In the Bee this morning in the Biz section Home Front:
Neighborhood watchHomeowners associations get a lot of grief for board squabbles and telling people what color they can paint their front doors. But there's one huge advantage in times when foreclosures bring empty houses and brown lawns to many neighborhoods.
A homeowners association can make foreclosures almost invisible. Consider the 3,400- home Serrano neighborhood of El Dorado Hills. With 45 vacant properties, it has its share of people losing homes. But the Serrano El Dorado Owners' Association has a special program for what happens after the bank takes possession.
"We make sure those homes are watched over and maintained so they don't become a problem," said John Bowman, general manager of the HOA. "If you drive through Serrano, you shouldn't know if there is a house that is unoccupied at the time."Association crews keep up lawns and landscaping, and use water trucks if the bank shuts down the plumbing. Security workers have lists of vacant homes and routinely check on them. Newspapers and mailers aren't allowed to pile up as they often do at empty houses in other neighborhoods.
Apparently, that's not all the association does well with its $8 million annual budget and 70 employees. Recently, Serrano El Dorado was named 2007 association of the year for Northern California. That territory includes 200 planned communities between Sacramento and Oregon. Serrano sold its first homes in 1995.
Here’s a question for you old timers. “What was the name of the General Manager we ran off in the early 90’s?”