Last evening’s Autumnwood tract Homeowner meeting, ineptly facilitated by the Wildomar City Council, turned into an angry and noisy display of homeowner frustration with government bureaucrats from the various Riverside County and State of California agencies who were “lured” into a disorganized information-gathering protocol, instead meeting with frustrated and angry local residents who are demanding immediate action from their government.
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Alas, given the complexities of dealing with environment issues, such as potentially toxic soils, the meeting accomplished little or nothing to further satisfactory homeowner resolution.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, each individual homeowner will have to consider their own health risks, in the context of economic risk, and make hard decisions on whether to walk away from their homes and suffer the consequences of foreclosure, as some have already done, or remain in place.
There does not appear to be any equitable resolution to the dilemma.
The various health-related governmental agencies, after examining documentation provided by the homeowner’s own law firm, retained to resolve this dilemma, publicly stated that the various levels of alleged contamination in their homes were not remarkable, or sufficiently actionable, to the extent that any agency would immediately authorize extensive, expensive forensic studies on behalf of the homeowners.
And since these homes were constructed before Wildomar became a city, Wildomar does not have any exposure to liability for any conditions which exist within the Autumnwood tract.
Depending on the eventual outcome of forensic testing of soils, whether or not there is contamination, the homeowners themselves, through their effective media outreach (a KTLA television crew was filming the meeting) have stigmatized their own properties, thereby diminishing the value of their homes.
As a result, should they find a “willing and able” buyer of their home, whatever the sales price, they will have to fully disclose their own allegations of soil contamination, proven or not, to the next homeowner, or face personal liability when the new homeowner eventually finds out for themselves.
This is not unlike a more understandable natural disaster, such as a flood, that totally destroys their homes and personal property but where they, as homeowners, timely failed to purchase flood insurance. However, that is not the case in this circumstance. These homeowners are attempting to pinpoint and identify the place and time, and the source, of the soils upon which their homes were built.
And therein lies their unfortunate dilemma, as they have to prove that their soils were contaminated, that the allegedly contaminated soils are the direct causation of their family’s health problems, as well as identify the source of the contaminated soils, who will, hopefully, have sufficient insurance coverage available, should they eventually prevail in lengthy litigation.
As they push for answers, the homeowners might eventually find the “smoking gun” that is destroying the “peace and quietude” of their piece of the American Dream, only to find the empty shell of a developer limited liability corporation, whose insurance coverages have been exhausted by previous litigations.
We wish them good luck in their quest for an equitable resolution and outcome.
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