Arizona Monsoon Safety Guide

Arizona’s Monsoon Season: Preparing and Staying Safe

Arizona monsoons, part of a larger North American monsoon system, are caused by extreme summer temperatures which cause low pressure zones across the Southwest. Those zones draw moist ocean air up from the Gulf of Mexico and California which create the monsoon storms.

Starting around July 15th and ending September 30th, the storms build each day as the atmosphere heats up, eventually forming strong thunderstorms in the later afternoon and evening. The storms usually dissipate overnight, only to begin the cycle again the following day.

When wind from these storms comes in straight lines through the desert it sometimes kicks up significant amounts of dust, bringing on the notorious haboobs – large walls of dust that blow in before the rain.

Though many monsoon storms are relatively mild and pass quickly, some pose serious risks to property and personal safety, especially for those caught on the road. Dust and heavy rain create low visibility and flooding of low-lying areas. Combine that with lighting, wind-blown debris, and occasionally even hail and you get a seriously dangerous storm.

Plan Ahead to Stay Safe from Arizona Monsoons

Of course, the best way to avoid the dangers of Arizona monsoon storms is by staying out of their way to begin with. During the summer months, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather, especially if you plan to travel in the afternoon or evening. There are plenty of options to stay informed:

Check your phone’s weather app, or weather sites like ASU’s monsoon page
Watch TV weather forecasts or listen to radio weather reports
Turn on a NOAA weather radio
Subscribe to severe weather notification services (many phones offer this feature)
Finally, check the actual sky, looking 360 degrees around and overhead before heading out

 

When driving if you find yourself caught in a dust storm, immediately pull off the road as far as you can, turn your car off, and take your foot off the brake pedal so your lights don’t draw in other drivers. Do not enter flooded areas, no matter how low the water may look (appearances are often deceiving).

Homeowners who live in flood-prone areas should make appropriate preparations to secure their property and drain off excess water. It’s also a good idea to have a disaster supply kit on hand.

What is in a 72 Hour Disaster Supply Kit?

Given the regularity of monsoon and other severe weather events, it’s smart to prepare a household disaster supply kit in the event that power is lost or local services are rendered inaccessible. An effective kit should contain essentials like food, water, and sturdy clothing, to sustain a family for up to 72 hours (3 days) since electric, gas, and water services may be disabled or interrupted. Items to include:

3 gallons of water in clean, well-sealed containers per person and pet
First aid kit
Supply of food that can be eaten without cooking and stored without refrigeration
Portable battery-operated flashlights, radio, and extra batteries (test regularly)
Candles and oil lamps may be used as backups, but they pose fire risks
Medically necessary medications
Generator for life support or medical equipment that requires electricity to function

 

Monsoon storms are a fact of life in Arizona, so it’s important for HOA staff to help make sure new residents understand the risks. Of course, many long-time residents know that once you’re aware and prepared you can start to appreciate the thrilling majesty of this rare phenomenon. Just ask the growing number of photographers and storm-chasers who attend Monsoon Con every year.

Arizona Fireworks Safety Quick Guide

Legal Fireworks in Arizona: A Quick Guide

Hide your dogs (and have a safety talk with your kids) the summer fireworks season is here. From May 20 to July 6 fireworks may be purchased legally in Arizona. In the winter, you can buy fireworks from Dec. 10 to Jan. 3. They can be set off from June 24 to July 6 in summer and in the winter from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.

Of course, not all fireworks are legal, and even the legal types pose real risks of fire, burns, and other injuries. Here’s a rundown of the legal guidelines and safety tips for fireworks festivities in Arizona:

Several kinds of fireworks are legal to use in Arizona, including cone and cylindrical fountains, wheels, ground spinners, illuminating torches, ground sparkling devices and handheld sparklers.

Fountain-style fireworks sit on the ground and shoot sprays of colored sparks into the air directly above them. Torches and ground sparklers typically spout colored flames or sparks, similar to the fountains but on a smaller scale. Ground spinners whirl and scream – keep an eye on those and give them plenty of space before igniting.

Handheld sparklers, the thin silver sticks that emit bright sparks as they burn down from the end, are a staple firework. Don’t let that fool you though, sparklers do pose serious burn risks, especially for children, as the heated end can reach 1,800+ degrees. Children often burn their feet when they drop sparklers because they feel too hot (or scary) to hold. Closed toed shoes, pants, and close supervision will help prevent injury.

In Arizona, the general rule of thumb is that ground-based fireworks are permitted, while fireworks that detonate in the air are not. The Phoenix Fire Department has detailed fireworks information up on their site. Restricted fireworks include bottle rockets, Roman candles, sky rockets, firecrackers, single-tube devices with reports, re-loadable shell devices, and other aerials.

Bottle rockets and sky rockets are generally smaller aerials, usually attached to a stick that goes into the ground to point them into the air for launch. Roman candles are packaged in a long, handheld tube that fires a number of explosive colored projectiles from the end. The other types generally use re-loadable tubes to launch exploding shells into the air (the smaller scale version of what’s generally used for official fireworks shows).

Firecrackers are one exception to the “ground-based is ok” rule of thumb. Firecrackers usually look like the fireworks in old cartoons – small red cylinders, often linked together with a long fuse that burns through and explodes a larger series. They make a lot of noise, but they also cause quite a few burns and injuries every year (thus their outlaw status).

Top 10 Things You Really Shouldn’t Do With Fireworks:

  • Don’t let kids play with fireworks. Firecrackers, rockets, Roman candles, and even sparklers are very dangerous. If you let children hold sparklers, keep them outside and held away from their faces, clothing, hair and other kids.
  • Buy only legal fireworks – typically, if it’s being sold in a package or kit inside a grocery store it’s legal. Also, legal fireworks should have a label with the manufacturer’s name and directions. Illegal ones are often unlabeled. Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Don’t try to make your own fireworks, or use store-bought fireworks in ways other than directed.
  • Don’t use fireworks inside. Keep a bucket of water and a hose nearby in case of mishaps.
  • Treat fireworks like weapons – don’t throw or point fireworks at someone, even as a quick joke. Keep a clear perimeter around the area fireworks are being used, and keep children out. Fireworks sometimes backfire or shoot off in the wrong direction.
  • When lighting fireworks, don’t hold them in your hand or have any part of your body above them. Ideally, wear some kind of eye protection, and carry them in a box or container, not in your pocket.
  • Don’t try to relight duds, and only light one firework at a time. Don’t light them inside of containers.
  • Be aware of fire risks. Bushes, leaves, dry grass and other flammable substances (like your home) may be ignited by hot fireworks, even after they’ve been spent. Light fireworks on cement or rocks or another safe area.
  • Leave the cleanup to the grownups and take care; some spent fireworks may still be ignited and can explode at any time.
  • It’s best to drop fireworks in a bucket of water before throwing them in the trash.
  • Consider the happiness of your pets. Dogs and cats have sensitive ears and are often frightened or stressed by Fourth of July festivities. Keep your pets indoors to reduce the risk of injury or runaways.
Good News for Dogs in Arizona

Great News for Dogs (and Kids) in Arizona

School is out and Valley temperatures are already up over the hundred mark. Ready or not, it’s time for another Phoenix summer. That’s fine news if your HOA has a pool (and maybe a splash pad for the kids), but it also brings with it increased danger of heat-related injuries – and worse.

With that in mind, the Arizona state legislature and Governor Ducey have passed a bill aimed at reducing hot car deaths, aimed toward saving children and pets. The bill, HB2494, protects “good samaritans” who rescue pets or children left in a potentially dangerous vehicle during the heat of the day in Arizona.

However, certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for protection from liability resulting from a post-rescue civil action.

The Arizona Humane Society recently provided a clear summary of the conditions you’ll need to satisfy should you come across such a situation. The legislation’s protections apply when:

  1. The rescuer has a good faith belief that the confined child or pet is in imminent danger of suffering physical injury or death unless they are removed from the vehicle.
  2. The rescuer determines the car is locked or there is no reasonable manner in which the person can remove the child or pet.
  3. Before entering the vehicle, the rescuer notifies the proper authorities (defined).
  4. The rescuer does not use more force than is necessary under the circumstances to enter the vehicle.
  5. The rescuer remains with the child or pet until the authorities arrive.

What does this mean? If you come across a child, dog, or other animal locked inside a car in a parking lot, on the street, or in a driveway you will need to make sure they are really in danger, really can’t be let out without damaging the vehicle, and don’t have a parent or owner nearby. If At that point, you’ll need to call 911 or contact another eligible authority to report the situation.

12 News clarifies in an article about the bill that proper authorities as defined in the bill include “a peace officer, deputy, first responder or animal control enforcement agency”. Dialing 911 would seem to be the easiest option there.

At that point you might get to bust some windows to save a pooch (emergency services will probably coach you on your options). You’ll then need to stick it out and wait for emergency responders to arrive.

As temperatures continue to rise this might be a good topic to bring up at your next HOA board meeting and circulate through HOA websites or in a newsletter. On top of that, promoting awareness in our communities about the extreme risks of hot vehicles in Arizona’s sun could help reduce the need for anyone to do any rescuing in the first place.

Hopefully we can all contribute to a safe summer in the Valley of the Sun!

Planned Development Services Code Red Water Drive

Code Red Water Drive

The newly created PDS Philanthropic Board is announcing the first opportunity to give back to our community: The Code Red Water Drive

We are teaming up the Phoenix Rescue Mission to bring water to the homeless during the HOT Phoenix summer.

Did you know?

  • In extreme heat our bodies need 4 liters of water a day, twice the normal amount.
  • In 2015 at least 56 people died from heat related deaths.
  • The Phoenix Mission started their Code Red program with the goal to bring that number down to 0.
  • In 2016 there were 2 heat related deaths.

Starting Monday May 1st, 2017 we will be collecting water bottle donations here in our Peoria, AZ office. Spread the word!

We have an online link for monetary donations. Please pass it on to your HOA Boards and Communities: Link to Phoenix Rescue Mission

More information will be coming. Be sure to check the PDS website in the next few weeks for some exciting ways to get involved.

Thank you,
Your PDS Philanthropic Board

Why Your HOA Needs a Collections Policy

Why Your HOA Needs a Written Collections Policy

Some Homeowners Associations are lucky enough to have minimal collections concerns. However some, are constantly dealing the delinquency of homeowners falling behind on dues. No matter where your HOA sits on this spectrum, it is vital for your community to have a written collection policy documented for the HOA, and a managing partner to handle the day-to-day tasks.

Why Your HOA Needs a Written Collections Policy in Place

 

A written HOA collections policy partially removes the HOA board from having to manage the day-to-day aspects of collecting dues (by delegating to their managing partner) allowing the board to act impartially with their homeowners. Board members can not give leniency to friends in the neighborhood, or vice versa, act harshly with community members they may dislike. Think about this, if you know some of your neighbors personally or see them on a regular basis, do you really want to be the one in charge of collecting past due balances from them?

A written collections policy, in addition to a managing partner, makes the process easier for the HOA board and ensures all homeowners are treated fairly.

Additionally, without a written collection policy, the board may not recall the precedents set with each new collections scenario, forcing them to dig up records of how they’ve handled other past-due assessments, in order to make a decision on present collection situations. And what if they can’t find record? Now we have a situation with no precedent being followed at all.

How to Create an HOA Collections Policy

 

First, we suggest you review our 5 Ways to Ruin Your Collections Process blog, which gives our top five big “no-no’s” for HOA collections policies and procedures.

Next, contact your Planned Development Services Community Manager and an Arizona Collections Attorney, to make sure you follow the correct process according to Arizona law for collections.

Many times, it is impossible for a policy to cover every circumstance, but your new HOA collections policy should be able to address frequently-encountered scenarios. Your Community Manager (and attorney) will create a list of questions for you to review. Once your board has decided and agreed on the responses, a formal collections policy can be drafted and approved at your next HOA board meeting.

Once the HOA collection policy is in place, the board’s involvement in regular collections actions is minimized, leaving more time to accomplish other community goals and projects.

While a collections policy can’t keep your homeowners from falling behind on payments, having a firmly documented plan for how past-due assessments will be addressed, will allow the HOA to collect those fees sooner and with higher success. Regardless of a homeowner’s individual financial circumstances, it isn’t fair to the rest of the community that pays on time, to end up paying more to cover expenses and attorney fees incurred because of a delinquent payer.

Arizona HOA Water Conservation

5 Free Activities for Arizona Water Conservation Fun

Unless you live under a rock, you know that water is a serious subject in Arizona. The availability and quality of our water supply is vital to our quality of life. This precious resource was recognized by Arizona’s Governor in 2008 with an Executive Order that designates April as Water Awareness Month.

In our Arizona HOA communities, we should always be discussing and encouraging awareness of about this precious resource on a local community level.

We have culled this list of free tools for parents, so teaching at home is quick, easy and fun. There’s also some “lead by example” tools for you at the end! Be sure to check those out.

 

5 Free Activities for Arizona Water Conservation Fun:

 

  • The Arizona Department of Water Resources has a couple free downloads you can print right from home! Download them here.
  • The US Environmental Protection Agency offers some fun, at-home tools for water conservation. Move the water-efficiency hero Flo through water pipes and answer water-efficiency questions while avoiding water-wasting monsters! Here’s the quick link to Flo’s Water Efficiency Game.
  • Try out Thirstin’s Water Cycle activity experiment! All you need is a jar, some water, and a little bit of time to spend with your kiddo talking about water!
  • One of our favorite websites, The Water Use it Wisely website, has an entire section dedicated to KIDS! Play interactive games like Water Busters with fun characters like Phil Dumpster and Bert the Salmon from Seattle.
  • As always, lead by example! The Water Awareness Month website has a calendar layout for a water conservation task you can do at home each day. A perfect way to show your children what you are doing for their future, and water conservation for Arizona.

Please visit our previous article Best Arizona HOA Resources for Water Conservation & Allotments for more HOA specific information.

Arizona HOA Water Conservation Guide

Best Arizona HOA Resources for Water Conservation & Allotments

Sure, April is known for taxes, but the Grand Canyon State also spends this month celebrating the most precious of resources – WATER – with Arizona Water Awareness Month!

Make sure your Arizona HOA community stays smart, sustainable, and responsible with these water conservation and allotment resources:

  • Arizona Water Awareness Month (waterawarenessmonth.com): The official website of this holiday is full to the brim with news, tips, and special events all centered on building awareness of water’s value – this month, and every day.
  • Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (www.amwua.org): The nonprofit Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) has four-plus decades of experience in helping to “provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies” to local communities. “Residents and businesses play an important role in helping to manage water supplies sustainably,” according to AMWUA. “Converting to drought-tolerant landscaping, learning how to water landscape plants correctly, and changing out old fixtures and appliances with WaterSense labeled models now will start saving water and money that much sooner.” Check out their page for a host of resources for homes, businesses, and landscaping, as well as details on informative public meetings in Arizona.
  • The City of Scottsdale (http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/water/home-owners-associations-multifamily-residences): “The HOA’s water use in December, January and February determines the sewer fees for the next year,” says Scottsdale’s website, which includes more helpful tips, including information on water rebate programs.
  • The Water Use It Wisely Campaign (wateruseitwisely.com): The Water Use it Wisely Campaign offers terrific resources – one of our favorites is the 100+ Ways to Conserve, tips and (free) colorful, downloadable posters that can be shared with homeowners and community members on social media or displayed throughout the community.
  • Arizona Department of Water Resources (azwater.gov): This government site, dedicated to “securing Arizona’s water future,” might just be the best place to understand laws and policies related to water use and conservation, including an interactive timeline map of the state’s water management efforts.

 

2017 Top Ten List on Arizona Open Meeting Law

Here it is! The list you’ve all been waiting for! We have compiled the absolute “need to know” bullet points about Open Meeting Law for Arizona Homeowners Associations.

 

  1. Arizona Open Meeting Law is in place to protect the health of the homeowners association, by protecting members from being excluded and deterring any “secret” decision making by the HOA Board.
  2. The law requires the homeowners association has at least one meeting a year, and take place in the State of Arizona.
  3. All meetings of the homeowners association, board of directors, and regular committee meetings are open to all members of the association (notwithstanding any provision in the association documents).
  4. As long as it is in writing, a member may send any person they designate, to the meeting as their representative
  5. The homeowners association must give at least 48 hours advance notice of the meeting date, time, and place. The information can be posted by newsletter, conspicuous posting or other reasonable means.
  6. Persons attending the meeting may tape or video record any portions they wish, during an open meeting.
  7. A portion of the meeting can be closed, only if it meets criteria of an executive session.
  8. The agenda of the meeting shall be available to all members attending.
  9. An emergency meeting of the HOA Board may be called only to discuss business or take action that can not wait until next regularly scheduled meeting (minutes must be recorded and read at next regularly scheduled open meeting).
  10. Any quorum of the HOA Board that meets informally to discuss association business, shall comply with the open meeting and notice provisions, without regard to whether the HOA Board votes or takes any action, on any matter, in the informal meeting.

 

Thank you Mulcahy Law Firm for contribution to this blog article. Please share our “Top Ten List on Arizona Open Meeting Law” with your HOA Board! Download Mulcahy Law Firm’s detailed Community Association Cheat Sheet on this topic, here.

Best Practices for Passing an HOA Budget

Best Practices for Passing an HOA Budget

Has your 2017 HOA budget passed?

 

If not, what needs to happen to pass the budget? Does the HOA Board just need a consensus vote? Is it time to increase assessments?

 

First, check your governing documents. These describe the manner in which the HOA budget is adopted each year. In most associations, the governing documents provide that the budget is adopted by the board or by vote of the owners. However, even when the documents give the board the right to adopt the budget, a vote of the owners may be required to adopt a budget that would require a large increase in regular homeowner dues/assessments.

Hopefully, your HOA Board is current on the reserve studies, as these provide clear analysis of the future repair and replacement needs of the HOA (based on the condition of the property elements it maintains), a projection of the remaining useful life, and future cost to repair (or replace) them, and the amount of money the HOA has in its reserve fund.

Once a homeowners association has gone through the exercise of developing a budget to fund their plans for the coming year, the assessments can be set.  Depending upon the  governing documents, assessments will be determined in one of two ways.  First, the assessment may be charged to each property owner equally.  Second, the assessment may be charged to each property owner according to the percentage of the property their unit represents.  Ultimately to arrive at the assessment, the budget is simply allocated to the owners and paid accordingly.

 

What best practices can my HOA Board employ for next year’s budget?

 

Share newsletter articles about water conservation restrictions (check the Department Of Water Resources website) at meetings, Nextdoor, or community websites. Enforced water cost increases may clue residents in that installing the winter lawn may not be financially feasible this year.

Negotiate contracts with vendors! You don’t have to accept the first estimate or terms given to you.

Research Community Grants, such as the AACM Hope Grant.

Practice transparency. The more your community can review and be involved, the easier budgets become to pass (as well as mitigating any other issue disgruntled homeowners may have with your HOA). You may think about appointing a budget committee of a representative number of homeowners that can survey the community on what changes they would like to see in the annual budget. The committee may have new cost-saving (or revenue generating) ideas that your HOA Board hasn’t yet discovered!

Lastly, send out a copy of next year’s budget, increase or not, to show the homeowners exactly where their assessments are being spent. Not communicating, or communicating false expectations for next year, is a recipe for disgruntled homeowners.

For more detailed information on HOA Budgets, read “HOA Budgets, The Insiders Guide” and “Why Complete A Reserve Study.”

Arizona HOA Blog

I Don’t Know My HOA Board. So What?

If you are like any one of us, it’s tough to put down the smart phone or tablet after a long day of work. And it sure doesn’t take long to find any article, whether in mainstream media or self published bloggers, to discover the staggering statistics of how more and more we are disconnected with one another. The importance of that dwindling connection however, continues to grow.

Now apply this specifically to your HOA. When a problem arises in the HOA, we typically think “our HOA board will handle it.” Which is true, in part.

Situations will arise, such as consistent vandalism to common areas and theft or break-in’s in the neighborhood, that impact everyone in the HOA (of course we hope this doesn’t happen, but it could). If there’s a certain problem everyone in the community is experiencing, change can come easily when there is strength in numbers. The more you can communicate with residents, the more effective problem solving occurs, thus you may achieve more as a group, when approaching the HOA board for change or a solution.

Conversely, get to know your HOA Board and how it functions! If you are not going to understand how the HOA board functions and makes decisions, then you should expect frustration ahead.

For example, you may have a personal property issue such as a violation or fine. Maybe you are waiting for approval of an architectural request to build an Arizona room off your home. If you understand how the board functions, and how and why fines are assessed, you can avoid problems and fines. By having a good relationship with the management you’ll be able to get things approved much easier! Your HOA Board is on stand by to be responsive and answer questions, so get to know them.

We hope you found this Arizona HOA Blog helpful about increasing connections in your HOA. Stay tuned as we send our next series on tips for introducing and maintaining those connections! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.