April 2015 HRB Meeting Minutes

The April HRB meeting was held at 4pm on April 7, 2015, in the ICHA boardroom.  In attendance were Hobart, Jan, Catherine, Steve (Chair), Brad, Barbara, Andrew and Ron.  Lori Greene attended the beginning of the meeting, to report on the recent Egg Hunt and discuss possible improvements to parks and playgrounds.

Lori organized the Egg Hunt last year, and coordinated it again this year with the help of three neighborhood high school students.  Over 200 people attended, and the 3-4-year-old age group was the largest.  A megaphone would be a great help next time, as would additional volunteers.

Lori raised several concerns about maintenance of playgrounds.  The schedule for replacing wood chips and sand, as well as the plans for adding shade umbrellas to picnic areas, were discussed.  Lori pointed out that some aspects of the climbing structure at Gabrielino make it inappropriate for toddlers.

Andrew's Community Operations Report summarized the completion of a new sidewalk along Gabrielino Dr, by the Montessori, installation of a water fountain at Coltrane Corner (the pocket park in Phase 10), and the status of the umbrellas that have been ordered for the picnic tables there.  Andrew also reported on a devastating beetle infestation in the area that is destroying many of the oldest trees on campus.  Many trees in our neighborhood parks show evidence of infestation as well.  There does not appear to be any proven way to halt the infestation or save trees once the fungus carried by the beetles takes hold.

Victor Van Zandt provided an update on the planning for the Phase 10 pool, which will be a six-lane, 25-yard, Jr-Olympic sized pool for lap swimming and recreational use, and will include a separate kiddie pool and spa.  The drought has led ICHA and the HRB to carefully examine the question of the pool's impact on neighborhood water use.  Including the water to fill the pool, evaporation & top-off requirements, and periodic draining & refilling for surface maintenance, the pool would represent about 0.3% (three thousandths) of the overall UHills fresh water usage.  The largest single line item is residential irrigation, which accounts for about 1/2 to 2/3 of the total UHills fresh water budget.  HRB's position is that the neighborhood pools are vitally important to the neighborhood quality of life, the new pool was very strongly supported by the resident amenity survey conducted in 2013, and the water impact is a tiny fraction of our overall water use, so it would be much more effective to target the larger slices of the water-use pie, as part of a comprehensive water-savings effort. 

Other ongoing and future water conservation initiatives were discussed.  Currently, only the very oldest common areas in UHills still use fresh water for irrigation, and these are in the process of being switched over to reclaimed water.  (There is no shortage of reclaimed water.  IRWD has more capacity than there is demand.)  Within the next several months, ALL UHills common areas will be irrigated with reclaimed water, resulting in a substantial reduction in fresh water use.

IRWD will perform free household audits for homeowners interested in a thorough review of the ways they can reduce their water use.  Rebates are available for removing grass lawns and for installing approved smart controllers.  (See http://www.irwd.com/save-water-money/rightscape)  UHills residents are eligible for these rebates, even though IRWD sells the water to the University, which sells it to ICHA, which sells it to us.  Several homes in UHills provide excellent examples of beautiful landscaping using native plants.    

Steve and Victor are working with a local startup to arrange a discount on the purchase of a web-enabled smart irrigation controller, in exchange for participation in a pilot study.  Details should hopefully be finalized in May.

HRB discussed the fact that ICHA billing statements show monthly water use, but few residents keep track, since their billing amount only changes once per year.  A more easily readable summary of water use would give residents better feedback on their water use.  Comparisons to neighborhood & regional averages would also be useful.  Andrew noted that he periodically reviews water use data and contacts homeowners whose usage is more than double the average (which could indicate an undetected leak).

The Recycling Day at the Community Center will either be May 23rd or May 30th, depending on vendor availability.  Services will include E-waste recycling, document shredding, Salvation Army donations, and large-item disposal.  Mulch may not be available unless it can be confirmed that the mulch has been properly treated to avoid spreading the beetle infestation

A household with an excessive collection of debris in the back yard has been asked (again) to clean it up.  The debris is an eyesore, is visible from common areas, and violates the terms of the maintenance regulations. 

The reservation rules for the large grass field at Gabrielino Park have been changed.   Standing/repeating reservations are allowed on weekdays and on weekends before noon, subject to a maximum duration of 4 months, after which a new reservation must be applied for.  Reservations for one-time events during those times, as well as on weekend afternoons, are also permitted. 

An adult soccer group that was suspended from using the Gabrielino field in December, after an altercation involving  shouted obscenities and threatened violence, has returned, sparking further complaints.  The UHills homeowner now coordinating the group has agreed to abide by the suspension that remains in effect.  HRB has reiterated that the group's suspension prohibits use of the field with or without a reservation.  The homeowner is endeavoring to formulate a proposal that would address concerns regarding the group's past behavior and lack of significant continual resident involvement.

The new Documentary series (dates: 4/4, 5/3, 5/16, 6/13) presented by Catherine Liu had its first showing on Saturday, April 4th . It was very well attended. The next in the series will be Sunday, May 3rd.

The Trio Celeste event was attended by over 100 residents at the UCI University Club. Their program was very well received, and it was suggested that this become a yearly event.

In an effort to build community and provide some new and different activities, Hobart proposed HRB-sponsored outings  to Anteater baseball, Claire Trevor events, New Swan Shakespeare, etc.  He would like to organize the first such event to one of the UCI vs. Cal Poly Baseball games on either Saturday, May 9th at 7pm or on  Sunday, May 10th , at 1pm. He will approach the organization and announce the date as soon as possible.

The HRB asked a homeowner to consider a compromise on an architectural plan for a kitchen extension, to address an objection from a neighbor. The applicant modified their plan, and HRB approved the resultant design.  The objecting neighbor remains unsatisfied, and wishes to appeal the decision to the ICHA board.  

HRB does not object to such appeal, and agreed to hold off temporarily on giving the project a green light, pending such appeal, but it was noted that the official rules, technically speaking, only provide for appeals by residents whose applications are rejected by HRB.  As written in the regulations, approvals are final and not subject to appeal.   HRB members suggested that the written guidelines should be updated to provide both parties with a formal appeal process.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:40pm.