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HOA, city's spat over urban planning is escalating

It's complicated.

At the same time, though, its inherent complications are subsumed within a single question that has been posed to a California court.

That question is this: Notwithstanding a city's attempt to see the fruition of urban planning in accordance with recent blueprints, will that planning, if realized, materially breach an agreement inked years ago with a prominent homeowners association?

The relationship between the Los Ranchitos homeowners association and planned community and officials from the southwestern Riverside County city of Temecula essentially serves as a snapshot of the community's historical development and current logistics-related problems.

As described in a media report on a growing legal clash between the Los Ranchitos HOA and Temecula, the Los Ranchitos planned community took shape decades before the establishment of Temecula. At the time of its creation, the surrounding area was reportedly little more than "a dusty outpost."

Things have certainly changed from Los Ranchitos' inception. By the time Temecula became a city in 1989, the area was marked by "sprawling, hastily-approved housing tracts" and heavy traffic congestion. Temecula has nearly quadrupled its population over the years.

The HOA and city officials executed an agreement in 1999 addressing park-and-ride-lot construction, with a mutual understanding that lot entrance and exit corridors would be safely away from the community's homes.

HOA members now argue that the city has mocked that agreement. In fact, city plans following the agreement's execution show an intent for lot ingress and egress along "a bucolic road" that loops through the housing community.

That has homeowners on edge, and has brought a lawsuit against the city.

The HOA posits bad faith on behalf of city officials, who are alleged to be backing away from a contractual understanding and seeking to steamroll homeowners.

"It feels very much like David and Goliath to us," says one HOA board member.

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