Thursday, July 26, 2012

From CCHAL: request for feedback on rural CID situation

Just received this post from Marjorie Murray, President of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law, that I am passing along to all per her request. It is an interesting situation and I think many of you may have some thoughts to contribute:
Evan: We've had many conversations about how CIDs function as local governments (without the restraints we expect of local government.)  But this query (below) illustrates too well that California local governments are going a step further: they are shifting costs to homeowners that they -- city councils and county supervisors -- don't want to bear.  No doubt this was always true, but I think the practice may be accelerating, given the budget crises in every level of California government.

Please post the query (below); we would appreciate reader feedback on this homeowner dilemma.

Marjorie Murray, President
Center for California Homeowner Association Law


Here’s a troubling question from homeowners in a rural California county.

Their association is in a national forest.  It owns its own water system: a complex network of tanks and pipes carrying water throughout the subdivision to each home.  (There is no supply of public water  to the subdivision.)  The pipes are buried beneath the subdivision’s roads.

The subdivision roads, however, are NOT owned by the association.  They are owned – but poorly maintained -- by the county.  “Poorly maintained” means the county will occasionally fill some of the potholes, but only if the association begs county public works.

The roads are public, meaning they bear traffic from campers, SUVs, and HUMMERS on their way to campgrounds in the forest.  The weight of these sport vehicles damages the roads, but most of the damage is inflicted by logging trucks carrying their heavy loads of pine and redwoods out of the forest.

The traffic damages not only the roads, but also the association’s water system beneath them.  A proposal is now before the membership to drain its entire reserve account to repair the water system damaged by the traffic and to repair the roads, which will remain open to public -- and to future damage. 

So…who should pay for this half million dollar project and future maintenance?  The county (because these are public roads)?  The trucking companies?  The association (because it’s their water system at risk)?

This scenario is a good example of the quasi-governmental nature of common interest developments: they provide services that local governments (counties and water districts in this case) used to provide. With one big difference: the services are now privately financed – by homeowners.

So let us know what your think about the homeowners’ quandary….

CCHAL NewsBrief
July 26, 2012, copyright


Anonymous said...

1. They have no business "repairing" county roads. This is probably not just unlawful but illegal.

2. The trucking companies owe the HOA nothing.

3. The campers owe the HOA nothing.

4. If the water system qualifies as a utility, then the utility is responsible for the repairs and it recovers its costs from the customers, i.e., the homeowners and the HOA corporation.

5. There are numerous questions that should be looked at in this case including whether the utility ever had easements in and around the county roads and whether the pipes were buried as deep as they should have been.

6. I learned long ago that no HOA corporation should ever be between the homeowner and any utilities including water, gas, and electricity. Undoubtedly, the HOA corporation's source of water is groundwater in this area. They can eliminate or at least alleviate problems if the system is segmented or homeowners have their own wells.

Anonymous said...

If in the national forest - perhaps there are federal programs.

There is a federal program called Legacy Roads and Trails that might be of use.