By Rusty Bradshaw
With an abundance of resident input and more coming in, the Sun City Home Owners Association CC&R Review Committee will pose some questions to its legal counsel in preparation for considering its recommendations for the SCHOA board.
The committee was formed in May to review SCHOA’s existing covenants, conditions and restrictions for possible revisions. While the need to review the CC&Rs has been discussed for several years, it came to a head in March when SCHOA officials announced they would revise their governing documents, followed shortly by a number of residents complaining about large detached garages constructed in the community.
The committee met in May, June and July and SCHOA officials set up an input survey on their website, www.suncityhoa.org, to gather resident input.
While the committee members had intended to meet throughout the summer, the schedule has changed. The August meeting was canceled due to three committee members on vacation during the month. The next committee meeting is 10:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 28 in the meeting room at the SCHOA office, 10401 W. Coggins Drive.
“We want to have one or more town halls to allow people to hear what we are working on,” said Jim Hunter, SCHOA board president and CC&R Committee chairman, during the group’s July 24 meeting.
SCHOA has a town hall on the schedule for October — 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 at Fairway Recreation Center, 10600 W. Peoria Ave. — at which Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is scheduled to be the guest speaker.
“We should have enough time to give a brief presentation and take some questions on the CC&R review,” Mr. Hunter said.
In the meantime, the committee will gather some legal advice and check into other areas related to educating residents about the CC&Rs.
“I will gather some information about what the requirements are for Realtors to provide the HOA documents,” said Gary Cotten, committee member.
He echoed some residents’ concerns that real estate professionals are not getting those documents — articles of incorporation, bylaws and CC&Rs — into home buyers’ hands.
“There is some confusion about just whose responsibility it is,” Mr. Cotten said.
Mr. Hunter said the committee developed a limited list of questions regarding what can and cannot be revised in the CC&Rs for the SCHOA attorney, Penny Koepke.
Mr. Hunter also said a majority of responders on the SCHOA survey believe the existing CC&Rs do not need revising; SCHOA officials just need to enforce them better. However, he added the clarifications made in 2011 were not added following a vote of affected residents and are therefore believed to be unenforceable. He also said some clarifications contradict sections of the CC&Rs causing confusion.
Mr. Hunter also said many respondents believe sheds and detached utility buildings should be allowed under certain conditions, but that large RV garages should not be allowed. Respondents also expressed concerns about renters in the community.
“About 20 percent of Sun City residents are renters and about 80 percent of our complaints are about renters,” Mr. Hunter said.
Bill Pearson, committee member, said a policy about SCHOA’s interaction with condos should be clearly articulated to residents. SCHOA draws membership from 57 single-family home sections in the community. While the SCHOA CC&Rs are designed for single-family homes, most condo association CC&Rs are nearly identical to SCHOA’s, according to Jerry Walczak, Sun City Condo Association vice president. Most condo association CC&Rs include a clause allowing them to request SCHOA’s assistance in enforcing their CC&Rs.
Some residents are concerned about having a large number of people living in a home. Mr. Hunter said the committee will try to define that based on state statutes.
“I know that in Chicago they limit homes to two people per bedroom,” said resident Bob Otto. “That means if there are two bedrooms, the maximum people allowed is four.”
Sun City resident Jerry Reed is opposed to revising SCHOA’s CC&Rs.
“I don’t want to have a (police state) organization telling us how to live,” he said. “I want to keep it that way.”
He suggested SCHOA officials sue more people who refuse to comply with the rules to send a message that non-compliance would not be tolerated.
Mr. Hunter said SCHOA officials have sued some homeowners and have won each case because they make sure it is winable before taking legal action.
“We don’t have the budget, and it would be wasteful, to pursue a case unless we are sure it is winable,” he said.
Mr. Pearson, a former SCHOA board member, tried to debunk the notion the existing CC&Rs are clear.
“We can only enforce what is legally enforceable,” he said. “If we go ahead with revising the existing CC&Rs, we have the ability to make sure SCHOA has the best tools for enforcement.”