A planned development is a category of common-interest developments under the Davis-Stirling Act. It can be incorporated or unincorporated. California's Attorney General issued an opinion about the legal structure of planned developments that helped to define them:
Unlike the condominium project, which is essentially a creature of statutory origin, the planned development uses traditional real property concepts. In a planned development, ownership includes an individual interest in a parcel of land, usually a subdivision lot, and the structural improvements situated on the lot. In contrast, the condominium owner received title primarily to a cube of airspace [citation] without receiving undivided ownership of any underlying land or structural improvements as part of the individual ownership... (85 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 162, p. 3.)
Common Areas. With condominiums, members own air space (their unit) plus an undivided interest in the structure surrounding their airspace (the common areas). In a planned development, members typically own a "lot" and some or all improvements on the lot. As provided for in Civil Code §4175, a planned development is defined as having either or both of the following:
(a) Common area that is owned either by an association or in common by the owners of the separate interests who possess appurtenant rights to the beneficial use and enjoyment of the common area.
(b) Common area and an association that maintains the common area with the power to levy assessments that may become a lien upon the separate interests in accordance with Article 2 (commencing with Section 5650) of Chapter 8.
In a planned development, common area may also consist of mutual or reciprocal easement rights appurtenant to the separate interests. (Civ. Code §4095(b).) An easement is an interest in the land of another, created by grant or prescription, which entitles the owner of the easement to a limited use or enjoyment of the other's land.
See: Committee to Save Beverly Highlands v. Beverly Highlands for a discussion of common interest developments.
Residential Structures. A residence in a planned development might be free-standing homes or two or more townhomes separated by party walls. With townhouse construction, owners might own a traditional looking lot with fenced front and back yards or they may own a "footprint" lot, i.e., the dirt upon which the structure sits and nothing more.
Maintenance. Maintenance responsibilities in planned developments can vary considerably. In some, owners are responsible for everything on their lots--all structures and all landscaping. In others, the association takes care of the landscaping. Normally those with townhouse construction, the association is responsible for exterior structure maintenance such as painting and roofs. The variations depend on how the developer drafted the CC&Rs.
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