There Goes The Neighborhood?

In the nearly 18 years that I have been actively negotiating on behalf of buyers and sellers in the Lake Oroville real estate market, I have been involved in numerous transactions involving property located in the Kelly Ridge Subdivision.

 For those of you unfamiliar with Kelly Ridge, it is a nice community overlooking Lake Oroville and Bidwell Marina; with a 9 hole golf course intertwined among many of the homes. For the most part it is a quiet neighborhood and pride of ownership is evident as you drive through the community’s winding roads.

As with nearly all subdivisions of this nature, there is an active homeowners’ association (HOA) there, as well as a document called Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions. (CC&R’s) recorded on each lot in the subdivsion. These CC&R’s are basically a set of rules established as a means of insuring a certain conformity among the homes in the subdivision, which in turn protects the integrity of the subdivision and helps in maintaining property values. For example, most CC& R’s that I have read over the years set minimum lot sizes, minimum square footage requirements, prohibit livestock, require that your RV be parked out of view of the street, and so on. For the most part, the CC&R’s in this area are not as restrictive as they are in the more urban areas, but are just restrictive enough to do the job they were intended to do.

The enforcement mechanism in these CC&R’s is generally the homeowners of  the subdivision. If a homeowner notes a violation then he/she can normally take action to enforce the correction of the violation. In cases where there is also a homeowners association in place, the association itself can usually act to enforce the CC&R’s.  If the violator fails to take corrective action, the complaining party, through a civil action, can ask a judge to force the violator to comply. As human nature would have it, there are sometimes instances in associations such as these where some get “too big for their britches, ” (as my parents used to say)  and, in their own mind, become “Mayor” of the subdivision. Fortunately for the Lake Oroville real estate market, there are  not many HOA’s in the area, but the 2 or three that we do have, have demonstrated, for the most part, a fairly reasonable approach in the administration of their duties.

But, as they say, the times they are a changin’.

The most recent newletter published by the Kelly Ridge Estates Owners’ Association (KREOA) contains what I view is a very disconcerting column regarding a new enforcement program they are implementing to address CC&R violations.

Now, before I continue, I want to be clear here that I am in total support of  homeowners that want to see their neighborhood properly maintained. It is, after all, in everyone’s best interest that this be so. I just think this may be a heavy-handed approach that has the potential of causing a lot of unnecessary strife.

According to the newsletter, KREOA,

 “……will contract with a person who will do as complete exterior inspection as possible,” to “identify CC&R violations on homes listed for sale and foreclosed homes owned by banks.”

“Both buyer and seller are to be notified that escrow will not close until corrections are complete.”  “…..the notification letter will be sent to the escrow company handling the  sale advising that they are not to close until we verify that corrections have been made.” 

Sounds harmless and reasonable you say?

Maybe it is. But I do not think so.

Look who KREOA is targeting with this: homes listed for sale and foreclosed homes owned by the banks.”  Why are they not targeting ALL violators? Why are they engaging in discrimination in their enforcement of their rules? I will tell you why….because it is an easy target.  But will it accomplish their goal or just prolong the process of getting the neighborhood in compliance?

For example:

What happens to the elderly widow who is trying to sell her house in order that she can move to an assisted living facility and needs every penny she can get out of her home in order to pay for her care?  Let’s say she has her house on the market and has a buyer for her home who is willing to comply with any repairs that KREOA insists on being done. Because it is inadvisable that a buyer make repairs to a home that the buyer does not yet own, and the seller simply has no funds to pay for the required repairs,  the repairs can’t get done  and the house cannot sell. So the transaction dies, the widow takes the house off the market, and because the focus of  KREOA is only homes listed for sale, the repairs never get done! Are you following me on this???

Here is another thing that KREOA is getting ready to do: They intend to hire someone to go out to the County of Butte Building Department and research building permits to see which homeowners have not pulled the proper permits when repairing their homes. Shades of Big Brother??????

It seems that KREOA has decided it is in the best interest of the neighborhood if they establish their own informal Kelly Ridge Association Patrol force (my words, not theirs)

Over reaction you say? I thought that too when I first reacted to the newsletter. Until I read  this sentence in the newsletter that I think portends a coming conflict:

“If you have a problem with a neighbor leave a message at  589-**** and it will be handled by one of the Directors.”

In other words, if you don’t like something your neighbor is doing, like, as the newlstter says, leaving,excessive amounts of dog poop in a yard constituting a health hazards (and driving neighbors off their decks to in homes with windows shut), call what I am now calling the Kelly Ridge Association Patrol People  (K.R.A.P.P.) and it will be handled– whatever that means!

I wonder if all of the Director’s homes are in compliance? If not, I wonder how they are going to “handle” it when they find K.R.A.P P. on their doorsteps. Or do they only intend to send a bunch of K.R.A.P.P.  their neighbors way!!!!!

There goes the neighborhood? I certainly hope not!