'They want to invade our privacy': Open-garage-door policy offends some residents
An Auburn area homeowners association rescinded a requirement Tuesday that homeowners keep their garage doors open during the day, following national attention that had many calling it an example of HOA overreach.
The requirement insisted homeowners keep their garage doors open during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or face a $200 fine. It was intended to keep people from taking up residence in garages, according to the Auburn Greens homeowners association.
The rule angered residents, some of whom complied and others of whom didn’t. It also prompted a growing wave of attention from local and national media as word spread across the internet.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Cindy Bray, who bought her unit in a Village Greens fourplex last September. “It puts (people’s) possessions at risk.”
The HOA’s board members and property managers could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A metal grate over the management office’s front window was locked with a sign saying the office was closed.
On an adjacent bulletin board, a notice was posted Tuesday that read:
“Dear resident, the new garage Door Policy has been put on hold by the Board of Directors effective immediately. You may keep your garage doors down until further notice. The Board of Directors will be working with the Membership (Homeowners) to hopefully come up with a more ‘reasonable’ policy.”
Auburn Greens tenant Glenn Seifert said it was the first he’d heard of the rescission.
“They haven’t said anything to me,” he said.
Seifert, a Placer County employee, stopped home Tuesday afternoon to put out his garbage and showed two visitors the measures he had taken to secure his bikes and other belongings inside his open garage. He’d screwed a big eye bolt into a rafter, hung his bikes from the ceiling and wrapped a 10-foot security cable through the spokes and eye bolt.
He said the open-door policy was enacted by the HOA’s board in November in response to people living in spaces meant for cars and storage.
“They said they were sick and tired of people living in garages,” Seifert said. But he said he felt the policy was an overreaction to a limited problem.
Others took a different view.
James Croci, a landlord who owns two units at Auburn Greens, said people had a mistaken impression of what was happening there. The sprawling development was built 40 years ago as a collection of mostly fourplex apartment buildings with open carports beneath the upper units. The community’s lengthy rulebook lists the carports as common property to be maintained by the HOA, he said.
Over time, some owners had installed garage doors on their carports, enclosing them. Illegal tenants or transients sometimes slept there unnoticed, Croci said. They’d slip in through unlocked side doors or garage doors, he said.
“You’re not allowed to install garage doors,” he said. “The ones you see were grandfathered in.”
The development, originally built to attract retirees, had become plagued with crime but was being cleaned up, with rising property values, Croci said. Forcing all owners to open their garages for a time allowed property managers to see problem units and take steps, he said.
Of the HOA and property managers, he said, “They’re doing an excellent job. They’re just trying to keep it a safe, clean, quiet environment.”