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Cul-de-sac neighbors put in a permanent short-cut.

Cul-de-sac neighbors put in a permanent short-cut

Quiet streets free of traffic were certainly envisioned by the planners of this neighborhood of many cul-de-sac blocks in Irvine, California. At several points in the scheme, where newer tracts meet older ones, cul-de-sacs bump up against one another. Such planing stops cars all right, but what kid with more than a lick of sense wouldn't just cut across lawns to get from one street to the next?

A keen understanding of this inevitability led the four neighbors sharing such a short-cut to petition the builder to replace their worn-away lawns and the scuffed 2-foot-tall wall separating the streets with a permanent paved path.

Neighbors on each street supported the effort, a critical step in this covenant-controlled community. A lawyer on the block drew up an agreement whereby each of the four homeowners would deed a 2 1/2-foot swath of property back to the city; the four adjacent pieces made up the 5- by 24-foot right-of-way between the two streets.

One neighbor, a contractor, drew up a plan. The group took it to the tract builder, and the builder built the path for free-even paying to have the landscaping moved back 2 1/2 feet on all four lots.

One key issue remained: whether the city would assume liability in case anything happened on the path. The way this community --Woodbridge--is structured, residents pay a monthly fee that covers up-keep, maintenance, and liability insurance for the collectively owned lands within the group of tracts. The homeowners' association holds the liability insurance, and did decide to include the new path within its policy.

To avoid postponing the project in protracted discussions with the neighborhood association, which wields considerable clout here, the participants polled their neighbors to make sure none objected. The builder and the residents of both blocks then presented the completed path to the neighborhood association as a fait accompli. The association immediately absorbed the new right-of-way as community-owned land.

Photo: New pathway linking adjacent cul-de-sacs replaced "short-cut" across adjoining properties. Four neighbors deeded 2 1/i feet apiece for the city-maintained right-of-way
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Date:May 1, 1988
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