  The sprinklers on the hillside were not working at 5203 Starlight Mesa Lane; this has been corrected.  He has posts for the no smoking signs and will install them this weekend.  KL met with a contractor regarding the gazebo; the cost will depend on the permits required by the city.  GG suggested that we look for a contractor who specializes in gazebos, for example in city parks.

Treasurer’s Report:

DP reported that at the end of August, the bank balance was $23k, with $15k in outstanding checks, leaving a net balance of $8k.  September is a dues collection month.  He anticipates that, after expenses, the net balance at the end of September will be about $25k.  Overall, operating cash is in good shape.  The balance in the reserve account is $45k.  With one exception, delinquencies are very limited.  Reminder notices were sent to three homeowners recently.

Annual meeting:

GG suggested the afternoon of November 16th as the tentative time for the community annual meeting.  DP raised the issue of soliciting candidates for next year’s Board.  GG will send an e-mail to the neighborhood soliciting nominations to start the process.  The Board discussed locations for the meeting.  KL said the annual meetings used to be at the country club on a weekday evening; we cannot use that facility on a weekend.  GG will inquire about the Thursday Club.  DP, GG and AB indicated that they intended to run for the Board next year.  KL said that, having served two terms already, she would not run.  AB will ask JA.

DP will prepare a draft annual budget for 2015, to be approved by the homeowners at the annual meeting.

CC&Rs Project Update

GG is waiting for a draft of the new CC&Rs from counsel.  A separate meeting will need to be scheduled with the community to review the draft, perhaps in early December.

Next meeting:

The next meeting will be held October 27th, at 7:30 p.m., at KL’s house.