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JOTTINGS: The joys and sorrows of owning a condo

Living in a condominium can be a pleasure or a pain. I have had many pleasures in several condos that I have occupied within past decades. But there have also been many unplanned surprises that were unpleasant.

Our first condo was a vacation apartment at Lincoln City. This place was actually operated as a motel, with onsite management. So when we weren't occupying the unit it could be rented and produce income. Wonderful view of the ocean and sunsets, sitting right on the edge of a cliff. The cliff was the first problem. It started falling into the ocean at the south corner of the building. Soon there was a great open space below that apartment where there was supposed to be land. It wasn't our unit but of course we helped to pay for the repairs which involved hauling in more dirt and putting up rip wrap to hold it in place. This was accomplished by a "special assessment;" those two words that will send any condo owner to the liquor cabinet or the medicine chest.

The next event was a high wave carrying a large log into another unit on the ground floor even though the building was on a high cliff and the water never came up that high. We know better now don't we? There was extensive damage and again the dreaded special assessment.

Condominiums alway have a board of directors made up of the owners. The final unplanned event and for me the last straw was when the board decided to pass a rule to not allow dogs. We had an adorable four-pound half chihuahua, half yorkie who loved the beach as much as we did. So we sold the place. No profit. Too many special assessments.

A few months later we had some friends who were buying a condo on Maui in Hawaii. We had been to Maui before and it was our favorite island. The place wasn't built yet and we bought one just from the plans and pictures. The developer was from Portland and his financing was from a local bank. So what could go wrong? Snicker, snicker! We bought a place on the second floor so there would only be stairs from the ground to the next level. When the construction was finished the stair plan was completely cateywumpus. Instead of the original plan there were now stairs down to the first level and then two flights up to the second level, because they had created a rise on the ground and the first level was below the entrance to the property. Oh never mind. Well, it got worse. The onsite manager kept sending bills for various repairs and it soon turned out that he was pocketing the proceeds from the rentals. That was the joy of long distance ownership. We sold and showed a loss on our income tax that year.

Next we decided to stay on our own side of the Pacific Ocean and found a delightful condo apartment in Palm Springs. Our unit was on the top floor, which was the third floor. The building was not new, in fact it was due for new roofing. So the board argued through the summer and finally picked the cheapest roofer in Southern California to do the job starting in November. It never rains in the desert does it? Oh maybe just a little in November - especially Thanksgiving weekend, when the roofers had torn the old roof off and then went home for the holiday weekend while the rain poured down like Niagara Falls. We did have insurance, which did absolutely no good because they said it was negligence. Finally the roofer's insurance company had to pay but I don't need to tell you that it didn't cover the entire cost.

So you may think that this is the end. Well it's not. There was Tucson, Spain, San Francisco, Lake Oswego, Portland, etc. etc. etc.

Evelyn Metzger is a member of Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.



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