OUR GOAL IS TO PROVIDE A FAIR AND
FOR ALL TO USE
HOW THE PROBLEM STARTEDCalifornia Pines is a BIG place! In fact, it is the largest subdivision in the Nation. Back in the 1960s, the land owner was allowed to subdivide 15,000 acres of remote land into roughly 15,000 Legal Lots. All the Lots on the mountain (the forested "Hill Units") are typically just under an acre in size, regardless of terrain.. The Lots in the valley near the Donovan Reservoir (the flatter "Lake Units") generally range from 3,000 Square Feet to an acre in size. All together, California Pines has a lot of Lots!
Are there too many Lots? If all the Lots were developed with homes occupied by year-round residents, then YES! Everyone I have talked with agrees that, in that situation, there are too many Lots. An acre of land is actually not very big when you are out in the country and hope for peace and quiet, let alone a place to put a well, septic tank AND a house! In addition, many lots are too steep to build on, or too rocky to lay-out a septic system or sink a well. Moreover, the roads are not built for continuous traffic, and traffic would be bumper to bumper crawling down the one paved road we have to get out of the Hill Units. It is also questionable whether there is enough ground water to support a significant population, and septic treatment might also become a desperate problem.
However, due to its remote location, lack of regional jobs, and the difficulties inherent in developing raw land, this scenario is not expected to occur. In fact, we are told California Pines was never intended to have a large year-round population, and most Lots were never intended to have houses on them. It was apparently expected that most people would come up a few times a year to camp in their RVs or tents to enjoy the wildlife and quiet; a few would build houses; and fewer still would live in the houses all year. That has largely come true. Only three percent of the properties here have houses on them, and not all the houses are occupied all year. So, the road systems are adequate to handle traffic, and water availability and sewage treatment systems are solved on a site-by-site basis.
THE PROBLEM TODAY IS RESALEWhen California Pines was first created, the Developer spent millions advertising it on national television, flew would-be buyers out to look at available properties, put them up at The Lodge (located on the Donovan Reservoir in one of the Lake Units), drove them all around extolling the virtues of owning land here, and offered special financing packages that were hard to say no to. As a result, all the Lots sold to private buyers seeking a retreat, a retirement spot, or just a piece of the "American Dream".
Today, the Developer is long gone, and local real estate agents cannot afford to list and show all the available land because there is no profit in it for them. The only people actually advertising Lots for sale in California Pines are professionals who specialize in buying up raw land cheaply and then advertising the land at inflated prices with "easy financing" deals in place that don't even require a credit check. The deal usually ends with the buyer defaulting as soon as the buyer realizes they've paid too much or its more expensive than they thought to actually build on. In this case, the land goes back to the seller, who keeps the deposit and any payments made to date, then puts the land back on the market via their website to sell to the next uninformed buyer.
This activity does not help the average property owner who just wants to sell the few lots they own and no longer need. Some property owners have turned to selling their homes on eBay and Craig's List, with some success. However, we would like to see one location that can be pointed to for available properties in California Pines in hope of encouraging an informed buyer to acquire the land and join our community with open eyes and realistic expectations. That is the main reason we developed this site.
WHY ISN'T THE POA DOING SOMETHING TO HELP?In short, THEY ARE! The Property Owner's Association (POA) is NOT involved in advertising or selling property in California Pines because they don't want to be confused with the original developers of this subdivision, who are commonly felt to have made promises that they did not keep. In addition, the POA is headed by volunteers who have their hands full maintaining all the improved property owned in common by Cal Pines property owners.
Many people do not realize that the job of the POA is to maintain most of the roads in California Pines as well as the reservoir, several campgrounds, and the Lodge (with its bar, restaurant, pool and playground). They also enforce the CC&R's as best they can, and manage the day-to-day affairs of the Association. All of the annual dues paid by Cal Pines property owners go to the POA for this important work. Without this work, very few people would want to visit, let alone live here.
While the POA helps maintain everyone's property values by keeping all the man-made improvements in the right place and in good working order, the Land Trust helps by focusing on preserving and improving the key thing that draws us here, the natural beauty of the area and its wildlife. Encouraging property sales to individuals who know what they are getting into is one way we hope to do this. Another is to invest the excess proceeds generated by this site to give nature a helping hand around here.
To this end, we pick up trash, work to identify and remove hazards to wildlife, help injured animals where we can, and improve habitat where possible. We are not affiliated with the POA, and do not receive any financial help from them. Nor are we regulators. We simply look out for the wildlife and the habitat on which it depends as best we can. The more funds we have, the more we can do. This site is a key fundraiser for our work.
LOOKING TO BUILD A RETREAT OR A YEAR-ROUND HOME?Great! We hear all the time that people want to buy raw land so they can design and build their own home, and we applaud that idea. Several of us have done just that, and it can be very rewarding. There is certainly an abundance of raw land to work with, but before you go that route, you should understand what you are in for.
For instance, did you know that you could easily spend $50,000 drilling a well and never find water? Even if you do find water, you still need to pay for an electrical hookup, septic system design and installation, and then there is the cost of building design, permitting and construction, not to mention actually buying the land!
Compare that to the cost of buying any of the improved properties listed on this site, and you will be surprised what a good investment an improved property is! In 2015, a two-acre property with a two bedroom, one bath house sold in Hill Unit 3 for about $60,000. It was a fixer-upper to be sure, but it had a sound foundation, roof and walls, electricity, vaulted ceilings, an operable well and septic system, a detached one car garage, a nice size shop building, and even a propane tank! Best of all, buildings qualify for bank financing, where raw land and the cost of building generally does not. So, if you're on a tight budget, or have never actually built a house before, you may want to think twice about buying raw land when improved land is available.
NEXT STEPSSo, here you go. These are the homes and available properties that we know of in Cal Pines that need loving owners. The Land Trust does not receive a commission for any sales, just a modest fee for advertising the property on this site. These funds are used to advertise this site in other locations, and to further our work improving and preserving the wild beauty of California Pines.
If you are interested in any of the properties and homes shown on this site, email or call the contact person listed. If you want to list a property, follow the instructions shown in the column on the left. If you have a problem getting hold of a seller, please let us know via the CONTACT FORM.
Finally, if you like what we are doing, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Land Trust using the PayPal button provided on the right. Your donation will go back into the community via programs and projects that help keep California Pines a great place to live!
A WORD OF WARNING: We recommend you get title insurance on any property you buy, and you would be smart to work through a licensed real estate agent to be sure your interests are protected. The Land Trust does not guaranteeing anything about any property listed here. We are only listing what people tell us to list. Buying property has many pit-falls, so get professional help to advise you before you put your money down. Then, take the time to enjoy your investment in a corner of California where the west, and country hospitality, still lives!
Jenn Andersen, Managing Director
California Pines Community Land Trust