Sun City Home Owners Association’s Board of Directors and its staff are getting more serious about sending a statement to CC&R violators.
In August the board decided to take legal action against residents of a house on Cumberland Drive that have a long history of CC&R violations. The house has been a nuisance for neighboring residents for five years. Located in the 11000 block of West Cumberland Avenue off of 111th Avenue, the property’s original homeowner died five years ago, leaving it behind to his daughter, who was the required 55 years in order for the house to remain in the family’s possession. However, in that time she also passed away, and her sisters, in their 40s, took over.
Gene Turiano, SCHOA compliance manager, said the daughters of the original homeowner have allowed between eight to 10 people to live in the house at a given time. Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies have watched the house.
The SCHOA board authorized its attorney, Penny Koepke, to pursue a lawsuit against the Cumberland property owners. The lawsuit, filed about one month ago, sought compliance with the CC&Rs and property foreclosure.
The board also authorized legal action on a property on Briarwood Circle, southeast of the corner of Bell Road and 99th Avenue. The woman who currently lives at the house inherited it from the man she used to take care of, according to SCHOA officials. There were no problems while she stayed with him.
However, once he died and gave her the house, she brought all of her children with her.
“She has six or eight kids,” Mr. Turiano said. “These are grown men and women. These aren’t kids.”
These will not be the last legal actions by SCHOA officials to get CC&R compliance.
“We will be considering two more possible foreclosures, these on vacant properties,” said Jim Stark, SCHOA board member.
Those properties were considered in a Nov. 15 executive session.
“Cumberland has been a thorn in our sides for a while,” Mr. Stark said. “They would toy with us. They would clean up violations, but then it would be right back in violation within days of the case being closed.”
He also said they would move to another property for a time then move back.
Ms. Koepke said the Cumberland home residents offered to pay the approximately $3,600 owed in adminsitrative fees, but more needs to be done to satisfy the case.
“We have to resolve all the issues, not just the money,” she said. “They have to be in compliance with all CC&Rs.”
Reporting to the board and a roomful of Cumberland and Briarwood neighbors during the Nov. 15 SCHOA board meeting, Ms. Koepke said the lawsuit respondents had 20 days to respond to the lawsuits, and could get another 10 days. If no answer is forthcoming, a hearing can be requested. She said it could take up to four weeks after the request to have a hearing.
“If they do answer or dispute the lawsuits, then we would move toward going to court,” she explained. “That would take longer.”
That would not be soon enough for neighbors who believe they have suffered long enough.
“This has gone on way too long,” said Ona Ralston, a Cumberland neighbor.
Steve Adams, who lives near the Briarwood property, agreed.
“Nobody in any community should have to live through that,” he said. “The rules and regulations that Gene and Gary (Owens, SCHOA compliance officer) have to see through it — and people like to break them — are not strong enough and the remedy is not swift enough.”
Ms. Koepke said resident patience and persistence is the best approach to situations such as these. She also said neighbors’ testimony, if the matter gets to arbitration or trial, is important to the outcome.
“There will always be bad actors,” she said. “The best way to address this is to be assertive toward violations and when these (legal) actions are taken, the word will spread.”
However, she said it takes time and consistency to make it work.
“This has been a painful learning experience for all of us,” said Tom Wilson, SCHOA general manager. “We will look into some changes to see that this does not happen in the future.”
Rita Tillery, SCHOA board member, said having to take legal action is unfortunate because it paints Sun City in an inaccurate light.
“The vast majority of our residents are good people and comply,” she said. “Some may make mistakes or forget, but they are quick to resolve the issues.”