SOA Aesthetic Guidelines Discussion

At the December 17th Board of Director (Board) Meeting, Board member O’Donnell presented proposed changes to the AGC process, which he believes will provide a less costly and more friendly approach to owners submitting projects for approval. He addressed eight different problem areas with proposed solutions as follows : 1) A fast track application process for building projects under $100K and landscape projects under $50K, 2) A requirement to complete review and action on non-fast track applications by the next AGC meeting, 3) Using the CC&R’s as the sole basis for approval or denial of applications, 4) Reliance on neighbors to report non-compliances, 5) Return of deposits to owners whose projects did not pass inspection, but with an approved variance, 6) Reduction of AGC costs by not employing a full complement of paid professionals, 7) Elimination of redundant approvals by the Sierra Canyon ARC and the SOA AGC, and 8) AGC appeals to go directly to the Board.

There was limited discussion by other Board members on the pros and cons of the merits of O’Donnell’s propositions, no actions were taken but tabled for future considerations.

Mr. O’Donnell’s propositions (i.e., Problem and Solution statements) were published as a “Summary of Proposal for Discussion: AGC Updated Guidelines” to the December 17th meeting minutes and is available on the SOA’s website ( under the SOA Documents/Board Documents/2021 tabs.

At the January 13th Board meeting it was announced that each of the eight propositions would be discussed and voted on separately, which they proceeded to do for item 6) above under BOD Meeting Agenda item 8.d. “Appointments to the AGC”. Action was to eliminate two paid professionals (Architect Mike McGonagle and Civil Engineer Seth Padovan) from the Committee and to appoint a homeowner (Rob Jordan) to it.

The upcoming January 27th Board meeting contains no Agenda item for the other seven propositions, so it is assumed these will all be handled at a later date.

In this regard, SU has reproduced the “Summary of Proposal for Discussion: AGC Updated Guidelines” document (apologies for any errors) along with some embedded SU comments as denoted in italicized red font. This commented on copy is available via the following link:

Summary of Proposal for Discussion AGC Updated Guidelines – SU Comment Copy

Given that the AGC and AG Guidelines are always a hot topic among homeowners, especially those with proposed building additions/modifications or landscape projects, you are encouraged to review the linked document and offer up your own comments.

4 thoughts on “SOA Aesthetic Guidelines Discussion

  1. My question is why are design professionals being use to review projects for aesthetics? The homeowner is already paying the City of Reno for code compliance review on any project requiring significant building modification. The CC&R’s Aesthetics Guidelines define colors, material types etc. and other than blocking someone’s view with a fence or trellis what parameters are used in the review process? I’m 100% in support of a review committee that ensures compliance with the CC&Rs and Guidelines but fail to see why the process has to be so complicate and expensive. Has the Board considered surveying Homeowners who have experience the process in the past 5 years for their input?

    1. James,
      So much of what is being done with backyard design does not fall under “code compliance”…things like BBQ islands, shade trellises, and patios whether concrete paving stones or poured concrete. Things that do fall under code compliance with the city are electrical, natural gas runs, pools.
      What the Aesthetics Guidelines are really measuring and approving is structural permanence, changes that affect drainage/runoff, the use of sufficient vegetation (to minimize erosion). Front yards are purely about drainage, erosion, driveway/sidewalk modifications and planting for mature size.
      Some of the committee name is a misnomer for sure, but much fell to the AGC when the last board eliminated the Standards Committee. The professional oversight is to have the expertise of various disciplines giving complex plans the once over, and catching things that are not right. Things that come to mind immediately are plans that don’t include drainage to protect a down hill neighbor or perhaps prevent a shade trellis from being bolted to a paver patio. If there is a civil engineer, and a landscape architect on the committee such issues can be headed off pre-construction.
      The SOA has a desk review process for things like storm doors, plant-for-plant replacement, xeriscape conversions, but this process could be utilized as a triage process to segregate plans on the basis of complexity to manage process cost. We shouldn’t be looking at project cost estimates for approval as much as complexity and, in many cases, community impact of the modifications spelled out in the plans.

  2. “Elimination of redundant approvals by the Sierra Canyon ARC and the SOA AGC”

    Looks like they want to get rid of the Sierra Canyon ARC. Personally, I would prefer we get rid of the Somersett HOA and stay with the Sierra Canyon HOA.

    Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

  3. I still don’t understand why they got rid of the 2 paid positions to replace them with a “homeowner” that as far as I understand nobody knows or vetted – except the board members.

    It’s one thing to change the scope of an ACG review but to abruptly replace the architect and the engineer is another one.

    My only other comment regarding the ACG review is that I believe the homeowner requesting the permit should be allowed to attend the meeting.

    Somersett is beautiful and I am afraid we’re going to loose some of this by making these abrupt changes.

    As I have been saying many times on this site, I would like the board to look at improving Somersett by making it more premium, even if it means paying more in fees which are fairly low in my opinion for what we are getting.

    I do believe we need another pool, some additional tennis courts and probably another gym. We are adding a lot of housing units and the common facilities are not keeping up. Maybe that something that could be arranged with the Golf Club, they have the space and the parking but low membership. I am sure, they could use the money.

    I feel we’re going the other way and potentially looking at a downgrade of the community.

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