Fall 2016 Newsletter

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Nov 112016

Fall 2016 SMVE Newsletter

Sunrise Mountain View Estates
5550 N. Paseo Otoño
Tucson, AZ  85750

Volume 25 No. 2

Welcome to the Sunrise Mountain View Estates Fall 2016 Newsletter!

The SMVE website and SMVE News Alert emails are the primary vehicles to communicate important information to homeowners in a timely fashion. All information will be published on the website as soon as the information is available.  We recommend subscribing to website update emails to receive the most timely information.

Twice each year, articles published on the website since the prior newsletter are consolidated into a newsletter like the one you are reading. An SMVE News Alert is sent to notify homeowners that the newsletter is available.  Articles that are no longer relevant at the time the newsletter is published are omitted. We mail a printed copy of the newsletter only to those homeowners without email.

Nov 292016
✉ Guy Scharf, President, SMVE HOA


Homeowner Directory: Homeowners have missed the SMVE homeowner directory last published in 2012.  Now, a new SMVE Homeowner Directory is available on our website, where you can look up names or addresses online or print your own copy if you wish. We expect to update this directory throughout the year so new homeowners and any changes will be included quickly.  Just click on the Directory button above to see the new directory page.  Click here to read more about the directory and how to be added or to change your listing.  For those of you without internet access, a printed copy will be available early in 2017.

Please join me in thanking Pam Negri for her work in collecting information for the directory from homeowners.

Website Improvements: You’ll see several other improvements to our website.  A new Calendar page shows both social events and meetings homeowners are welcome to attend.  The cumbersome login procedure has been changed.  Just enter the username and password in the box on the right side of any page and click on the Login button.  You no longer need to login on a separate page and then figure out how to get back to the page you wanted to see.  Finally, the menu buttons at the top and side of each page have been re-arranged to emphasize the pages of most interest to homeowners.

Gratitude: I also want to thank the homeowners who have notified us of problems needing attention.  With 238 homeowners, your 400 pairs of eyes see things we miss, or aren’t there to see.  Whether it is a water leak, garage door left open, a damaged sidewalk, a problem tree, pool problems, or anything else requiring attention, please call any Board member.  We will pass your report to the proper person to take care of the issue.

Roads: Over the next nine months, you will see the first installment on major road improvements.  This winter a pavement contractor will fill the cracks in the roads.  Crack filling helps extend the life of the roads by preventing water from getting underneath the asphalt, where it weakens the base and eventually leads to pavement failure.  Crack filling should be a minor inconvenience as it will require street parking be avoided for some hours in different areas so the cracks can be accessed.  The entire project is expected to take about two days.  We’ll provide full information later.

The biggest project is to repave Paseo Otoño and Via Sempreverde from Paseo Otoño up to the first set of mailboxes.  Paseo Otoño is failing and developing potholes, so is in urgent need of reconstruction.  This work is tentatively planned for May, 2017.  We expect to close the Paseo Otoño entrance from Sunrise for as long as a week.  You will need to enter and leave the HOA via Territory rather than Sunrise.  The parking lot in front of the pool will be closed during construction.  We will be contacting all homeowners as we get nearer to the project date and the complete scope of the project is known.

Finally, all the roads will have a seal coat added in June.  Sealing the roads is an important step in maintaining the roads and extending their life and needs to be done about every four years.  As homeowners who have been here during previous road sealing projects, this is a major inconvenience to all homeowners.  An entire lane of each road must be closed for 24 hours, and traffic patterns have to be adjusted to allow the closures.  The sealing project will require several days, as we rotate the lane closures through all roads.  We schedule this work for June, as there are fewer homeowners in residence and so fewer inconvenienced.  As we get closer to the project date, we’ll let everyone know the closure and traffic control plan.

After these projects, the next repaving is anticipated to be Via Velazquez from Paseo Otoño to the central set of mailboxes.  The condition of the roads over the next years will determine what we repave and when.

Dogs: You’ve read our articles about dog poop before and we thank you for picking up after your dog.  But now we are getting reports from Via Sempreverde that unknown persons, after picking up after their dog and placing the debris in a plastic bag, leave the bag in a driveway or throw it into the bushes in front yards instead of taking it home and disposing of it properly in the trash!  If you see someone doing that, please ask them to dispose of their bag properly. 

Subscribing to Website Updates: Subscribing to website updates (see Subscribe link in right column) is the best way to stay abreast of everything that is happening at SMVE.  Whenever a new article is posted on the website, the next morning we will send you an email with the new articles (but we won’t bother you if there is nothing new).  About 100 people subscribe to these updates.

When you click on the Subscribe link, fill out your email address as requested and submit the request.  The mail system will then send you an email which you must respond to to confirm that you want to be on the list.  If you do not confirm OR you do not receive the confirmation note, then you are not added to the list.  We have received reports of the subscription process not working properly. If you don’t receive the confirmation note OR never get a notice indicating new articles are available, please email or call me so we can fix the problem and add you to the subscription list.

Oct 202016
✉ by Larry Spencer, SMVE HOA Treasurer


September year-to-date the HOA’s financial position has improved considerably. Operating expenses are 16.3% under budget, and the treasury has benefited.

With the increase of dues and under budget spending, the financial assets have grown significantly in the past 9 months. Total cash assets are up $84,917 year to date. We have been able to make $155,020 contributions to the Capital Reserve Fund. That fund is used to pay for major repairs and improvements, such as upcoming road repairs. So far this year $33,078 has been spent on capital projects, and $1,503 interest has been earned in the Capital Reserve Fund.

Capital Reserve Accounts Operating Accounts Total
31-Dec-2015 $213,979 $324,524 $538,503
30-Sep-2016 $337,424 $285,996 $623,420
Change $123,445 ($38,528) $84,917


The Board of Directors adopted a new Finance Committee Charter that more completely describes the duties of the committee and its composition. The committee can now include a homeowner who is not a member of the Board. See Finance Committee Charter.

The Board also adopted a comprehensive set of purchasing and contract guidelines. These cover rules for approving budgeted and unbudgeted expenses, obtaining bids, selecting a winning bid, bidding procedures, periodic rebidding, contract considerations, and more. See Purchasing and Contract Procedures and Guidelines.

Every homeowner has paid their dues. There is one household still owning a late fee.

In May we started paying invoices through Bill.com. We have been successful in getting most of our frequently used vendors to sign up for electronic payments, which have a lower administrative costs per payment and provide the vendor with funds in their bank accounts sooner. With the new bill.com payment process we have a Director and the Treasurer approving invoices online (except for utility payments that are paid by direct withdrawal).

Our biggest expenses continue to be utilities (mostly gas to heat the pools and water for pools and irrigation), landscaping, and trash collection. Those three categories make up nearly three-quarters of the $172,530 Operating expenses so far this year.

Jan-Sep 2016 Operating Expense


Fall 2016 Landscape Report

November 8, 2016  News
Nov 082016
✉ by Kathy Mitton, Landscape Chair


Since the last landscape report, we’ve focused mainly on maintaining the existing landscape with weekly landscape maintenance, quarterly pack rat inspections, and annual tree trimmings. The plantings in areas that were re-landscaped in 2014 and 2015 now look much more mature and vibrant (e.g. the Gelsomino/Velazquez area and the southern barbell portion of Sempreverde). This fall we did some small refreshes of areas on Velazquez which included both of the north and center mailbox areas as well as some other small common areas that needed granite and grading.

One major capital expense we incurred this year was updating the irrigation from poly to PVC along Largo Salici. Two separate irrigation areas are fed by this line (the front entrance and downstream Sempreverde including the north mailbox) so when leaks occurred, everything had to be shut down until a repair was made. We were experiencing numerous leaks (sometimes 2 or 3 a week) due to the old poly aging. Since that change was made we have not had a similar leak in that area. That experience did drive home the point that over time as poly in other areas fail we will need to update it with PVC which has a much longer life.

We’ve also had some backflow and irrigation problems in the South Pool area. Both backfill valves were rebuilt (they were too old to repair) and we’ve made several repairs to irrigation on the west side. For those of you who use the South pool and tennis courts I’d appreciate it if you would keep a lookout for further leaks and report any problems you notice.

This summer we had more than normal problems with weedy yards. Several homeowners were notified of an issue at their home and promptly dealt with the weed issue. If you are gone for long periods of time in the summer, ensure you have a weed strategy and either arrange for regular maintenance while you are gone or know who you would call should a problem arise.

Finally, many of us have had too many visits from packrats. The unusually warm fall has contributed to the packrats being very active longer than normal. If your home is a frequent stopover for the packrats, ensure that you have no packrat nests in your yard (front or back). Remember they love to be hidden so if you have ground cover such as Rosemary or Oleandars that are thick at ground level these are nice hiding spots for them. Keep packrat friendly vegetation well lifted to avoid making easing nesting spots for them. They also like stacks of wood and bricks so ensure you don’t offer any those types of easy nesting spots in your yard. Finally they could be in your neighbor’s yard so chat with your neighbor to ensure he too is taking corrective action with yard plantings. If you do spot a nest on your property, you can always contact Mr. Packrat for a free estimate for removal. If the visitors are coming over the wall and you decide to trap them yourselves as several homeowners have done, please keep in mind the following:

  • Never trap more than two consecutive nights. You will actually draw more packrats to your yard due to the scent trails they leave
  • Clean and disinfect the area with 50% PineSol and 50% water after catching something (or after two nights if you caught nothing) and wait until you see more signs of packrats before attempting to trap again
  • A used packrat trap will attract other packrats. When not trapping packrats ensure the trap is put away where it can’t be scented by other packrats
  • Consider coating rocks with 50% Pinesol and 50% water and place near areas that seem to attract packrats. (Suggested by a homeowner who says it works. I haven’t tried this myself).

Remember that packrats are a part of the food chain in the desert. We’re fortunate to have a large amount of green space surrounding our community and that brings with it various desert critters that we have to deal with or tolerate. We can’t eradicate packrats (or snakes or scorpions) but we can minimize our brushes with them and ensure we aren’t doing anything to unnecessarily attract them.

Thanks to all who have reported landscape problems year! Don’t hesitate to call or email if you spot a leak or observe something in the landscape that needs to be attended.

Nov 082016
✉ by Teresa Scharf, Chair, Hospitality Committee


We’re happy to report a sense of community is gaining momentum at SMVE. We held our first “Bring Your Own Beverage and Appetizer to Share” event on November 1st. This was the first time that we enjoyed the new policy of allowing alcoholic beverages in the clubhouse and ramada. People seemed to appreciate the ability to partake in an assortment of beverages. The weather was perfect for those that wanted to enjoy being outdoors in the ramada, and this also offered a quieter setting. The event helped mingling between established and recent homeowners, to the enjoyment of all. More than 50 homeowners attended.

Many homeowners told us that they enjoyed this new BYOB and Appetizer to share event, so we will try several variations over the next three months. These events will be casual (no RSVP needed) so please come join us as your schedule permits.

The next event will be on Tuesday, December 6th from 5 to 7 p.m. at the clubhouse and will be another “Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) and Appetizer” event. We look forward to another fun evening as we share friendly conversation and tasty appetizers. We hope to see familiar faces from last time as well as new faces too.

We are planning a BYOB/brunch for January 14 from 10 am-noon and BYOB/appetizer for February 7 from 5-7 pm [rescheduled]. The events will be announced on the SMVE website several weeks in advance and flyers will be posted at the mailboxes a week in advance. We look forward to seeing you and enjoying a fun and pleasant time together.

Teresa Scharf – Committee Chair
Event Coordinators – Carole Stephen, Jane Spalding, and Joyce Steiner

Fall Tennis News

November 9, 2016  News, Recreation
Nov 092016
The best season for tennis in Tucson is here. During this time we typically see the courts active almost every morning, but free most afternoons. New scoring posts are up to help us who are challenged to remember the set score. The long, narrow crack on the south side of the north court will be addressed during the winter months when the temperature swings are at a minimum. When you use the signup cabinets, remember to fasten the doors closed to keep them from coming open in the occasional wind or rain. That will help to keep the cabinets “in play” for a longer period of time.

Most of all, enjoy the unique privilege of having two good courts with different surfaces to play on and enjoy.

✉ by Lee Radziemski
Nov 282016
From December 2016 through February 2017 the south pool and spa water will not be heated for swimming. Heating will resume about March 1, 2017. You can still access the pool area if you want to bask in the sun. The north pool will continue to be heated to accommodate winter swimming during December, January, February and going forward.

Nov 242017
From December 2017 through February 2018 the south pool and spa water will not be heated for swimming. Heating will resume about March 1, 2018. You can still access the pool area if you want to bask in the sun. The north pool will continue to be heated to accommodate winter swimming during December, January, February and going forward.

May 102016
✉ by Guy Scharf, Chair, Architecture Committee

Phone: (cell)

The article below, by Bill Page and reprinted from the Fall 2011 SMVE Newsletter, offers excellent guidance on easing the architectural review process with advance planning.  We’ve seen this recently with prospective buyers asking questions about possible changes so they would not be surprised after buying.  Bill’s article is just as timely now as when it was first published.

✉ by Bill Page, Past Architecture Chair  

It has been heartening that many homeowners have sought the architectural committee’s advice in their advance planning. This has resulted in quick approval for such projects when the final plans are submitted. Our goal is to expedite your plans in a manner consistent with our neighborhood values (as spelled out in the CC&R’s, Rules and Regulations, and past practice).

It is important to submit photos, drawings, blueprints (where applicable), and in the case of extensions or any outdoor addition, a copy of your plot plan to permit the committee to see the entire picture. In some instances, in the pre-planning stages, an email or letter (with a photo or sketch) may allow us to provide suggestions you may not have thought of for your consideration.

As usual our concerns deal with the entire neighborhood and include:

  1. Will the project materially block a neighbor’s view?
  2. Will the contractor place all building materials off the street and behind the patio wall or in the garage?
  3. Will contractors remove all construction debris and vehicles by each days end?
  4. Will the contractor have too many vehicles or large vehicles effectively blocking the street or others driveways?
  5. Common walls are the joint property of two adjacent homeowners. Is there a common wall involved and if so do the neighbors agree to sign off on the project?
  6. Since colors evolve over time, is your painting contractor “up to speed” with the latest approved exterior colors?
  7. How tall may a flagpole be and where may it be placed?
  8. If a “port-a-potty” is to be used, is it some “less conspicuous color” and will it be placed behind the patio wall?
  9. As newer materials and more energy efficient products evolve, how may these be used in a manner to fit in with our neighborhood?

Please submit your pre-planning questions, requests, and final plans to ✉ Architecture Committee chair Guy Scharf ; (cell) or to .

Mar 202018

If you want to get a fast response from the Architectural Committee, it helps to know what the committee does when it receives a request to make exterior architectural changes.

First the committee Chair makes sure that the request is complete, which is to say, that it contains all the information needed to evaluate the request.

If any information is missing, or if the Chair feels that additional information would help the committee to reach a decision in favor of the request, the Chair contacts the homeowner and asks for that information.

After all the information is in hand, the Chair sends a copy of the request and any supporting documents, including drawings and photos, to every member of the committee.

Committee members review the request for compliance with SMVE CC&Rs and Architectural Guidelines and discuss their findings until all members feel that they have a full understanding of the request. In rare cases, one or more committee members might identify a concern requiring further data collection or consultation to support the request, in which case the committee might tour the immediate area around the homeowner’s property or consult the HOA Board or its attorney.

Although SMVE CC&Rs allow the committee up to thirty (30) days to respond to a request, the committee in all cases strives to respond as quickly as possible. In many cases the committee is able to respond within as little as 48 to 72 hours after all supporting documents are in hand.

If you want to receive a response from the committee as quickly as possible, you can help to speed the process by submitting an official SMVE Request to Make Exterior Architectural Changes, along with the following supporting documents:

  • Signed and dated copy of the SMVE Architectural Process Checklist.
  • Detailed description of changes contemplated. NOTE: The description must include specifications for exterior finishes and paint colors that conform to SMVE Approved Exterior Finishes and Paint Colors.
  • Architectural plans or a sketch of changes contemplated. (Required for clarity of detailed description, when applicable.)
  • A copy of the plot plan, complete with existing footprint of home, driveway, front walkway, and any walls in or around the lot, with changes clearly indicated. (Required in cases where footprint will change.)
  • Drawings and/or photos of any exterior fixtures to be added or changed. (Required when applicable.)
  • Photos of any relevant features of other homes in SMVE to help the Architecture Committee evaluate compatibility with the character of the neighborhood. (Recommended.)
  • Passages from SMVE CC&Rs and/or Architectural Guidelines that tend to support the changes contemplated. (Optional but appreciated.)
✉ Contact SMVE Architecture Chair
Nov 082016
“Let there be light!” That expression has biblical origins but is pertinent in our times as well and that extends to our HOA’s safety and security. We know that well-lighted areas discourage criminal activity. That means that when our post lamps are turned on, we protect our own residence as well as those of our neighbors.

Remember to always keep your post lamp’s light switch in the “on” position. The lamp has a sensor, so it will automatically turn off during daylight hours. 

Thanks to the efforts of a former board member and his wife, we have an idea of the percentage of post lamps that are currently lighted after dusk. They did a drive-around in the HOA and found that about 90% of our homes had post lamps that were lighted. Let’s strive for a 100% goal!

I recently assisted a neighbor in replacing bulbs in her outdoor light fixtures and I and/or others in the HOA are prepared to lend a hand in doing the same for you. Please call on us if you need help.

By the way, if you are energy conscious, be aware that LED bulbs are available. LEDs consume much less electricity than traditional bulbs and they last much longer. Our HOA treasurer, Larry Spencer, did research and helped identify the type of LED replacement bulbs that would be appropriate for our outdoor lamps. Look for these specifications for LED replacement bulbs:

  • 120 volt
  • Base type E12 for candelabra bulbs or E26 for fixtures with a single bulb
  • For lampposts and door lights, it does not matter whether the bulbs are dimmable

The bulbs are sold in many nearby places, including Ace Hardware, Lowe’s, and Costco.

Here’s to good lighting!

✉ by Joe Steiner, SMVE HOA Safety and Security Chair


Aug 262016
With the summer monsoons, we get both the beauty of the flowering plants and also the problem of numerous weeds. While some homeowners may not be present to see both the beauty and the problems, the homeowner is still responsible for the appearance of his or her yard. Per HOA yard rules and regulations, it is a homeowner’s responsibility to keep the yard maintained and weed free at all times (see Yard Rules and Regulations).

Make sure you have a weed strategy. This could be applying a pre-emergent, or for those who prefer not to do so, it might involve greater use of landscaping help. Here are some items to think about:

  • Consider using a pre-emergent to prevent weeds (see Pre-Emergents)
  • Have a regular landscaper who comes at least once a month and make sure they include weed removal in their monthly yard maintenance
  • If you don’t employ a regular landscaper and aren’t here during the summer months, ask your house sitter or neighbor to let you know if the yard gets weedy and know who you would call to address the problem
  • Don’t overlook the weeds popping up between the cracks in the driveway and sidewalks! (Tip: needle nose pliers are a great tool to pull up those single weed by the root.)
  • Remember that things such as Penstemon, Desert Bluebells and other native wildflowers look great when they bloom but then they dry out and simply look like brown and dead weeds. If not removed before they reseed, each year you could have a larger problem in the future.

Our entrances are currently in full bloom with colorful lantana, blooming Texas Ranger, and other flowering plants. Please help ensure the rest of our community looks its best for you, your neighbors, friends and visitors and do your part by maintaining all your visible landscape.

✉ by Kathy Mitton, SMVE Landscape Chair Phone: (cell)

Nov 222016

As mentioned in the fall landscape report, many of us have experienced increased visits by packrats this year. Please do not use any kind of poison in your yard to kill packrats. Poison is actually food to the packrats and while you might succeed in killing a packrat, you will encourage additional packrats to visit your yard. Additionally, the poison is usually harmful to pets and other desert wildlife that we want to encourage. A poisoned packrat will typically become food for some other desert dweller and that desert dweller can be harmed.

To reduce the packrat visitors, ensure your yard is packrat proofed by reducing or eliminating as many nesting areas as possible. From a vegetation perspective avoid or frequently inspect prickly pear, thick rosemary, oleanders which are thick at the base, and untrimmed desert spoons. Also avoid or frequently inspect various man-made attractions such as stacks of firewood or stacks of bricks (particularly those with holes in or around the stacks). Don’t forget to look behind your walls! Not all tradesmen properly remove materials used to work on our homes and some have stacked material behind the wall on common property. This is never allowed but you might not be aware it happened if you don’t check. Also, we occasionally see yard men throw plant trimmings over the wall rather than properly disposing of them. Plant trimmings should never be tossed over the wall and this also is prohibited by our landscape rules. Both of these things could provide nesting material or hiding spots for packrats.

If you do have a significant problem and can’t locate the source of the problem, chat with your neighbors. It could be that a packrat has taken up residence in your neighbor’s yard and your property is simply too tempting for the varmint to stay away.

If you do discover nests in your front or back yard, contact a packrat removal specialist such as Mr. Packrat. A reputable firm will NEVER use poison for packrats but instead will live trap and remove the rodent. Most firms in Tucson will provide a free estimate. The cost of packrat and nest removal is typically based on the size of the nest.

If the packrat visitors are coming over the wall and you decide to trap them yourselves as several homeowners have done, please keep in mind the following:

  • Never trap more than two consecutive nights. You will actually draw more packrats to your yard due to the scent trails they leave
  • Clean and disinfect the area with 50% PineSol and 50% water after catching something (or after two nights if you caught nothing) and wait until you see more signs of packrats before attempting to trap again
  • A used packrat trap will attract other packrats. When not trapping packrats ensure the trap is put away where it can’t be scented by other packrats
  • Never ever use poison! You will encourage visits from packrat relatives and risk harm to other wildlife
  • Consider coating rocks with 50%Pinesol and 50% water and place near areas that seem to attract packrats. (Suggested by a homeowner who says it works. I haven’t tried this myself).

Remember that packrats are a part of the food chain in the desert. We’re fortunate to have a large amount of green space surrounding our community and that brings with it various desert critters that we have to deal with or tolerate. We can’t eradicate packrats (or snakes or scorpions) but we can minimize our contact with them and ensure we aren’t doing anything to unnecessarily attract them.

✉ by Kathy Mitton, SMVE Landscape Chair Phone: (cell)

Nov 222016
At a recent Sunrise Association Council (SAC) meeting (a meeting of Fairfield HOA reps), an arborist from Groundskeeper discussed trees. He noted that mature trees can increase the property value significantly. The arborist went on to tell us of the importance of maintaining the trees in the HOA (or your personal yard) as once a tree dies, the replacement value would typically be far less than a mature tree in good condition. The Palo Verde in the picture to the left is in dire need of attention as the mistletoe is choking it. If no intervention occurs, this tree will eventually die.

The arborist mentioned some other points which you may be familiar with but are are worth repeating if you have trees in your yard:

  • Regular maintenance particularly on older trees is important to maintain longevity of tree. Remove dead growth, prune mistletoe, thin the crown.
  • If you need to replace a tree, pay attention to the size of the planting area. Often homeowners plant trees that will be far too large for the allotted space once tree is mature.
  • When picking a tree variety, avoid those that are susceptible to mistletoe (avoid Chilean Mesquite and use Native or Velvet Mesquite instead). Avoid selecting a species that is now listed as invasive such as African Sumac. Other choices exist so consult with a knowledgeable nursery or landscaper and keep with native plant choices.
  • When planting new trees, don’t forget that you generally need to irrigate during early development but once established, a tree typically needs a long drink of water monthly (not daily or weekly).
  • A new tree needs water close to tree trunk but as it gets established the water should be moved further out to draw the roots out.
  • Never thin more than 25% of a tree in a single growing season.
  • Never top trees — it is bad for tree health and is unsightly.

Coincidentally, our common area trees were evaluated by Bartlett Tree Service recently and we learned the asset value of the trees on common property is currently around $430,000. Many of the trees are in need of maintenance and we will continue working to address trees in most visible locations and in most severe need of maintenance. This will be a multi-year project. Note in the pictures below a Mesquite which was recently thinned and mistletoe was removed. The other Mesquite has a thick canopy and mistletoe is starting to encroach. This will need attention soon.

If you have a tree on your property, don’t forget to look up and periodically inspect its state. Is there a lot of deadwood in it? Is it full of mistletoe? Does the crown look overly heavy (and therefore susceptible to damage during strong winds)? Involve a licensed arborist to evaluate the tree and do maintenance on the tree. This could do much to extend the life of your tree and maintain your property value. Here are some additional links you might find helpful:

✉ by Kathy Mitton, SMVE Landscape Chair Phone: (cell)

Jul 022016

I understand the desire for homeowners to see the mountains that surround us. SMVE does allow limited trimming for views but only under the authorization of an approved landscaper and only when the homeowner follows the SMVE tree trimming approval process (See 2016-2017 Process for Trimming Trees on HOA Common Area for a description of the common area tree trimming policy). Many homeowners request that the tree be cut down below the wall to the 4′ or 5′ level. While this will be done on a limited basis if requested, I would like to offer up an alternative approach that will provide views but not destroy habitat. When a Palo Verde is lopped off, as many have done, the tree actually grows the canopy back more rapidly than it would otherwise grow in order to protect itself.

A Palo Verde cut in this fashion does not grow normally but rather grows very thickly and ends up looking more bush like. This is not only unhealthy for the tree, but it results in the homeowner needing to pay for trimming at more frequent intervals if they want to maintain views. On the left is a natural Palo Verde and you can see the “air” and mountain through the branches. The picture on right shows what happens if a tree has been cut off at the 4-5′ level. Notice how thick the canopy is and how the branches are actually much much thicker than a typical desert tree. Seeing through this for view is more of a problem then had the native tree been left alone. It looks less natural and less attractive and may be less desirable as habitat for desert wildlife.

An alternative to this is thinning the tree. Thinning a tree properly results in a tree that enhances the landscape but doesn’t obscure the view. Additionally properly thinning the tree results in much less frequent maintenance needs as a properly thinned tree does not need to rapidly regrow a canopy.

The left picture occurred prior to the trees being thinned. The right picture shows what it looks like after being thinned. The view of the mountains is clearly visible through and around the trees. I like to think of it as windows in the trees. The remaining part of the trees actually enhances the view. Don’t despair if you have previously asked to have trees lopped off. It is possible over time to trim the tree and cause it to be more natural. Usually this takes at least 3 trimmings over a several year period. Consider how much more attractive the “thinned” trees are versus trees that are cut off like this one below. This cut tree does nothing to enhance the view or the surrounding landscape nor does it do much for our native wildlife.

As you contemplate how you want to trim trees for view, consider what the actual view is. In many instances even when you have vegetation like Acacia and Palo Verdes, the mountains are easily visible through or above the trees if the trees are in a fairly natural state. (The mountains are over 9000′ tall, we’re sitting several thousand feet below that, and our trees are usually 10-20′ tall.) Do you really have to see every square inch of not only the mountains but the base of the mountains, the roads, the telephone wires, and the rooftops? Instead think about your site lines. Remember that that vegetation provides sound deadening, wind barrier as well as offering habitat to desert wildlife so lets be selective. A lightly trimmed tree will allow you to see through or around to get the rest of the view while maintaining vegetation that is good for our environment.

Notice in the picture below the homeowner can see plenty of mountains left, center and right. Even where the vegetation is growing there are “windows”. The trees shield the homeowner from rooftops and allows him to see calming nature (green space) rather than rooftops.

I know I personally would love to see more thinning and less mowing of the trees. I believe it is a much more natural and environmentally friendly way to maintain our views. There really is no other place like SMVE in Tucson (a close knit community surrounded by so much open desert) and I hope we preserve this beauty for years to come.

Whatever you decide, please ensure you follow the process and contact us to get approval to trim. Only authorized landscapers are allowed to trim on common ground for liability reasons. Approval of what is to be trimmed (how far into common land we’ll trim) is required before any trimming is allowed. We don’t want to create more of a problem by mowing Palo Verdes deep into the common area as the regrowth will be unattractive, bad for habitat, and hard to see through. Failure to get approval can result in not only fines but also substantial rehabilitation costs. Did you know that per Arizona law, a person commits theft of protected native plants if, without the expressed consent of the landowner, the person knowingly removes or destroys any protected native plants from private or state land according to 3-932. It is actually considered a class four felony! The land behind your home is considered private land that belongs to the HOA so lets all work together to ensure we protect it and enhance it.

✉ by Kathy Mitton, SMVE Landscape Chair Phone: (cell)

Nov 272016
What happens if you need fire or ambulance service? You call 911 and the fire department or ambulance comes out to help you.

But who pays for the fire and ambulance visit? In many parts of the country, the fire department is supported by your property taxes. That is not the way it works in unincorporated Pima county. Here, fire department services are provided by Rural/Metro, a private company that is not supported by taxes.

The purpose of this article is to let homeowners, and especially homeowners new to the area, know how fire and ambulance services are paid for in our area, and how that affects you, the homeowner.

The key point is that Rural/Metro charges the homeowner for their services.  As a homeowner, you can pay for services in one of two ways.  You may subscribe to Rural/Metro for a fixed cost per year (payable monthly if desired) and receive their services when needed at no extra cost.  Or you may wait until you need the services, then pay for the services after they are delivered. For example a non subscriber might pay for a single medical response in the neighborhood of $600 and a fire truck could be in the $1000 an hour range. If you are a subscriber these services would be covered by your subscription fee. Contact Rural Metro for current prices for either the subscription service or the pay as you go cost of services.

By subscribing to Rural/Metro, you are in effect guaranteeing that you will receive fire, emergency medical response, dangerous reptile removal, and other services (except ambulance transport) at no additional cost.  Ambulance transport is charged but may be covered by your medical insurance plan.  If you choose not to subscribe, you may wish to check with your homeowner insurance agent to see if this affects your homeowner insurance premium.

Besides fire services, Rural/Metro also offers dangerous reptile removal, home safety reviews, swift water rescue (car caught in flooded wash), and other services.  Almost 90% of SMVE homeowners have chosen to subscribe to Rural/Metro services; non-subscribers will be billed for any services performed.  You can see the list of services as well as set up service via the Rural Metro web site.

✉ by Guy Scharf, SMVE President

Phone: ; (cell)


Oct 132016
Homeowners have been asking for an update to the SMVE Homeowner Directory. We’re starting now, with a completely new directory that will be easier to keep current.

The new directory will be on the website where it can be maintained more easily. Homeowners will be able to print a copy of the directory for themselves, and we will make printed copies available to homeowners who do not have access to the internet. The directory will be available only to homeowners.

If you wish to be included in the new directory, please complete the SMVE Homeowner Directory form and mail it to us at the address on the form. We will begin publishing the directory online as soon as we have more than a few names–probably in late November.

If you do not return this form, then you will not be in the new directory.

If you have any questions, please email me and we’ll get back to you right away.

✉ by Guy Scharf, SMVE President

Phone: ; (cell)





Help Wanted! Call for Nominations

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Oct 212016

Help Wanted! Call for Nominations and Volunteers

Have you thought about getting involved in the HOA but didn’t know where to start? Do you have interest (most important), skill, and a little bit of time? Are you interested in working with others in a collaborative environment? Do you like to “give back”? If so we need you! We have Board of Director (BOD) positions to fill and other committee member or chair person openings.

Board members serve a 3-year term and must be willing to serve on a committee or act as chairperson of a committee. If you are interested in the BOD positions, the next step is to notify the Chair of the Nominating Committee by December 1st (see details below). A meeting will be set up to discuss roles and responsibilities and determine whether you are willing to proceed to the final step (election at the Annual Meeting of the Sunrise Mountain View Estates Homeowner’s Association (SMVE HOA) which occurs on Monday, February 20, 2017 at 7:00 PM at the Clubhouse).

Besides Board of Director openings which require approval of the HOA membership, other positions are available. See below for the full list of current openings. Contact the nominating committee or any current board member to discuss any of these positions. The December 1st deadline is not applicable to these positions.

Your neighbors who serve as Board and Committee Members have found their service to our community especially rewarding because of social interactions and a unique opportunity for personal learning and growth while serving other homeowners in the SMVE Community. Please help us maintain this unique homeowner managed community by donating some time and skill. You won’t regret it!

Here is the list of positions we want to fill with a brief description of the roles.

  • Board of Director positions: Attend monthly board meetings September – May and participate in decision making for policies and budgets that affect the HOA. Attend ad-hoc meetings as necessary. Assume a leadership role on one of the committees (see committee openings and responsibilities). Be willing to work on special projects (for example work on the nominating committee). Email capability is essential in order to circulate information and provide prompt feedback on current issues. The ability to transfer documents is also key as HOA material is stored in a central filesystem.
  • Chair of Safety and Security Committee:. Address safety and security issues. Co-ordinate with vendor (Central Alarm) and ensure invoices are submitted to bill.com for work done. Maintain relationship with Sheriff’s office. Keep abreast of reported security issues for our neighborhood. Manage safety budget and ensure HOA procurement policy is followed. Annually submit suggested budget for following year. When possible attend monthly board meetings and be prepared to report on any important item and/or prepare written report of key items if you are unable to attend in person.
  • Chair of Neighborhood Watch:. Co-ordinate neighborhood watch group and optionally arrange a yearly neighborhood watch meeting with guest speaker (usually someone from Sheriff’s office)
  • Chair of Maintenance Committee:. Address areas in need of maintenance, contact appropriate vendor to resolve issue, and ensure invoices are submitted to bill.com for work. Examples of items that would typically fall under maintenance would be sidewalk repair, mailbox and other painting, plumbing, electrical issues (lightbulb failures, circuit failures, enhancements, etc.), rec area roofs, entrance monuments, and other items that you notice or are brought to your attention by the Board or by homeowners. Manage maintenance budget and ensure HOA procurement policy is followed. Annually submit suggested budget for following year. When possible attend monthly board meetings and be prepared to report on any important item and/or prepare written report of key items if you are unable to attend in person. Seek other committee members from community.
  • Chair of Hospitality Committee:. Plan and produce social events in cooperation with committee members. Assist with other HOA meetings.  Manage hospitality budget. When possible attend monthly board meetings and be prepared to report on any important item and/or prepare written report of key items if you are unable to attend in person. Note that there are several committee members to assist in planning and overseeing social events. Seek other committee members from community.
  • Hospitality Committee members: Help plan and produce social events.
  • Roads Committee member:. Participate in Roads Committee with focus on moving into Committee Chair over time.
  • Finance Committee member: Participate in Finance Committee to develop, recommend, and implement financial procedures and policies. See Finance Committee Charter.

How to be Nominated for Board of Director Position at the Election

Please address a letter or email to the Chair, Nominating Committee (Kathy Mitton) no later than December 1, 2016 expressing your willingness to serve a 3‑year term. Enclose a brief résumé of your qualifications (education, experience, special expertise, previous leadership positions, and what position you think would fit you best). Please send your letter and résumé to:

, Secretary, SMVE HOA Board
Chair, Nominating Committee
5408 N. Via Sempreverde
Tucson, AZ 85750