Summerlin North enters HOA Hall of Shame
Most of us have heard of Watergate. But what's going on in one Summerlin neighborhood could be called Gate-gate. It's an HOA Hall of Shame that pits a master association against a sub-association.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Most of us have heard of Watergate.
But what's going on in one Summerlin neighborhood could be called Gate-gate.
It's an HOA Hall of Shame that pits a master association against a sub-association.
And in this case, homeowners are caught in the middle and footing the bill.
"All of this hullabaloo over what looks like a beautiful addition to your community?" Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears asked.
"It's an improvement!" said Canyon Crest HOA President Jim Reeve.
The hullabaloo, hassle and headache in the Summerlin North community of Canyon Crest is over an entry gate.
"Everybody's happy with it," Reeve says. "Why they've pushed this issue... it just blows my mind."
It all began last year when the original gates put in by the developer bit the dust.
"They were all bent out of shape, they were black, they were chipped and rusty. There was never any complaint from Summerlin North to do something about those ugly gates. They finally closed on a car and trapped somebody in there."
Reeve found the gates would cost less to replace than repair. So his board approved a new gate design and submitted it to master association Summerlin North.
"I contacted Summerlin North and said this situation we have--these are our front gates, not somebody putting a plant in their front yard that you have to approve. I said we have to move on it."
But he says the master didn't move fast enough.
And since they couldn't imagine there'd be any problem with the design, they went ahead and installed them.
But soon after the gates went up, Summerlin North told them to take them down.
"And then they started fining us $100 a week. The fines got up to $700."
Summerlin North's five-person design review committee said they were unacceptably ornate because of the scrollwork.
The homeowners really don't understand why someone would say the look of the gates doesn't go with their community.
After all, the scrollwork on them mirrors the look of the lettering on the community sign.
Community rules say the theme of Canyon Crest is "Desert Elegance," which includes but isn't limited to Contemporary, Santa Fe, Southern European, Southwest, and Spanish.
"Have you seen the gate?" Spears asked Summerlin North President Hal Bloch.
Darcy: "It's really a nice gate."
Hal: "No one has ever said that the gate wasn't a nice gate."
So why fight over it?
Bloch explains that another Summerlin community put in a gate that wasn't approved and had to replace it.
So that means the same goes for Canyon Crest.
"We like to feel that we administer the rules with as little homeowner disruption as possible but this was one case where we felt we really, in the interest of even-handedness, had to do what we're doing," Bloch said.
But that begs the question of two other gates in the same Summerlin village.
One at the Bellacere community across the street and one at the Palisades community around the corner, which is all scrolls.
Darcy: "So how is this inconsistent with that and why are those ok and this isn't?"
Hal: "Because of when they were approved and by whom they were approved."
Bloch says the two other gates were put in by the Howard Hughes corporation when the communities were built.
What was ok then, apparently isn't ok now.
Darcy: "The Howard Hughes folks... didn't they set the standard for the community to begin with or does what they set as a standard not matter anymore?"
Hal: "It does matter."
Not enough to keep the case out of arbitration where Reeve says it languished for five months while the arbitrator and attorneys racked up big bills.
Arbitrator Alvin Apfelberg ruled in favor of Summerlin North, saying they, not Canyon Crest, have the "discretion and authority to determine the appearance, harmony, beauty and attractiveness of entry gates."
As a result, Canyon Crest has to pay Summerlin North more than $25,000.
Jim: "By the time we pay the legal fees and to change these gates it'll be around $40-50,000."
Darcy: "And that equates to what for the people who live here?"
Jim: "About $500 per home. Most of them don't know it yet. When they find out, there's gonna be a lot of ruckus. They're gonna be mad as hell."
Canyon Crest's attorney wrote a letter to the Nevada Real Estate Division saying he was "appalled" at arbitrator Apfelberg's "atrocious" billing practices and the "unreasonable" amount of time he took to decide the case.
Apfelberg refused our requests for comment.
Jim: "What are they doing for us?" Reeve asked, referring to Summerlin North. "They're hurting the homeowners they're supposed to be representing over a stupid issue. It just..."
Darcy: "Belongs in the Hall of Shame?"
Jim: "Yeah. Absolutely."
So at the end of the day, where do common sense and compassion come into play?
Darcy: "Can't you just look at the gate and say you know what? Really, it's fine. We don't need to force this issue. It's fine. You agreed it's nice."
Hal: "I agreed it's nice. In another community."
Canyon Crest now has to decide whether to risk costing homeowners even more money by taking the case to court, or just throw in the towel and replace the gates.
We'll let you know how it turns out.
If you'd like to nominate your HOA for the Hall of Shame, send an email to email@example.com.