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Feldsott Lee Pagano & Canfield
Orange County Homeowners Association Law Firm

Homelesss Encampment Catches Fire on HOA Land

Homelessness is an issue that is being dealt with all over San Diego County. Law enforcement and city governments are dealing with an increase in homeless population. The recent Hepatitis A breakout which killed 16 made it clear matters were escalating.

Homeless encampments are a growing concern both in terms of crime as well as sanitation. What happens when one of the encampments is situated on HOA owned property?

Fire breaks out on HOA property with four encampments

A Spring Valley HOA was confronted with their responsibility when a brush fire broke out near the residences on property owned by the HOA. The fire started when homeless living in one of four nearby encampments built a fire to keep warm.

As firefighters responded, they could see large piles of debris and buckets used for toilets scattered throughout the encampment. The conditions were unsanitary and access to the site was difficult.

As the crew battled the fire, one firefighter was injured when he stepped into a feces filled bucket. The whole crew and their equipment required decontamination.

HOA responsible for clean-up

The homeless encampment on HOA property started over a decade ago and had grown in the years since, with debris such as stolen shopping carts, buckets, tents and clothes piling up.

Due to risk of contamination, the HOA had issues finding a company willing to clean-up the encampment. The area was environmentally protected and would need to be cleaned-out by hand. The service iHaul stepped forward and the bill to the HOA for clean-up will be around $70,000. 


The Spring Valley HOA President, Malcolm Gettmann worked with local homeless programs to re-house the encampment dwellers.

Consulting an attorney who specializes in HOAs could be critical to avoid liability when confronted with a situation similar to Spring Valley.

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