Opinion—If I have to use it….

Opinion

Many decades ago in Tomball, Texas, I helped my uncle build a beautiful brick mailbox to match his brick house. A month later he called to tell me that the homeowners’ association told him that he would have to remove it and put a stick mailbox in its place to match all the other stick mailboxes in his rural subdivision. He was furious. I had no monkey in the circus but his experience did convince me that I would never live in a community that had an HOA.

I have plenty of HOA horror stories from my years in real estate….

Along with homeowners’ associations telling you what you can and cannot do to a property you own, sometimes the city gets involved, too, most of the time concerning zoning ordinances. No one wants to buy a beautiful home only to have a brothel built next door….

One of the different ways that the city can get involved is with historic properties. Here in San Diego County, if you buy a historic property and agree to keep it historic, you get a pretty good tax break. With real estate prices being so astronomical, a tax break on property taxes can be significant.

Recently, over in Coronado, the City of Coronado got upset at the owner of a historic property because she had replaced the old windows with modern dual-pane windows. The house currently looks like this:

Historic home in Coronado CA

Notice the windows. That white bar at the bottom of each window is the old, wooden window apron, usually indicating that the home had wooden windows at one point.

Aluminum window on an old historic home in Coronado CA

Now they are aluminum windows. The city is upset because the aluminum windows just don’t match the architecture of the home. Perhaps if she had installed white aluminum windows….

Actually, one can get aluminum windows that look like wood, but they are custom windows, so they are quite a bit more expensive than standard aluminum windows. The City has given her options but she’s still not happy because all of the options require her to remove these windows, which already have been installed and paid for….

Although the property tax breaks can be significant, I’m pretty much a modern guy when it comes to using things, so you’ll never find me buying something historic. If I have to use it rather than just admiring it, I own the latest and the greatest….

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43 thoughts on “Opinion—If I have to use it….

  1. Pit

    Hi Russel,
    When we were planning to relocate and were looking for homes here in the Fredericksburg area, we found several we would have liked but didn’t buy because they had a HOA.
    Have a nice Sunday,
    Pit

    Liked by 1 person

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      1. Pit

        Good morning, Russel,
        Fredericksburg ceratinly has quite a few historic homes. I don’t know, though, if the ownwers get a tax break. What I do know, though, is that because of outside money [some super rich are buying up complete blocks in the city] the appraised values have rocketed up and with that the property taxes, and that that is stifling/killing local businesses. Fredericksburg seem to change its character. That’s also due to the fact that so many wineries are now here in the area – with more opening. We call Highway 290 between here and Johnson City the “Wine Road” now. That attracts quite a different clientele of tourists now. Again changing Fritztown’s character. All that is causing much concern. Well, whatever – we’ll have to live with it.
        Have a great day, my friend,
        Pit
        P.S.: we had quite a thunderstorm in the early morning hours, with a haevy downpour, and it’s still raining. Oh so fantastic!!!

        Liked by 2 people

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I understand the wine thing. When I first came to San Diego in 1993, I passed through Temecula on the way to see relatives in Los Angeles. I stopped in Old Town Temecula because, well, anything with “Old Town” attached to it gets my attention. It was a happening tourist spot. Not anymore. There are a billion wineries on the six-mile drive east of town, all with free wine tastings and other events, so that’s where the tourists hang out. Some of the wineries are pretty neat, and my photography club often arranges for free tours.

          Liked by 2 people

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          1. roughwighting

            I’d never hear of Temecula until a couple of years ago, when I was visiting San Diego and a long-ago friend suggested we meet there. Quite different from what I expected (not that I expected much, but you know what I mean).

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  2. Anthony

    I live in a city that has a huge number of heritage homes (and schools and businesses and landmarks…..) and even modernizing the plumbing can be a headache. I understand the desire to remember things, but sometimes you’ve got to move ahead. For homes that are not designated as historic or heritage, they certainly don’t mind changing the building codes and forcing us to comply…..

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  3. Su Leslie

    Call me a pleb, but I actually like the windows, and think they fit the architecture well. It cracks me up that our government and historical societies get all dictatorial over preserving “heritage” when those who built, lived in and modified these building over preceding centuries (this is especially true in Europe where buildings can be really old) just did whatever they needed to at the time and had no qualms about putting “new” windows in when they needed them — or indeed adding “period” features out of period because someone liked the idea of it. They tried to build homes that fitted their needs — not someone’s idea of local history. Sigh.

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  4. philosophermouseofthehedge

    HOAs can be nuts, but historic designated areas can be super nuts.
    It should be all be about saving the structure so it doesn’t fall down – water leakage is a real threat to a structure – so is discouraging people who care (and do have will and money) about saving a place. Might have managed to stay under radar with white trim
    You wouldn’t recognize Tomball now. Busy area.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. acflory

    I’d love to restore an old, historic house, but the costs are just prohibitive – not in materials but in the actual house itself. Given that the owner did buy or inherit a historic home, I can’t help wondering why she wanted such ugly windows in the first place. I agree with you – if you don’t want the hassle, buy something new. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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          1. acflory

            rofl – I already drive a car without flash drive support and antiquated audio. For the privilege of driving one of the Porsche’s original Beasts, I’d be prepared to add my own audio…-hums off key…

            Liked by 1 person

            Reply
            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              Been there, done that, but it was a 1976 Chevrolet Impala. Once I had enough money to add a cassette deck to the car, I swore I would never be without a cassette deck again, although that morphed into a CD player which morphed into a flash drive.

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  6. roughwighting

    I love Coronado – walking it from one end to another. The neighborhoods are fun to walk through, and the houses are interesting. I love looking at/visiting ‘historic’ houses, but I’m not against updating them to make them more comfortable (and environmentally feasible). So, history with a splash of realism, for me. ;-0

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