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Orcutt residents frustrated by algae buildup in front of homes

A thick, sludgy line of dark green algae lines Apple Tree Way in Orcutt.

“This algae shouldn’t even be on the street, nor on any street,” said homeowner John Dunlap. “No other streets in the neighborhood seems to be experiencing this problem.”

Dunlap has lived on the street in the Rice Ranch development for three years. He said the algae first appeared more than a year ago.

“It’s an eyesore and it also represents a possibly a bacterial problem,” said Dunlap. “I know if I were to cause this problem, they would be addressing me to find the remedy and correct it immediately.”

Dunlap, along with other neighbors, are upset the issue has not been resolved in a timely manner.

He said neither the Rice Ranch Homeowners Association (HOA) or Rice Ranch developer Shea Homes has found a way to fix the problem.

“I was hoping that they would have a better means of finding a solution rather than having us address it a year later, actually 16 months later,” said Dunlap. “Hopefully, when this plays out, there will be a responsible party that will come forth and find a solution.”

In a letter to Dunlap and his wife Linda that is dated June 22, 2017, the HOA said the algae problem comes from debris in the gutter blocking the flow of water, plus over watering or poorly maintained irrigation systems from residents along the street.

A call to the HOA revealed it addressed the situation by twice pressure washing the street over the past several months.

Dunlap confirmed the washing took place, but said it was not a long-term solution.

“It makes it look real good for about a day,” Dunlap said. “Then a day later, the water comes back, and then two or three days later, algae begins to form.”

A representative for the HOA said it does care about the homeowners and will find a solution in the future. The HOA said residents also need to take ownership of the situation and maintain their yards and the property directly in front of it.

Dunlap strongly disagrees he should have to maintain the land outside of his property.

“My responsibility ends at the sidewalk,” said Dunlap. “It is stipulated in my rules and covenants with the description provided when I bought the home that I would be maintaining the lawn, the foliage, the driveway, the general appearance of my home. The street, the gutters, the maintenance and upkeep of those, is the responsibility of the association itself. That is not my responsibility.”

Dunlap added he provides the HOA with dues monthly and expects better representation to fix the issue.

“This is my investment,” said Dunlap. “I’m paying for this and this is not part of my agreement. I’m bound by an agreement to maintain my home. The are bound by an agreement to maintain these gutters, these streets and they have not done so.”

Long frustrated with the algae outside his front yard, Dunlap is simply hoping either the HOA or Shea Homes will step up and get the job done.

“Let’s address the problem,” said Dunlap. “Let’s identify it. Let’s get a field engineer in here or somebody that can do a who do a soil saturation test to find who is responsible and how they’re going to fix the problem.”

The HOA had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, but it has been postponed to August 15.

Shea Homes was not able to provide a response to this story. Calls to the company, both at the local and corporate levels, were not returned.

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