Did you know that if you own more than one lot in California Pines, and the lots are "contiguous" (ie, they share a property line), you can merge them together and save money?

A RELATIVELY SIMPLE PROCESS. Many people own multiple lots right next to each other in California Pines so they can have more room to stretch out and keep their neighbors at a nice "neighborly" distance.  However, few seem to know that they can combine those separate lots into one legal lot through a very simple process with the County Planning Department known as a "Lot Merge".  Well, it is simple by government standards!  There is paperwork involved, but it is the easiest permit you can get at the County.  If you are interested in it, contact the County Planning Department (see email on lower left column).  Here is why you might, or might not, want to merge your properties:

MERGING LOTS LIMITS DEVELOPMENT OPTIONS.  The downside of merging properties is that you end up with only one legal lot upon which to build a home, and you can no longer sell off the other properties as separate lots.  Essentially, you are giving away the "value" of developing all the lots as separate properties.  So, if you want to do that someday, don't merge your lots.

LOWER PROPERTY TAXES.  However, if one big lot works for you and the "kingdom" you plan to develop, merger might be a real economic boon for you because reducing the development potential of your lots also reduces their taxable value!  Lower taxable value translates to lower property taxes.

LOWER POA DUES.  In addition, since you pay Property Owners' Association (POA) dues on each legal lot you own, reducing the number of legal lots also reduces your POA dues.

MORE DEVELOPMENT FLEXIBILITY.  Finally, merging lots provides you with more flexibility when you do finally build that house you have been dreaming of because, by merging, you are eliminating all those pesky "internal" property lines that you would otherwise have to keep from building on or near.  You only need to keep your buildings set back from the lot lines bordering your property. 

WHEN TO MERGE.  The cheapest time to merge lots is when you buy one of them.  This is because a Lot Merger must go through escrow and be recorded with the County Recorder.   Since you typically have to (or should) go through escrow anyway when you buy a property, merging them during this process does not really cost any more in escrow fees.  If you merge them after-the-fact, you have to open an escrow account just for the merger process and pay escrow fees again.  So, go buy another property and merge everything at once! 

DO I NEED POA APPROVAL?   Not for mergers.  However, you will need to provide them with proof of the merger to reduce your POA dues, and you need POA approval for anything you build on your site (as spelled out in the CC&R's that apply to all properties in California Pines).  So, keep them in the loop when you build your house, fences and sheds!

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